Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Find Land To Live Off The Grid

Millions of people want to live off grid! You want to build your own cabin, produce your own electrical power, grow your own food, raise livestock (chickens, pigs, cows) for food, and live a sustainable self sufficient and self reliant lifestyle. If you’re like me, you want all this and more. You want the freedom and independence that living off grid gives you and you certainly most probably don’t want a mortgage. I would say if you can move off grid now then do it. But where do you go and how do you do it? This is a million dollar question.
Fortunately there is an easy answer. The answer is easy, but the work involved is not. It’s going to take hard work, dedication, commitment, due diligence, and lots and lots of homework. 
16 TIPS How To Pick The Perfect Off Grid Land 
  1. Remote Land Equals Cheap Land (usually)– The further away from civilization the cheaper it will be.
  2. Remote Equals Fewer Restrictions/Ordinances – The further away from civilization the fewer restrictions you’ll have and the more freedom you’ll have to build and do what you want without someone telling you you can’t.
  3. No Covenants or Restrictions! – Don’t buy land that has covenants and restrictions because it will limit what you will be able to do with your land.
  4. No Subdivisions! – Don’t buy land in a subdivision. Even a rural subdivision has rules that could hinder your off grid lifestyle. Not to mention HOA’s. That’s the next thing.
  5. No HOA’s! – Home Owners Associations will cost you money. It’s also a pain in the a** to deal with all the rules and restrictions and pesky nosey neighbors always getting into your business or trying to tell you how to live your life or what color you can paint your house or whatever stupid rules they put. Think about this. An HOA is basically a bunch of folks getting together to decide how everyone else lives their lives and what color and type of house they can live in, and they force everyone else to pay a fee to be managed. Yeah…no thanks! That’s the OPPOSITE of what it means to live off the grid.
  6. No Building Codes or Codes not enforced – No building codes or a property located in an area where the county doesn’t really enforce the codes is best. This usually means remote. Even if there are codes you need to worry about there are still good properties available, but they will limit what you can do and build, and will ultimately cost you more money out of pocket upfront.
  7. Year Round Access – Make sure you have access to the property year round. In some places winter and monsoon season can make accessing the property impossible. Good roads are key. Think about how you’re going to get your materials and tools and equipment onto your land.e
  8. Legal Access – Make sure you have LEGAL right of way access to the property. No “land-locked” properties where you have to cross someone else’s land to access your land.
  9. No Legal Issues, (Encumbrances) Liens or Back Taxes Due – Do a title search. Check all the records to make sure there are no tax liens, contractor liens, or money owed. Make sure there are “no encumbrances” that could cost you more money or time you don’t have to lose.
  10. PERC TEST! – If there’s no septic system on the property already you’ll need to put one in and that costs money. It will cost you more money if you spend all your money on a piece of land and you can’t put in a septic system because the soil fails a percolation test. A PERC test. A PERC test tests the rate at which liquids seep into the soil. There’s a certain acceptable rate which the soil is supposed to absorb and if it fails then you can’t build. It’s that simple. You can’t build a house because a house has to have a septic system. So it’s a bad deal all the way around. Make sure you do a PERC test on the land if you’re seriously interested in the land. It’s worth the few hundred bucks it takes for peace of mind and can save you TENS OF THOUSANDS if not hundreds of thousands of dollars later.
  11. Do a Survey! (check the current survey if there is one; if it’s outdated or it’s unclear where there property boundaries are then have it redone) – Have the property surveyed by a licensed and insured surveyor because if you don’t and there’s a property dispute later it can cost your thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and or cause the loss of your building/cabin if it’s on the disputed land. Always make sure the property boundaries are clearly marked and you know where they are and every matches the contract/sale/advertisement.
  12. Have The Water/Soil Tested For Contaminants! – This is very important. You don’t want to buy a cheap property and build your dream cabin only to discover that your land was a former mining site and is contaminated with poisonous chemicals that will make you and your family sick.
  13. Pay Cash! – You don’t want to live on a remote property with a mortgage. Bad idea! If something happens and you can’t make payments then you’re in a bad place and could lose everything. Don’t get a mortgage. Beg, borrow and sell whatever you need to raise the funding needed to pay CASH for your land. Don’t go into debt to buy your dream property. Sell ALL your personal items you can afford to sell and use that cash to buy land. If you don’t want to sell your stuff, then ask yourself this. “What’s more important to me…my STUFF or my dream of living off grid, independent, self sufficient, self reliant and FREE!”. The answer should be FREEDOM! Pay cash for your land. Never get a mortgage. Ever!
  14. Mineral Rights & Water Rights! – Make sure you secure mineral rights (including water rights). If you like a property and the mineral rights don’t come with it then STOP! Back away and find a different property. I don’t care how good the property is, you do NOT want someone coming in and digging and drilling on your land, because that’s exactly what will happen if there are valuable minerals/oil or whatever found in your area. The person or company who owns the mineral rights or water rights will have the right to be on your land to extract the minerals or water and you will be powerless to stop them.
  15. Don’t Buy Land in a Flood Plain – This should go without saying, but some folks will buy land in these places and lost their money. There is an
  16. Don’t Buy Land with a Nature Preserve or in Wetlands! – You’ll have a nightmare of a time trying to build, and most likely you won’t be able to. Make sure the land is NOT in a wetland area or in a Nature Preserve because you most likely will not be able to do anything with it.
  17. BONUS TIP 1: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! – Make sure you check all the local, county, state and federal laws. If you’ve done your homework you’ll have decades of awesome wonderful off grid living.
  18. BONUS TIP 2: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ACCESS! (Both Legal & Physical) – I want to reiterate this very important aspect of land buying. One of the most obvious things people overlook is access. People usually assume there’s a way onto the land and that you’ll be able to get to your land anytime. You’d be surprised at how often this is overlooked. Bad neighbors can also make your off grid life miserable. It can also cause lawsuits and legal action against you or force you to sue them for access for the property thereby costing you even more money, usually tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees and permits and damage to your property. It;s not worth it. If there is any question at all…walk away.
  19. BONUS TIP 3: WALK AWAY IF THE DEAL IS NOT RIGHT! – Always always always be prepared to walk away if the deal doesn’t feel right or it’s not the ideal property. Also don’f fall in love with a property just because you really really really want to move off grid. Never buy the first property you look at. (unless you’re and experienced real estate investor) And even then don’t do it unless you know absolutely what you’re doing and that it’s a great deal. 
Now this is just a basic overview of some of the things you’ll need to consider when picking our your off grid property.

ive Off Grid

We all need the 3 basics of survival.

1. Shelter

2. Food

3. Water

But in today’s modern  “civilized” society, to live above basic subsistence level living, you’re going to need electricity, gas (propane is not sustainable; perhaps fuel oil or diesel made from old vegetable oil) and the most important utilities, internet…and maybe cable TV if you’re into sports or news. That’s it.
Oh, and healthcare and education. Education you can get online, and if you live within an hour of a major town you should have access to good healthcare too.

The 5 things you need to live in civilized society are:

  1. Housing
  2. Food
  3. Utilities (includes water, electricity, gas, internet, cell phone, transportation etc.)
  4. Healthcare
  5. Education
The point of listing these 5 simple and very basic things is this.
When you are searching for your off grid property you also need to be thinking about how you’re going to provide these 5 things for yourself and your family.
This will help you pick the best possible property for you and your family to live on for decades to come.

Friday, January 17, 2020


Walkability is a measure of how friendly an area is to walking. Walkability has health, environmental, and economic benefits.
Walkability offers surprising benefits to our health, the environment, our finances, and our communities.
Health: The average resident of a walkable neighbourhood weighs 6-10 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.
Cities with good public transit and access to amenities promote happiness.

Environment: 87% of CO2 emissions are from burning fossil fuels. Your feet are zero-pollution transportation machines.
Finances: Cars are the second largest household expense in the U.S.
One point of Walk Score is worth up to $3,250 of value for your property.
Communities: Walkability is associated with higher levels of arts organizations, creativity, and civic engagement.

Homes within walking distance to jobs, schools, shopping, parks and other urban amenities are both highly desired and extremely rare. Fewer than 2 percent of  active listings are considered a walker’s paradise (Walk Score of 90 and above). Yet 56 percent of millennials and 46 percent of boomers prefer walkable communities with a range of housing amidst local businesses and public services. And like everything rare and desirable, walkability comes at a premium; homes highly “walkable” to amenities, everything else being equal, are more expensive than comparable homes in less “walkable” areas.

90–100Walker's Paradise Daily errands do not require a car
70–89Very Walkable Most errands can be accomplished on foot
50–69Somewhat Walkable Some errands can be accomplished on foot
25–49Car-Dependent Most errands require a car
0–24Car-Dependent Almost all errands require a car

Friday, January 26, 2018

New Mortgage Rules in 2018

Since Jan. 1, 2018, Canadians getting, renewing or refinancing a mortgage have to prove that they would be able to cope with interest rates substantially higher than their contract rate.

New rules by Canada’s federal financial regulator announced in October mean that even borrowers with a down payment of 20 per cent or more will now face a stress test, as has been the case since January of 2017, for applicants with smaller down payments who require mortgage insurance.

Ottawa has already moved to tighten the rules around the mortgage market six times since July 2008, with a series of regulatory tweaks aimed at limiting the amount of debt that Canadians and financial institutions take on.

Some 10 per cent of Canadians who got an uninsured mortgage between mid-2016 and mid-2017 would not have qualified under the new standards, a recent analysis by the Bank of Canada suggested.

To put a number on it, the rules will likely affect about 100,000 home buyers, who would have qualify for a mortgage for their preferred house in 2017 but will likely fail the stress test for an equally large loan starting January 1, 2018.

Lenders don’t have to apply the stress test to clients renewing an existing mortgage.

This means that if you fail the stress test, you’ll probably get stuck renewing with your current financial institution, without being able to shop around for a better rate.

In some cases, “renewing borrowers may be forced to accept noncompetitive rates from their current lenders.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Taxes in Canada and Ontario

Ontario is the largest province in Canada with a population of 10.5 million and 4.2 million properties.

Federal tax rates for 2017

  • 15% on the first $45,916 of taxable income, +
  • 20.5% on the next $45,915 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $45,916 up to $91,831), +
  • 26% on the next $50,522 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $91,831 up to $142,353), +
  • 29% on the next $60,447 of taxable income (on the portion of taxable income over $142,353 up to $202,800), +
  • 33% of taxable income over $202,800.

Provincial/territorial tax rates for 2017

5.05% on the first $42,201 of taxable income, +
9.15% on the next $42,203, +
11.16% on the next $65,596, +
12.16% on the next $70,000, +
13.16 % on the amount over $220,000
Under the Constitution, municipalities are creatures of the provincial government. The Provinces can create or destroy municipalities, determine what they can make expenditures on, and what sources of revenue are available to them. In terms of the property tax, the provincial governments set the rules for how the tax base and tax rates are determined. Municipalities in all provinces levy property taxes to finance municipal services. In some provinces, the provincial government also levies a property tax to finance some of the costs of elementary and secondary education. 

Municipal Taxes 

The municipal level of government is funded largely by property taxes on residential, industrial and commercial properties. These account for about ten percent of total taxation in Canada. There are two types. The first is an annual tax levied on the value of the property (land plus buildings). The second is a land transfer tax levied on the sale price of properties.

Land transfer taxes are levied at the time of sale of a property and are calculated as a percentage of the value of the property transferred. The tax, which must be paid before the transfer will be registered, is like a sales tax payable by the purchaser and calculated as a percentage of the purchase price. The tax rate sometimes increases with the value of the property; in some cases, taxes are higher on non-residents. In Ontario, for example, the rate is 
  • 0.5 percent of the first $55,000 of purchase price; 
  • 1 percent on the amount from $55,000 to $250,000; 
  • 1.5 percent on the amount from $250,000 to $400,000; and 
  • 2 percent on the amount over $400,000. 

International taxation

If you are a non-resident of Canada and you have taxable earnings in Canada (e.g. rental income and property disposition income) you will be required to pay Canadian income tax on these amounts. Rents paid to non-residents are subject to a 25% withholding tax on the “gross rents”, which is required to be withheld and remitted to Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) by the payer (i.e. the Canadian agent of the non-resident, or if there is no agent, the renter of the property) each time rental receipts are paid or credited to the account of the non-resident by the payer. If the payer does not remit the required withholding taxes by the 15th day following the month of payment to the non-resident, the payer will be subject to penalties and interest on the unpaid amounts.

Sales taxes

Current sales tax rates Ontarion 13% (HST) Harmonized Sale Tax

Excise taxes

Both the federal and provincial governments impose excise taxes on inelastic goods such as cigarettesgasolinealcohol, and for vehicle air conditioners. Canada has some of the highest rates of taxes on cigarettes and alcohol in the world, constituting a substantial share of the retail total price of cigarettes and alcohol paid by consumers. These are sometimes referred to as sin taxes.

Gift tax

Gift tax was first imposed by the Parliament of Canada in 1935 as part of the Income War Tax Act. It was repealed at the end of 1971, but rules governing the tax on capital gains that then came into effect include gifts as deemed dispositions made at fair market value, that come within their scope.

Licensing fees and regulatory charges

Provincial legislatures may charge a fee that is of an indirect nature, where it is supportable as ancillary or adhesive to a valid regulatory scheme under a provincial head of power.


The property tax accounted for over 53 percent of local government revenues on average across Canada in 2000.

In all provinces, the base for the property tax is “real property,” defined as land and improvements to the land. There is different treatment of machinery and equipment in different provinces; in some cases, machinery and equipment “affixed” to real property is included and in others it is not. There is also different treatment of minerals, mines, oil and gas wells, pipelines, railways, and public-utility distribution systems in different jurisdictions. 

 All provinces assess properties at some percentage of market value (sometimes referred to as actual, real, fair, or current value). In most provinces, farm properties are favoured in the assessment system. Generally, alternative uses of the land are excluded in considering its assessed value. In Ontario, properties are assessed at their “current value"

In Ontario, properties are assessed at their “current value” which is defined as the amount of money the fee simple, if unencumbered, would realize if sold at arm's length by a willing seller to a willing buyer. For farms, conservation lands, and managed forests, value in current use (not highest and best use) is used. Railway and hydro rights-of-way are taxed on a rate per acre for nine geographic regions across the province. The rates are set by provincial statute. 

Exemptions include churches, cemeteries, Indian lands, public hospitals, charitable institutions, and educational institutions. Land or property belonging to the federal, provincial or local governments is not liable for taxation. Instead of paying property taxes, governments make payments in lieu of property taxes to municipalities. The payments are viewed as property taxes 3 since the municipality would have collected property taxes on these properties if they were privately owned. They are generally less than the property taxes would be, however. 

Farmland is assessed at its value in current use and the tax rate is legislated to be 25 percent of the residential rate.

Variable tax rates permit municipalities to shift tax burdens among property classes within provincially-determined ranges of fairness. Transition ratios were calculated for each property class to reflect the relative distribution of burden by tax class prior to reform (the “starting point”). 

Municipalities can set their tax ratios so as to maintain the transition ratios, move towards the range of fairness, or vary tax ratios within ranges of fairness.

Development Charges

Development charges Development charges (also known as exactions and lot levies) are levied by local governments on developers to cover the growth-related capital costs associated with new development.The municipality, in some cases, agrees to recover part of the costs on behalf of the developer from future benefiting owners.


Canada and Ontario are one of the most taxed provinces in the world.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Co-op Housing and the situation in Toronto

A housing cooperative, co-op, or housing company  is a legal entity, usually a cooperative or a corporation, which owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings; it is one type of housing tenure.

The corporation is membership-based, with membership granted by way of a share purchase in the cooperative. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit. A primary advantage of the housing cooperative is the pooling of the members’ resources so that their buying power is leveraged, thus lowering the cost per member in all the services and products associated with home ownership.

Another key element in some forms of housing cooperatives is that the members, through their elected representatives, screen and select who may live in the cooperative, unlike any other form of home ownership.

Co-operative housing is a form of non-profit housing that emerged in the 1800s as part of the co-operative movement, but only really in the mid-1960s took hold in Canada as a method of providing affordable housing for families. Several pilot projects were funded by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in 1969, and thousands more co-op homes were created via various federal and provincial programs through to the early 1990s.

Unlike privately owned low-income housing or City-run “social housing,” co-ops offer a mix of market-value units and geared-to-income units in a fixed ratio or funded from a subsidy pool.

Some co-ops are designated low- to moderate-income housing, with income limits imposed on their members as part of their federal agreements. Others have no income limits, and can have a broader range of incomes among their residents.

While each co-op is owned by its membership, individual members do not own equity in their housing. If a member moves out, the vacated unit is available to another individual or family on the co-op’s waiting list.

Though each co-op operates somewhat differently, many co-ops maintain two lists: one for those awaiting market-value units, and one (generally much longer) for those requiring geared-to-income subsidy.

In addition, many co-ops try to accommodate changes in the lives of their members—a household might find itself able to transition from geared-to-income to market-value, for example, or obliged to go from market-value to geared-to-income.

How is co-op housing funded? What makes co-op housing affordable?

Historically, co-ops across the country have been funded through a variety of federal, provincial, and municipal programs. While some other provinces continue to provide funding for the non-profit housing sector, Ontario revoked its operating agreements with housing co-ops and non-profit housing providers in the early 2000s, transferring its housing programs to municipal control.

In Toronto, the vast majority of co-ops are federally funded, and such co-ops are defined by the section of the National Housing Act that was in effect when the co-op was founded. (For example, a Section 56.1 co-op is one that was founded between 1979 and 1985, while Section 56.1 of the National Housing Act was in effect.)

Government subsidies for co-ops most often take the form of CMHC-provided, long-term fixed-rate mortgage agreements provided for co-op properties, and funding to bridge the difference between subsidized members’ housing charges and those of market-value members.

Interestingly, some of Toronto’s most successful housing co-ops were originally public housing complexes that were taken over by their residents and converted.

Around the mid-1990s, federal and provincial governments decided that they wanted to change their approach to affordable housing, emphasizing privately owned projects with government-assisted rent supplement units, and public housing built and managed by municipal housing authorities (both of which are taxed at a higher rate than co-op housing—and taxes are most definitely a factor).