Canada series: Quit Your Job and Get Paid to Live Your Dream
by LESANDJANE on MARCH 7, 2012 - 16 Comments in PEOPLE

Les and Jane Oke live in Ontario, Canada and have been off grid since 1994. They are often asked how they came to make this decision that literally changed the course of their life. Here is their story:

When I told my parents that I had quit my job they just stared at me. Three kids to feed, a wife, responsibilities and bills.  But I had made my decision – I had to start doing what I dreamed about or I never would.

This process did not happen overnight, although one night I came close to losing my dreams forever, my kids, my wife, my life…

I was driving home from work on my Harley, and attempting to make a left turn I noticed a pickup truck behind me was not going to stop. I could either drive into oncoming traffic or try to speed up. He hit me from behind and all I could feel was myself flying through the air.

Then it all stopped as I crashed to the pavement in the middle of the road landing on my back. Self preservation kicked in and I quickly rolled over and crawled off the road. I laid down in the ditch and stared at the sky, slowly moving each part of my body to check for injuries. Then I started to hurt… bad. My helmet was twisted around on my head and I could only see out of one eye. The other eye was blocked by the helmet lining. I yanked the helmet from my head and just laid there.
They say that when people have a near death experience that their whole life flashes before their eyes. It was then that I started to think that my life did not add up to much at this point. Laying in the ditch, staring up at the good Lord above… there I was just a wondering… if I died today, would it really matter to anyone? As I lay there I thought about my wife Jane, my kids, my life.
Several people had stopped and were just staring down at me, questions like “How do you feel?” and “Are you alright?”. I told them I was fine, just kind of sore. They told me I had flown about 12 feet in the air and actually bounced off of a car doing 50 mph. The big gash in my left forearm told me where I had hit the car.

The ambulance took me to the hospital where the doctor who they dragged off the golf course checked me over and sewed up my arm.
Then Jane ran into the hospital room crying. She knew something was wrong even though no one called her. She drove directly to the scene of the crash. Somehow she knew. They told her where I was and she drove to the hospital.
The fear on her face told me what she was thinking.
That day my life changed.
The very next morning I decided it was time to live those dreams I had suppressed for so long – I would start living now. Jane smiled and agreed. She had been thinking the same thing.
You are probably wondering what this has to do with anything.
The truth is that in most people’s lives it takes a traumatic event to elicit change. Only rarely does the will power work to our advantage. We are normally ruled by our fears.
In my own case I realized that day that life is very short, or can be… our dream to have our own rural property and garden, and some animals and a home that we could call our own was more important than I realized.
I could barely walk the day after, but my finger dialed the phone and I quit my job.
That same finger dialed the phone again, and we gave notice on our apartment. We were moving and would never pay rent again, and never pay another electric bill either. That was April 1994.
I told Jane that we would spend the next month and find the property we wanted.
It took more than a month in fact but we did find a great 20 acres that we could afford and we made plans to move.
When we announced our intentions to our family they could not believe it… we were moving.
May 5, 1994 we pulled up to our property, parked our van and unloaded. We were home.
The kids were young and embraced the adventure like we could never have hoped for. They loved it, climbing trees, exploring and working right along side us to build our home.
I would dearly love to tell you that everything was roses for us, but it wasn’t. It was tough that first year. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we were happy knowing we were now in control of our life.
The great thing about our new property was the abundance of natural resources- trees for building, rocks for foundations, and land a plenty for gardens. We even had a beautiful stream running through the middle. It was paradise for us, a transition area between the wilderness all around us and our farm we always dreamed about. It has turned out to be the best of both. We worked hard to build our house with a chainsaw mill, local stone and sweat.
The kids pitched in and Jane too. ( I have never seen them so happy).
We lived this simple life until 2005 when Jane and I decided it was time to help others to achieve their dreams too.
We started a website with the intention of helping as many people as we could.
It turned out our experience was in great demand so we set out to write more about our adventure,
and how we had turned our dreams into reality.
The books we have written have been very well received and have helped over 5000 families to live their dream of owning their own property and eliminating their electric bill.

Our new found passion has also allowed us to work even more hours at helping people with their own rural dreams.

If you are interested in eliminating your electric bill, getting out of debt or learning Les and Jane’s Garden secrets check out their Living Off The Grid website here.
It is important for you to realize that your dreams are important too, and act on them now.
Dust them off and get busy before that pickup truck that is bearing down on you finally gets there.

16 comments

1 pat { 03.13.12 at 11:55 pm }

love the article, planning on doing the same in Colorado, currently living in Arizona, please keep on writing so we can see how you are doing.

2 Donanne { 03.14.12 at 9:52 am }

incredible! My dream too and we have our land and are making it a reality. My goal is to help many others create this dream too. We hope to have a whole community around us. We live in beautiful western Maine.

3 lesandjane { 03.14.12 at 11:44 am }

Thanks Pat,
We have several more article ideas from our nearly 18 years of off grid experience. Looking forward to helping as many people as we can.
Les and Jane

4 lesandjane { 03.15.12 at 11:23 am }

Hi Donanne,
Jane and I have always loved Maine, visited the Nearings Farm at Harborside. One of our earliest inspirations actually, I used to correspond with Helen, until her untimely death.
She would have told you the same thing I am going to- the community is much harder to find than providing for your own self-sufficient needs. Surrounding ourselves with like minded folks is sure a lot easier with the internet. I have friends all over the world, from Tasmania to Chile. Finding friends with the same beliefs locally, or even within our own family has been much more difficult.
In a memorable letter from Helen she said, ‘you just might have to go it alone’, and for the most part we have done just that. It’s ok to lead and let the rest of the world catch up.
Take care,
Les and Jane

5 jc { 03.25.12 at 5:54 am }

Where did you get the $$ to buy land?
How did you build all this stuff , eat, keep warm etc. with no job? How do you pay land taxes. unless your books and www site are generating a lot of money for you.

6 lesandjane { 03.26.12 at 5:14 am }

Hi jc, All very good questions. We bought the land in 1992 from a company specializing in recreational land, dignam.com. Very good prices. Only $1200 down, and $212 per month. And still deals like this available. We paid this out of our existing income. We built our home when we moved with a chainsaw mill. I did not say we didnt work, I said we didnt have a job. But soon after we built our first solar panels, we had offers to do the same for others, and it quickly developed into a business we loved, but still no job. We keep warm by cutting our own firewood, we drink water from our own well and we hunt , fish and grow a huge garden to feed ourselves. It is probably very different from your experience, but our work was mostly on reducing expenses. And our taxes are pretty low, most off grid land is very inexpensive unless you are in a cottage zone on a lake and then you pay city prices. the online part of what we do is only very recent and does not offer a huge return, but we feel it is very important to share our knowledge and experience. Still the main point we want to make is that lowering expenses, and having resources from which to draw your basic needs is essential to making this work. If our main focus was income we would have been better off staying in town, but being able to control those expenses provides benefits we could only dream about before.

7 Ed Moody { 03.30.12 at 10:31 am }

Love your story. My wife of 52 years and I at the age of 65 built our own home from paper and concrete (paprecrete) We hand dug the foundation and made every block you can see a short video http://youtu.be/_8rGiZR8W-c.
We our on the desert no utilities, we use solar and wind for power and propane for refrigeration and heat. We would be happy to share information on what we did and how just contact us by e-mail

8 preston porras { 06.29.12 at 3:02 pm }

me and my family are wanting to go off grid can it be done with childern ?? and where can we find affordable land ??

9 Lisa BK { 08.27.12 at 8:32 pm }

Hello. I want to live off land, but would like to know with no credit, and low income how to get started. I also am in Ontario And what Gov’t rules and regulations, taxes, etc. need advice. I grew up with mennonite background and on a farm. I miss this life and can go back but issues with money or credit, I m being held back. Any advice would be appriciated. Plus how to make enough income to keep taxes up. Ive been researching online about living with little money and no bills etc, even freegan life.

10 Rurallife4me { 08.27.12 at 9:00 pm }

Not sure my post came through, but would like to know with little money, no credit, and no financial help to get a piece of land to call my home. Looking to live of land like my mennonite realitives have yrs back. How to keep up with taxes, gov’t rules/regulations, and little expences.

11 Tyler { 09.07.12 at 11:54 am }

People always fail to mention how they are able to “quit their job and live their dreams” without a massive savings. Obviously this person had a great deal of money saved, and that had to of been calculated in their decision. I know I would never be able to afford 20 acres anywhere around me, I would have to move a thousand miles away. I really wish someone would go over all of the details, and not just the glamour of it. There are several people wondering the same thing I see, so if anyone could help us, I’m sure we’d all appreciate it a great deal. Thank you all.

12 Dan { 09.23.12 at 4:38 pm }

I am planning on doing the same, The only problem is to find someone that is wanting the same life adventure as me.

13 Carla { 10.21.12 at 2:25 am }

We have found a company in Canada that will sell you land with very little down..low monthly payments and you can live on your land while you pay for it. http://www.wolterland.com
Dignam no longer allows this. You have to pay for your land but can make improvements but not reside on it until paid in full :(

14 Corey { 10.11.13 at 8:56 pm }

i have been thinking of off the grid living also. I have been doing some research and found in Ontario you can’t just buy a piece of land and put a trailer on it for some reason you have to build a house which can make it very costly, if however you purchase land in an unorginized township than those rules don’t apply, so i am deffinetly going to go that route myself. If there is anyone in Ontario Canada who wants to join me for this adventure then you are more than welcome, i want to start to grow my own food using this new aquaponic technique that i have been researching and just live off the grid, i think this would be a great adventure but better if like minded individuals join me also

15 Kelly { 10.14.13 at 11:06 pm }

I am interested Corey in living off the grid where in ontairo?

16 Laurel { 11.24.13 at 10:45 pm }

We moved two years ago from 30 years of living in the city to a little two-acre place about an hour out. Since then, it’s become my passion to become as self-sustainable as possible. To my delight, I’ve found a tiny copse full of chamomile flowers, shaggy mane mushrooms growing on my front lawn, scores and scores of wild food just on this two-acre site. We grow a garden and I try to companion plant as much as possible. I use rain and snow water to water my plants and this year, I’m trying to grow greens and other foods indoors over the winter. I am also planning to make my own soap and my own cheeses. It all takes time, though. I’m almost sixty. But I’m happier and more at peace than I think I’ve ever been and my husband, a bona fide city boy, says he’d never move back!

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