Probably the hardest part about buying a piece of vacant land, when you don’t have a ton of money, is figuring out what you’re going to do with it.
We bought our land with visions of watching the sunset over the ocean, friends gathered round, kids cycling back from the beach. All of which centred around a building. Not a huge, fancy building, but one that could easily sleep 6 to 8 people, had some indoor plumbing and solar panels for electricity.
Back to reality… and a piece of property that was only roughly cleared with a muddy driveway that was built to serve as a turn around point for the neighbouring property. And no money to build with.
However, we didn’t need a cottage to have friends gather and enjoy the sunset. All we needed was a campsite!
Building A Simple Campsite
A campsite really only requires three simple things:
A fire pit is nice, but our property is on an island with an extensive ecological reserve and it doesn’t allow any burning in the summer months. You can’t even use a chainsaw. However, we did get a burn barrel for fall and winter burning.
Personalizing Your Campsite
Building your own campsite is actually pretty fun. It allows you to set things up so it’s a bit more personal, even if you don’t have a lot of money.
The first thing we did was start hauling stuff over to the island whenever we got the chance. Most of our extra income was going to paying off the line of credit-style mortgage that was all we could get for a vacant piece of property that didn’t even have an address. Luckily we got a lot of stuff used or free!
Here are some of the basic niceties that we picked up for our off-grid campsite:
- Storage: We bought a small plastic storage box so we could leave stuff on the island and a huge tarp to cover anything that didn’t fit in the storage shed.
- Eating: We brought over an old picnic table and a few plastic chairs that we found for free on the side of the road. (Road-side free piles are a thing in my community.) We also got a free barbecue. And my mom gave us her old Coleman stove. The only thing we had to buy was a cooler. We only had a cheap fabric cooler and we decided to splurge on a high-end cooler that would hopefully keep things cool for at least a week.
- Water: Not having easy access to water was a pretty big deal. In general, it’s a good idea to have at least 2 gallons of water per person per day. That includes water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. So one of the first things we did was buy a rain barrel for our outhouse. We also bought a simple ceramic watercooler and a bunch of water jugs. Even the ice in our cooler doubles as drinking water since all of our icepacks are old 2 Liter soda bottles.
Enjoying The Campsite
We were pretty darn happy with our campsite. It was large enough to have friends come to visit. And gave us the chance to enjoy our wilderness while daydreaming about future plans.
We even got started on the garden with two compost bins to build up the soil and some wild strawberries, salal and blackberries.
Next on our to-do list was to build a 100 square-foot Shabin. It was the perfect project for our first summer on the property. It didn’t require any particular planning permission and would give us the space to store more tools and supplies for building an eventual 600 square-foot cabin.