off grid clay home

Family that lives in off-grid ‘clay’ home haven’t had to pay bills in over a decade

Have you always wanted to live off-grid, but haven’t worked up the nerve to actually go out and do it? Well, this family did. For the last twelve years, this family has been. That’s right: No electricity or water bills, no nothing. This is how it’s going for them. (1)

The Family Who Has Been Living Off-Grid For More Than A Decade

Misty and Bryce Murph’Ariens met while living in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. They were both chefs in the city who realized that the city life just wasn’t for them. Misty suffered from severe migraines and always fared much better whenever they visited Bryce’s grandmother’s rural cottage. They loved the peace and tranquility of the countryside.


“Bryce’s grandmother’s cottage was so peaceful and we were constantly disappointed when we had to leave and go back to the city,” explained Misty.

Not only did they like the idea of rural living, but they wanted to go one step further. They wanted to be self-sufficient. The couple spent three years learning how to homestead. Finally, in 2009, they bought a piece of farmland in a rural Canadian forested area for $37,500. 


Building Their Home Sweet Home

The lot was a dream, but it was far from perfect. It was covered in trash and abandoned materials. They spent the first few weeks simply clearing it all off the land. They then spent the next four months building a cob house. This is a house made of a natural material that consists of clay, sand, and straw. In total, building their house cost them just $10,000.


Their home is not just remote, it is entirely off-grid. Their electricity comes from solar panels and their water from a well. They have a collection of animals and a garden that they use for food. The family doesn’t even have a car – they get everywhere by bike, horse, or walking.


Not Just A Family Of Two

Not only have they spent each summer since expanding their little abode, but they have also expanded their family, as well. They now have two daughters aged five and seven, who Misty homeschools. She teaches them a traditional syllabus, as well as primal skills, animal care, and building techniques. 

Misty and Bryce Murph’Ariens with their two children
Image Credit: Exploring Alternatives

Bryce and Misty also run a small catering business in their community to make money. Financially, they are doing just fine. After all, they haven’t paid bills in over a decade. They estimate that they have saved themselves about $70,000 each year, all-told. Even raising two kids, they’ve worked it out that their annual living costs are about $15,000.


“We try to be as self sufficient as possible, farming and harvesting all the food we eat,” said Bryce. “We do get the occasional shopping delivery to the nearest road, but that’s only for a very select range of essential items,”

Read: Couple Turned Two Shipping Containers Into Beautiful Home In Less Than 10 Months

Misty and Bryce Murph’Ariens home
Image Credit: Exploring Alternatives

The Bare Necessities

They explain that the purpose behind their every day is the main factor that saves them so much money. The focus of their day is finding the most fulfilling and sustainable way to live. It’s an entirely different mentality around the idea of what living and thriving means.


“Whereas most people are spending the majority of their time working to afford the necessities of life, we spend our time working to acquire these necessities directly,” explained Bryce.

Misty and Bryce Murph’Ariens kitchen in their clay home off-grid
Image Credit: Exploring Alternatives

They know that their lifestyle isn’t for everyone. For their family, however, it works. They have never been happier.

Misty and Bryce Murph’Ariens living room
Image Credit: Exploring Alternatives

Not Always Easy

Of course, living this way has its challenges – and I’m not just talking about the hard work that comes along with a homestead like this. In 2019, the local township government said that legally, they were not allowed to be living in their little cottage at all. They said that the Murph’Ariens need a building permit for their house. This is because when they started building, they didn’t have an official permit. (2)

Read: For the Cost of an iPhone, You Can Now Buy a Wind Turbine That Can Power Your Entire Home for a Lifetime

Misty and Bryce Murph’Ariens's off-grid clay home in Hamilton Ontario
Image Credit: Exploring Alternatives

The couple says they did call the Chief Building Official before beginning construction for details on what they could and couldn’t do. They did, after all, want to follow the rules. Their initial plan was to make it so small that they didn’t need a permit. Eventually, they were told if it needed large equipment to build, they needed a permit. Essentially, she said, if they could build it with just a shovel, a permit wasn’t necessary.

A city official even visited while they were building and took no issue with it. It wasn’t until the city received a complaint in 2018 that problems arose. They spent a year sending letters back and forth with the town and even had to go to court. Thankfully, they came to an agreement with the town and still live in their cute little cottage.

What do you think of this alternative lifestyle? Would you consider living this way?

Keep Reading: Couple Built Greenhouse Around Home To Grow Food And Keep Warm


  1. Couple who built self-sufficient home out of CLAY and straw, and now live off the grid with their two kids, reveal they haven’t had to pay bills in over a DECADE – saving them $70K A YEAR.” Daily Mail. November 11, 2021.
  2. Couple built self-sustaining home for $1K, decade later they could be on the hook for $5K.” CTv News. Alexandra Mae Jones. September 13, 2019.
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.