Dear Urbaneer: How Can I Escape Electrosmog For An EMF-Free Housing Community In The Countryside?

Dear Urbaneer, Healthy Home

Welcome to this month’s installment of Dear Urbaneer, where I dip into our mailbag to answer questions from both inquisitive readers and Urbaneer clients. This post is uniquely specific compared to other more broad shelter topics that I’ve addressed in this series, but it’s really important and relevant to a growing group of global citizens who are seeking a solution to expanding electromagnetic fields. In fact, the situation is becoming so dire for a group in Toronto they’re exploring creating a housing community that is exclusively an EMF-free zone.


Dear Urbaneer:

I am concerned about the health risks associated with EMFs (Electro Magnetic Fields). In fact, I suffer from EMF hypersensitivity and, as a result, life in the city is challenging and uncomfortable. In fact, I am part of a growing community of people in the same situation, of whom many are exploring the possibility of creating a community outside of the city that would be EMF-free. Do you have any advice on how to find such an area and what we should be looking for?


Seeking EMF-Free Living




Here’s my reply:

Dear EMF-Free:

Thank you for reaching out to me and sharing your situation. When we first spoke about this I was astonished by the fact that, for those of you who are impacted by this, you are held hostage by an invisible force that adversely impacts your daily life to which you can exert little control. It also demonstrates a very salient point – and the reason why I began my Healthy Home series – which is how critical our built environment is as a foundation for our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. A dwelling’s design, materiality, placement and immediate environment are all significant factors that impact livability. And because of this, there are many reasons why a particular shelter and its location my be detrimental to a particular person’s household. For example, I’ve written about Sick Building Syndrome, Radon Exposure, Asbestos, and Light Pollution, amongst other topics.

Regarding EMF exposure, three years ago I wrote the post –> Healthy Home: What You Need To Know About The Health Hazards Of Living Near Power Lines that discussed some of the issues of living around power lines – which emit low-level EMFs that are at the nexus of a health debate. Although evidence is not conclusive that power lines cause health problems through EMF transmission (a common issue of those with EMF is that there is rarely conclusive evidence), there is data to support a higher incidence of childhood leukemia which is alarming in its own right and portends that living near power lines is not healthy for some people.

Forgive me for my rather simplistic explanation, but for readers who are not familiar with this topic, in layman’s terms our human cells emit a multitude of electrical frequencies that operate our heart, nervous system, and muscles, etc. As humans living and connected on Planet Earth, Mother Nature provides an infinite supply of beneficial electrons that both fuel and ground us. However, as our societies have industrialized, and pulled us away from our natural state to a manufactured condition, our alignment with the earth’s natural magnetic fields can become disrupted by the interference of manufactured EMF’s. As we enter the technological revolution, this increase in EMF’s is causing some of us to ‘short out’ and ‘disconnect’, causing the natural magnetic field in some individual’s cellular structure to degenerate and malfunction, therein creating a host of health issues.

Although the number of groups of scholars and researchers who believe strongly that EMF exposure drives a number of debilitating and potentially dangerous health problems is expanding, it does not provide any physical comfort to those, like yourself, who suffer. It must be very difficult trying to navigate a world embedded with devices that debilitate you and, in your situation, even prompt you to sell your previous residence because the condominium corporation was moving forward with placing a cell tower on the roof directly above your suite. And it is also important for our readers to know that you did a substantial renovation on your current house that included lining your exterior walls in a product made of lead and silver that grounds and shields your dwelling from external EMF’s including wi-fi, cell phones and 5G cell towers. As you shared with me, this has been effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of your health issues, providing you stay indoors. After all, the moment you leave your home, even to spend time in your garden, you’re subject to interference by manufactured EMF’s.



It’s important to understand that avoiding EMF exposure isn’t simple. In our highly-connected electronic lives, we are exposed to EMF on a daily basis, including most daily activities such as using a microwave, having our laptop connected to Wi-Fi, or being near a cell phone tower. While the impact is low and has a negligible impact on most people, for those that experience health problems as a result of EMF exposure, even minimal exposure can be more than they can bear.

Technology has become a double-edged sword, because while it may make our lives easier and safer – as technology advances (and moves towards Artificial Intelligence) becoming the platform for everyday living – so does our reliance. As our attention-span decreases and our exposure to EMFs increase, might larger numbers of our population previously immune to any EMF impact also begin to suffer? The uncertainty of what could happen is why so many countries have introduced safety standards around EMF emission and exposure and, as the World Health Organization illustrates, why scientific organizations continue to reassess the criteria frequently as the changing landscape evolves.

In Canada, the level of EMF exposure is considered a Safety Code 6, which is based on scientific data provided by Health Canada. The standards set (which are not device specific) are meant to protect the whole population, including adults, children (who are inherently more vulnerable to EMF damage) and those who specifically work near EMF emissions. Our safety standards on EMF exposure mirror those of Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the European Union. Click here to read about Safety Code 6. And here’s a link to the Canadian Government’s page about –> 5G technology, cell phones, cell phone towers and antennas.

Dr. Sheena Symington, the director of the Electro Sensitivity Society, promotes the existence of safe housing for those who suffer from EMF sensitivity. It’s discussed in this Toronto Star article, “Electro Hypersensitivity Presentation To Carlow Mayo Council”. In it, she suggests that telecommunications companies need to be more proactive in creating low EMF cell tower-free areas, by making better use of fibre optics networks with no wireless components.

She also mentioned that typically, people seeking sanctuary from EMF exposure are turning to modular homes such as tiny homes or mobile homes, so that in the event electro-magnetic fields appear nearby they can relocate more easily. Imagine having to pack up your property-on-wheels and relocate every time the place you’ve called home is suddenly impacted by the arrival of an electro-magnetic field that leaves your health deteriorating? It would be sentenced to living a nomadic life without choice.



EMF Hypersensitivity

The health impacts from EMF exposure are real when you suffer from EMF hypersensitivity, which is also known as EHS or Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. The common symptoms impacting most individuals with EHS are those that affect the nervous system and include things like headaches, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms (i.e., prickling, burning, rashes etc.) muscle aches and more. For some people, this can be quite debilitating. They also report non-specific symptoms like lethargy, anxiety, etc.

One of the issues around EHS is that, although the symptoms are real, it can be challenging to get support – or even an accurate diagnosis. For many, uncovering what in their daily life is derailing their physical health when it’s not impacting anyone else in their household, extended family or social world can be trying. Even with a diagnosis, there are a limited number of options – either head for the hills and survive off-the-grid, or wrap yourself in an EMF Shield (note to fashion designers out there!) – both which can be really difficult to do when your health is compromised, you’re financially limited, or your landlord isn’t receptive to lining their investment property in lead. Which is why there’s a growing desire by people wanting to collectively create a viable, healthy and supportive community free from EMF interference.

Here is information on EHS from the World Health Organization.



EMF Zones Around The World

For anyone concerned about the physical health implications of EMF exposure, or perhaps those simply seeking a detox from technology for their mental health in today’s uber-connected lives (seriously, how frequently do you unplug from your electronic life?), what destinations exist where you can literally escape all the “eclectrosmog”?

Well, aside from creating your own community (which I will talk about shortly), there are some established EMF-free zones in the world that may provide you a temporary reprieve to rebalance. From a list of 40 options around the world (of which three are in Canada and mentioned below), here are some examples:

Green Bank West Virginia

Green Bank West Virginia – known as “The US Town With No Cell Phones” – is radio-quiet because it is home to Green Bank Observatory, where the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope resides. And for this telescope to operate, it needs near radio silence. That means no wi-fi, and limited if any cell phone reception.. Here’s a video tour, a CNN article called “The EMF-Free Town America’s Quietest Town Where Cell Phones Are Banned”, and this New York Times article: “No Cell Signal, No Wi-Fi, No Problem. Growing Up Inside America’s ‘Quiet Zone“.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains

Even a short getaway from EMF can be helpful for those who are hypersensitive, and a visit to the Quiet Dome in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California could be just the ticket. This dome was constructed to be toxin and EMF-free, and is nestled in acres of forest surrounded by mountains. It’s only 12 minutes away from the nearest town, but feels isolated and has no cell or wi-fi towers in a 2-mile radius. It runs on clean power and has no smart appliances – which create EMF, of course.

Horsefly, British Columbia

The Rose Hill Off-Grid Farm in Horsefly, BC, is an off-grid retreat without cell phones, smart meters, or routers, thereby generating very few EMFs. Operating using solar power, sourcing natural well water and relying on communication via satellite telephones, this eco-destination offers different types of shelter including campsites for rent.

Forest Hill, Nova Scotia

The Forest Hill Retreat is a 150-acre parcel of pristine land on Grassy Lake that is being developed much like a mobile-home park where you can rent as large a parcel of land as you require or as small as necessary to accommodate your budget and place whatever form of shelter you prefer, whether that be a tiny home, a yurt, a camper, or a tent. Each lot has access to water, power, the sewer and a road.

Osoyoos, British Columbia

Located 50 kilometres from Osoyoos, this radiation refuge called Cedar Rock is situated on 320 acres where no wireless devices are permitted is in the planning stages, but the intention is to create sustainable, non-toxic functional dwellings for those with moderate EHS, multiple chemical sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, and Parkinsons.

We also came across this post called –> Richmond movers discuss relocating to an EMF-free zone in Canada that provides additional insights.




Creating An EMF-Free Community

In the case of creating an EMF-free community, one of the most critical factors is finding a location that won’t be impacted at any point in the future by technology that creates an electro magnetic field, and yet is in proximity to services and amenities most people consider essential, like daily necessities and health care. How large a parcel of land is required to ensure a collective can stay EMF free by law and in perpetuity, or at least mitigate the risk for an extended period of time?

In terms of the physical building, Sheena Symington suggests the use of mobile homes or modular homes as preferable, as they permit flexibility in changing location if need be. The exploding popularity for tiny homes means they’re more accessible, making them a good option but, as I’ll discuss below, are not easy to finance.

Given that you are interested in creating a whole community, or even if you’re seeking a site for your own use, there are some additional considerations to include. Let’s explore!



About Buying Land

When it comes to placing a mortgage on vacant property, land purchases are treated with more regulation than buying an existing dwelling. In fact, when purchasing land one typically has to provide at least a 50 percent down payment. A buyer should also anticipate paying a higher interest rate for the loan, in addition to incurring other fees.

Lenders perceive the purchase of land only as risky (and the purchase of rural land as riskier still, because the opportunity to resell in the event the borrower defaults is more challenging because the pool of potential purchasers is smaller). Lenders also prefer land which has existing services to support a dwelling (i.e. a septic or sewer system, electricity, potable water, gas if available, and communication services like a phone line, even if you don’t want all of these) which may or may not be present with the parcel of land one is considering. Given that your intention with this land is to create a community that is more off-grid, it invites careful consideration in terms of capital investment.

What a buyer intends to do with the land purchase will also factor into the financing program. For example, if you are purchasing land with the intention of building a permanent dwelling, the lender’s approach will often include the future asset value of the house, and combine the to-be-built dwelling into a lending package. Again, in Canada lenders are much more comfortable financing conventional shelter – meaning a permanent structure that is of a size and with features we are familiar with – that is accessible for all seasons (ideally) and preferably on-the-grid.

The whole situation is a bit of an ironic conundrum, in that in Canada there are only five big banks who control the bulk of property lending and they’re very set in their old-fashioned inflexible risk-averse ways. They don’t like to finance only parcels of land because there are limited ways to generate an income, whereas if it had a dwelling it could earn a rent. However, they don’t like Tiny Homes or Mobile Homes or Modular Housing – which are all versions of the same thing – because they’re movable. Lenders operate with the fear that someone might steal the tiny home because it’s on wheels, even though in this day and age one could embed a GPS tag in an undisclosed location on it thereby allowing it to be tracked. Lenders also consider these kinds of impermanent shelter types as depreciating assets. Just like a car, the moment you drive it off the lot it’s value begins to drop as it deteriorates with wear and tear. Ironically, this is also the situation with any permanent structure one builds on a parcel of land, outside of the fact that it’s on a permanent foundation which could be as simple as concrete slab on grade.

Most lenders only want to lend people money when they’re seeking a mortgage for a parcel of land that has a permanent dwelling with services. Not one or the other but both. As a realtor in the City of Toronto who has been selling urban housing for thirty years, this has meant that for over two decades (outside of a month in 2008 and the past six months of 2022) freehold and condominium dwellings have consistently sold for higher dollar sums over time because the land has escalated in value due to desirability and demand – even when the condition of the permanent structure at the time of resale is inferior. In other words, lenders (and appraisers and most other shelter analysts) deem a parcel of land with a permanent shelter ultimately escalates in value faster and for more money than if the shelter was movable and the land was sold vacant. And they’re reluctant to place one mortgage to a person who wants to buy a parcel of vacant land and situate a modular home on it permanently within six months to a year of purchase. Imagine how many people with limited finances who qualify under the definition of being in need of affordable housing could potentially become homeowners if there was more flexibility on the part of lenders in financing different shelter types?  (** Here’s my post that explains how a habitable dwelling on a parcel of land is accorded the highest value in –> Dear Urbaneer: Should I Replace My Vintage Windows When My House Is Considered A Teardown?).




The Size Of The Parcel Of Land Is Also A Factor

If you’re considering a rural property purchase be aware most conventional lenders prefer properties that have 5 acres or less. Seriously! Whereas in the city the larger the lot the more valuable it is because you can build a bigger income-producing structure, if you are considering purchasing an extremely large parcel of rural land, the entire area may not be considered for the purposes of financing, which could potentially be problematic.

My friend and mortgage broker Jake (whom I miss after he passed away tragically), once shared a scenario that he experienced with a client, saying: “Typically lenders finance a house plus 5 acres. That’s the value. I had a deal where the land comprised a total of about 150 acres. The house and 5 surrounding acres had no water, but – way on the other side, there was water and road access. And guess what? This didn’t matter to the lenders; they would not take that into account at all”.

Also, if you are looking to purchase land only at this point in time, your lender may require you to purchase vacant land insurance. Sometimes land insurance is included with a homeowner insurance premium; sometimes it is not – and in this case, one might be required to purchase it separately.

It’s all about mitigating risk from the point of view of the lender – and any perceived risk generally is passed along to the homeowner via higher rates and/or higher down payment.




Due Diligence

As part of any buyer’s due diligence, I always recommend completing a property inspection. The prudent purchaser, after all, will be serving their best interests when they’re seeking a site that will suit them now and in the future.

My post called What Is And Isn’t Covered In A Home Inspection offers a synopsis of many of the issues associated with city property. And while it may seem straightforward when buying solely a piece of land, it’s important one enlists the necessary local experts to guide you on the opportunities and constraints of any given property.

A buyer should explore all of the factors that influence the highest and best use of a site, as well as those which can adversely impact its value or development potential including its topography, accessibility, proximity to Conservation Areas, or noxious uses which could impact future value, in addition to what one can physically build based on zoning, permitting, and availability of services like access to a water supply, septic requirements, and the availability of utilities, etc.

If any of these aren’t available, are they possible to install? What is the local authority’s development designation (i.e. will this permit you to build what you want)? Are there easements or access roads? Is it on a flood plain, a fact that could influence insurance coverage? Incidentally, have you seen this post of mine: Climate Risk Assessment And Real Estate Values.

If you miss any of these items, it could impact you significantly down the road, which is why enlisting professionals well-versed in all factors of a property is advisable.




Embarking On A Search For A Site

Looking for a property outside of the city is different than an urban dwell hunt – and different again if you seek specific criteria – like for a location to place tiny homes in an EMF-free zone.

I have two sets of friends, whose rural house hunt each took three years- and unfolded a little differently than they had anticipated. They would regularly embark on road trips to discover the different regions surrounding Toronto for a country home that would serve them as they age in place.

One of the commonalities between both couples surprised me. They discovered that finding an area that appealed to both of them took longer than anticipated. Not only were they trying to meet their practical needs – like a reasonable commute time to and from the city, having necessities like shopping, health care, and snow plows in proximity, and finding a site that was accessible and manageable in all four seasons – but marrying those criteria with the landscape they desired – both in terms of sight lines, privacy and quiet (neither wanted to hear highway traffic) – and ensuring the flavour of the immediate community aligned with their own values and beliefs was much harder than they imagined.

Patience and flexibility are essential on any property hunt, but when you are looking beyond the city, it is crucial – because there are additional variables, and elements to include on your wish list.

Have you read my post, So You Want To Buy A Country Home? Of paramount in rural properties, particularly for you – is where the land is located- and what it is located near – and is that likely to change in the future? After all, if you build a whole community envisioning pastoral living, and then development interrupts your peace and quiet, that is a major issue. Check out this past post: Dear Urbaneer: What Can I Do About Proposed Real Estate Developments Near My Home?.

Now in terms of tiny homes, there are a number of criteria that need to be met in order to proceed. The province of Ontario has a good summary here. Namely, the land needs to meet zoning requirements, permitted land uses, water and sewer access, if you need additional municipal provisions etc.

As for the tiny home structure itself, will it meet the CSA standards for a tiny home? Will it be covered by the Tarion home warranty? Some factory-built homes are built to withstand certain weather conditions. Is yours appropriate for your intended location? There are standards around size, smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, windows and emergency access as well.


*Image credit: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


There’s a lot at stake when you’re seeking a specific solution to your domestic wishes, wants and needs. Especially given our homes play an essential role in our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. It’s all about balance and being able to have the freedom to live the life you dream of – at home! With decades of experience in guiding both buyers and sellers through the complexity of their shelter requirements – whether purchasing for the first time, climbing the property ladder, or downsizing to age in place, my team and I are here to help!



*Thank you to DefenderShield. All rights to the title image belong to this firm.


Check out my Healthy Home Series, as well as these additional posts:

–> Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs For Buyers – And – For Sellers

–> Dear Urbaneer: How Do I Know This Is The Right Home To Buy?

–> Climate Risk Assessment And Real Estate Values

–> Dear Urbaneer: What Can I Do About Proposed Real Estate Developments Near My Home?


Thanks for reading!



~ Steven

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-8000

– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –

Celebrating Thirty Years As A Top-Producing Toronto Realtor


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