STARTING YOUR NEW HOMESTEAD
When you’re starting a homestead, the plan is where it all begins. So why not begin with the end in mind? We’ve created an assessment that takes you step-by-step through the most critical aspects of your homestead, and what’s important to you about each one.
Take 3 minutes and go through this assessment now. It will help you distill down your ideas and aspirations into concrete goals. This proves to be a priceless step as you begin to envision the kind of property that you want (plus it’s free!). At the end of the assessment, you will get a prioritized plan of action.
Homesteading in Place?Some of you might not be able or have the desire to move to a new property. Family situations, disease, finances, or a host of other circumstances may necessitate that you stay put (at least for a bit). So build your homestead right where you are! If you fall into this category, take the "homestead in place"assessment instead
If the goal of the modern homestead is productivity, then the first question to ask yourself is what does a productive homestead look like in terms of:
- Food Production – Annual vegetables? Do I want a fruit and nut orchard? Other trees, vines and perennials? Chickens? Goats? What does your backyard farm look like?
- Water – Am I going to try to run my entire property with water that I source on site? Perhaps my house too?
- Energy – Is it my goal to be 100% off-grid? Is it important that I heat my house entirely with wood gathered on-site?
Once you’ve really thought through the self-sufficient component of your ideal homestead, it’s time to turn your sites to the location.
- Region – What region of your country or state are you wanting to be in? How firm of an idea do you have? Are you open to logically picking a region for your homestead out of fit, or are you already set on region? In a large country the U.S., there are many different climates, growing zones, and topographies to choose from.
- How remote? – The other part of the concept of “location”, deals with your distance from the city. How close or far do you want to be? Will you be in the urban downtown, or the rural countryside? Small town? Outskirts area? Remember that with the annoyances of the city, come some infrastructure and amenities that you can’t put a price tag on (hospitals, schools, etc)
- Proximity to family and loved ones – Another very real aspect of where you live is the distance that you are from other family and loved ones. This is personal, and everybody is on a different page. Some people will be starting a homestead on the same land as their family, and others want to be as far away as possible. How big of a factor is this? Be realistic and give it some thought.
Level of Development
The next question about your homestead is, “how developed do you want it to be?” Is there already a house on the property, or will you be building one? Some of us prefer to find a homestead that has an existing house, while others truly want to start with a raw piece of land and build everything from the ground up
In addition to the house, does the homestead have any other infrastructure that has already been developed? Sheds, shops, or barns? Has there been any grading or earthworks done? Any road development?
How about water features? Are there any ponds, water catchments or cisterns? A well? Any orchards or food growing on the property?
In this life everything is a trade off, and the level of existing development on your homestead is no exception. In general, starting a homestead from scratch means that you’ll spend less money, and end up with something closer to what you want, but it will take much longer, and give you more gray hair.
By contrast, moving to an established homesteading property will likely mean: a little more money for something that’s not exactly what you would’ve built, but a giant savings of time and stress.
Remember, perennial food production doesn’t happen overnight (or even in 1 season). It can take 5-10 years for many fruit and nut trees to get established, and really start hitting their stride. And even the timeline alone doesn’t make it automatic. There’s no telling if your young trees will be destroyed by a storm when they’re 2 years old. For this reason, we strongly encourage homesteaders not to discount properties that have decent food production already underway.
And now for the bad news… 😉
We all wish we had endless resources, but that’s unfortunately not the reality.
For starters, money. How much can you realistically afford? If you will be purchasing a new property, then what is your price range? Whether you purchase a new property, or are homesteading your existing property, how much do you have for improvements?
It’s not bad to have a budget, it just helps you focus more tightly on what your priorities are. The constraint of money will affect all of the above categories – – self sufficiency goals, location, and the level of development.
Another constraint that will significantly affect your homestead plan, is how close you need to be to certain necessities. There are some amenities that are “nice-to’s”, but then there are other amenities that are “have-to’s.”
The most critical of these necessities are medical facilities. If you have somebody in your household that has medical needs, this is a non-compromise.
Proximity to schools and jobs are two other necessities to be thinking about. You need to be located strategically enough to keep the important parts of your life going.
Job flexibility is another big potential limitation. Although we touched on it lightly above, being whether or not you are tethered to a specific physical location because of a job will significantly impact where you can start your homestead.
Do you have the potential to relocate, or transfer to another office in your current job? Could you arrange to work completely online?
Finally, the amount of time that you have available to work on cresting your homestead, could be a big constraint.
Is your life is so crazy right now that it would be unrealistic to spend more than an hour here or there setting up your homestead? Do you have a lot of time you will be devoting? Or Is it somewhere in between?
Many of us have full-time jobs that we can’t just up and quit, but setting up a homestead does take significant time. Lots of thinking, trips to the hardware store, and in a lot of cases, actually doing the work.
Perhaps the last constraint to consider is whether or not you will have any help in getting things done. Do you have other family members and friends who are available to help on a regular or at least semi regular basis? Or are you going it alone?
The assessment that we put together goes into a lot more specifics with the above questions, and then gives detailed recommendations for your situation. It will help you to get started putting together your own plan for starting your homestead.