Pros and Cons of Homesteading – What are the benefits of living in Homestead?

Pros and Cons of Homesteading

What are the benefits of living in Homestead?

The benefits of homesteading are manifold. The Homestead Act provides a homestead exemption, which allows property owners to protect the value of their primary residence from property taxes and creditors. This act extends to life tragedies, protecting the surviving spouse when one of the homeowners passes away. With this property-tax exemption, the homeowner can shield a part of their residence’s value from property taxes. It is usually the case that the first $25,000 to $75,000 of a home’s estimated value is exempt from property taxes.

  • So, if you obtain a $50,000 homesteading exemption, you will be liable to pay the remaining residence assessed value. This way, your main asset as a homesteader, your property, will be taxed at a lower rate.
  • The second pro is that you get to reside in a tranquil place if you live in a rural area. Homesteads are generally separate from the hustle and bustle of modern society. As a result, they are wonderful places for people who want to retire or even raise a family.
  • This adds to a sense of well-being and privacy you don’t get in large cities or towns.
  • The third pro is no matter if you live rural, suburban, or urban area you are providing fresh, clean, and good quality food for your family.

The purpose of a homestead is to live a self-sufficient lifestyle.

  • You will be able to start supplying yourself with a vast array of home-produced items, from food to natural hygiene products.
  • You can earn a reasonable living from homesteading alone, which is a great investment for those interested.
  • You can save a lot of money, as your trips to the grocery store could no longer be required.
  • Other bills you would be responsible for paying in an urban dwelling, such as water and electricity, can become obsolete if you arrange ways of acquiring these necessities through less costly means, like gathering rainwater and utilizing solar panels.

Disadvantages of homesteading

There are benefits to working on a homestead but also drawbacks to consider.

  • The first is the smell.
    • You will be surrounded by livestock, other animals, and manure if you opt for a homestead in a rural area, and this will impact whether you enjoy your lifestyle or not. This may be part of the package, but it may be a complete deal breaker to others.
    • However, this issue can be solved if you are willing to make an exception and invest in some diffusers for your home that may help with the smell. This may not be an issue if you are doing a homestead in an urban setting.
    • Your land plot will probably be much smaller, resulting in the ability to only raise chickens. The biggest drawback in this scenario will be a decrease in space if you opt for a backyard homestead.
    • Your garden and chickens will require a significant area to function, using up all the space that may have been available.
    • Again, some people could be indifferent to this, while others could consider it a con, so be mindful of your personal needs in this case.
  • The second disadvantage has to do with connectivity to the outer world.
    • This may be the reason why some people want to have a homestead in the first place because it allows them to live a more peaceful and secluded life; however, you will be cut off from immediate access to several things like instant medical care and even shopping.
    • Moreover, there may be issues with signal and connectivity, so you might not be as connected via the internet or your phone, which could be an issue.
    • Urban living probably won’t experience this, as they are not subject to the same disconnecting effect as their rural counterparts.
    • Urban homesteading allows you to bring self-sufficiency to the comfort of your home while still enjoying the conveniences and comforting aspects of city life.

Finally, a homestead requires a lot of work | What do homesteaders do all day?

It is a lifestyle commitment and will take up huge chunks of your day if you have opted for a larger piece of land. Moreover, residing in a larger homestead will demand more hands for labor and is more suitable for a larger family, as they will be able to handle the shared responsibility of managing the chores to keep their homestead functional and thriving.

Some people think of a homestead, and the image of an quiet setting surrounded by produce producing gardens, livestock and the open blue sky comes to mind, yet the creation and maintenance of these conditions require real human effort. If you have a smaller homestead, you may be able to manage the homestead independently.

Although less difficult than a larger land plot, it is still a major responsibility. No matter how large or small your homestead is, its creation and success will require planning to the level of detail, perseverance, and a positive outlook when things don’t necessarily go your way.

Therefore it’s important to take a close personal look at who you are, as this will help you determine whether you are suited for homestead living. Ultimately, the desire to start one must come from a profound place, such as a deep longing or financial need, as your ‘why’ will sustain you through any ‘how’ required to keep your homestead up and running.

Why do people homestead? What Is Homesteading?

Why do people homestead? What Is Homesteading?

So, you have decided that you want to invest in building a homestead. It is essential to know what it is and its purpose to create something.

It is common for people to mistake a homestead for a farm, although they are vastly different. Daniel Mark Schwartz (n.d.) writes that “farms are generally larger, averaging over 400 acres in the United States, which are designed to grow crops for profit. Homesteaders live and work on their land, whereas farmers often don’t.”

You may be asking yourself if you sell food from a homestead, does that make you a farm? If a farmer consumes their products, does that make them a homestead? The lines can be easily blurred, but there are still significant ways to tell them apart.

  • For instance, a homestead will be known for growing a wide assortment of food, as its primary purpose is to provide for the family.
  • On the other hand, a farm will tend to specialize in producing a particular food or a few crops to maximize sales.
  • This causes homesteaders to primarily rely on the food grown on their land for a living, whereas farmers rely on the profit their food sales will bring, even though they may consume their corn or avocados sometimes.
  • This fundamental difference between the purpose of each land leads to different production methods. A homesteader will opt for low-volume manual production, as the magnitude of what they produce is not as large as that of a farmer, who tends to invest in agricultural machinery, such as harvesters and tractors.
  • The sheer volume of work required to generate produce and meet production standards demands technological assistance.
  • However, homesteaders can make a little extra income from selling some of the produce grown on their land plot to local restaurants or farmer’s markets. Yet, the magnitude of the plot and the primary intention behind its acquisition must be considered to offer a complete picture of what a homestead is.

What’s the difference between a homestead and a farm?

Homesteads tend to be far smaller in size than farms. There is no prescribed size for either, but the purpose is far different. The Homestead Act allows families to harbor 160 acres, yet this size is still relatively large, even by modern standards.

Most homesteads are plots of land ranging from 5-20 acres for usability and cost benefits. Most families tend to be okay with this range as it allows them to be self-sufficient.

What also seems to be popular is plots of land under 5 acres in neighborhoods where people are doing backyard homestead. They want the benefits of being self-sufficient but not away from everything.

Why is it called homestead?

The difference in the size of the plot leads to the next point, which is that homesteaders tend to live on their property, whereas farmers don’t. The nomenclature gives this away, but the word’s true origins date back to the Homestead Act of 1862, which Abraham Lincoln signed. The act sought to provide parcels of land to families prepared to build a home and ameliorate the land over five years.

Unlike homesteaders, farmers are not required to reside on their plots. It was not uncommon for farmers to do so in the past, particularly in the antebellum South. Yet, this practice has declined over the years, with farmers choosing to reside in tiny farm towns or other personal residences.

Is homesteading becoming popular?

Now that we know what a homestead is let us elaborate on why people choose to become homesteaders. It is easy to assume that all homesteaders share the same beliefs and reasons for choosing homesteading, but that’s not the case.

  • Some people start a homestead from a place of abundance; after having successful careers, they decide to retire to a more self-sufficient way of life. These people generally have the financial means to purchase and invest in the infrastructure to fully reap the benefits of the lifestyle.
  • Others may be approaching homesteading from a less prolific stance; after having experienced financial hardship, they want to construct a humble stronghold to provide sustenance for their families.
  • Other people want to become closer to nature and share physical labor. It is common for people to want to escape the “rat race” and sever ties with the industrial complex in pursuit of a more organic way of living.

There is a great joy, and a certain level of connection, which comes from a piece of fruit that was personally grown and tended to. These are practices that are lost for the average urban dweller and seeking to restore a connection with this aspect of humanity is what leads some to become homesteaders.

Homesteading is a term that encompasses multiple varieties. It can be a complicated notion to fully grasp because it is a complex way of living. The official definition of homesteading is to adopt a self-sufficient lifestyle. Although the definition seems relatively simple, it is important to address the various nuances of the movement.

What do homesteaders do all day?

The homesteader lifestyle can take on many forms. This depends on whether the homestead is in a rural, suburban, or urban area. When they begin their project, the person’s financial standing has the most noticeable impact on what the homestead will look like.

The core purpose of self-sufficiency remains present, but its real-life application varies regarding economic prowess. Older homesteads were more akin to those displayed in Little House on the Prairie, being large plots of land that produced sustenance for its occupants. These plots were usually as large as 160 acres.

Modern homesteads aren’t necessarily in the middle of nowhere like their prototypical counterparts and are typically selective in the type of habits that they require for sustainability. This could be gathering rainwater, setting up urban gardens, engaging in subsistence agriculture, hunting, composting, crafting, making clothes, digging a well for water, utilizing wind or solar energy, raising chicken or other livestock, wood burning for heat, and even forgoing the use of money for a barter system.

All of this may sound overwhelming for the average urban dweller. Still, it’s important to note that homesteading can start with something as small as being able to chop your firewood or raising a small number of chickens in the backyard as you work your way up to the more difficult habits that may be appealing to you.

Make a choice for homestead That’s the Best for Your Family.

Make a choice for homestead That’s the Best for Your Family

You decided that you want to begin living a more self-sufficient life and consider giving homesteading a shot. You must figure out what your options are, and which one would suit your family best. You want to ensure that your goals and the resources you can acquire for your homestead are as congruent as possible.

  • Suppose you live in the city and don’t wish to completely forgo some of the conveniences that it offers but want to grow your food and have a few chickens lying around Like family A in New York.
    • In that case, you may want to consider staying in your current neighborhood and having a backyard homestead.
    • This would allow you to change your lifestyle in the areas that matter most to you (in this case, self-sufficient nutrition) while not having to necessarily forgo the things that are productive and conducive to your desired lifestyle.
  • Suppose you want to immerse yourself in the full homesteading experience, perhaps with larger animals, gardens, and alternative energy sources like family B and C.
    • In that case, you may want to consider doing a homestead in a less urban or more rural area, as these would provide you with your land requirements.
    • You want to guarantee your family’s well-being.

Deciding to start a homestead when you just had a newborn child may be an adventure to some and a complete disaster to others. Uprooting your life and taking your teenage children to Wyoming after living in New Jersey may or may not be the best thing to do at that time.

  1. Sit down with your family and gauge everyone’s needs. Decide what would work best at that given moment and what would be beneficial in the long term.
  2. Once you have laid out your plans, pick what type of homesteading you will be doing, and decided where you will be staying, you can begin to organize your finances.
  3. You want to be in a place where you are saving enough for the purchases you intend to make and try to be as debt free as possible.
  4. A person deciding to move across the country to build a homestead from scratch will have a vastly different budgeting plan compared to someone who wants to start a backyard homestead.
  5. This is a different journey for everyone, and about your brand of self-sufficiency. Do what benefits you and your family, and make sure you are making decisions that are fueled by practicality and passion.

I. How to Set Up Your Home

You have started your homesteading project and are excited about all the animals and plants you will introduce to your land.

  • Ensure that you have moved in completely before beginning any long-term projects that will require your time, dedication, and effort.
    • Growing a garden and bringing animals onto your land is a journey, and you want to be able to dedicate as much of your time to learning and perfecting yourself in your new lifestyle.
    • The last thing you want is to figure out that you did not take enough time to contemplate the design and functionality of certain areas in your household because you were too preoccupied with getting seeds and buying chickens.
  • If you already live in a house that you simply have added a homestead to, then you may need to give yourself some time to make your house more homestead friendly.
    • You will likely have access to more food, and this food will require storage spaces.
    • You want to be able to get creative about where things can go so that your produce and animals blend in seamlessly with your current setup, as opposed to making everything highly confusing.
  • If you have moved into a new homestead, with a home or without, you want to either build or renovate areas like the kitchen, where most of the food would be laid out.

In both scenarios, you want to scope out as much space as you can for your animals, make their shelters, and secure their safety before bringing any home.

  • You want to observe your land for at least a year and become genuinely acquainted with how your landscape functions.
  • You want to get to know your neighbors and forge supportive connections with them.
  • You want to build your fences and get your family involved with everything.
  • You want to settle in slowly but intelligently, allowing yourself and your family members to acclimate and learn how to manage their newfound way of living.

II. Planting the Garden

You have finally started your garden and want to get started growing.

  • Figure out what types of foods your family would enjoy eating and start planting them.
    • You can also plant things that would be great to sell since this could provide you with an added income stream, whether from microgreens or perennials (plants that grow annually).
    • You want to get acquainted with the knowledge of knowing your hardiness zone and learn what you can plant in your specific zone and when.
    • You want to know when the last and first frost occurs in your zone so that you can plant your produce at the optimal time.
  • The process of growing your garden is exciting because you can begin exploring what garden type you want or, in some instances, need for your product to thrive.
    • You want to invest in a cold frame and learn how to grow plants throughout the winter, so you have an ample supply of produce throughout the colder months.
    • Learning how to care for your garden becomes an extremely important skill to acquire. It will help you maintain its quality while keeping potential pests and other unwanted elements away.
    • This is the time when you will learn how to fertilize your soil for optimal growth and adopt strategies to keep animals out of your garden, such as growing certain herbs that keep them away or fencing your space appropriately.
    • Gardening is a process that requires maintenance and consistency, so you want to craft a schedule that will help you stay on top of all the monthly, weekly, and seasonal chores that are required to keep your garden thriving.

III. Getting the Animals

Bringing animals into the homestead can be one of the most exciting experiences, but you want to ensure that you are ready to adopt the responsibility.

  • First, it’s important to figure out what kind of animals your homestead’s acreage will allow.  Your land plot and location will determine what animals you can keep and what those animals will be able to provide for you that is of value.
  • Once you have established what animals you will be able to homestead, figure out how you will go about providing shelter for all of them.
  • Different animals will demand different housing, food, and space. Which should be factored in from the beginning.
    • Creating shelters may require fencing in the case of goats, a coop in the case of chickens, and A-frames if you intend on raising pigs.
    • You also want to explore the different ways that you can save money with your animals by growing your feed. If you have a larger land plot, then creating a separate garden that is strictly for animal produce growth may be helpful.
    • You may even want to think about how you dispose of your kitchen scraps, as these could prove to be more useful as animal feed than compost material.
    • You may want to look into growing fodder as well. If you raise animals for meat, then you will want to get acquainted with the butchering process because it is cheaper to do it yourself. Make sure you learn from an expert.
  • Animals like chickens, beef cattle, and ducks can provide excellent sources of meat protein for your family. You will need a day-to-day and month-to-month schedule to take care of your animals. This list of chores will vary depending on the time of the year.

IV. Harvesting and Preserving

The purpose of having a garden is to have it bear fruit. Once you start harvesting, you might find that you have a lot of products that won’t be consumed within the necessary time frame. This is where the preservation of foods can come in handy.

Growing food (at least outdoors) is not feasible when the winter months come around. You want to preserve as much from your harvest as possible, as well as the meat you have acquired from the animals on your farm. This is where a big portion of the creative process of food happens in a homestead.

You can learn to preserve your produce by fermenting, making jams, freezing, infusing, drying, pressure canning, and water bath canning. Learning how to preserve your products will help you make the most out of your garden.

However, preserving is not simply for consumption, as you can also make hygiene products with what your garden provides. Engaging in product creations that bring you joy, and satisfaction makes the process more sustainable, to the point where you can find yourself doing it consistently and generating an extra income source from the sales of your harvest.

V. Think Long-Term

You have your homestead set up, and it’s up and running. Your garden is established and provides your family with food. Your animals are in their designated shelters, and everything seems to be functioning accordingly. It is a great place to be, and you should be proud of yourself for having undergone such a transformative process in your life. However, you want to continue thinking long-term.

The point of having a homestead is to live a life of self-sufficiency. It would be ideal if you could continuously ameliorate your homesteading situation as the years go by to make it as self-sufficient as possible.

Picture a family that raises their cattle and has a plentiful garden.

  • They have become close to 100% self-sufficient in terms of their dietary requirements.
  • They could easily boost this by beginning to use the fruits of their garden to create homemade products or to sell their harvest at a farmer’s market.
  • If this family has a plot of unused land, they can begin renting a portion of their property to other farmers who will gladly pay rent to further their business.
  • This family could decide to prioritize making clothes from the yarn generated by their sheep’s wool. They can find ways to boost their self-sufficiency even further by storing their fuel and water.
  • This would help them buffer against the potential power outages that may occur in their areas and potential droughts.

Nothing screams self-sufficiency like a barter system, in which a homesteader can engage in trade with other neighboring families. This would take away the family’s prioritization of actual money and bring back the focus to the product’s value from a subject standpoint.