Transitioning from a traditional city or suburban lifestyle to that of a more rural homestead is occurring with greater frequency these days. The call to live the ultimate do-it-yourself life appeals to many different types of people, and with a little bit of planning and forethought, mixed with drive and determination, most can successfully create a self-sufficient homestead of their own.
Building a homestead from scratch, or even purchasing an established homestead, is an exciting step forward in making that transition, but it is vitally important to budget and plan for each aspect of the new venture. Failure to be financially prepared has left many would-be homesteaders scratching their heads and wondering where they went wrong.
A major part of launching a homestead involves the initial startup costs. Startup costs include acreage, dwellings and outbuildings, seeds and livestock, but they also should include such details as alternative energy sources, water sources and purification methods, necessary farm equipment, and other basic needs that the homestead is not yet producing.
Below are some helpful considerations to start with.
Land of Your Own
After determining the minimum amount of acreage that will be sufficient, the search for the perfect location can begin. Land prices vary greatly, so those who are willing to relocate may have the opportunity to save a significant amount of money. Some rural locations are looking for families to relocate and offer homestead contracts for acreage at drastically reduced prices. In other areas, though, it is much harder to purchase just a few acres. Some locations have laws against farmers selling small acreage allotments along the edges of their properties. Before contacting a landowner, check local ordinances for such restrictions. Renting  is also a budget-friendly option for those who are just getting their feet wet in homesteading and not ready to commit.
In pioneer days, a hastily constructed dwelling was erected, while time and attention was given to the barns and other outbuildings. Despite the suburbs filled home of enormous proportions, a new trend is emerging: the tiny house . If the acreage set aside for the homestead does not have a preexisting dwelling, there are several options from which to choose. A traditionally constructed farmhouse is the most expensive option, but it also the one that people feel most comfortable with. Small homes constructed from sheds, cargo containers and other salvaged materials are a recent trend that can be much more cost-efficient. Some homesteaders even are living in yurts.
On the Farm
Barns and other outbuildings are essential on the homestead. Providing shelter for the livestock and protection for precious feed, these buildings can be acquired in much the same manner as the principle dwelling.
Even good quality used equipment will set the new homesteader back some. Budgeting for the necessary equipment is a must. For those pieces of machinery that are for convenience, try bartering with a neighbor or acquaintance to reduce the initial investment in equipment.
Seeds, trees and other perennial plants may not seem like a source of budget woes, but these relatively small purchases can add up quickly.
Livestock can be bartered for or purchased outright. The biggest expense for the new homestead is feed costs. For the first few years, livestock will need to have their feed supplemented until the homestead can produce enough feed to sustain itself.
Off-grid living and homesteading go seemingly hand in hand. Even if living off the grid is not the intention of the owners, alternative energy sources are a positive when faced with power outages and rising utility rates. Solar power systems, wind turbines and hydroelectric outfits have become more readily available for the consumer.
While focusing on the dream of starting your homestead, it may be easy to lose sight of the fact that daily necessities will still need to be budgeted. Food not produced on the homestead will need to be purchased, and toiletries, clothing and other miscellaneous household supplies will need to be replaced. Buying ahead or setting aside a portion of the budget to prepare for them can be a great help.
What advice would you add for purchasing a first homestead? Share your advice in the section below: