Should You Build Your Own Homestead?

Reader Contribution by Bobbi Peterson
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Have you ever wanted to escape reality entirely, head off to an exclusive enclave somewhere and hope it will solve all your problems? Most of us have, but also realize running away doesn’t solve much!

Homesteading can be equally enticing at first glance, and while it does prove to be an idyllic existence for those so inclined to that lifestyle, the road there is not an easy one.

If you have been toying with the idea of building a homestead, you could be scratching the surface of something fantastic, or something not so suited to you. Let’s take a look at what you should know before making such a significant decision.

1) What’s Your Goal?

Homesteading is indeed a liberating concept, but take a step back and assess your longer-term goals before committing yourself and your nearest and dearest to the unknown.

Ask yourself, “Do I just want to improve the sustainability of my current lifestyle, or go fully ‘off the grid?’”

Homesteading has been known to involve the purchase of a 30-acre plot of land and a brood of rescue hens. However, perhaps you can satiate your hankering for pursuing simplicity with less extreme decisions. Switching to renewable energy, for example, can be one step toward achieving more sustainability, or perhaps modernizing your kitchen for improved energy efficiency. Do your research and understand the full spectrum of what setting up a homestead entails. Ideally, talk to someone who already has a homestead.

If there are more pressing motivators behind your interest in homesteading, such as financial goals, do whatever you can to take the pressure off. That way, you can make your decision with a clear head, as opposed to out of necessity.

2) Are You Ready to Work? And Then Work Some More?

Homestead living is hard work. Seriously hard work. Even life on a smaller homestead involves long and tiring days. Depending on the degree of your homesteading ambition, you can expect to find yourself immersed in many, if not all, of the following:

• Planting and maintaining your garden, harvesting fruits and vegetables and learning crop rotation methods

• Canning your fresh produce or finding other methods to preserve it

• Building a chicken coop and raising and tending to farm animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week

• Making dairy products

• Beekeeping

• Learning how to make your own clothes

Homesteading is a full-time job and then some — you are, of course, working to survive, but it’s not exactly a desk job. But it could be the most satisfying job you’ll ever have: Homesteaders report a massive sense of accomplishment from this way of life, and incredible satisfaction from managing their own destiny, learning new skills and being truly free in a libertarian sense.

3) The Million-Dollar Question

Home is where we are happiest, but naturally, the rat race of city life and the constant pursuit of material goods can take its toll — in more ways than one. Financial relief is one of the main attractions for many homesteaders.   

While homesteading can save money in the long run, it is not a cheap option at the outset. Furthermore, if you are going it alone, or don’t have all the skills and tools required for upcoming projects, you will need to spend money regularly on outside help.

Homesteading could be the answer to your dissatisfaction with your current lifestyle, but it could also just be a romantic notion. Ensure you take pressures away and do all the research you can before making the decision!

Photo by Getty Images/JamesBrey

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