The idea of becoming a homesteader and living a more simple, old-fashioned lifestyle is, for many people, both exciting and daunting. If you’re deeply entrenched in your regular lifestyle, the idea of uprooting everything you know and trying something new can be a little scary. But I’m here to tell you that it’s nowhere near as hard as it sounds and everyone–no matter where you live–can be a homesteader.
What are homesteaders?
There are a lot of misconceptions about homesteaders out there, but no matter what else you might think, the most important thing to remember is that homesteading looks different for everyone. Some homesteaders live in the middle of nowhere with livestock and are completely off the grid. Others live in suburbs with a few rabbits and a garden in the back. Some even live in apartments in the city with homemade cleaning supplies and plants on the balcony. No matter where you live, you CAN be a homesteader.
While some people may disagree with me I think that at the end of the day, homesteading is all about living an independent and sustainable lifestyle. It’s about doing things yourself and creating a home together with hard work and those you love; it shouldn’t matter where that home might be. So don’t let someone tell you that you’re not a homesteader because you don’t have cows or because you don’t like gardening and live in a loft. Everyone defines homesteading differently.
How do I start?
Once you decide to take the leap and start your first step towards becoming an old-fashioned homesteader, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. There’s just so many things to consider!
There are a lot of different parts to becoming a homesteader, and the most important thing is to do what you’re comfortable with. No matter where you live, you need to first decide what things you want to change. If you want to live more simply, then maybe you should start by purging and getting rid of some of your excess things. If your goal is to become self-sufficient then learning about canning and gardening is probably a good place to begin. Or maybe you simply want to balance the old-fashioned and modern lifestyles. Whatever your choice, always be on the lookout to learn new skills!
Of course, while all of that is important, there are so many different kinds of homesteading. Where do you start? Well, here are some ideas for what homesteading might look like, depending on where you live:
If you live in the city
It’s a pretty common misconception that if you don’t live in the country, then you can’t homestead. However, in recent years, urban homesteading has become quite popular. You might not be able to have cows and horses, but there are still a lot of things you can do including cooking from scratch, growing potted garden plants, creating your own soaps and items, and embracing the do-it-yourself mentality! Visit farmer’s markets whenever possible and experiment with old-fashioned solutions (like using baking soda instead of chemicals) for household problems.
If you live in the suburbs
If you live in the suburbs, then you have even more options available to you. In addition to the suggestions above, if you own your own property you might be able to plant your own garden and perhaps even do some canning to save money in the winter months. Water bath canning is a great place for beginners to start and while it’s a little bit of work, the benefits far outweigh the time and effort involved.
Depending on where you live, you might also be able to have some small livestock like chickens or rabbits in your backyard. Each city has different rules for this, though, so be sure to check with your city council before trying it.
If you live in the country
Contrary to popular belief, not every person who lives in the country considers themselves “homesteaders” and that’s totally okay! If you already live in the country but are interested in becoming a homesteader, then you can do all of the above things plus work towards greater self-sustainability. Livestock is one option and harvesting gray water or using solar panels are common for people interested in living off the grid. There are numerous resources on the internet for both of those things if that’s something that interests you.
However, just because you live in the country doesn’t mean you need to bale hay or own cows or have a huge garden. You can follow any or all of the above tips to start working your way towards an old-fashioned homesteading lifestyle.
Wow, that’s a lot of work!
My father always said that nothing worth doing is easy, and I can’t say that I disagree. While it might seem like a lot to take in all at once, remember that you don’t have to become an old-fashioned guru overnight. It takes time! Pick one thing to change a month (or maybe even every other month) and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you adapt. Some things will work and some things won’t, but that’s the glory of living the old-fashioned lifestyle–there’s always something else to try!
Do you have any questions about starting on the homesteading livestyle or tips for someone just starting out? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a note in the comments below!