Are you ready to get out of the big city and head for the country, embrace a more simplistic lifestyle, and start a new life homesteading? Or maybe you’re seeking the best states for homesteading in the USA that won’t cost too much money.
If so, you’re not alone. We’ve been working towards a completely off-grid homesteading way of life for several years.
It’s a borderline-genius way to live – closer to nature, more active, unplugged, and traditional.
My wife and I love it!
And we think, this year, we can make the switch permanently. And never have to live in a crowded city again. Yeah us!
But, to the point, which are the best states for homesteading in the good ol’ USA in 2023?
Our land’s in Kentucky, but various states offer excellent blends of what it takes to make homesteading a dream lifestyle for more and more homesteaders every year.
Continue reading along as we review some of the key features you should look for when considering which location to build and develop a homestead – and some of the best states for homesteading in the USA!
But, real fast, let’s have a critical history lesson.
- Super-Fast History Lesson: The Homestead Act of 1862
- Why the State and Community You Choose for Homesteading Matters – A Lot
- Vital Circumstances to Consider for Homesteading
- Some of the Best States for Homesteading In the USA
- Closing Thoughts about the Best States for Homesteading in the USA
Super-Fast History Lesson: The Homestead Act of 1862
Homesteading was a core factor of the westward expansion of the United States of America. The settlement of the American West would have been A LOT different without homesteading laws!
The US National Archives reports, “President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862, which gave citizens or future citizens up to 160 acres of public land provided they live on it, improve it, and pay a small registration fee. The government granted more than 270 million acres of land while the law was in effect.”
Today, while some localities offer free land to homesteaders to expand dwindling populations, the government has (mostly) ceased helping people live outside of the cities and their electrical grids, water delivery facilities, and especially, their legal systems.
But that can’t stop you from living your homesteading dream. You have to approach it differently nowadays, and that’s OK!
Let’s also analyze what to look for when deciding on the best state for homesteading for your family.
There are a few enticing options, and we should review them now.
Homesteading is exciting!
Why the State and Community You Choose for Homesteading Matters – A Lot
Now that you know you want to make the permanent lifestyle switch to homesteading, it’s vital to research the best place to begin your journey.
Changing your way of life and embracing a more down-to-earth, simplistic lifestyle is a significant transformation!
You’ll be leaving behind the modern amenities of the city and embracing a more self-sufficient life. And the state and community that you choose are of paramount importance.
There are loads of options across the country awaiting you – whether you want to live completely off-grid and source your electricity and water or take a more luxurious approach to life.
While certain areas in every state allow homesteading, you can’t do it anywhere you choose.
Typically, this works out well because the areas where you’re not allowed to start a homestead are areas where you probably wouldn’t want to anyway.
So, before we look at the individual states I believe are most conducive to a homesteading lifestyle, let’s review some imperative considerations before deciding on any particular location.
Here we go!
Vital Circumstances to Consider for Homesteading
Regardless of how self-sufficient you want to be in the future, consider state and local laws that regulate what you will be legally allowed to do on your homestead.
For some homesteaders, including myself, too many rules and regulations defeat the entire purpose of homesteading, and we’ll talk about that more below.
Other important considerations that we will review here, now, include:
- Whether the property resides where natural disasters are common
- Proximity to big cities if you would ever want to visit – or work
- Climatic conditions and access to natural resources
- If the community readily supports homeschooling
- The degree of seclusion you can achieve
- The cost of land
We’ll also review the importance of understanding taxation rates for the properties you’re considering and choosing a location suitable for any farming or ranching intentions you have.
Some states are more likely to incur disastrous weather events than others. For example, homesteaders in Florida might experience hurricane conditions, while those in deep Texas might have to deal with drought yearly. So, consider the propensity for tornadoes, tropical storms, mudslides, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, especially if you plan to raise livestock or crops!
Of course, even if you live on cheap land, the government will get its cut. You’ll have to pay property tax on your homestead. However, some states have higher tax rates than others. And nobody likes expensive property taxes!
Also, different states have different homesteading laws, meaning it’s possible to find locations that allow farm owners to deduct the accrued value of their homesteads from their annual property taxes.
You want the most high-quality property with the lowest tax rate possible. So, we advise researching each prospective location to learn of available exemptions.
I, very proudly, was homeschooling my children before homeschooling became as popular as it is now. Today, there’s very little chance I would send a child to a public school. Very little chance at all.
Fortunately, today, most states have well-developed programs for parents and caregivers who wish to homeschool their children. Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas are known for their robust homeschooling programs.
Need more info? You can search the homeschooling regulations for every state in the US on the Home School Legal Defense Association’s (HSLDA) website.
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Community and Seclusion
Do you dream of developing your homestead far away from all your neighbors and living off the grid? Or do you envision something a little closer to others, somewhere you can go into town and mingle with the locals, shop, and such?
If you’re like me and don’t favor a dense population, you won’t mind driving farther into town when needed. However, if you want closer proximity to amenities, you might consider the shape of the roads, the available businesses in the local area, and the accessibility of groceries, libraries, etc.
Again, it pays to research before deciding where to start a homestead. Since this is a new experience and lifestyle for you, it’s critical to think about every little thing that might not end up so minute in the future.
State Homesteading Laws
Homestead law is probably the area you need to research the most when figuring out where to start. I am a small government enthusiast, and I don’t want a lot of interference from unnecessary agencies that try to dictate every little thing about how I live.
That’s what I try to avoid!
Favorable homesteading laws are critical. Again, get into the research. Start online and refine your search. Make phone calls to relevant agencies and ask them directly about their rules and regulations for homesteading.
It’s simple to ask the right questions, get the needed information, and make much more educated decisions about where to start your homestead.
Some states forbid residents to harvest and use rainwater, which is ridiculous! Other states say you can’t use solar power systems to leverage the sun’s beautiful rays for charging batteries.
To me, that’s insane, bordering on criminal! But what can you do? (You can avoid them and their insane laws.)
So, please, do yourself a favor and research the laws about homesteading in an area you’re considering. It matters, and a little research can save you a lot of misery! (Also – remember that homesteading laws change frequently. What was correct ten years ago – may not be true now.)
Natural Resources and Climate
As a homesteader, you’ll want as much access to natural resources as possible and the legal right to utilize them to help you reduce operational costs on your homestead.
Locations with ample access to natural water sources, lots of sunshine to charge batteries, or plenteous wind to spin turbine blades for electricity tend to cost more. Plus, the more desirable a location is, the more the government will be there with its sticky hands out, trying to gain as much as possible.
So, back to the research. Is the location you’re considering fortified with the natural resources you need, and if so, are you permitted to use them? It’s all relevant to your wants and needs. Think about variables like:
- The quality of the soil for growing crops or pasture
- The length of the growing season
- The availability of clean water
You’ll also need to think about the climate. Locations with mild climate patterns tend to draw more people, and those locations will likely have more laws to abide by and follow.
Places with rougher weather may not be pleasant, but they likely have fewer proximal people. And fewer rules and regulations. (Bonus!)
OK – now that we have a good base of what to look for in a location, let’s get into some of the specific US states best for homesteading.
I already know it – the excitement never stops around here!
Some of the Best States for Homesteading In the USA
There’s no way I can tell you which are the best states to homestead in within the United States in 2023. All the US states are beautiful in their unique way. And each homesteader has an individual set of best-case circumstances they wish to achieve. So there’s no best that works equally for all.
However, I would like to look at five states in particular:
I chose these states because, to me, they have most of the finest qualities that I feel are most important for homesteading. Of course, the natural resources and beauty of the state matter a lot, but climate, land availability, the price of land, the cost of living, and how well you can grow crops, raise livestock, and hunt and fish also matter much.
Based on those factors, all five states offer a lot to aspiring homesteaders.
Let’s look closer at each of them now!
I’m lucky to have lived and worked in Valdez, Cordova, and Dutch Harbor, Alaska. I’ll tell you firsthand that Alaska is the most majestic and beautiful land I have ever experienced.
I have always wanted to go back there and live permanently, but, in the past, it wasn’t feasible for me because my parents and the rest of my family were certainly not going to relocate there, and that meant that I would rarely if ever, see them again.
So I didn’t go back. Not yet, anyway!
Be assured that, in Alaska, homesteading is much more common than in most other states. Alaskans live close to nature. And they maintain active relationships with the wilderness around them. It’s somewhat mandatory.
Of course, most areas of Alaska have short growing seasons and long winters. However, there are various ways of maximizing the utility of the growing seasons. You can also hunker down and enjoy those long, isolated winters.
However, I don’t advise attempting to start a homestead in Alaska if you’re a person who needs a lot of other people around or you need to plug in all the time to the current happenings of the world.
Overall, Alaska is an entirely different animal than any other state – and it certainly deserves a spot in the best states for homesteading!
Arkansas has an attractive package of natural amenities to offer homesteaders. The Ozark Mountains are breathtakingly beautiful and also loaded with natural resources.
For instance, there are almost 10,000 miles of streams and rivers. And more than 600,000 square acres of lakes. So it shouldn’t be an issue to find a plot of land with high annual rainfall and legal water rights.
And plenteous water often means cleaner, more fertile land. Arkansas also has a pleasant climate that nearly everyone can enjoy. And according to the USDA, Arkansas receives about 200 frost-free days annually.
There’s still a considerable amount of available land throughout the state, and the land prices seem lower than in many others. However, Arkansas is probably better suited for loners who don’t desire much community. Larger cities in the state tend to have high poverty, tax, and crime rates.
Idaho is a big agricultural state, with more than 15% of the state population being farmers or ranchers. That means you’ll find a lot of acceptance as a new homesteader and likely more resources to help you in your journey than in most other states.
The natural beauty and resources within Idaho are hard to beat. And the cost of living remains low relative to other states. Especially since 2019, there’s been an influx of residents to the Gem State. So – it might be tricky to find a location that meets all your wants and needs.
As a homesteader in Idaho, you can deduct up to 50% of your home’s value from your property taxes, up to a maximum of $100,000 annually. The state also offers various programs that encourage the use of solar systems, which is good news for homesteaders.
Additionally, Idaho is known for well-developed and relaxed homeschooling programs. Homeschooling is common, and homesteaders will find state and community-based programs that allow children to socialize and not miss out on the magic of in-person friendships.
On the downside, Idaho has high property and income taxation and some surprisingly harsh winters. There’s also some concern for flooding and a possible earthquake here and there. But nothing I’d let scare me away from considering Idaho as a possible homesteading location.
Virginia is for lovers – and homesteaders! The Old Dominion state offers some of the most fertile lands for farming and ranching. It spans USDA Hardiness Zones 5a to 8a, meaning it rarely sees extreme low or high temperatures.
It’s not unusual for Virginia to see almost 200 days without frost annually, meaning you can grow all the crops your family and livestock need. Plus, lots of rain and a temperate climate complement the long growing season.
A notable drawback to homesteading in Virginia (in my opinion) is that the state is smaller with a higher population density than many other states, meaning you are more likely to be affected by others. And more government. (No thanks.) However, Virginia is hard to beat if that doesn’t concern you.
Buying land in Virginia to start a homestead can be expensive. Affordable land can be tricky to locate. Plus, income tax is high. On a good note, property taxes are relatively low, public schools are well-rated, and homesteaders can find work to supplement their homesteading venture.
Be aware that Virginia is rather congested with highways, airports, and military bases, so you might be affected by city light glare, noise, and other commonalities associated with a higher population that can make off-grid living more of a challenge.
Wyoming is a hidden treasure for homesteaders. It offers an insanely low cost of living, no state income tax, low property costs, a low population, and some of the most intriguing nature in the world.
You can locate some cheap land options in Wyoming. There are massive amounts of low-cost land available in the lovely Cowboy State. And most of it is high-quality for farming and ranching of all types. Even the cheapest land in Wyoming is value-loaded!
Perhaps surprisingly, you can expect around 114 days of sunny weather annually in Wyoming, delivering more than 3,000 hours of bright sunshine. That’s more sunshine than California! Only Arizona, the Sunshine State, gets more sun than Wyoming, and hot summers are the norm.
Be aware that homesteading in Wyoming can be a remote experience, so you might not choose this state if you like regular company and community interactions. It’s also quite dry, yielding an average rainfall of fewer than ten inches. That means freshwater access may be a concern.
Closing Thoughts about the Best States for Homesteading in the USA
The best states for homesteading are relevant to each homesteader. Some homesteaders seek privacy, sparse government, affordable cost of living, low sales tax, wind power, and fertile ground for raising crops.
Others need more interaction with like-minded people, fewer winter months, plenty of water, access to public utilities, farmer’s markets, warm summers, the legal right to use solar panels, and community events.
However, everyone considering starting a homestead should study the state and local laws affecting their lives, the quality of public schools and homeschooling programs, property and income tax rates, access to clean water and other natural resources, and the quality of the earth.
Whatever your personal preferences for a piece of land are, even if you love cold winters, all types of homesteading offer increased self-sufficiency. And hopefully, relaxation and peacefulness that’s ever so rare in the cities and suburbs.
I wish you the best of luck, learning, and skill in your journey toward the homesteading lifestyle you’ve been striving to achieve. There’s still plenty of homesteading space available. There certainly hasn’t been a time that I can remember this dream making more sense than it does today.
Now get out of the rat race. Start enjoying your homesteading journey – you sustainable living enthusiast!
And in the meantime, we remain available if you have homesteading questions.
Our team has homesteaders from all over the world – including many suitable homesteading states.
Thanks again for reading.
And have a great day!