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How to Start a Homestead With No Money, Today!

If you have dreams of starting a homestead, you are not alone! An ever-expanding legion of people dream of escaping the rat race and building a self-sufficient life. The urge to step away from the corporate world and create a homestead from scratch is irresistible for many people.

But the big question is, how do you start a homestead with no money? It can seem like the homesteading dream is out of reach unless you’ve got the bank balance to get the ball rolling.

Don’t panic – you’ll be relieved to hear that many people have managed to create a self-sufficient haven without a tremendous amount of cash!

Building a new life without money to help along the way will be hard work and not as easy as buying a ready-made homestead. But when you sit back and admire what you have created through your efforts, it will all be worth it!

We know that everyone’s circumstances are different! So, the ideas we are throwing around here will not work for everyone.

However, there are many ways to skin a zucchini*, so we hope that we can help most people get a step or two closer to their homesteading dream!

(*because we never skin cats around here!)

How Do I Start a Homestead With Little or No Money?

When you see homesteads for sale for hundreds of thousands of dollars, it can seem that the off-grid dream is far beyond our reach. How on earth do people manage to fund the purchase of property? And have the time to run a productive homestead?

On the other hand, setting up a homestead from scratch is not necessarily a cheap option. Buying equipment and materials can soon drain the bank, and you need to fund your living costs until your homestead becomes more productive.

So, what is the answer? Many people have started a homestead with little or no money, so it is possible! There are three financial aspects to think about when setting up a homestead. They are as follows.

farm fresh apples in basket homestead fruit
Having plenty of fruit trees is a genius idea if you’re homesteading without much money. A food forest rich with fruit and nut trees, vegetables, and vines can help support your family when things get rough. Or – even when things are going well!

The Homestead Itself

Traditionally, a homestead was a home with enough land to allow the family to feed themselves and their animals. Historically a homestead was 160 acres of land – the area granted to settlers in North America. Luckily, you don’t need anything like that much land to start a homestead!

If you want to purchase a house and land, you will need to finance this somehow. (Unless a long-lost relative bequeaths you an unexpected inheritance! Miracles happen.) But you don’t necessarily need to rush out and buy a homestead – some out-of-the-box thinking can reveal other ways to achieve your dream of self-sustainability.

Turn Your Current Home Into a Homestead

Even an inner-city apartment dweller can embrace many aspects of the self-sufficient lifestyle! The craze for urban vegetable gardening has exploded in recent years, as has the trend for repairing, bartering, swapping, and other money-saving off-grid strategies.

Just because your current house does not include an acre of land with a picket fence, do not let this stop you from embracing the homesteading lifestyle.

Your homestead is what you make it!

Learning new skills and creating your fresh produce can happen anywhere, not just on a rural farm!

Some great ways to get started are to think imaginatively about where you can grow vegetables and fruits. Vertical gardening is a great way to use a small space, and you’d be amazed at what you can cram onto a sunny windowsill.

There are some inspiring urban gardening blogs out there, and you can pick up tips and tricks that will work on any homestead, large or small!

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Share, Lease, Borrow or Rent Land

If moving from your current home is out of your financial reach, expanding your access to land can allow you to build a homesteading lifestyle.

One concept that might sound odd to some people is that your land does not need to be around your house for you to be a homesteader.

In Portugal (where I am writing this article!), every villager has a small cottage garden or a few herb pots outside their house. Their productive vegetable plots are a short walk away, on the outskirts of the village.

So, if you’re already settled into a lovely family home, renting a nearby plot of land could be the way to make your homesteading dream a reality!

Renting a small patch of cheap land can be a more affordable living option than buying. With some quick money-making strategies, you will only need a small investment to cover the rent for a few months until your land becomes productive.

Read More – Living Off the Land 101 – Our Total Homesteading Guide!

Start-Up Costs

So, you’ve managed to find a place to start homesteading. What’s next? Do you need a big bank balance to get started – or what?

Heck no!

Minimizing and wisely navigating your start-up costs is one area where you can make some huge savings, helping you start a homestead with little or no money.

The biggest asset we found when we started our homestead was other homesteaders – you will never meet a more generous and helpful group of people. I’d estimate that 95% of the plants, shrubs, and fruit trees in our food forest came to us as gifts from fellow homesteaders!

They provided us cuttings – and we parlayed that into a lovely, flourishing forest of life. The homesteading culture restores the beauty and camaraderie of swapping, sharing, and bartering. People are (usually) more than happy to help out a new homesteader.

You can save costs by borrowing tools and swapping manual labor for raw materials.

For example, this week, we borrowed a specialist saw to complete a one-off building job and arranged to do a few hours of work in exchange for a trailer load of manure delivered to our plot. Zero money has changed hands, and we’ve ticked some big things off our wish list!

Running Costs

The final financial consideration is how you will meet your daily living costs until your homestead is more productive. The simple answer to this, and the way most people get started, is to keep your day job!

A gradual transition to homesteading gives you the peace of mind of a regular income while learning the skills needed to become self-sufficient.

Maintaining your job (or a side job) also helps lessen pressure on the homestead. So if your vegetable crop is a disaster, the chickens fail to lay, or your grand plan doesn’t work out, you’ll still have a roof over your head and food on the table!

There are other ways to keep your overheads low, but they take time to establish. We now grow around two-thirds of our chicken food, and selling the surplus eggs covers the cost of the rest. Firewood had to be bought in for the first winter while we built up stocks of our seasoned logs. 

Over time everything gets more productive, and you need less and less money, but a steady income takes the worry out of this initial setup period.

If you’re desperate for a change of job or moving to a new location, then there are many other ways to generate some money to keep your heads above water. Many people transfer their corporate-world skills to their new sustainable lifestyle, bringing in cash by either working remotely or starting a new career.

Homestead and Off-Grid Education

Starting a homestead from scratch requires a daunting amount of work – especially if you don’t have much cash. To help give you an advantage – we recommend studying as much about homesteading, off-grid, and survival as possible.

We put together a handy list of our favorite homesteading books – we recommend these to all of our homesteading friends who need to raise animals, grow vegetables, minimize their power footprint, and live off-grid.

We hope these books help!

  1. Homesteading: A Backyard Guide
  2. Homesteading: A Backyard Guide
    $27.95 $23.25

    We love The Backyard Guide to Homesteading by Abigail Gehring! Abigail is a homesteading and off-grid expert ready to show you their best tips for surviving off the land. The book teaches herbal medicines, energy generation, crafting, canning, food growing, and raising chickens. Plus, tons more!

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    09/30/2022 02:53 pm GMT
  3. 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead
  4. 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead
    $16.95 $14.29

    David Toht teaches tons of backyard homestead projects. His 40 homesteading project book has dozens of plans to kickstart your off-grid journey. You'll learn about animal fencing, garden structures, chicken housing, sheds, solar power, hydroponics, beehives, and more!

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    10/01/2022 01:13 am GMT
  5. The Homesteading Handbook: The Essential Beginner’s Homestead Planning Guide
  6. The Homesteading Handbook: The Essential Beginner’s Homestead Planning Guide
    $16.99

    The Homesteading Handbook by Kelly Reed is our favorite for new homesteaders on a budget. How to launch an excellent homestead - even if you don't have enough cash to relocate. You'll also discover the best US-based states for homesteading and living off-grid. You'll also learn the most expensive mistakes that new homesteaders make.

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    10/01/2022 08:29 am GMT
  7. The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
  8. The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
    $18.95 $16.59

    Want to homestead, but you don't have much real estate? Here is our favorite book from Carleen Madigan! It shows how to produce all the fresh fruits and veggies you need on just a quarter acre. You also get tutorials on pickling, canning, drying, raising eggs, chickens, and other animals.

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    09/30/2022 10:38 am GMT
  9. The Homesteading Encyclopedia: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Self-Sufficient Life
  10. The Homesteading Encyclopedia: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Self-Sufficient Life
    $12.99

    Want an off-griding guide for regular folks? Then check out The Homesteading Encyclopedia by Amy Brooks! It contains the essential tips for growing fruits and veggies, raising bees, animals - and more. You'll grow veggies and herbs in containers or outside. You'll learn about raising ducks, chickens, and bees. And more!

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    09/30/2022 11:08 am GMT

Do You Need Land to Start a Homestead?

No – because homesteading is a lifestyle, not a piece of property! Let me explain. You do not necessarily need land to start a homestead – the concept of homesteading is a way of life, and any of us can embrace homestead living even without any growing space!

Homesteading involves so much more than just growing your food. Skills such as mending and repairing clothes, making preserves and canning food, and learning how to ‘make do’ without buying new products are all ways we can embrace the homesteading lifestyle.

If you don’t have land, foraging for food can help to stock the pantry shelves. Foraging includes picking wild berries for preserves, searching the sea or lakeshore for edible delicacies, hunting, and fishing.

Even urban areas can have hidden edible treasures if you know where to look. Figuring out how to deal with a seasonal glut of free foraged food is all part of the fun of being a homesteader!

Read More – Building an Off-Grid Cabin on a Budget!

Can You Make a Living Off Homesteading?

Homesteading can be lucrative, potentially. If fortunate enough to have land, either your own, or rented, borrowed, or shared? Then there are some simple ways to kickstart your productivity without a significant effort or financial input.

There are other excellent income-generating ideas for homestead living, but many of these require a tremendous initial investment or take time to turn a profit. If you’re paying out each month for rent, mortgage, or loan repayments, you’ll need to spend as little as possible and get some cash flow hitting your wallet.

Here are some innovative ways to get money coming into your homestead quickly.

Rent Out or Sublet Some of Your Lands

Remember the struggle you had trying to find somewhere to homestead? Help someone else out by renting them a section of your plot! You’ll reduce your workload and have an instant cash flow too.

Sell Your Surplus Produce

fresh chicken eggs on hay basket farm market
If you’re homesteading on a budget, we recommend raising plenty of hens! Hens provide delicious and healthy eggs that feed your entire family. You can also raise chickens for meat – and sell (or trade) their eggs for cash.

The key here is to generate value from your excess foodstuffs. Yes, you could sell your eggs, but this barely covers the cost of chicken food. Turn the eggs into premium cakes, and you’ve instantly increased your profit margin!

Raise Poultry to Sell

You could either hatch chicks to sell on to other homesteaders or raise them for a few months to sell as point-of-lay hens or for meat. Invest in an incubator, and you don’t even have to wait for a broody hen to do the work for you!

Mushroom Farming

 Setting up a mushroom farm is surprisingly easy – and can show rewards within a short time. Mushrooms are a great way to repurpose that old shed or barn that you don’t know what to do with – grow a mushroom village.

Sell Plants and Cuttings

If you’ve got green fingers, selling your excess plants is a great way to generate income quickly. Most seed packets have many more seeds than you will ever need, so make use of them to generate revenue for your homestead. Some plants have higher demand in different parts of the world – so conduct research locally for your region!

Did you know?

From 1863 to 1912, the United States Government offered free public land to Americans willing to work via a collection of laws known as the Homestead Act.

The deal was if you worked on and improved the land for five years – you could claim the land. For free!

The homestead act allowed 1.6 million homesteaders a chance to own land! The US gave away roughly 5% – 10% of US land to citizens. 

I guess the saying the early bird gets the worm is true in this case, right? (I’m jealous. I wish I were alive back then!)

Homesteading With No Money – FAQs

rustic off grid homestead antelope flats wyoming
Who says you need tons of money to launch a homestead? Not us! We believe that homesteading skills such as gardening, composting, animal husbandry, energy conservation, off-grid living, and food preservation can help compensate for a lack of cash flow.

Many people dream of starting a homestead but don’t know where to begin. It can be very daunting, and sometimes the financial constraints seem insurmountable.

We’ve got all the answers you might need if you dream of escaping from the rat race but are panicking about your budget. Let’s get you started on the path to self-sufficiency!

Read More – 13 Off-Grid Bathroom Ideas – Handwashing, Outhouses, and More!

Conclusion

Everyone loves the idea of homesteading, going off-grid, cutting off unnecessary bills, and living a life of pure freedom!

But – is it possible to build a homestead without money? Really?

We hope our article gave you confidence that homesteading on a budget is possible. Yes – you can homestead even if you do not have obscene wealth!

We also invite you to ask any homesteading questions if you have them.

We love hearing from you – and invite you to share funny homesteading stories, tips, or adventures (and misadventures).

Thanks again for reading!

Have an excellent day!

Author

  • Kate moved to Portugal last year and lives with her husband, two cats, six hens, and a glorious Brahma rooster called Mary. Earlier this year they purchased a half-hectare ‘quinta’ – traditional terraced land with olive trees, grapevines, and a house to renovate. They are currently living in a small campervan which is a challenging but fun experience! Kate has over 15 years of experience in the UK veterinary industry and is also a passionate gardener – turning a grassy field into a productive vegetable patch in just three months. Future plans include more animals, particularly sheep and goats for milk production to make cheese, butter, and yogurt! Kate and her husband are aiming to create a self-sufficient off-grid life on their quinta, fulfilling a life-long dream.