How To Homestead in The Suburbs

Most people think the word “homestead” is exclusive to the outskirts of town or amid some jungle. This is certainly not the case, however. 

Homesteads can be anywhere, and they don’t have to mean you must have an old-school wooden barn with fifty cows in the pasture. 

The term homestead simply means self-sustainable. Meaning you can live entirely off the land you live on. Let’s be honest; it’s more challenging to homestead in the suburbs. 

However, it can be done with the right skill sets and understanding. The primary thing that will prove to be a challenger is space. You cannot have horses, cows, or a large garden. 

However, this can be overcome as long as you opt for ways that do not require much space.

How To Homestead in The Suburbs

Understand The Laws 

The first point is to understand the laws in the area you’ll be homesteading in. 

Some neighborhoods have regulations that prohibit chickens, goats, and other small livestock that could be utilized in a backyard. 

Luckily, most of the time, these kinds of practices are allowed. Just make sure to keep this in mind and to look for any licenses needed. 

Moreover, look at the solar panel regulations in your city. In some cases, taxes must be paid depending on how much you save by switching to solar. 

In other cases, you still need to be connected to the grid if you use solar energy. This entirely diminishes the concept of off-grid, even though you’ll pay little to nothing on electricity fees. 

These are things that can interfere with homesteading in a suburb, so be careful and make sure to look over as much as possible related to off-grid laws in your area. 

Make a Plan

Making a plan is probably the most important thing you can do before starting a homestead. 

Jumping in headfirst with no real direction can end in lots of wasted time and energy, so this step is critical. Your plan should primarily forecast your next year. 

You should plan for your finances, including the cost of solar installation, water tanks, rainwater harvesting systems, and real estate. 

Perhaps you’d like to have 30 chickens in your backyard. Do you have a plan for building the coop? What about food preservation? 

An outline helps you have things in place for when things go sour. You should include a financial section in your plan as well. 

Try to allot a certain amount of your income per month, and disperse it across what needs to be done. 

It’s prevalent to spend more money than needed and not have any left for other essential elements of homesteading. 

Start Slow

You couldn’t imagine how many times I’ve seen an individual purchase every piece of equipment known to man, use it for a week, then let it sit and resell months later. 

Starting slow helps you learn things properly. By jumping in too fast, you’re going to miss essential elements. 

These could be things such as securing the chicken coop before building a goat pen or not installing automatic watering systems before building a new shed. 

A homestead should not only be self-sustainable but efficient as well. Remember, homesteading is a lifestyle, and ultimately, it’s not a race to the end but a journey, one that requires patience. 

There isn’t anything wrong with rushing as long as you do it right, but this is much harder said than done. 

The experience of taking your time is necessary; you wouldn’t fly in a plane with a pilot who rushed his training, would you? 

Grow a Garden

Growing a garden is always a fun experience. I think it’s much more enjoyable growing a garden in a backyard vs. on a large piece of land. 

I prefer this because it presents a challenge while also requiring the garden to be of high quality, instead of just a little bit of everything. 

This means that each and everything you plant in the garden should sustain you for weeks instead of growing corn and peas. Beans are much higher in calories and protein than corn is. 

While it may taste good, okra is not high in calories, so it’s essential to maintain a garden with dense, high-calorie vegetables and fruits. 

If you opt for planting strawberries, tomatoes, or corn, for example, you’ll be left with a grumbly belly when you begin sustaining you or your family on corn. 

A garden of 20×15 is enough to get the basics and supplement your other food sources well. However, it’s challenging to become entirely self-sustainable in a small garden alone.

Food and Water

An essential step to homesteading is food and water. With a smaller piece of property that most suburban homes are situated on, this can be a task in itself. 

Most homesteaders preserve food by processing their cows, chickens, and other livestock. But, a small backyard can only offer a small amount of poultry or rabbit meat at best. 

The garden and chickens, along with their eggs, should be able to supplement you nicely, but it’s going to be hard to become self-sustainable in terms of food. 

You can, however, preserve the food by curing it, canning, or using a root cellar for fruits and vegetables. 

As far as water is concerned, the rainwater harvesting system can entirely replace city water. Most areas allow for this, and they are very cheap to set up. 

By placing the water tank at roof level, you can get enough water pressure for a shower, toilet, faucet usage, and water for the garden. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Be Fully Self-Sustainable in The Suburbs?

It may be possible to become fully self-sustainable in the suburbs. But you’re going to run into space problems very quickly.

The most common ways people can become entirely self-sufficient are by taking advantage of either a vast garden or large amounts of livestock.

If you play your deck right, you may be able to do this in a backyard, but you’ll need to breed animals such as chickens, rabbits, and more.

How Many Chickens Can I Have In The Suburbs?

This depends on the size of your backyard, but you can expect to have around ten chickens per 10 square feet. 

If you have a backyard that’s one hundred feet in length and 50 feet wide, use one end (50 feet) for chickens, giving them ten chickens per 10×10.

The rest of the backyard can be used for gardening and other small animals like rabbits.

What if I’m Renting My House?

If you’re renting your home, then you may need to ask your landlord for permission. Most often, this isn’t a problem. 

However, if you plan to make changes to the home structure, you may need to alter your plans. Understandably, some landlords do not want a farm in their backyard.

If this is the case, you may be out of luck with the food aspect, but everything else, such as rainwater harvesting and small-time gardening, should at least be okay.


Verdict

Homesteading is known as living in the woods with nothing but you, livestock, and mother nature. Homesteading in the suburbs is new and trending more than ever. 

While it’s much more challenging to homestead in the suburbs, it can be done. Just don’t think it will be as easy as it would otherwise be in the woods. 

I suggest you learn a bit of gardening and perhaps even check out a few books before you jump into it all. Better yet, check out our vast cache of homesteading articles here



Written by Bryan Rucker

Brian Rucker has spent his entire life participating in essentially all things homestead. He grew up on a homestead and helped his parents do the day-to-day. Read more of Bryan's articles.