Thousands of years ago, land was virtually free. Just hundreds of years ago, land was nearly just a few weeks of earnings. Now, land can cost a few months of wages for just a few acres.
This has led most people to think they’re out of luck from homesteading because they live in the suburbs, whether in a house, apartment, or townhome.
A large piece of land isn’t needed to homestead; all it takes is a regular home in any spot to get started and a little creativity.
The principal thing to keep in mind when starting a homestead in town is that you will need to be frugal with your food and other supplies.
You’re certainly not going to have a pasture full of cows, horses, or a large pond, but homesteading in the city can be done, and here’s how.
How To Homestead Without Land
Find Useful Resources
The first thing to do is locate resources that can help you along first getting started. For starters, you can check out our massive cache of homestead articles here.
A few helpful things to get are books that teach self-sustainability. Things such as gardening, water sourcing, and food preservation are by far the most important.
You may also want to study how to recycle water, as you may be a little less lucky as you’ll have fewer chances of catching stream water such as from creeks.
Next, check with your local city hall to gather resources needed to meet local laws and regulations. Occasionally, suburban areas have strict rules on homesteading.
Moreover, some cities require taxes or fees to be paid for using solar energy on your property. The primary point here is to become prepared.
This will make every step of the way much easier for you.
Create a Good Plan
If you want to have good chances of success with homesteading, you’ll want to have a plan to at least lay out your vision.
It can be easy to become sidetracked on one thing and completely forget about another.
If you want to rely on rainwater harvesting for water over the winter and don’t get much rain yet fail to do so over summer, you’re going to be out of luck.
Moreover, planning for downtime is essential. Homesteading is always reliable in terms of resources, so make sure to plan for lack of food or water.
I recommend having at least thirty days of food preserved as well as thirty days of water. If you want electricity, I suggest investing in a small gasoline generator to supply power.
The generator will come in handy if your solar panels (if applicable) become damaged, covered with snow, etc.
Planning for the future and staying ahead is an essential part of any homestead.
Always Start Small
It can be fascinating to start homesteading. However, it can be a bad idea to invest everything you have while getting started.
In some cases, people find that after a few months, homesteading isn’t for them. This leaves them with thousands of dollars of equipment that’s lost half its value.
I’ve seen many individuals do this, only to see the very equipment they purchased sitting in the shed or under tarps in their backyard, entirely unused.
It’s fine to purchase something like solar panels, a generator, and food preservation tools; these are nearly essential.
However, spending money on a big nice shed or tiller worth three grand isn’t ideal. After you’ve spent a few months learning the lifestyle, then you can look into these things.
I should note that financing should be out of the question. Payments for equipment will only way you down and wreak havoc on any budgeting you’ll do.
Things like planting a small garden, investing in small solar panels, and slowly preserving food are critical.
My point here is to take it slow and enjoy the process; the rest will inevitably fall in place.
Grow a Mini Garden
The perfect first step when starting a homestead is to create a small-sized garden. It can be anywhere from 10×20 or as small as a 5×5 near your porch.
If you’re able to start a garden such as one sized 10×20, you’ll be able to grow potatoes, tomatoes, okra, and beans and have a decent turnaround.
If smaller fits your situation better, I suggest growing herbs or smaller vegetables. Garlic, tomatoes, onions, strawberries, brussels sprouts, and squash is a perfect start.
However, I suggest going with herbs more than anything for small gardens.
This is because you’ll be able to season any preserved meat well and will learn a few things about gardening along the way.
Then, when you have more room, you’ll be a little more prepared and comfortable with gardening and all that it entails.
This is an incredible way to get your children into gardening if you have any youngsters running around.
Build a Backyard Farm
If you happen to have a tiny backyard, you can still grow a small backyard farm. Living in the south, I have seen this on many occasions. The perfect animal to consider is chickens.
This bird is effortless to take care of and learn how to breed.
It’s not going to replace grocery store visits, but if you breed the chickens, you can at least have a few birds for dinner each month.
If you play your cards right, grilling one every weekend is not off the table. Chickens are also a way to have eggs ready for breakfast every morning.
There are many chicken breeds, but the Rhode Island Reds are undeniably the best for beginners, with an exceptional egg laying volume.
Some ordinances prevent or control this in some cities, but you should be fine in most cases. Just a 10x10x10 pen is plenty for ten chickens.
Many people believe you can house up to twenty in this size, but I prefer to give them a little more room.
Preserve Your Food
This is my favorite part of homesteading and many others as well. Food preservation opens up a huge new milestone for possibilities.
However, it will be a little different without any land. Most of the time, homesteaders preserve a few months ahead with beef, pork, chicken, or produce.
This isn’t feasible with no land, though, so you’ll need to get creative. We’re not going to get into preserving homegrown meat, as it’s not applicable.
However, purchasing meat from the butcher is the next best thing, followed by purchasing from other local homesteaders or farmers.
My favorite way to preserve meat is by canning it, mainly because I can season the food to my desire.
If you’ve never tried seasoned canned meat after a few months, you are missing out. Spoiler alert: it’s incredibly tender, juicy, and perfectly spiced.
Moving on, I also recommend that you start banning herbs.
Herbs that can be used as a seasoning for meats and produce are recommended, such as onions for gravy, tomatoes for soup, and garlic for meats, to make a few.
I wish there were more to speak of, but with much land, you’ll need to accept a few trade-offs.
Find a Water Source
A water source is one of the best ways to get started on a homestead without land. If you’re using city water, invest in a large one hundred-gallon water tank.
Then, purchase a rainwater harvesting system for your roof.
This will allow you to learn an essential part of a homestead while also teaching you how to be frugal with resources, which is fundamental.
You’ll need to reroute a few things in terms of piping, but if this isn’t in your vocabulary, then using the water just for around the stead is the subsequent best use.
For those in apartments, solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems aren’t feasible.
To combat this, consider catching water from an artesian well in batches of five or so gallons to store inside.
This can be used for drinking water, cooking, bathing, and much more. Plus, you’ll learn how to be frugal with your resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes a Homestead?
An authentic homestead is entirely self-sufficient. Meaning any water, food, or clothing is grown, built, or prepared on the property itself.
This can be done by catching rain or stream water, preserving livestock meat, using leather from livestock, and sourcing electricity from the property.
Gas stoves are an excellent means for heating, cooking, and energy. Ultimately, homesteading is becoming entirely disconnected from the grid and connected with nature.
Can I Become Self Sufficient Without Land?
This is going to depend on the resources around you but is unlikely. To become fully self-sufficient, you’ll need livestock, a large garden, and plenty of water.
Without land, this is incredibly challenging. Luckily, with just a small backyard, you can become mostly disconnected.
However, most of your food and water will still need to be sourced from grocery stores and the grid for the time being.
I suggest using this time to learn, so you’re prepared when you do get more land.
How Can I Make Money Homesteading?
A small homestead is just as capable of making money, but you should expect less. Things such as chicken breeding, chicken eggs, and herbs can bet a small profit if you play your cards right.
You can also consider becoming a beekeeper, but you’ll be limited to how many hives in a backyard. Three or four hives can net a few hundred each year.
You can also consider breeding rabbits, which is an easy way to make money but will not net much unless you have your yard packed.
Overall, you’re very limited, but a side income is not out of the question.
Homesteading without land can be incredibly difficult. However, if you prepare and take advantage of online resources, your path to becoming self-sufficient will be much easier.
Ten acres, cows, goats, and a large garden is great, but this isn’t the only way to homestead. Homesteading is a lifestyle, one that shouldn’t be rushed.
So, if you simply have a small backyard or even just the inside of your apartment with a balcony, it can be done, even if it’s a partial commitment and return.