Homesteading primer – What will it cost me to start?

Starting costs for a homestead

What will the starting costs be to get into the homestead lifestyle?   The answer is sort of like “how long is a piece of string”…..but here is some important things to consider!

Starting off our first homestead first chicken coop at low cost.

Starting off our first homestead first chicken coop at low costs.

By the way, I am not trying to scare you from the homestead lifestyle – but to provide you with ideas on what you need to consider.   Consider this more of a “reality check” on your plans.   Doing your own math now will help you so much into the future.  If there is ONE thing I can’t stress enough, you will HAVE to be a better manager of your money when you homestead.

So have you considered these things?

Buying land
Unless you are in the fortunate position of someone giving (or leaving) you land, your largest cost will be buying land to begin a homestead.  Here there is really only one factor involved on how much you will pay – and that is LOCATION!  The further away from a city/large town, the more remote, the less infrastructure the CHEAPER it will be.  However, you then will have far more costs in establishing your home and even in running it unless you become completely self sufficient.   Start shopping around…and go visit areas that you are not familiar with.   Go to farmers markets, visit the town office, talk to people!  This is a life investment!

View of our fields - and yes, we have a castle!

View of our fields – and yes, we have a castle!

House?
If the land does not have a house, then you have considerable costs on getting established.  If it has a house, you will have costs in modifying, updating and maintenance over the years.   The old saying ‘it’s a money pit’ is sort of true! 🙂   Learning to do things yourself is always a huge cost saving.

Our farmhouse - it required (and still requires) update and maintenance.

Our farmhouse – it required (and still requires) update and maintenance.

Land taxes
No matter where you go to homestead, you will have to pay some form of land tax.   The more expensive the property, the higher the tax…..and it NEVER goes away.   Look into ways to reducing the tax (some states/countries have schemes where you can lower your land tax if you are operating an agricultural business)..but know, you will need to have cash to pay the tax man each and every year!

On the grid/off the grid
The whole concept of getting off the power grid for your homestead and not having to rely on anyone or anything to keep you warm and running is a very noble goal.  Doing it can be expensive and complex.  So if that is your goal – look into the true costs of all the systems you want to establish including maintenance before starting up.  If you decide to stay on the grid, work out the cost to do so.

Equipment
I still subscribe to the notion that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to start your homestead!  But you will need some basic tools for repairs, gardening, providing wood (if you want to heat that way) etc.  If you already have these – then great!   Consider the cost to maintain, sharpen or replace over time. Also include the cost of storing those tools in things such as Steel Buildings, sheds, or barns.

Maintenance - it's ongoing!

Maintenance – it’s ongoing!

Plants/seeds
Almost all homestead plans include a garden.   Have you factored in the cost of starting up?  Seeds and saplings will all cost something – even if you collect seeds in the following years.

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Animals
If you plan on raising animals, then there will be costs for the animals, fencing, shelter, winter feed etc.

Personal costs
What costs do you have to maintain things you enjoy doing?  Hobbies?  Holidays?  Family visits and functions?  What about medical expenses?   All these things do not go away and so the cost remains.  As you get older, some costs increase.   Factor in these rises when you do your math!

Contingency funds
Most people don’t do this.  Most wish they did.  This is having a fund set aside to deal with the unforeseen things that can happen in life.  How much?   I have heard a lot of different ideas on this.  Some people say it should be equal to a years worth of operating costs of your home.  Others say it should be 10% of the value of your property.  Another way to look contingency funds is to consider what you would lose if you DON’T have a fund.  Are you living so close to the edge of the budget that you would have to sell your farm to survive a crisis?  How big a crisis would make this happen?   Then plan to build a fund to make that crisis a really big one!

Over-estimate then track
Over estimate costs in your budget.  So, for example, if you think your equipment costs a year will be $1000, add $500 to that and build it into your budget.    Once you start spending then you can put any of the left over money into your contingency fund.   And here is the final thing you will need to do and that is TRACK your spending.  It seems like a boring task, but it sure will help you to understand your costs over time and adjust your lifestyle and/or budget to fit the real amount of cash.
I know I have not given you any facts and figures to work it out – you really need to do that for yourself.  I may have missed something important for your situation.  The important thing here is to make sure that you go into this wonderful lifestyle with your financial eyes wide open.

Wait?

Have you also seen the series on Rocks and soils on your farm – beginners guides?
Or what about our picture guide to Building a Pole Barn?

If this is the sort of thing you enjoy reading – please click the FOLLOW link in the bottom right hand corner of your screen….and/or leave us a comment!   Feel free to SHARE this info around via your favorite social media!

 

 

 

 

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Gaz

About Gaz

I'm an Australian transplanted to rural Maine where I live on a small property with my wife and two youngest children. Life about family, work and trying the make the planet a better place for everyone.
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