Years ago when I was living in my first apartment by myself, I would dream about homesteading and being more self-sufficient. Then, I bought a house that I lived in alone with my dog, and didn’t see the point of homesteading for myself. Finally, Scotty and I started living together and started making our homesteading plans. I always made excuses about not having enough land or room, but there are so many ways you can start homesteading right where you are right now.
For us, homesteading was a way out. Out of debt, out of cold winter weather, out of a big mortgage payment. We decided, with some inspiration from Little House Living, to sell our house and buy an RV. We opted to put it on my parent’s property and live in it while we paid off debt.
Paying off debt never actually happened when we were young, wanted to travel, and had way more disposable income from having no mortgage payment, but it did definitely help us to learn to be so much more self-sufficient and to develop some critical skills that we use today.
The first thing you need to do when deciding on a homesteading lifestyle is to throw out the excuses. The biggest one I hear is not having enough space. If we could homestead in an RV, you can homestead wherever you are!
The first way to start homesteading is to build up a small stockpile. This enables you to get a great deal on things when you find them and to keep benefiting from that deal for weeks or months to come.
Even if you think you don’t have any storage space to be able to build a stockpile, I beg to differ. You would be amazed how crafty we got by stockpiling in our RV. Extra space under the bed? Between the bed and the wall? Under the couch? Any nook or cranny can give you some much needed storage space to store valuable deals.
Make space where there doesn’t seem to be any.
Maybe you can’t find enough space for a huge bulk order, but if you can find a friend or family member to split the order with, you are left with a much more manageable amount of food to store. We stockpile toilet paper when we find it on a good sale too. Why pay more later when you can pay less right now?
The key is to only stockpile when you find things that are an excellent deal. Recently, our local Walmart was going out of business, so we stocked up on food and other necessities while they were between 50% and 75% off. I didn’t think I’d ever find deals like that again, so if I saw something we’d use, I picked it up! Don’t buy things just to be able to say you have a stockpile, buy them when you can admire them hiding in a corner of your house and think “I totally stole those!”
I know you might think you can’t have a garden because you don’t have a big yard (or any yard at all!) but I assure you, it is possible if you just get creative.
If you have a window, you can have a garden. They key is to grow things you’ll actually use. A tiny apartment can have room for an herb garden or a hanging tomato plant. If you have a tiny front yard, grow edibles in place of flowers. Start some plants like zucchini or peppers in a pot on your front porch.
Even if you don’t plan to stay in your current home forever, or if you dream of moving onto your own homestead one day, you should absolutely start now. You’re cultivating knowledge and skills that will save you a lot of time and money when you get to where you actually want to be.
If you truly feel the need for a bigger garden, but don’t have the space at your own home to grow one, considering borrowing space from someone else. Friends or family members will probably be willing to lend you a corner of their lot so you can grow to your hearts content.
A good trade-off is offering some of the fruits of your labor as payment for their generosity. When we were living on my parent’s land, we offered them tons of zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and squash out of our garden.
Just make sure you live close enough to your borrowed plot so you’re able to keep up with weeding and tending to your garden. It would be rude to let your garden become an eyesore when someone was nice enough to let you use their space.
More and more cities and neighborhoods are becoming more lenient about allowing chickens. It isn’t uncommon anymore to drive through a very populated area and see chickens in someone’s backyard.
Chickens are an excellent intro to animals on a homestead. While we don’t have any animals on our new homestead and don’t plan to get many, chickens are definitely at the top of our list. We had a flock of chickens before we moved south, and were absolutely inundated with eggs.
Fresh chicken eggs will make you never want to taste store bought eggs again. Plus, chickens serve so many purposes. They’ll eat fleas and ticks out of your backyard. They can help you with your compost heap. They are usually really friendly and are actually a lot of fun to watch. We loved having chickens and can’t wait to get more.
Check your city ordinances and then definitely consider getting a small flock of hens if you’re allowed. I would say to steer clear of roosters and just get two or three hens to start. Just a small flock is all you’ll need to keep your fridge full of yummy eggs.
Plus, if you do end up with more than you’ll use, you can always sell them for a small profit!
I learned from my now 91 year old grandfather the importance of repurposing everything. He is definitely not a pack rat by any stretch, but if he sees something that has a use, he’ll absolutely go for it every time.
There is no Tupperware necessary in his life. Any plastic or glass container he has is something that has been used again and again from a product he bought years ago.
You can apply these principles in your life wherever you are. Before buying food storage or other containers, look around your house at what is almost empty in your fridge and cabinets and try to use that.
Before you throw anything out, think about whether it can serve a purpose in your home without causing unnecessary clutter.
In the age of Pinterest, there is really no excuse to waste anything. You can make decorations out of cereal boxes, organizers out of toilet paper rolls…the possibilities are endless!
In every way possible, make your own instead of buying from the store. Bread is a great example. My husband and I love homemade bread from our bread maker.
Lots of people make their own soaps and candles too. I’m personally not to this point, but it can be done in your kitchen if you’re okay with some cleanup after.
Make your own cleaners instead of buying store bought chemicals. There are very few things that vinegar and baking soda can’t clean.
Have you ever made your own butter? We still tend to buy our own, but store bought butter doesn’t even compare to homemade. Just buy a container of heavy cream, pour it into a glass jar, add a sprinkle of salt, and start shaking. That’s seriously all there is to it. When you open the lid and see creamy yellow butter inside, pour off the liquid (that’s buttermilk – save it for baking!) rinse off the extra liquid from your butter, and store it in your fridge.
I’m not sure that we ever actually had to store the butter we made because we ate it up immediately, but it should keep in your fridge for up to a week.
Put Up Food
When you’ve planted your veggies in pots on your porch or are getting a good harvest from your herbs but can’t use it all, put up some of your food for later.
Get creative and think of ways to store your goods. This is also great to do when you find a great deal on fruits or vegetables. We found an awesome deal on strawberries at Aldi the other day and picked up a bunch to freeze for smoothies.
Buy clearance veggies that are about to go bad and freeze or can them.
A mason jar doesn’t take up much more room in your cabinet than a store bought can does, but it gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you saved money and saved something yourself. Plus, you can use that jar over and over and over again for years to come. You’re also minimizing your impact on the environment. What an awesome side effect of homesteading!
We always have frozen onions, carrots, and celery on hand and I go crazy without them. What are the staples in your house that you might be able to freeze instead of running to the store when you need them? Plan ahead and keep a stash in your freezer.
Do you feel like you don’t have enough space to start your homestead? What defeating thoughts are holding you back? If you’ve been able to homestead in a small area, be sure to share what worked for you (and what didn’t) in the comments!