Before you get any deeper into your land search, you must ask yourself if you have enough money to buy a new property. If not, are you willing to hustle and make the necessary sacrifices? Finances will make or break your homestead. Getting your head and heart straight about money now will save you grief later.

How Much Is Homesteading Going to Cost Me? 

Some people are able to make the transition to the country cheaply, while others will pay more. A single person, a retired couple, or a young couple may be able to move more swiftly and with fewer expenses than a family with small children.

Your standard of living and homesteading goals will also impact your costs. If you are low-maintenance and your goals are to grow a garden and keep a small flock of chickens, then you will need less acreage and a smaller shelter. You will most likely be able to live off-grid or partially off-grid with little fuss. If you have high power and water demands and a growing family, then off-grid living may not be attainable in your immediate future, and you will most likely need a large shelter and several acres on which to produce enough food for everyone.

Also, the more skills and time you have to build your own shelter and develop the land, the more money you will save. The less time and skills you have, the more money you will need for purchasing premade items and hiring help. I’ve heard of people buying land and building their own cabin for under 100K, and I’ve heard of others who bought an established farm for 500K or more. The costs are as varied as you can imagine.

Expenses to Include in the Budget 

No matter how cheap or expensive your move to the country may be, there are some expenses anyone pursuing homesteading should consider. In addition to your land purchase and closing costs, you will want to set aside money for some of the following:

  • Improving and updating your current residence (if you’re planning to sell it)
  • Moving day – trucks, help, childcare, et. al.
  • Homestead renovations or house construction
  • Getting a land survey
  • Constructing outbuildings, especially a barn and a greenhouse
  • Installing fences
  • Repairing or connecting to utilities
  • Creating roads
  • Acquiring animals and all that’s needed for their care
  • A tractor and other farming equipment
  • Compost, soil, plants, seeds, garden beds, trellises, irrigation equipment
  • Hired help
  • Land clearing, tree removal, pond excavation
  • Equipment for going off-grid, such as solar panels, a wood-burning stove, et. al.
  • Equipment for processing and preserving food
  • Homesteading books and courses

Paying for Your Homestead With a Mortgage     

Some homesteaders will go the traditional route of buying a house with land on it and financing their purchase with a mortgage. Before you apply for a loan from a large bank or institution, consider speaking with banks that are local to your property of interest. A local bank may (or may not) be able to give you a better deal.

If you plan to buy a small plot of raw land, a transaction that many larger institutions won’t finance, then you will also want to speak to the local banks about financing. Generally, you will need to have more cash available when buying a small, raw plot.

Financing your purchase with a traditional mortgage or through a local bank may be the best way to save on interest rates, but there are many other options to consider when paying for your property.

Debt Free Really Is the Way to Be.

Yes, I’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, but I haven’t researched him enough to say more than that. I encourage you to pursue a debt-free lifestyle, with or without the advice of a financial expert because it’s God’s desire for humans to be indebted to no one. See Romans 13:8 in the Bible.

Being debt-free sounds like an impossibility to most of us living in the United States. It certainly sounded impossible to our family before we embarked upon our homesteading journey.

Once upon a time, we bought most of our groceries from a certain, high-end food store. Fancy pastries and artisan confections always seemed to make their way into our cart. We couldn’t imagine our lives without a gym membership. Certain entertainment events were as mandatory as Sunday church service, and Netflix seemed as essential as water. Shopping was our therapy, and weekend getaways were our medicine.

Oh, and we were in debt. That is to say, we had a mortgage, like most people. And, yes, a mortgage is debt. If you owe it, it’s debt. In the years leading up to our move to the country, it was hard for us to even think about paying off our mortgage. The interest rate was good and having a mortgage freed up our cash for investments and entertainment.

But when we got serious about this whole homesteading thing, we set our minds to clearing all debt. And God provided. He opened up opportunities for us to save and generate income. He made us feel rich despite having sacrificed any and all luxuries we could. We learned to trust Him for everything, to work more diligently with our time and talents, and to have our eyes and ears open to opportunities we would have otherwise missed.

In the end, we were able to afford the down payment on our homestead, and the sale of our city home covered our remaining mortgage, allowing us to pay for the homestead in full. All the praise to God!

My Challenge to You

If you are currently in any kind of debt right now, I challenge you to examine where your money is going. Do you know the difference between a need and a want? Do vacations, exotic foods, name-brand products, frivolous memberships and subscriptions, techie toys, expensive clothes, fancy hotels, accessories, decorations, and entertainment feel as necessary to you as do plain old clothes, food, and shelter? Do you indulge in luxuries, great or small?

Even small indulgences add up over time, and they establish the habit of giving into unnecessary purchases. This habit can make us feel like we need little luxuries on a regular basis, as opposed to reserving such items for special occasions.

Drop the luxuries—all of them. Spend on your needs only. Then, use whatever extra money you save to pay down your debts. Owe nothing, barring, of course, any debts incurred due to unforeseen emergencies, which hopefully do not come your way.

And, no, I won’t judge you if you take out a mortgage for your homestead. Just pay it down quickly if you can.

You’re Going to Need Extra Cash.

Whether you buy your land outright, take out a mortgage, or broker a deal with the seller directly, you will need a lump sum of cash for the initial payment. You will also want to have funds saved for your first few home and land projects.

As you search for land, try to make extra money. If you own a home, now is the time to make it sparkle. This way, when you’re ready to sell, you have the best chance of getting a good price. Or perhaps you can sell some of your possessions, or sell produce from your yard, or start an online business to make extra income. The possibilities are endless.

Also, try to save as much money as you can. Look at your spending habits and cut corners wherever possible. Eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of going out for dinner. Get a cheaper cellphone plan. Drive a reliable used car instead of buying a new one. Cancel your cable. You don’t need to be watching TV anyway. You’ve got a homestead to plan. Cancel your gym membership and workout at home. Stop paying private school tuition and homeschool for a bit. Homesteading is one big sacrifice. Start making some small ones now.

Buy a (Possibly) Cheap Property.        

Another way to possibly save money is to buy cheap land. I say possibly because cheap properties usually require a large investment of time and money to become useful to the buyer. Truth be told, there is no such thing as cheap land. You might get a great deal on a raw plot, but your upfront savings will most likely be canceled out by the money you spend on fixing it up.

There are many ways to find cheap properties, some of which may not be listed on your typical databases for finding properties. You can try to find such properties at state auctions, land banks, and on foreclosure websites, to name a few.

In homesteading circles, buying owner financed land is a popular method for acquiring cheap land or land that a traditional lender is not willing to finance. In fact, the topic of owner financed land is so popular that I will dedicate the next chapter to it.  

Buy an Asset, Not a Liability.       

When buying land, keep in mind that it should be a valuable asset to you and your family. A way to test if a property is an asset is to ask yourself whether or not you would be able to resell it quickly and for a good price. It’s hard to think about needing to sell a property you haven’t even purchased, but I’m asking you to do so for test purposes.

If the property would indeed be easy to sell, then it is most likely an asset. If it would be hard, or impossible, to sell the property, then it’s most likely a liability. Aim to buy land that is an asset, not a liability.

Don’t Quit Your Job…Yet.

I know, you want to quit your job and homestead full time, but the truth is, you still need an income, and you will continue to need that income as you establish your homestead. Once your homestead is up and running, you’ve paid your debts,  and you’re able to produce most, if not all, of your own goods and services, then, you might be able to cut back on your hours or transition to a lower-paying, but more rewarding, job. In the meantime—so long as it’s possible—please keep your job. Please.

If you’re able to generate income through homesteading, then great. But don’t let the breadwinner of your household leave his or her job until that homesteading income becomes livable and sustainable.  If the breadwinner is unable to keep his or her job due to your family’s relocation, then make sure he or she has secured a job with comparable pay before you move.

Making Money from Your Homestead    

Many homesteaders wish to eventually make money from their efforts. This is a great goal, and the more money you make from homesteading, the more easily you will be able to transition out of your current job.

There are countless ways to make a full or supplemental income through homesteading. You could sell homegrown produce and animal products, handmade goods, courses and books, consultation sessions, and any number of services. You might also have success with hosting a podcast or posting homesteading videos online. The options are limitless.

Test the waters now. Start small. Create a blog or publish some articles in a magazine. Post a few homesteading videos online. Sell a batch of handmade items at a local market. If you can make a decent supplemental income from your side gigs, then you can start thinking bigger and planning for a job transition.

It’s been a full year since our family moved to the country, and my husband still works his job. By the grace of God and the kindness of his employer, my husband was able to keep his job and work remotely from home. He will probably be working remotely from home for the next three years, or more, depending on whether or not our homesteading endeavors prove to be lucrative.