If you’re wondering about homesteading for beginners, you’re not alone.
Many people are starting to realize how toxic and fragile our food system is.
Many are looking to grow their own food, make their own remedies, and live a more self-sufficient life. But where do you start?
Buying property, getting animals, and learning all the skills you need (it’s a steep learning curve!) can seem almost impossible.
What many people don’t know (or realize) is that starting a homestead isn’t an event, it’s a process.
The journey of building a homesteading life is amazing and not something I’d want to give up for an already established homestead.
So if you feel like you have so far to go before you become a homesteader, chances are you already are one!
(If you want to skip my story and get to the nitty-gritty advice, skip ahead)
Growing Into a Homesteader
When Matt and I got engaged I found myself with a part-time job and plenty of student debt. Funny enough, working only part-time ended up being less of a strain on our finances than we thought it would be. I had the time to start doing more scratch cooking and DIYing.
(As a side note: A few years later I worked with a woman who was working as much as possible to save for a road trip. She told me that all of her extra money was basically just going to convenience foods and other stuff because she was too busy to be good with her money. Food for thought.)
It was hard but I realized that by working less I had time to cook from scratch, learn to DIY many things, and comparison shop so that we could save money. As it turns out, there really is a cost of working.
So the DIY bug bit me and I was hooked. I realized that I didn’t want to go to a job just to hand my money over to someone else for things I could make or grow for myself. I wanted to learn as much as possible and do as much as possible for myself.
Homesteading for Beginners: Scratch Cooking and Real Food
I started by making some packaged food from scratch—instant oatmeal, granola bars, salad dressing—and then I began to read about real food and learned that there were many health reasons that I should be making these things at home instead of buying them packaged. Healthier plus cheaper—I was in.
It wasn’t long before I learned why I should buy organic and that I couldn’t afford to buy 100% organic. I quickly discovered the value of gardening and preserving the harvest.
I read and absorbed as much as I could about gardening, scratch cooking, and freezer cooking so that I could save money while eating healthy. But knowledge is a slippery slope and before I knew it I was trading in vegetable oil for coconut oil and buying raw everything from milk to apple cider vinegar.
Homesteading for Beginners: Healthy Personal Care Products
When we were still living in our tiny apartment—an apartment that had horribly hard, rusty water—I started searching for an inexpensive way to lessen the impact of the hard water on my hair (it made my thick, curly hair flat and straight, but NOT in a good way).
I started reading about shampoo and then soap and then face wash and then all of the other commercial beauty products that are toxic.
Homesteading for Beginners: Welcoming Simplicity Into Our Lives
Though I found ways to ease the financial burden by saving money wherever I could, we were living within a tighter budget than ever before.
Necessity forced me to reevaluate how I looked at wants vs. needs. I had to face the fact that most of the things I had once believed were needs were actually wants.
I had to learn that a pair of jeans could survive a lot longer than I ever thought was possible. And you know what’s funny? I began to see the value in having fewer things.
I began to appreciate the simplicity of a small wardrobe and the joy of a clutter-free room. I realized that wanting was keeping me from being happy and that being thankful and content was so. much. better.
Homesteading for Beginners: Adding Animals
So, I was gardening and composting. I was canning and freezing. I was making my own personal care products and I was starting to really really want animals. (It’s important to mention that all of this was at rented properties).
I planned for a year and learned everything I could about keeping chickens. Finally, Spring rolled around and we got our first flock. We’re now happily caring for our 3rd generation of chickens and enjoying the healthy eggs they provide.
The “common denominator” in this homesteading equation…
…was knowledge! I learned furiously over the past half decade to gain the knowledge I needed to continue on my homesteading journey. For the most part, I used good old Google, but as I learned more I started to see the value in spending less time researching and more time actually doing. So I took some courses and read many books. I learned so much that I even wrote a couple of my own books!
How to Begin Homesteading
So you’re ready to jump in? Here’s how to get started:
Learn, Then Learn Some More!
The only real prerequisite for homesteading is having a students heart. You have to be a lifelong learner in this lifestyle. Google is your friend! There are so many amazing homesteading blogs out there giving away information for free.
Once you learn enough to know what direction to go in, invest in a book or course on that topic. You can also borrow books from your local library. You’d be surprised how many great ones they have.
If you’re feeling like there’s no way you’d ever have time to grow food or make remedies, start with this book. It’s based on my experience finding time to be a homesteader amongst my busy life of work, kids, homeschool, and everything else that pops up.
Plan Your First Year
When starting a homestead, a plan can change everything. Think about your priorities, what’s important to you? Choose a few small things to try your first year. Set homestead goals and make a plan to reach them. I really like the Michael Hyatt Full Focus Planner but you can use any planner that resonates with you. If you need help planning, check out my homesteading guide and action plan.
The goals you set for your first year are going to depend on many factors. Take a look through this list to see which ones are feasible for you where you are.
Just Get Started
While learning and planning are important, for some of us, we can get stuck there. At some point, you must say, “Enough preparing. It’s time to jump in!” As Joel Salatin says: you can’t google experience. In my experience, you never know what’s going to work for you on your homestead until you try it yourself.
Even if your circumstances aren’t perfect, just get started because the earlier you gain experience, the better off you will be when your dream homestead presents itself.
I started homesteading in an apartment. You can too.
If you don’t have outdoor space focus on frugal living, starting a compost pile, making food from scratch, and preserving summer produce from the farmer’s market. If you do have outdoor space, try a raised bed garden, container gardening, or an inground garden.
But I Don’t Have Land!
That’s ok! Many people who are interested in homesteading for beginners don’t either. I have homesteaded for years without owning a piece of property. Some of that time I was in an apartment. It’s possible!
In fact, it’s a good idea to learn how to homestead without land first. Then, when you do have space for gardens and animals, you will have all of the “indoor” skills perfected. Pick a few things from this list and get started now.
My Favorite Homesteading Resources
There is a lot of information out there on homesteading. That’s a great thing for beginners! But it can also be overwhelming. Here is my list of the top resources for homesteading. These resources have helped me learn just about anything I have needed to learn!