We’ve all seen those fantastic documentaries about people who decided to live off-grid and pursue a life in nature. It’s easy to get swept up in the Instagram posts, hoping it’s as easy as taking the photos make it look. But starting a homestead comes with a heavy cost.
In reality, starting a homestead takes a lot of money. You need to know precisely what is involved in setting up a homestead before you dive into your bucolic dreams.
Thankfully, you’ve clicked on the right article to get your answers!
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the cost of starting a homestead.
1. Buying Land
First and foremost, you need to get your land sorted out before you can think about buying animals and growing plants. Unless you inherit or are given land, you’ll need to buy it.
Land costs are across the board in the US. For instance, in New Jersey, you might pay nearly $200,000 for an acre. In Wyoming, you might pay under $2,000 for an acre. It all depends on where you live and how close you are to a major city.
Do a quick search on a real estate website in the area where you want to live and figure out how much it will cost you to buy the land you need. Remember to check if the land has water and power, if that’s something you want to be already in place.
It’s possible to pay this cost in installments depending on whether you are taking out a loan or not. Just keep in mind that lots of banks won’t loan for just land. There must be a dwelling on the property.
If you need to take out a loan, it’s worth chatting with a real estate agent to figure out if there are any programs for rural property and if you can get in on them. You might also find a seller who is willing to finance the buyer.
If you buy property with the dwelling already in place, then things are a bit easier in terms of getting a loan.
2. The Cost of a Home
As with land, you’ll need to do a quick search and see how much property costs in your chosen area. Unless you can pay upfront, you’ll need to obtain a mortgage. Many rural areas have special rates and down payment assistance, so check with a realtor.
Factor the mortgage cost into the overall price of starting your homestead.
If you decide to buy a fixer-upper or build a new home, you’ll need somewhere to live in the meantime.
Some homesteaders have a lot of work to do on their property before moving in, so you might rent an RV so you have somewhere to stay while you do the work. Expect to pay $50-$150 per night for that.
Or you can buy an RV. You can often find used ones for cheap. Then you can sell the RV after your home is ready. Alternatively, you can keep the RV as a guest house for visiting friends or family, or you can keep it for traveling.
Of course, if you buy a house that’s ready to move into, you can avoid this cost. But you’ll have to pay more upfront.
You can opt for a more affordable structure like a tiny home or a yurt, as well. This can be your long-term home or a temporary structure until your main dwelling is ready.
Many people need a pickup truck on their homestead. These are necessary if you’re going to pull trailers for livestock or supplies. If you’re off paved roads, you’ll need something with four-wheel drive.
You can find an old, used truck or SUV for under a few thousand dollars or buy one new starting at about $20,000 and up.
4. Set Up Electricity, Septic, and Water
If you’re off the grid, you’ll need to buy a solar system or another method for obtaining power. If you are connected to the grid but the power is unreliable, you’ll need a generator, as well.
A basic solar system will start around $20,000 and can go much, much higher. A good generator is at least $1,500.
You’ll also likely need excavate and install a septic system. This can cost around $10,000, depending on how deep you have to drill.
Finally, if you don’t already have water, you’ll need to hook up to municipal water or drill a well. Drilling usually costs about $50 per foot.
5. Land Development Costs
There’s a lot of little stuff that comes with developing land that we forget about sometimes. Don’t forget to plan for fencing, grading, tree removal, diverting water, and creating roads and pathways.
Even if the land you purchased was already developed, it will likely need some maintenance and you’ll probably find you want to make some changes.
6. The Price of Growing Crops
When living on a homestead, you’ll be growing lots of food for your family. You’ll have to start planning and organizing the space for crops, plants, and garden tools.
A greenhouse is an excellent choice for gardeners who want to be able to grow crops all year round. Although the more advanced design options can cost well over $10,000, you can find cheaper alternatives for as little as $200-$500 to get you started!
You can also build more cost-effective high or low tunnels or cold frames.
You’ll have to buy tools for planting and looking after the plants. You can save a ton by buying used tools or looking for sales. You’ll need shovels, rakes, plows, weeding tools, gloves, a mower, wagons or wheelbarrows, seeders, and more depending on what and how much you grow.
You should also plan for the following items:
- Potting soil
- Trees and shrubs
- Building supplies for raised beds
7. Raising Animals
Beyond growing crops and raising livestock is the next phase of being a full-time homesteader and, of course, starting up with livestock has a cost.
Chickens are one of the most accessible options for beginners who have never looked after livestock and want to learn how to care for animals on a homestead.
To buy a chicken costs around $2-5 at farm supply stores. Once you’ve adopted your new chickens, you’ll need to prepare their home.
You’ll need a brooder, food and water containers, and a heat lamp. When they’re big enough they’ll need a coop and a run.
The other costs involved in raising chickens are:
Plan on about $1,000 to start your set-up.
You’ll also need to plant on constructing barns for any livestock, as well as the cost of purchasing them and feeding them. Some animals, like horses, need regular inoculations, shoeing, and dental work.
You can build a small barn out of reclaimed wood for extremely cheap. Or you can start fresh with new materials or build something larger. Barn costs can range from $1,000 to $10,000 or more.
8. Living Costs on Your Homestead
Property, growing crops, and raising livestock are only part of the cost puzzle when starting a homestead. If you work remotely or want to be able to relax in the evening with a movie online, you’ll need access to the internet.
The cost of internet is higher than in urban areas because it’s more challenging to get reception, and people have to search for a while to find options. Don’t be surprised to pay nearly $200 per month.
Remember things like home and farm maintenance, trash disposal, and insurance.