Homesteading is a quaint idea for old-school hippies and new-age vegans. Poor people across the country—from the Appalachian Mountain dwellers to the late-1800s Oklahoma Sooners—scraped a living off the land in an effort to provide a future for their children. Homesteading is something that people did “back then“. Today’s homesteaders are often seen as drop-outs or retirees with nothing better to do. Why would anyone ever want to go “backward” in today’s world? Well… I can think of at least 10 reasons to start a homestead TODAY.
1. There’s Never Been a Better Time to Sell
Housing prices in America sit at an all-time peak. If you own a house then you know this to be true. According to MarketWatch, housing prices grew 100 times faster from 2012 to 2020 than they did from 1955 to 1998. I have to say that again… 100 times faster. In 2020, housing prices increased by 27%. This was after rising over 20% in 2019.
The rise in housing prices was caused by record-low interest rates, record-low inventory, wildly rising lumber and appliance prices, and record-high government stimulus. The median home price has risen from $313,000 in 2017 to $410,000 today.
One might think that their home will be worth $600,000 in just a few more years. But the case for that happening is unlikely. Rising interest rates along with the Federal Reserve reversing the monetary easing, plus the elimination of government stimulus programs (like the expanded child tax credit) will most likely reverse the trend of home prices rising. Many very serious economists foresee a 30% reduction in home prices coming very soon.
If ever there were a time to “sell high” when it comes to housing, we are probably in it in 2022. The best way to get out from under a mortgage is to sell when you have the most equity and then buy land in a rural area where property is still cheap enough to buy for cash.
2. Remote Work is The New Normal
One of the main obstacles to homesteading before the pandemic was that there are no good-paying jobs in the country. The reason country land is cheap is because country jobs don’t pay well. This was true. My county in East Texas where I bought my 10 acres with a home for $50,000 in 2011 is listed in the bottom quartile of income for the state.
With remote working, this is rapidly changing. My niece just changed jobs from working 9-5 as a graduation administrator at a local college, to working completely online with a college 200 miles away. She got a giant raise and can now do your job from anywhere in the world. This week she is doing her job while attending a quilting fair in Arizona. Quilting is her “side gig” that makes her an additional $10,000+ per year.
Even if you have to travel to the city once a week to attend a corporate meeting, the drive is worth the distance. This was not true before COVID-19. The rural land rush by remote workers is just starting. By the time it looks mainstream, it may already be too late to get the best deals.
3. Broadband is Everywhere (and Spreading)
I am still waiting for my Starlink connection. I should receive it by this summer. My small town just installed fiber optic throughout the city. The tiny town south of mine is next on the list. The federal government’s infrastructure programs have massive grants for rural broadband. Broadband access will only increase over time.
When I moved to the country the only internet I could get was Hughesnet, which was terrible and expensive. Now I have faster internet for less money, but still not broadband. By the end of 2022, I will have high-speed internet service at an affordable price.
4. Stores Don’t Matter Anymore
Brick and mortar stores are so 20th century. Not only is everything available online, but the online purchasing process is better in almost every way. You can’t see 100 reviews of the item you are about to pick off a store shelf in a brick and mortar store. Online you can see exactly what real buyers think of the product before you buy it.
With online price comparison tools that often come with your credit card or through downloading an app, you can also find the lowest price for the exact item you want to buy. Shipping in many instances is crazy fast. Direct delivery will only increase as more and more “Uber” type delivery services spread to every corner of the country. Even without that, the world is still at your fingertips with just a 1-3 day delivery wait. The idea that you have to be where the stores are in order to get what the stores have is over.
5. “Rural” No Longer Means “Isolated”
If you are really young and like to party, then the country may not be for you, but most other people have the majority of their interactions online now. In my mind, there are two places to live anymore: either downtown where all the action is or in the country where there’s peace and quiet. The social difference between living in the suburbs and living in the country is non-existent.
In the country people are socially closer to their neighbors, so your friends are closer than you think. The rural churches, groups, and schools are more close-knit as well. Roads are so smooth and cars are so comfortable these days, that taking a trip “into the city” for a night out is as easy as telling GPS where you want to go. My wife and I regularly go into the big city for a night out and an overnight stay in a hotel, or just a day trip.
6. Cities Are Getting Worse
One of the main reasons we moved to the country was to get our 14-year-old daughter out of a big city school that had degraded into a criminal institution. We did not live in a bad neighborhood. We lived in a suburban cul-de-sac home with an in-ground swimming pool. Yet the school was an abomination.
We also started seeing more and more illegal streetside vendors popping up. And I even LITERALLY had to drive through a police roadblock near my house where they were stopping every car and deciding who needed to pull into a parking lot for secondary inspection. I wish I was lying. No, there was no escaped criminal they were looking for. This was just something they decided to do on a Sunday morning.
Homelessness and crime also get more prevalent every year. San Francisco is an outlier, but I recently saw an article where people were parking their SUVs with the back hatch open so that criminals wouldn’t break out the window just to see if there was anything worth stealing. As jails get overcrowded and courts get overwhelmed, criminals are getting bolder and bolder. This is due to light sentences to no sentences for “non-violent” crimes. If you are a criminal, then stay in the city, because when you commit a crime where I live, they throw the book at you. Our courts have plenty of time to try and convict criminals. It was a major news story this week in the town next to me because someone shot the windows out at a few stores one night. That’s HEADLINE news in the country!
7. Municipal and State Services Are Still Available
Technically these things are available in the city, but in the country, they are readily available. I own three vehicles, two trailers, and a motorcycle that all need to be inspected and registered every year. When I show up at a registration station, my wait is zero to ten minutes. When I show up at the tax office to renew my tags my wait is generally ZERO minutes. The idea of “take a number” simply doesn’t exist in the country.
Imagine this scenario: You just bought a vehicle from a friend who signs the title over on the back. You bring your ID and the title to the tax office and walk up to the window with no wait. You say, “I bought this, I don’t know what to do.” Then the lady fills out the form FOR YOU, takes your money, and says “Have a blessed day.” You’re done in 7 minutes. That is the longest it would take. When I’m renewing a registration I just go through the drive-through!
We recently bought some land. We went to the county clerk’s office and filed everything ourselves. We didn’t even use a title company. Why? Because that’s how things can work in the country (although I would recommend you use a title company).
Need I say more? Last year, my wife and I bought a used 30-foot RV in Dallas. We carefully got onto I-30 to go home. Traffic stopped due to whatever. I turned to my wife and said, “We’re in no hurr…” as a guy slammed into the back of the RV going 70 miles per hour. He didn’t even try to stop. He crawled out of his crumpled car and RAN OFF! I kid you not! No insurance. The cop said he had warrants.
Traffic! Not to mention the hours and hours city people spend sitting in angry traffic every week just trying to get to work.
It’s so common for me to be the only person on the road where I live that I don’t even notice it anymore. When was the last time you had to sit through more than one red light before you got through the intersection? In the country, the answer is “never”.
9. Land in the Country is Still Relatively Cheap
No, you probably can’t get 10 acres with buildings on it (like I did) for $50,000. However, the house I sold to move out here in 2011 is also worth more than twice what it was worth in 2011. Right now an equivalent property where I live would cost about $130,000. That’s an easy price to pay if you are working remotely for a better-than-rural income. It’s also an easy price to pay for cash if you’re selling a home that you’ve lived in for more than seven years.
Homestead.org has lots of articles on how to shop for a homestead. My recommendation is to get at least 5 acres of useful land. That’s 1 acre to live on, 2 acres to grow on, and 2 acres to play on with chickens and goats, etc. We have 10 acres, but we don’t use at least half of it.
If you get more than 2 hours outside of the city, prices should drop pretty quickly. If you move to a state where land is less expensive overall, that could cut your costs in half. Remember, homesteading means freedom. Why not get free of state income tax and a lot of other burdens when picking your homestead?
10. The Stars Still Exist
Do you remember those twinkly things up in the sky that you saw as a child? They all still exist! The bright shining band of the Milky Way Galaxy still streams across the night sky every night in the country. I know, I look at it every night.
The frogs still sing all night in the summer. The birds still fill the air with nonstop calls during mating season. The roosters crow and the wolves howl. Yesterday, when I went onto my porch, two whitetail does jumped into the field on the other side of the creek just 200 feet away. I know why they were there. They are looking for a place to have their fawns in the next month or two. I will be able to watch their fawn grow up this spring.
If you decide to start a homesteading life and do it in a way that freezes your housing bills for the rest of your life (by paying cash or paying it off quickly), then you will officially step off the treadmill. Ten years ago when we purchased our homestead, it was a stretch financially. Now it’s like sitting in a bubbling hot tub drinking champagne while the entire world collapses around us.
Imagine living in a world with no mortgage, no traffic, five-minute car registration, less fear of crime or urban disintegration, working remotely, feeding the chickens, sending your child to a school where they still have “Bring Your Dad to School” days. My son just got back from having “Daddy’s Breakfast” at his son’s elementary school, which has less than 400 students.
Notice that I haven’t brought up how to grow crops or live off the land or be “all on your own” at the end of the world. Modern homesteading is first about becoming financially and psychologically independent. This leads to being spiritually and emotionally independent.
You don’t have to milk a goat or grow your own shoes in order to be a homesteader. Luckily, modern-day homesteading is about having the option to do all the same things that 1890’s homesteaders did without the obligation to do so. Remember, they didn’t have Starlink and Amazon in the 1890s. If they had then they would have used them, I promise!