.There can be no doubt about it, homesteading is going mainstream. With healthcare facilities becoming overwhelmed, food shortages looming, and the economy in free fall, more and more families are seeking to build the kind of self sufficiency that is central to the burgeoning homesteading movement. Unfortunately, "Getting back to the land" appears out of reach for many, particularly as unemployment skyrockets and economists say the word "Depression" for the first time in about a century.
Never has the been a better time, or a harder time, to build your garden and cabin in the country.
However, I think I can offer some encouragement from my own life. About a year ago, I was living in a cramped low-income apartment in Nashville, Tennessee. As a full-time musician, my income tended to be unreliable at best, roughly averaging out around the state's minimum wage. Living from a tip jar makes saving money very difficult, and the low revenue stream coupled with my self employment status made any kind or mortgage impossible.
But I couldn't shake my dream of owning a little land in the country where I could grow real food, hunt game, and leave the frenetic superficiality of the city behind. Though it seemed hopelessly out of reach, I ogled real estate on online sites every night, flipping through endless pages of farms and wooded lots.
Then one day I found it. Out of the blue I stumbled across one of the roughest properties I'd ever seen. It was a bank foreclosure, and was listed for a mere $11,000 for very good reason. It had two decrepit mobile homes, one of which was placed on the property illegally, and was literally cut in half. It had tipped back and slid down the hill, somewhat resembling the almost vertical Titanic, except instead of the ocean, it was sinking into massive mounds of garbage, tires, and waste. For decades, drug-addicted tenants had trashed the 1.2 acre property in spectacular fashion.
But underneath the rubble, I saw my homestead. There was a good south-facing slope, a seasonal stream, and mature forest. I began to cobble together what money I could. Fortunately, my parents raised me with an extreme degree of frugality, and I had a bit saved. I sold off every possession I possibly could, and made up the difference with a credit card (Not a method I would recommend, as it took nearly a year of stark poverty to pay it off, but it was really the only possible way for me to enter into home ownership at that time)
It's been an incredibly difficult journey, but with endless trips to the dump and many thousands of garbage bags later, a working small-acreage permaculture farm has begun to emerge from the abused property. Soil has been amended, invasive plants cleared, the Titanic-esque mobile home removed, debt paid off, fruit trees planted, ponds started, and floors finished.
As I plant my second garden, I've been reflecting on how this property began as a massive liability, and has turned into a financial asset for me. When they shut down the venues and touring over the recent health concerns, myself and all of my musician friends lost virtually all of our income overnight. The entire industry we've spent our lives building our skills in is suddenly gone. But I've been weathering it just fine, thanks to my homesteading lifestyle. I have no rent or mortgage, no water bill, very little electricity usage, and all of the food I can harvest.
All this to say, it's possible. There are few people making less than a traveling fiddle player in Tennessee. But with time, careful planning, frugality, and lots of sacrifice, a self-sufficient lifestyle is not beyond your grasp. If you're determined to get started regardless of budget, check out our article: 10 Ways to Start Homesteading on a Low (Or No) Budget.