Ever since I was a very young kid, I knew that I wanted to have a little place of my own, to own land were I could enjoy being outside. That never feeling never left through the years. So starting a homestead, finding a place for your tiny house or just a little piece to call your own can seem really challenging at times.
For some they just want to start homesteading right where they are, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it. For others is just finding the time to make it happen.
So what are we supposed to do when we’re on a budget and all we want to do is start building a life for ourselves?
Get Clear On Your Goals
The biggest mistake I see people make is they haven’t really defined what they want to do in 1 year, 5 years and so on. When you get very clear on what you want, you can quickly determine what you actually need in your future stead and where you are going. Too often people don’t set goals which means they are getting pulled in a million directions.
If you actually write out your goals you gain clarity and you will have a standard to evaluate how you spend your time and resources. When you have clear goals you can ask yourself “does this get me closer to my goals?” If the answer is yes, then you should pursue it. If the answer is no or maybe, then you should say no to whatever it is.
Having goals means you don’t waste money on things that you don’t need and focus the money you do have on hand to the things that will actually let you do what you want to do. Too often people spend money on things they think they want, but haven’t taken the time to determine if that’s right for them.
Simplify Your Life
Closely tied with my last point, work to actively encourage things in your life that are aligned with your goals, then reject everything else. This can be difficult, but with some practice and keeping your eye on the prize you can cut out all the stuff that doesn’t matter.
From there look at ways to make every day easier and less complicated. Declutter your home, regain control over your calendar, cut out unnecessary expenses and focus on what matters to you. This is a long process, but as you bring the important things into focus and remove the things that eat up your time that don’t matter, you’ll find you have more time, less stress, and life seems to flow better.
Take The Long Road
It can be tempting to make the leap now, but if we accept that this is a journey and we need to sort things in our life before we get to our destination. We realize that we’re putting in the hard work to make our dream possible so that when we do arrive, we are able to really enjoy it fully. If we rush through it we’ll start homesteading stressed, in debt, and being pulled in a million directions.
Some of the biggest goals I’ve achieved were only enjoyed because I worked on everything as I made my way there. When I moved into my tiny house I wanted to have a simpler life, less clutter from possessions, on my way to being debt free and in a really good place in my life and career. If I hadn’t worked to make those things a reality, the experience of going tiny would have been very stressful.
The other thing to know is that a lot of what you want to do requires a lot of new knowledge and experience, which you can start gathering now! Choose the areas you want to focus on first (goal setting) and find a way to learn more about those areas. It could be checking a book out of the library, it could be making friends with a local farmer or homesteader and asking if you can help out for free.
A lot of what I learned was from a farmer who I helped weed beds. As we moved along his raised beds, I would ask lots of questions and we’d talk about various things on his farm that I wanted to know more about. It was a big help to him, I learned a lot and it filled the time while we were weeding.
Starting Your Homestead Where You Are
For many people when they get really clear on their goals and realize that the whole thing is a journey, they realize that the land they are on is actually a really good place to start for them for where they are in their journey. Most of us just starting out don’t have many of the skills needed to run a full fledged homestead, so starting small is perfect because we can build our skills so we can later apply them to a larger piece of land.
Start with baby steps as you build out your homestead and if you don’t own the land, consider how you can develop the land in ways that you can take them with you when you upgrade or move. Portable infrastructure is key when you don’t own your land or the land you’re on is a stepping stone to your final destination. Things like water systems, shelters for animals, fencing, and even garden beds all can be made to move if need be.
So look around where you are right now, could you start a raised bed? What about container gardening? Is there a way you could buy two chickens and learn the ins an outs of raising them? Be open to possibilities and bring creativity to your situation.
Buying Land With Little Or No Money
For many of us it’s all about finding some land we can call our own. Land can be very expensive and while we want to grow things, money isn’t one thing we can grow in our gardens. So how can we buy land without much money?
Rent To Own
Most of us are paying something right now for wherever we are living. It could be rent or a mortgage, but whatever the case is, we actually do have money, it’s just not allocated in the right direction. What if we were to find some land where we could start renting now and the rent goes towards ownership?
There are many landlords that will consider this, especially when they’ve been trying to sell it for a long time or it’s bare land. This is sometimes referred to as “owners financing”. The beauty of this is we often can get in on a property that has potential, but requires some elbow grease for very little down. Sometimes you can start with nothing down.
If you play your cards right, you can find a piece of land that’s right for you at the same cost of your old mortgage or monthly rent. If you were spending $500 a month, work the deal to pay the owner $500 a month. The downsides to this approach are that the owner will often use a higher interest rate than normal and if you default on the payments, you lose it all. So make sure you have money saved for a rainy day.
Get A Land Loan
Land loans are harder to come by these days, but there are a few credit unions and smaller banks that will still do them. You’re typically looking at about 2% more interest than going mortgage rates. This was an option I explored and was able to find financing options through the Farmers Credit Union which had USDA backing.
I don’t typically advocate taking on debt, but there are sometimes that it is the only realistic option. Houses, land and for some cars are the only way they could achieve this. If you go this route, make sure you have a good handle on your finances, you’ve paid down all your debt and you have 3-6 months of expenses saved in case of job loss. This isn’t something you want to mess around with.
Stretch The Money You Do Have
One thing to consider is that land is often expensive, but if we are willing to make a move we can consider areas that land is cheaper. If you have $15,000 in California, you’re not going to find any options, but if you were open to Montana, you might find some really good deals. Combined this with a rent to own arrangement and you can get some really nice land for what you have on hand.
The two caveats with this is to make sure that you can still find employment in those areas, if you can remote work you can be pulling in big city pay checks while having small town bills. The other thing is to try it before you buy it, just because it’s the right price may not mean it’s a place you like to live.
So consider renting for a year and use the time to get to know the area, the people and the lifestyle. You can use this time to get a lay of the land, understand where you might want to live better and build connections that could help you on your journey.
In more rural locations, especially those where farming is common, renting land by the year is very common. Many people will use this as a way to expand their farm without buying expensive property. In some places $50 per acre per year is quite common, you just need to make sure that you are able to move everything if the situation changes.
So those are some of the options you can consider when trying to find land. It isn’t easy, but with some creativity, hard work and perseverance you can make owning land a reality.
- How have you figured out a way to find your own land?
- Where are you at with your journey?