What is Homesteading?

The modern-day sense of the word homesteading is, in short, is the following of a lifestyle of self-sufficiency.

This can be achieved by essentially living off the land through subsistence agriculture, preserving foods and sometimes small-scale production of textiles, clothing or crafts which can be utilised in the home.

Historically, homesteading was in some cases the only way to live. Creating homes, food and livelihoods for yourself and your family by using the land.

In 19th Century America, The Homestead Act of 1862, saw the introduction of a law whereby adult citizens could file a claim for a patch of land on the terms that they would live there and work the land. After 5 years of cultivation, the citizen would then own this piece of land. Over 160 million acres of land was given away for free during these times, with the majority lying on the west of the Mississippi River. 

This historical practice of living self-sufficiently is slowly making its way into modern living, with homesteaders opting to use renewable energy to power their homes as well as growing their own food through gardening and raising animals. Even homeschooling children is a popular option for those who homestead. 

Many say homesteading nowadays is a mindset and you don’t have to own acres of land to be classed as a homesteader. Simply growing some of your own food and reducing your need to rely on others to live marks the beginning of a homesteading lifestyle in a modern setting.

For those who are hoping to become completely self-sufficient, homesteading is a way of life. Developing skills to provide for oneself and one’s family and teaching children to do the same for their own futures. 

Why Do People Homestead?

A common misconception of homesteading is that those who choose to live in this way are ‘Doomsday preppers’, which may be the case for some but for most, it is for the satisfaction of providing for themselves.

This desire to be self-sufficient is a huge driving force behind many people’s choice to basically own and run their own farms – growing their own food, raising their own livestock, creating sustainable power sources and carrying out craftwork for household use. These products can be lived off by the homestead household or can be put up for sale to help raise funding to continue work on the homestead. 

Other reasons people choose to begin a homesteading lifestyle are:

  • Bringing back the ‘old’ ways of living.
  • Gaining satisfaction from being able to do things themselves.
  • Decreasing consumeristic habits.
  • Being more environmentally friendly.
  • Using everything that God gave them to live.
  • To learn important life skills.
  • To be able to provide for their families.
  • For health – knowing what goes into their food and where it came from.
  • To save money.
  • To be able to live off-grid effectively.

These reasons shape the meaning of the word ‘homesteading’ and give it a pretty broad definition. However, the repetition of the theme of satisfaction through self-sustaining practices says it all. People want the gratification of being able to provide for themselves – to work hard and reap the rewards.

Living in this way increases the sense of community, where people can help one another out by sharing their knowledge and teaching skills. Also, being part of a like-minded society is something humans strive for on a daily basis.

You don’t need land to start homesteading. It could be as small as a windowsill greenhouse in your top floor apartment, where you grow your own herbs.

Savvy Homesteader is here to help you with tips and advice on homesteading, so you can get involved, no matter where you live.

What Are Homestead Tax Exemptions?

When it comes to taxes, owning and living on a homestead can reduce the amount of taxes you need to pay. It does depend on which state you’re in, but tax payments could be reduced by a certain percentage or specific dollar amount – this is often based on the value of your property and your living situation (low-income, seniors, veterans and those with disabilities).

To get this tax exemption, you must own and live on the property – you can’t be renting or using the property as an investment, it has to be your primary residence.

Most states have homestead exemptions but not all will have homestead tax exemptions. Check out this website for more detailed information about different state governments and which homestead laws they have in place. And whether you can claim for homestead benefits of any kind.