8 Big Costs To Consider When Starting Your Country Homestead

As we all know, it takes money to accomplish our dreams. Some have more than others. We have a finite amount. It is ok to have little or plenty. We are writing from our perspective and understand that you may have less or more. We hope that this article helps those whom may be in a similar situation to us. If it helps others outside of our financial means, then great. We will be even happier.

It should not be taboo to talk about how much money you have or have not. Without disclosing really personal information, we will give you an idea of where we are at in this article. 

Starting Point

Everyone will start at a different place. We have been fortunate and are the saving type. We decided to start this journey only about 2 years ago. For some, that may seem like forever if they are trying to escape to a country lifestyle "Right Now!". Be patient and God will provide for you on his perfect timeline. Follow him and you will undoubtedly have better results.

We were a two income working family with a toddler. Both professionals making decent money within the architecture and medical professions. However, we like so many other Americans, were up to our eyeballs in consumer debt, mortgage debt and school loan debt. Once we had decided to change the focus of our lives, we attacked the debt first. We talk about this "first step" in our article, I want to move and live a quiet life in the country. Where do I start? Debt or? and also on our YouTube channel in a video titled How to Get Out of Debt! Our journey to a country homestead. We are now a one income family and trying to add to our income with side businesses we have been working on for a year and a half. 

We paid off all of our debt except the student loan which is about $250 per month. We will resume the elimination of this debt once we complete the purchase of our country homestead which should be in the next month and a half. 

We were blessed to live in a place where we were able to sell our home after 3 years for a 25% profit. Before you start saying "Well you had a decent nest egg to start, I won't have that", remember we had lost almost that same amount leaving DC to move to Houston when we sold our condo. This was the majority of our savings at that time. So I figure we broke even.

We will be lowering our monthly payment for a dwelling place 30% by purchasing the country property vs our current rental house. This will give us much more to work with on a daily basis.

Moving

Sometimes these costs are overlooked or ignored but they can add up fast. We incurred moving expenses when transitioning from Houston to our small town rental. If you take this transition step like we have, you have to factor that in to your costs. Our rent is the same as what our mortgage was and our bills are comparable. We rented a U-haul and moved ourselves with the help of friends for about $500.

Now comes the move to the country property. Finding property is exceptionally difficult in East Texas. If you find something, you need to jump on it in 24 hours and you can expect a multiple bid situation. See our video on searching for land here: Find Your Dream Homestead Land! Buy or Build?. For those reasons, we purchased our new homestead before our lease is up. We will incur several thousand dollars in costs because of this decision. We have to break our lease with a $1200 penalty. We also need to have a few repairs done on the house and want to get those taken care of before move in. Roof, plumbing and electrical work will costs us a nice chunk of change. Also, we negotiated a leaseback to the sellers for a nominal amount of money for three weeks. We will incur extra monthly rental charges by closing on the new property and staying in our rental house to the tune of $2400.

You can see it adds up fast. Your situation may be different but sometimes circumstance arise and you need to be prepared for several thousands in "extra" costs.

Structures

Of course, you must define needs and wants before you journey out into the countryside. Do you need a greenhouse right away? Do you need a chicken coop? Can you make those yourself for a small amount of money?

Does the property you are looking at already have a barn, a stable, a shed, workshop? Do you need those right away? 

Define your goals, needs and wants ahead of time so that you have a target to shoot for. If you want to buy a raw piece of land and live in a camper/trailer for a few years, by all means go for it but define it ahead of time to the best degree you can. Will the house you purchase need repairs?

For reference, a small pre-planned barn can cost $6000 to $10000. A shed, $500 to $2000. A greenhouse, $2000 to $8000. If you find scrap material and have construction skills, you may be able to do it for less but factor in how much your time is worth too.

Obviously a house is a must.  Although we despise debt, a mortgage is a different story as real property is an asset.  

Tools

Tools come in all shapes and sizes. They also all cost vastly different amounts of money. There are tools for the garage, tools for the barn, tools for the garden, tools for the kitchen and many more.  There are screwdrivers and there are wood chippers. You can read our article about tools here: Tools. What the heck do I need on a homestead?  This article covers the initial items we believe you will need but only lists the starting point.

We have been collecting different tools over the years, have inherited some from family and received some as gifts. We also purchased some items like an extendable ladder, lawn mower, welder and trailer from the seller of the property. This makes the amount that we have to buy less but it will still cost us a pretty penny to stock our homestead with the right equipment.

Will you need a tiller? A farm truck? A grain mill? A wood chipper? Plan it all out and do your research for costs ahead of time. 

You can start modest. Don't let the amount of tools you may or may not need get you down or delay your decision to move out to your homestead.  We simply want to prepare you for what you may need.  If you are building your own home, you are going to need to start with a hammer and a saw.  Want to grow your own food, you will need to start with a shovel, hoe and a pitchfork.

Make a list of tools you think you will need. Use our article as a starting point.  Grow your list and add over time as your budget allows. Remember, you can find many items at garage sales, estate sales, on craigslist or at a swap-meet/trade show.  See some of the gems that we found on our trip to the largest swap-meet in the country: Hidden Gems Found At The Country's Largest Trade Show-Swap Meet  

Animals

Raising animals can be a great income generator but it also costs money to start. The nice thing about many animals such as chickens is once you establish a shelter for them, you can mitigate costs by feeding them scraps from your garden. Chickens can forage in their pen for bugs and they will eat many vegetable scraps from your garden and kitchen. They may be the most economical animal to own. A large round bale of hay for feeding a donkey, horses or cows only costs about $35. Bees are great for your garden but think about $600 to $800 in startup costs for the hive, suit and equipment.  

Just remember you can offset your animal costs by selling eggs from chickens, meat from lambs or goats, milk from goats or cows, etc.  

If you have large animals or pets, you will need to factor in vet bills.  You may also need a dog for protection and some cats to take care of mice.  

Garden

This can be a bigger cost that one might think and must be planned and saved for. Start up costs for the garden will go beyond just the tools.  

First you will need to determine what kind of garden you want to start and what method you want to use. We prefer the Back-To-Eden method. The number one thing needed to have a successful gardening experience is soil. Soil is life and to grow healthy food in abundance, your soil must be healthy. So, it all depends on what you start with. If you find a homestead property with a gardening area already, you may get away with less of an initial investment. If you are starting with barren suburban style lawn that is devoid of nutrients you will need to put some love and life back into it. So prices for shredded hardwood mulch in our area is about $30 per sq yard.  A square yard of mulch will cover about 54 sq ft at 6 inches deep or 81 sq ft at 4 inches deep. You will have to do the math for your garden size. The Back To Eden method calls for quite a thick covering of woodchips and 4 inches is about the bare minimum for the method.

You will need a growing medium as well. Compost will run you $25 per yard. If you grow your veggies in pure compost that is 1 foot thick, you will spend $25 to cover 27 sq ft of land. Not much.  This will add up quickly.  

Do you need stone for walkways in the garden? Will you just use hay? Are you going to put in a watering system? You will need a fence.

Fencing is not terribly expensive. Treated wood corner posts with bracing, metal t-posts for the spans between corners, hardware, a gate or two and the fencing itself is basically all you need. Quality welded wire fence with small holes to deter rabbits is about $375 for a 200 foot long roll that is 60 inches tall. Want to keep the deer out and you will need to double that height. In Michigan where I grew up, we had an abundance of deer but they never seemed to bother our garden. I am waiting to see how that plays out in Texas. The fencing system, as we will call it, may run you a thousand dollars or so if you have a semi large garden.

We shouldn't forget about seeds as well. If you are passionate about sowing the best non-gmo heirloom seeds and you want to have a massive amount of variety in a large garden you could pay up to $200 including herbs and berries. We hit this price with 60 different heirloom seeds and plants. 

Orchard

This is a variable cost but most homesteaders want to have an orchard. Fruit tree pricing can vary widely depending on variety and type. For instance, a Golden Delicious apple can cost you $12 and a Cortland apple can cost you $25. A Windsor sweet cherry is $17 and a Blackgold sweet cherry is $30. If you have 20 of the finest trees, you are talking $600. 

If you start to put fencing or bird netting up, it may cost you a cool $1500.

Energy Systems

Almost every homesteader I have read about or know wants to eventually be off-grid. They want to be dependent on solar, wind and other energy methods. Those systems are pricey. They can be had for smaller amounts of money but you will have to dig and scrape to find them. We would say a good starting system for solar will run about $3000 to $5000 conservatively. A wind turbine with all related items could be roughly $1500 to $2000.  Yes, you will save money in the long run on utilities but the payoff time can be quite long. We recommend starting small and then gradually adding to your systems over time. In our opinion, this is more of a want than a need for the beginning homesteader.

Conclusion

If you have not figured it out yet, there are a ton of costs involved in starting a homestead. Depending on how quickly you want to get moving, growing or building you are going to have to save up some cash. There are always other issues that may arise as well. Your current vehicle may break down or you may have a medical issue that need to be taken care of. We do subscribe to the Dave Ramsey philosophy of having a good emergency fund in place at all times for unforeseen issues that may arise.  

We hope this brief article will give you hope and insight as to what some costs can be estimated at. We want it to be encouragement to help you start but we also want it to be realistic and help you plan ahead of time so that your transition may be a little more smooth.

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2 Comments

  1. I like the level of detail in this article. Good stuff. I had debt—-lar levels of expenses when I first moved on to my property. I agree about the house and debt–it is a hard pill to swallow but is sometimes necessary.

    • Thanks for the comment. Yea, the house debt was hard to swallow at first for sure. I think we can double up the payments and knock it out quicker. We tried to stay modest when looking for a place while still being practical about the cost and amount of what we needed. Not sure if you saw the video but you can head over to our YouTube channel and check it out…https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPSGBI1OOfO_RWwjMdswglw

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