Checklist for Starting a Homestead

Are you tired of the daily grind and dreaming of a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle? If so, you’re not alone. Many people are turning to homesteading as a way to break free from the rat race, grow their own food, and live a more sustainable life. Starting a homestead can be a great idea, but it’s also hard work and requires careful planning. 

​What you need is a checklist for starting a homestead.  Here is the checklist that will help you succeed on your homesteading adventure.

Lady holding a chicken


The Homestead Checklist

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1. Purchase some Land 

The first thing you need to do is find the right place for your homestead. Consider the size of your homestead you want, the local town regulations, and property taxes. Make sure the land is in good working order and that you have access to essential resources like water.  Many people have purchased land, started drilling a well for water, only to discover a well isn’t possible

Don’t have money to purchase a homestead in the country?  Don’t worry, you can homestead right where you are! It may look different, but it is possible.  You’ll want to plan out how you’ll use the yard or land that you have if you aren’t purchasing a new property.

farm land for your homestead

2. Create a Game Plan

Before diving in, create a clear game plan for your homesteading goals. What do you want to achieve? Are you looking to become completely self-sufficient, or do you plan to supplement your income with a profitable homestead business?  How will you fund your projects? Having a well-defined plan will help you stay on track.  

3. Start Small

For beginners, it’s often a good idea to start with a small urban homestead or a tiny homestead project. This allows you to learn the ropes without overwhelming yourself with too much work. You can always expand your homestead later.  Learning how to homestead in small chunks at a slower pace will keep you from being discouraged as you learn from your successes and mistakes.  It’s also a lot more financially feasible to build up your homestead slowly and not all at once.

4. Learn New Skills

Homesteading requires a wide range of skills, from animal husbandry to gardening and carpentry. Take the time to learn these skills, either through online courses, books, or by seeking guidance from experienced homesteaders in your community.  Online blogs, tutorials, and videos are a great way to learn these things.  You don’t have to wait until you have land to learn new skills that’ll help you with homesteading.  You can learn how to preserve food or garden no matter what kind of property you live on.

Some of my favorite books to learn from when I started homesteading was the Backyard Homesteading series.  They are easy to understand and give you options of how to use your land no matter the size.

canning in a root cellar

5. Build Garden Beds

Creating garden beds is a great way to grow your own food. Start with a small vegetable garden and gradually expand as you gain experience. Use organic materials and compost to enrich the soil and promote healthy plant growth.  Decide if you want raised garden beds or if you’ll till a garden right in the ground in your yard.  I found it cheaper to till a garden right in the ground.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a tiller, often there are places you can rent one from.

6. Invest in Farm Animals

If you have the space and resources, consider raising farm animals like chickens, or even goats or a pig. A chicken coop is a must-have for fresh eggs and meat. Be prepared for daily tasks such as feeding, watering, and cleaning. If you have kids be sure to get them involved.  They will love it and learn a sense of responsibility.

Even if you live in an urban area, check your city or town’s regulations as some areas allow you to have a few backyard chickens.  If you need an idea of what farm animal to start with, check out this post that dives into the best farm animals to get when new to homesteading.

7. Plant Fruit Trees

Fruit trees are a valuable addition to your homestead. They provide fresh fruit and can be a source of income if you decide to sell the surplus at a local farmers market. Be patient, as it may take a few years for them to bear fruit.  Because they do take a few years to produce fruit, it’s better to get fruit trees planted sooner rather than later.

Make sure you plant more than one as you need more than one to pollinate.  There are varieties that will self-pollinate, but your trees will yield more fruit if you have them cross pollinate with another tree.  Be sure to do your research at what fruit trees will thrive in your climate.  In my area there’s no way I could grow oranges, but cherries or apples are a common fruit tree that does well.



8. Create a Root Cellar

A root cellar is essential for storing your harvest during the colder months. It helps you preserve fruits, vegetables, and even homemade preserves. You can build one or look for spare parts to save on costs.  A root cellar is a huge benefit and asset to any homestead.  

If you don’t have a root cellar though, don’t panic.  You can preserve your root vegetables in other ways.  For example, I just canned a whole bunch of potatoes because I don’t have a root cellar.  Of course, if I had a root cellar it sure would make my life easier so if you are able to build one, I highly recommend it.

9. Consider a Cold Frame

Extend your growing season by using a cold frame. It’s a simple and cost-effective way to protect your plants from frost during the early spring and late fall.  You can plant things like lettuce and greens in it.  We built ours from salvaged materials to save on costs.  You don’t need to go out and buy new materials for a cold frame.  If you have just a bit of money, it’s possible to create something that will be perfect for this purpose.

Cold frame to extend the garden season

10. Master Animal Care

Taking care of your farm animals is a huge part of homesteading. Learn about their specific needs, health issues, and emergency situations. Always have spare parts and medical supplies on hand.  Of course, also know your limits.  There are things you most likely can’t do and will need a vet.  

Therefore, be sure to track down your local vets that will come out to treat farm animals.  Keep their number somewhere handy so you can find it quickly in an emergency situation.

11. Prepare for Power Outages

Living off-grid comes with its challenges, including power outages. Invest in backup power sources like solar panels and generators to ensure your homestead continues to run smoothly.  

Years ago when we were in our first year on the homestead we ended up having a power outage for over 30 hours.  Because I was inexperienced in living in the country, I didn’t realize that if the power went out we had no water.  That meant none for drinking, and for flushing toilets.  

Do you know what happens when 5 people are using the bathroom for over 30 hours without being able to flush it?  It ain’t pretty.  I learned my lesson That year.  I always had water on the shelves in case we lost power.

You’ll also want to make sure you have something for heat if the power goes out.  We had a woodstove so we just had to make sure we had wood on hand at all times.

12. Harvest Honey

Beekeeping can be a profitable business and a great way to support your garden. Harvesting honey is a skill worth mastering, and it’s a sweet addition to your homestead’s offerings.  You don’t need too much land to keep bees as well.

honey from a homestead

13. Embrace Simple Living

Homesteading is all about simplifying your life. Reduce your reliance on the grocery store by cooking home-cooked meals using your homegrown ingredients. It’s not only a good way to save money but also a good reason to enjoy good food.  The more you can do yourself at home the better.  Learn how to cook, how to do some basic sewing, how to fix things when they beak.

Of course, complete self-reliance probably isn’t possible, but the more you can do for yourself, the better off you will be.

14. Network and Use Social Media

Connect with fellow homesteaders, both online and in your local community. Social media can be a powerful tool for sharing your homesteading journey and building a customer base if you decide to sell your products.  

Even if you don’t know if you will sell anything from your homestead, it’s a good idea to start a social media presence anyways because it often takes years to build and if you do decide you want your homestead to run as a business, you’ll be lightyears ahead if you already have a following of people who have been watching your homesteading journey.

15. Budget Wisely

Estimate the cost of your homesteading venture and budget accordingly. Extra money from a part-time job, or a homestead business can help support your endeavors.  You could even start blogging about your homesteading adventures to earn some money to fund it.

16. Prioritize Survival Skills

In case of an emergency situation, having survival skills is crucial. Keep a pocket knife and learn essential survival techniques to ensure you’re prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.  The library is full of good books on this topic, ,and there’s even some great websites you can learn from.  

Living in the country means if something goes wrong you may not be able to run next door to a neighbor’s house for help, so it’s important to know what to do in an emergency if you can’t get help as quickly as you would like.

17. Set Homesteading Goals

Set monthly and yearly homesteading goals to keep yourself on track. Having a master list of tasks will help you stay organized and motivated.  Short-term and long-term goals will help you build up your homestead to the place you want it to be.

18. Embrace the Seasons

Different tasks are best suited for certain times of the year. Plan your homesteading activities accordingly, from planting in the spring to harvesting in the summer and preserving in the fall.  You know what they say – “make hay while the sun shines.”  There are indoor jobs to do when it rains, and outdoor jobs to do in the nice weather.

Fall on the farm

19. Seek Thrift Stores and Spare Parts

Homesteading often involves repurposing and fixing things on your own. Thrift stores can be treasure troves for affordable tools and equipment, and spare parts can save you a great deal of money.  Before running out to buy a new replacement of something that is broken, scour secondhand options to see if you can find what you need a cheaper price.

20. Have Patience

Starting a new homestead is a long-term project. Don’t expect instant success. Be patient and recognize that in the long run, all your hard work will pay off, but it will take time.  And when I say it’ll take time, I mean years.  Many homesteaders spend decades building up their homestead to the place they want it to be.

21. Enjoy the Journey

Lastly, remember to enjoy the journey. Homesteading is not just about self-sufficiency; it’s also about a simpler way of life, a closer connection to nature, and the satisfaction of seeing your homesteading dreams come to life. However, if you are just waiting until your homestead looks exactly how you want it to enjoy it, you’ll spend years being unhappy.  So, enjoy all the little steps along the way.  Don’t miss out on the joy of the journey.

Homesteading for Beginners Checklist

Starting a new homestead is a great way to break free from the hustle and bustle of modern life and embark on a self-sufficient lifestyle. While it involves hard work, dedication, and learning new skills, it can also be a rewarding and fulfilling journey. Use this checklist as your guide to navigate the exciting path of homesteading, as you embark on your homesteading adventure!  Having an idea of where to start will make it that much easier for any beginner.

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