How to Homestead in the City

It used to be that only people in the country were homesteaders. However, over time people who have yearned to homestead but couldn’t move to the country figured out how to make their dreams a reality and discovered how to homestead in the city.

how to homestead in the city

You may have heard the term “urban homesteading” or “backyard farming.” It refers to people homesteading right in the city. I absolutely love that people have learned how to become more self-sufficient no matter where they live.

For many people who have a dream of owning their piece of land in the country where they learn to live off of it, they often start in the city. I lived in a small town on 1/11th of an acre when the dream of homesteading started to hit me. I know what it is like to want to live on your own homestead in the country so bad it hurts your heart.

For some of us we are fortunate to see that dream become a reality, but for others, a move to the country just isn’t in the cards. At least not for awhile. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams of becoming more self-reliant right where you are.

It’s true that you can, and should bloom right where you are planted. Don’t lose heart. Spend as much time as you can learning and applying self-sufficiency skills right where you live this moment. It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, or a small plot of land in the city. You can still homestead. True, you won’t be filling a pasture with cows anytime soon, but there is still a lot you can do.

There are many books out there these days that help people learn how to make the most out of their land, whether it be a quarter or half acre, a whole acre, or if you are really lucky, 2 acres. My favorite book is The backyard Homestead. They have a whole series, but their main book, this one, is my favorite because it literally shows you how much you can use different size acreages for, with pictures and all! The book even tells you whether the size of your land can handle livestock, gardens, etc. I even used this book this year to help guide us on tapping our trees for maple syrup. It literally covers everything.

While I could have done more when I lived in town on my 1/11th acre, I did spend time learning how to do some “homestead-type” things. Baking bread, canning, cooking from scratch – those are all things that go hand in hand with a self-reliant lifestyle.

So what are some things you can do to be self-sufficient right where you are and have your own little urban homestead?


Grow your own food. The most popular thing people start with when homesteading, no matter where you live, is gardening. You can grow your own food no matter how big your property is. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can still grow things in containers.

One of my first introductions to homesteading was when I stumbled onto a blog where the family was homesteading on their 1/10th of an acre in California. The now grown kids explained that when they were younger their father ripped out all the grass and used their whole yard to grow food. They said how people wondered what was up with their Dad and thought he was crazy, but now, years later they have quite the operation. All on their tiny city plot.

If you don’t know where to start, begin with growing something on this list of 10 easy vegetables to grow.

Raise backyard chickens. Some communities allow you to have a small number of chickens in your backyard. If you are one of the lucky ones who live in a town or city that allows you to do that, you can start raising your own chickens! Collecting eggs from your own chickens is one of the most satisfying things to do as a homesteader.  Check out this list of 8 awesome breeds that are great for new chicken owners.

Raise rabbits for meat. Again, this is another animal that you are often allowed to raise in your backyard. Many backyard farmers raise rabbits for meat and it’s a great place to get started in the homesteading game.

Raise honeybees. Again, this is something you will have to check with your city, but many communities are allowing people to raise honeybees in their cities. Generally you have to be able to keep the hives a certain distance from residences, like 30 meters. The bee population is declining, so raising bees is a great thing to do as it is so necessary. And I mean, honey. Who does not love honey!

Tap maple trees. Maybe you have a couple trees in your backyard. Learn how to tap them. Sure, a couple trees doesn’t get you a large amount of maple syrup, but it will get you some, and the experience is absolutely priceless.

Sew or make quilts. Sewing and doing things like making quilts are what many homesteaders do! You don’t need any land to do that. Homemade clothing or quilts are absolutely beautiful and are valued so much more than anything you can buy in a store.

Make your own candles. Again, another homesteading activity that requires no land whatsoever. Beeswax candles are great to make because they are non-toxic and actually provide many benefits. Learn how to make beeswax candles with this tutorial I did a few weeks ago.

Make your own soap. Soapmaking and candle making tend to go hand in hand. For some reason if people decide to try making soap, they’ll venture out to candle making, and vice versa. Making soap may make you nervous at first because you have to work with lye, but it actually isn’t as scary as it seems. You can learn how to make your own soap with this tutorial.

Bake bread. The smell of fresh homemade bread is unlike any other. Any homestead is made better when there is homemade bread involved. If you’ve never made bread before this post will take you step-by-step.

Cook from scratch. Learning to cook from scratch can help you become self-sufficient. I have found that the more I have cooked from scratch over the years, the less I want to buy packaged foods. We really notice the taste difference now. Homemade stews and soups, chilis, biscuits, cakes, etc. They are all amazing!

Make your own bacon. Say what? Yes, this is something we tried this year and it was absolutely amazing. Sure, if we had our own pig it would probably be even more amazing, but we worked with what we had. If you can find pork belly at a local butcher’s or local farm, you can cure your own bacon. The Elliott Homestead has an excellent tutorial on how to do it.

Hang your laundry. Homesteading is all about self-sufficiency, and nothing says self-sufficiency like hanging your laundry to dry instead of using a dryer which is a huge energy hog. Clothes that are hung to dry out in the sun smell amazing too.

Preserve your food. Once you’ve learned how to garden you’ll want to learn how to preserve the extras! Canning, dehydrating, and freezing can all be done in a small space.

Make your own yogurt. You may not have a cow or goat to milk, but you can still make your own yogurt from the milk you buy at the store. It’s cheaper this way too!

Make your own laundry soap.  With a few simple ingredients you can make a massive batch of laundry soap for cheap.  Homesteaders make a lot of their own products and this is a great place to start.

Make your own cleaners.  This all-purpose cleaner is a great one to make yourself with a few simple ingredients.

Make your own self-care products.  The more you make yourself, the more you learn how to be self-sufficient.  Try this homemade vapor rub as your first one to make.


So as you can see, homesteading involves many different things and it doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, town, city, or on 60 acres, there are ways you can homestead.

Do what you can where you are. Enjoy homesteading now. Don’t wait until everything is perfect to start your dream. Jump into what you can do now. The heart of homesteading is about how you live. You get to make that choice no matter where you hang your hat.

If you feel overwhelmed as to where to start, there are a ton of resources you can tap into. The internet is full of how-tos. The book above that I mentioned is a great resource. You can check your local library for more homesteading books.

Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a homesteading or farming background stop you. We are in our second year of homesteading and while we have a very small operation here, (no, seriously, it’s small 🙂 ) I realized homesteading was possible for us when I continued to read stories online of people who had no farming background start their homestead.

Sure, they made many mistakes along the way. But they pressed on and learned from them and years later they have become pretty comfortable and knowledgeable in homesteading.

The same can be said for you. Start out small and slow, and build up a little each year. Start where you are. Bloom where you are planted. Enjoy homesteading NOW if that is something you desire.  Learn how to homestead in the city so you can enjoy a self-sufficient life right now.

How to Homestead in the City
Article Name
How to Homestead in the City
Learn how to homestead in the city, on a small lot or even in an apartment.
Publisher Name
Simple Life of a Frugal Wife

3 thoughts on “How to Homestead in the City”

  1. Lot’s of great ideas
    I didn’t realize I am actually homesteading.
    I do now hang out my clothes and bake bread.
    As far as having chickens and bees, I really don’t enjoy the outdoors ( hard on my fair skin).
    I guess I will be the indoor homesteader.
    Keep up the great work

  2. Former off gridder here. Health issues forced us from our farm a few years ago. We settled in a small rural historic village. I am adapting to our corner lot. The neighborhood is wuiet. Old Victorians are at the other end of our street and my part is 1950’s capes and ranches. I femced in the backyard for my little dog and this made a good background for my plantings. 4 apple trees, 2 cherry trees and 2 pear so far. The ornmental pear were here already and the birds and squirrels eat the fruit. I plan on adding 2 peach in the Spring. I moved my garden to the west side. Mostly to block the neighbors until my shrubs get more height and to make mowing easier. I am always experimenting. I have been filling all the empty spaces with shrubs, floers and trees. I wait until stuff goes on sale or trade. The soil needed alot of amending after years of neglect. I got a rotaing composter. I plant for birds and pollinators. I staryed a goldfish pond. Those guys are doing great. A beautiful green frog spent the summer. Corn, tomatoes and potatoes will go in this Spring. I can also. Amish farms are right nearby, so I get great deals on strawberries and other local fruits. I make my own butter and yogurt. My husband taps our frint yard trees for maple syrup. We had a 500 tap operation at our farm. Yup, some of the neighbors think I’m weird. I’m 69 and don’t care. No one passes up my canned or baked goods though!

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