Urban Homesteading for Beginners

Do you know that you can homestead even if you live in an urban area?  Small space homesteading is a thing, and we are going to talk about it today.  This can be the year you build an epic urban homestead even without so much space.

Urban homesteading

Just over a year ago now, we lived on two acres in the country.  We were surrounded by fields, and our closest neighbor lived half a kilometer away.  We loved country living and we built up our little homestead over the five years we were there.

But you know what they say.  Start making plans and you just might hear God laughing.  God had a different path laid out for us that we didn’t see coming, and we moved north seven hours away to a house in a small town of 1400 people.  

Definitely not a metropolis by any means, but we no longer had a country property.  We were the proud new owners of a 1/4 acre in-town property.  We bought it mortgage-free in an area we loved, so we were excited, but we knew it would be a hard adjustment because of our love for a country home. We needed creative ways to somehow live a homesteading lifestyle in town.

And let me tell you, we are still holding out for that country home in our new area that we live, but either God is saying “just wait,” or “no.”  So if I want to homestead in the meantime, I have to work with what I have.

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you would love a country lot but life has put you smack-dab in the center of a city.  Maybe you only have a small property.  And maybe you feel like homesteading is a dream that is out of reach.

Well, I’m telling you now, if you have the passion to homestead, you can do it, no matter where you live.  Small space homesteading is possible and you can start today!  Suburban homesteaders are a thing, and you can be one.  I want to help you start your urban homesteading journey today.


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Start a vegetable garden.

The one thing everyone can do, pretty much no matter what kind of dwelling they live in, is to start a vegetable garden to grow your own food.  Even if you live in an apartment you can do container gardening to grow some fresh food during the growing season.

But, if you’ve never gardened before, it can feel overwhelming.  My advice to you is to start out with small steps.  You don’t want to tear up every piece of grass in your backyard and replace with gardens the moment you decide to homestead.  You will get overwhelmed quickly feeling like it’s a steep learning curve and most likely throw the towel in.

While I’ve gardened before, I still knew that starting small was wise (and cheaper too!).  I’m also in a colder climate than I was before, so there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to what grows well, and when in my new zone.  This year we built three smaller raised beds, and I added some containers to my porch to grow a few more things in for some fresh produce right there on my porch.

I also added a few cherry trees to my yard because they were given to me for free and I couldn’t waste a free gift!  Fruit trees are a great addition to a backyard homestead.

Next year I hope to add one or two more beds.  The following year I’ll add another one or two beds, and so on.  Before you know it I’ll have quite the garden set-up!  It’s truly amazing how much you can grow on a small lot.  

I’m using a method this year called square-foot gardening in my garden beds.  This method allows you to grow a lot of food in a small space.  You don’t need acres of land to grow some of your own healthy food.  Harvest time is so exciting, no matter whether you are gardening in an urban setting or in rural areas.

If you have limited space, you can also do a vertical garden.  Vertical gardening is a cool way to grow plants upward on walls or structures instead of just in the ground. It’s perfect if you only have a little space.

Instead of spreading out, your plants grow up, using space that’s usually empty. You can make all sorts of neat gardens this way, whether you’re growing herbs in a small apartment or adding some green to a boring wall outside.

Vertical gardening is super flexible and fun for anyone who loves plants!  It’s a great way to grow food in small spaces.

Vegetable garden

If you need some help getting started, try one of these posts:

Preserve some food.

Preserving food is such an important homesteading skill that you can do anywhere, without property.  You may be able to preserve some of the food you harvest from your own garden, but even if you can’t, there are other options.  The other day I took the kids to a one of the local farms where we picked tons of berries to turn into jam, pie filling, and syrup.  The kids got to do a bit of hard work, and we were rewarded for it with sweet, delicious berries!

Sometimes you can find farmer’s markets where they sell large quantities of produce that you can preserve, or there may even be a ridiculously good sale at your grocery store.  

Invest in a canning pot like this one and fill up your pantry so you are prepared this winter.  Especially with the world so unpredictable, it’s never a bad thing to have a full pantry.

You can also dehydrate food to preserve.  I just bought this dehydrator so I can dehydrate fruits, vegetables, and of course some jerky. You can use the fruits on things like cereal, baking, or just to snack on, and you can use the vegetables in things like soup.  Also, can I add something controversial?  You don’t need an expensive Excalibur dehydrator.  The cheaper ones often work just as well.  

You can also dehydrate produce in the fridge that’s starting to go bad, therefore limiting the amount of food waste you are creating, and in turn, you will be saving money!

Bake bread.

Okay, you don’t have to bake bread specifically to be a homesteader, but baking and cooking ANYTHING from scratch is a common theme among homesteaders, urban or rural.  If you don’t have a lot of experience cooking, don’t worry, I truly believe anyone can learn.  There are a ton recipes online with step-by-step instructions.

Does bread feel too complicated to cook?  Well, you’ll have to try baking this 4-ingredient no knead bread recipe that I LOVE to make.  It’s the easiest bread I’ve ever made, and yet it looks so fancy like I spent the whole day in the kitchen.  Sourdough bread is another popular option for homesteaders.  Hot, fresh homemade bread slathered in butter is basically a homesteading dream.

You can also try making your own chicken broth.  It’s something that is quite simple to make, and you can use your slow cooker for it as well!

Add a few chickens to your backyard.

In many communities you are actually allowed to have a few backyard chickens.  However, this is not the truth for every municipality so you will want to check out your town or city’s by-laws.

But, if you are one of the lucky ones who live in an area that gives you the green light, why not add some chickens to your backyard?  There’s nothing more homesteady than farm-fresh eggs.

Chickens really don’t need a lot of space.  A small chicken coop and fenced in area where they can roam will keep them happy and healthy.

Hang your laundry.

Have you ever taken a drive into the country and noticed all the clothes hanging on the line?  Save some money and take advantage of the sun by hanging your clothes.  This is a perfect way to homestead in a town or city and anyone can do it.   Modern homesteading at it’s finest.

Start composting.

Composting is a really cheap homesteading activity you can add to your backyard.  There’s ones made out of rubbermaid containers, and ones made out of wood that you can build yourself.  If that’s not your thing, you can a simple compost bin this one as well.

You’ll want to do what you can to keep out critters in the city so make sure you read up on how to compost to keep the smell down.  I have not attempted composting in my backyard yet because I live in bear country and they come right into our town, so I need to make sure I am doing it right if I am going to try it or I’m going to have very unhappy neighbors if I’ve attracted the local bears with food scraps in a compost pile.


Become a prepper.

Okay, a homesteader isn’t exactly an extreme full out prepper, but I’d say most homesteaders have a bit of prepper in them.  They’ve learned to stock their shelves, and consider alternate sources of energy in case of emergency.  They might have some water on the shelf, and they don’t need to run to the grocery store every few days because they shop strategically to save money and fill up their pantry.  Not sure where to start?  Check out “How to Stock a Pantry.”

Become a pro at DIY and repurposing.

If you are a homesteader there’s a good chance you want to be a good steward of the things you own.  This means not tossing something out if it’s too old or even a little broken if you can fix it.  Repurposing items is a super useful skill to have as well.  It’ll save you money and you’ll learn how to make do with what you have.


Look, I know it can be hard to wait for your country home you are dreaming of.  Maybe you want goats or sheep, even a cow.  Maybe you dream of acres of fields to work the land.  I get it.  

However, there is so much you can do right where you are, and you can be an urban homesteader in the meantime.  You don’t need a large plot of land.  In my opinion there’s never been a better time to start homesteading, no matter where you reside.  Build your own homestead today and start a self-sufficient lifestyle, even with a small backyard.




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