Living out your homestead dream may seem impossible or far fetched. It’s easy to want this lifestyle so bad and to get discouraged when you think you can’t have it… now or ever. For some, renting your homestead may seem like a failure or something you’d never want to do. But like all decisions in life, there are good aspects and challenging aspects.
Many of you know that we rent Snail Trails Homestead. We’ve been here just over two years now and I want to share with you the ins and outs of renting your own homestead. I honestly believe that making the decision to rent comes down to two main things: how badly do you want the lifestyle and your financial situation.
If we had waited to start homesteading for when we were financially able to purchase a farm/property, we would never ever have been homesteaders. We live in Southern Ontario and are tied to the Durham /Kawartha Lakes areas. Farm land is NOT cheap here. Land is NOT cheap here. I’m talking upwards of a million dollars here folks! We weren’t willing to wait years, possibly decades to give this lifestyle a try. So we decided to rent.
Many people are not in the position to buy a house, regardless of land size. Buying a home is not easy these days and it may simply be out of reach for you (it was for us). Knowing that truth, we comfortably forged forward and rented our home.
Homesteading is hard work and it certainly isn’t glamorous. Pinterest and bloggers can make it seem like it’s a picture perfect lifestyle, but not all pictures tell the truth. We knew going into it that there would be a lot of work but we were caught off guard by how much. Our property is only a 1/2 acre, which by many standards is small for a homestead, but there is enough work around here to keep us busy every single day! And keep in the mind the larger the property and gardens, the more work it will be.
Homesteading is also expensive. You need soil or soil building materials, access to equipment (like tractors, tillers, riding mowers etc.), grain/feed for animals, seeds or seedlings for the gardens, and outbuildings/enclosures for storage and for animals. As you can see the costs of homesteading can quickly add up. And this doesn’t include regular maintenance and repairs to your home itself and the property (fencing is a good example). Also keep in mind when you move to a more rural location things like heating your home, electricity and internet will cost more simply because you are more remote.
Homesteading is not for the faint-hearted either. In our two years here we’ve dealt with total crop failures, unpredictable weather, death, infestations of bugs, and the butchering of animals. I’ve cried more times than I can count; cried in the garden, cried burying my cat, cried when we had to butcher roosters and cried when we had to make difficult decisions about animals. You will learn quickly if you are cut out for such heartache.
One of the best perks for us was learning what not to do. We are considering our two years here as a test run. We’ve quickly learned that not all things on Pinterest work out! You may have many wonderful ideas on paper, but the reality of the situation may be completely different. For example, our PVC chicken tractor. I thought it was brilliant! Light weight and not too expensive to construct. Well as it turns out, a PVC chicken tractor also doubles as a trampoline for barn cats and in a few short months they have destroyed it. Pinterest certainly didn’t tell me that part.
In general there are some nice perks to renting. Hot water thank breaks… call the landlord. Roof needs new shingles… call the landlord. Furnace stops working… call the landlord. You can see where I’m going with this 😉
Now of course this is only a perk if you don’t have a dead beat landlord. So do you research and try asking around town to see if said landlord has a nasty reputation. However, as lifetime renters I can say this with confidence, it’s usually very easy to tell how good a landlord is. One only needs to look at the state of the home.
Lack of Control
As with all things in life, the upsides of a situation are firmly balanced with challenges. Not owning the home means there are certain thing you will likely never be able to do. Like if you really want an open concept kitchen you can’t just bust down the wall because you don’t own the wall. If there are trees on the property shading the perfect spot for your vegetable garden, your landlord may not let you cut them down. When you don’t own the house or property, you can’t make permanent changes to them. This is of course landlord dependent, but in general most landlords don’t want you making drastic changes to their investment.
And with renting there is always that nagging voice that tells you that your landlord might sell their home and it may not be forever.
And this IS a possibility; in fact it’s happening to us right now. After only two years here our landlord has decided that he really doesn’t like being landlord and he wants to sell this house. He had hoped we could buy it, but it’s WAY out of our price range.
Are we frustrated about having to move? Yes, but we are so very grateful for our experience here. It has taught us that we DO want to continue homesteading. It has shown us what to look for in our next property (lot size, tree coverage, landscape, surrounding area etc.). We have learned hard lessons from our mistakes and we will definitely do things differently in our new place.
Homesteading While Renting
There are lots of ways to live the homesteading lifestyle while renting. Here are some ways you can wet your homesteading palette from the comfort of your rented home. For more ways to start your self-sufficiency journey check out this post.
- cook/bake from scratch
- start a vegetable garden (doesn’t have to be big)
- learn how to preserve food with canning, freezing or dehydrating
- venture into fermented foods
- mill your own grains and bake your own bread
- make your own bone broth
- experiment with bartering and trading
So our journey of renting our first homestead seems to be coming to a close. While I do recommend it, depending on the person and situation, we are going to try and buy this time around. We won’t be buying acres and acres, but we have learned that we can grow a TON of food in a relatively small space. For us the desire to not uproot our son again is why we’re looking to buy. However, had we not had our test run with this rental property, we would never have discovered that we are indeed homesteaders.
I wish you much luck on your own homesteading journey!
P.S. Pin for future reference and to help share in the homesteading love 😉