After a few years of living on our little piece of property in the city, we have learned so much about the do’s and don’ts of urban homesteading! Keep reading to learn from our mistakes and to get off on the best start with your own urban homestead!
Note: If you are more of an auditory or visual learner, I made this post into a YouTube video which you can listen to HERE.
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DO: Urban Homesteading for Beginners
Here are my top tips for things that you should do when first starting out on your homesteading journey!
1. Plan Ahead
The first thing that you need to do when starting out on your urban homesteading journey is to plan ahead. You know that feeling when you finally have time to work on a project, but you don’t know what to prioritize because you didn’t make a plan? Me too.
Have a running list of projects that you want to get done. Then, go through and prioritize them. Use that list as a starting point when you have time to work on it. You’ll get a lot more accomplished this way!
2. Prioritize Projects
As I mentioned above, it is best to not only plan ahead but to also prioritize! I am a procrastinator and cope with it by working on the least important thing first. My husband is really good at looking at a long list and prioritizing the most important thing to start with.
You could also write out how long projects will take, which ones you can do with kids vs. without, and use that as a guide for when you have time to work on projects!
3. Involve Your Kids in Urban Homesteading
If you have children, I highly recommend trying to involve them when you can. While some urban homesteading projects are not safe for children, it is such a great learning experience for them if you can include them!
On our homestead, my children–especially my oldest who is currently 3–help with things like baking, feeding the animals, collecting eggs, and harvesting food from the garden.
My three-year-old can tell you which chicken lays which egg, when the tomatoes are ready, and how to harvest rhubarb correctly. Homesteading is such an amazing educational opportunity for children with so much learning naturally built in!
Read this post for more tips about homesteading with young kids!
4. Shop Secondhand
When we first started our homestead, we had maybe 2-3 gardening tools. It is expensive to get everything you need all at once!
We rented and borrowed a few tools that we only needed for one-time uses. My husband bought his riding lawnmower secondhand. Additionally, we shopped for good deals and items at local estate sales.
If you have the time to look for secondhand items, it will save you so much in the long run!
5. Grow and Raise What You’ll Actually Eat
Let me tell you, gardening and preserving food is a ton of work! If you’re going to spend hours growing or raising something for food, make sure that it is food you actually like to eat!
For example, my family loves potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, and fruit. We planted a lot of these this year! We don’t love green beans, so I tried planting a few but didn’t go overboard.
We raise chickens for eggs, but we don’t currently raise animals for meat on our property. If you do, make sure that it is actually something that you and your family will eat.
6. Consider What Actually Serves Your Family Over Aesthetics
I love beautiful things, but you don’t need your garden to be beautiful in order to be functional! Our garden this year was a little rough around the edges, but it produced nutritious food for my family!
Our chicken coop is a patched up version of the one that came with our property. It needs painted and eventually it will need to be rebuilt, but for now it has enabled us to have fresh eggs daily without spending thousands on a pretty coop!
DON’T: Urban Homesteading for Beginners
I have struggled with many of these and want you to learn from my mistakes! Avoiding these common homesteading mistakes will lead to a much better experience during your first year on your homestead!
This one goes right along with the one above! Don’t compare your homestead to someone else’s. You never know their situation! Even if someone has young children like you, they may have more help. Perhaps they have older children who are more independent. Maybe they have more resources, more time to devote to their homestead.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy. I know it’s hard, but focus on what is right in front of you and enjoy it with your kids instead of comparing your life to someone else’s.
2. Try to Do Everything at Once
Good things take time. Homesteading is no different. I often look at our homestead and see all of the work that has to be done. But there is something so special about building something up over time with your family!
3. Allow Urban Homesteading to Ruin Your Relationships
This one is the most important. You can have the best intentions of starting a homestead to grow fresh produce for your family, give your kids an amazing experience, or to become more self-sufficient. But, if you get so stressed that it begins to cause divides between you and your spouse or you and your kids–something isn’t working.
We said no to a lot of projects for now so that we can enjoy this time with our children and prioritize our marriage. There have been seasons where we took on too much, and it caused some tension and stress. If you start to feel that way, plan a family meeting and make a plan. Your family is way more important than homesteading! We loved this book and this course for ideas on how to structure our week as a family with young children.
4. Forego All Conveniences
Although we are trying to cook most of our meals from scratch, we still get takeout once or twice a week. We don’t eat 100% organic, and we utilize online shopping from time to time.
Just because you want to embrace a slower, simpler way of life doesn’t mean that you need to forego every single convenience. Conveniences are not all bad, but I do think they can be overused!
5. Spend Above Your Means
This one is so easy to do! Urban homesteading has a lot of up-front costs, and it’s easy to overspend!
We are currently waiting on a lot of projects until we have enough saved up for them. It’s hard waiting, but it’s much more sustainable in the long run! If you are renovating a home in addition to starting a homestead, I created this home renovation planner and budget to help you stay organized and save in the process!
6. Try to be Perfect when Urban Homesteading
If you are a perfectionist, this one is tough! I’m currently sitting here typing, cringing about the state of my garden beds. There are more weeds than produce, and I just can’t keep up.
When you are homesteading with young children–or even if you are homesteading in general–there is only so much that you can realistically do! My yard is not going to look as good as my neighbor’s who has less land to maintain. And that’s ok!
Do the best that you can, but know that you don’t have to be perfect.
The Ultimate Urban Homesteading Beginner’s Guide
I spent so much time researching and learning the skills that we have implemented on our homestead. If I had started with a guide like this, it would have saved me so much time trying to figure out where to get started and what to prioritize!
In this guide, we walk you through budget-friendly ideas for how to start a garden, preserve food 6 ways, make DIY compost, raise backyard chickens, buy and store organic bulk foods, cook from scratch, mill your own flour, and bake with sourdough!
This guide is a homesteading handbook and cookbook all in one! It includes over 20 recipes, many of which have been in Jessica’s family for generations!
This post is all about the do’s and don’ts of urban homesteading for beginners.