While it would be great if everything about homesteading was cheaper, not everything about homesteading saves us money. Here are a few ways that homesteading costs us less or more than it used to. These are things to take into consideration if you are planning to take on the homesteading lifestyle.
Four Ways we Spend Less
1. We grow, forage, and fish for a fair chunk of our food.
With 60 acres, there is a lot of room for growing and foraging for food without depleting our resources. We grow almost all the vegetables we eat, while there are costs associated with this, they are reduced from what it would cost in the city. For example, having your own well means irrigation is almost free, and being able start from seed because we have space for a greenhouse means spending less for plants. Foraging for food means a fresh, delicious, and reliable food source with no upfront costs. Our favourites – foraging for morel mushrooms in the spring and foraging for aspen oyster mushrooms in the summer.
A fillet of fresh fish can cost upwards of $40 a kg at the grocery store. While we probably spend that same amount (if not more) on a fishing trip, we usually get more than one kg of meat and the trip doubles as entertainment.
2. We buy in bulk and preserve as much of our food as possible.
We do a big shopping trip 1-2 times a month where we stock up on items we are not growing on our homestead yet. Buying bulk allows us to save money. For example, at our ‘local’ grocery store, buying meat in bulk automatically saves you 30%. We also wait for sales on staples like coffee, flour, sugar, and rice and buy enough to last us until the next big sale.
We freeze, smoke, can, and dehydrate as much of the food we buy, grow, fish, and forage for as possible. When you preserve your food it lasts longer, which means you can buy less.
3. We make our own alcohol
For the same price of 10 cans of beer you can brew 23 liters. You read that right. We also make our own hard cider. In the summer we use fruit we grow and forage, in the winter we use frozen berries. That means that 23 liters of hard cider costs us anywhere from $5 to $25.
4. We use wood collected on the property to heat our house and cook our food.
To collect the wood the only cost is the gas for the chain saw. There is an extra premium on our insurance to have a wood stove, but it more than makes up for itself in free heat. Harvesting wood is not an easy job. It takes time & it’s back breaking work.
Four Ways we Spend More
1. We drive a gas guzzler 45 minutes each way to the city
When you move to place that is 5 kilometers from the closest paved road, and your road is the last one plowed, you trade in your go cart for a truck. Amanda driving to work and back can cost us $80+ a week in gas. When possible, Amanda works from home or carpools to lower that cost.
2. We spend more for a less reliable internet
There is no Cable or DSL internet in the boonies, well at least not these boonies. That limits your options to satellite internet… but when there are less than 5 people per square kilometer, and no tourism in your area there is no incentive for the big companies to invest in high speed internet infrastructure. So that means you pay A LOT for very little.
3. Needing to get a land line.
Most people in the city no longer have land lines. With a reliable cell service, if something goes wrong and you can always use your cell phone or even walk down your driveway to find help. When you are in the middle of nowhere that isn’t always the case. We do not always have good cell services and we could wait hours before seeing another person after walking 5 minutes to get to our road. This is something we realized could be an issue when our cat was attacked by a bear. What if one of us was injured and our cell phones couldn’t find service? We haven’t put in a land line yet, but it is on the list.
4. Everything takes more time.
Just about everything we do now on the homestead takes more time, and you know what they say: time is money. Generally that isn’t an issue for us; we’d rather spend 2 hours harvesting food from our garden than 20 minutes in a grocery store aisle. But it means that only one of us trades our time for cash and while our mechanic once accepted a dozen fresh eggs for diagnosing a heat issue in our truck, most things in life require cash.
It really is important to think about cost & time use on a homesteading journey. Hopefully this small amount of insight into our costs of homesteading help you out in understanding what sacrifices, costs and savings you might expect.