As society and technology progress, people are turning back to the basics and finding the best of both worlds in homesteading. Homesteading is a lifestyle committed to self-sufficiency and can be used for many different purposes. It generally encompasses subsistence agriculture and providing your own electricity through renewable resources (solar, wind, or water).
Sometimes it involves making your own textiles and clothing, but this facet is less popular than the others. Some homesteaders aspire never to use money and prefer to barter. Other homesteaders aspire to provide as much as they can for themselves but might still use money and work for pay. This can be either during a transition or a permanent decision for homesteading.
The trending patterns are often a mix of traditional and non-traditional homestead practices.
Reasons for homesteading can be diverse and vary greatly. Homesteading is regarded as a known social movement, but it can be an economical choice.
Some people may be retiring with enough savings to start the homesteading lifestyle, while other homesteaders may be entering the lifestyle following economic hardship or as a way to come up from nothing. Lately, the “rat race” has become overwhelming to many, and they are looking for alternatives with long-term rewards.
The most common reason for transitioning to homesteading is wanting to be independent. In an economy and society that are aggressively intertwined, an incredible amount of lives are impacted when one part is slowed or stopped. It makes sense that people would want to be able to eat if meat distribution or grain production is down.
Some factors to consider before starting a homestead lifestyle are friendly state laws, cost of land, the safety of that land, water accessibility, homeschooling children (and the laws surrounding homeschooling), the local homesteader community, the climate you’ll face, your family's health, and beautiful landscapes.
As you would choose your ideal location to buy a home based on multiple factors, some states and locations have better conditions for homesteading. For farming purposes, the most significant factor to consider is the availability of arable land. Additionally, some states have free land for homesteading opportunities and can even come with extended tax benefits. There are several types of homesteads and ways to start one. Some landowners with large properties look for long-term home sitters or land sitters.
Outside of these opportunities, one would need to purchase their own land. Purchasing land gives the homesteader more freedom with what to do with the land but comes with a financial burden that can set them back when it comes to being fully self-sufficient. In several states, local governments are actively giving away land to be used for small farms. Their goal in doing so is to hopefully bring more people into small towns and eventually expand jobs in the area.
Each state is going to have a different climate, culture, and legislature that is going to impact a potential homestead. What we have done to determine the best states for starting a homestead is compile six independent lists (all sourced below). Below we note
Each person is going to have different considerations and goals for their homesteading journey. Please do further research when considering this lifestyle, as laws and real estate prices are everchanging.
To quickly review, the best states to homestead include
Details on each state are below.
With some of the best soil in the U.S., Idaho is a prime location for homesteaders looking to farm. And with the overwhelming amount of rolling hills and mountains, you will never be hurting for outdoor activities as the entire state is packed with skiing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, backpacking, hunting, and fishing. Idaho's residents do have to contend with rather harsh winters, though.
Due to the size and low population rate, you can easily choose your isolation level. With over 60,000 homesteaders settled in Idaho as we speak, you’ll be able to find a community with like-minded individuals.
Although there are many pros, there are cons, too. For example, wildfires are a regular occurrence, along with some flooding and earthquakes. There is also a state income tax rate slightly higher than the national average.
Idaho has a low cost of living, a fairly low cost of land, very relaxed homeschool laws, and multiple tax incentives for installing solar and property tax exemptions of up to 50% of the home value and up to one acre of land. As far as help from the government goes, there is protection from creditors of up to $100,000 and permanent homestead protection in a financial crisis. You’ll need to file a Declaration of Homestead with your local government.
Additionally, because of the state’s low cost of living and natural beauty, Idaho has seen an influx of new residents. This has caused the state to be a little more crowded and could increase land prices.
With both favorable laws and climate, Tennessee is a state that is heavily preferred for starting a homestead. The region's culture is known to be quite open and friendly, with many parts of the state already being occupied by homesteaders, so there will be communities available to you. This state also holds the Great Appalachian Homesteading Conference.
A low cost of living will be enjoyed since the state sits 10% lower than the national average. But be aware sales tax of 9.5%, which is considered high even though there is no state income tax. The state experiences mild winters and warm summers, offering farmers almost 9 months out of the year for harvest. Generally, Tennessee gets about 6.3 inches of snow and sees the sun for 102 days out of the year, making it slightly lower than average. Conversely, it is the 6th rainiest state in the United States. Another challenge to some will be the hilly, mountainous landscape which can make farming more of a challenge.
Legally, homesteading in Tennesee is rather favorable as they protect you from having to give the entirety of the property to creditors. There is an automatic homestead exemption for up to $5,000 upon owning land, “automatic” means that it is given without needing to apply, and they offer Rural Homesteading Grants to help in your transition. There are moderate homeschooling regulations and generous regulations on rainwater collection.
Oregon is becoming increasingly appealing for nature lovers due to the state’s deserts, forests for hiking, and beaches for surfing. There is also a strong homesteading community in Oregon (over 30,000 small farms), which enjoy no state sales tax, moderate property taxes, lots of resources, and relative safety from natural disasters. The state offers an abundance of public land which is open to everyone.
Regarding the cost of homesteading in Oregon, the cost of living is relatively high (the fifth highest in the country), but farmland is still affordable, as you can see in the median price per acre above. Another thing to consider is that while there is no state sales tax, there is a very high income tax of 4.75-9.90% depending.
Legally, the state of Oregon is very welcome to homesteaders, but there is only $40,000 is protected under the homestead exemption. For those looking to use solar power, there are plenty of state and local tax rebates.
Missouri is often considered a flyover state. It’s a great place to start a homestead. They have benefits like helpful homeschooling laws, easy-going zoning laws, and a lot of overall freedom regarding what you want to do or put on your property. You’ll experience all four seasons, though the winters are nothing of note, and roughly 40 inches of rainfall annually.
Missouri has the 7th lowest cost of living out of all 50 states with the 7th lowest median cost per acre. And those plots sell much larger than usual. For any farmers out there, you’ll be happy to know the state sports many farmer's markets.
You can legally collect rain and do most anything with your property. The one legal drawback is the $15,000 exemption for homesteaders, even if there are two owners. It has to be filed as your permanent residence, and you must be living on the land for 40 consecutive months.
Any state that is in the mid or northwest is going to encounter all four seasons, but the worst for this area will be the winter. Michigan allows 3 out of 4 seasons for harvesting and is completely cut off in winter, so a greenhouse is something to consider. But due to the shape of the state, Lake Michigan is always accessible, which allows for great fishing.
There is already a well-established community of homesteaders and farmers, roughly 47,000 today. And while there is a lower cost of living (13th lowest), there is a higher state income tax.
The legal situation benefits homesteaders with lenient homeschooling laws, “Right to Farm” laws, homestead laws, and creditor protections. The first is protection from nuisance complaints from neighbors if you are using good farming practices, which the state defines. The homestead laws allow up to 40 acres to be a homestead and a mandate of up to $3,500 with land in urban areas to be a homestead. The state offers a few different protections, including prohibiting them from collecting any benefits from certain disability and insurance policies.
In many ways, Wyoming is the perfect state to set up your homestead. There is low population density with small scattered communities and vast, beautiful landscapes, so solitude is not hard to achieve. There is a relatively low cost of living, property tax rate, and sales tax. There is a lot of arable land for raising animals and farming.
But every location has its drawbacks. Wyoming gets very little rain, less than 10 inches annually, and wildfires are very regular. They also have a very short growing season in the face of some of the harshest winters in the country, but oddly enough, they get more sunshine hours than California.
One of the biggest drawbacks to starting a homestead is the upfront costs of land and equipment, which is why it makes sense that Arizona is so highly considered. It has some of the cheapest land costs in the country and a general cost of living that align with the U.S. average. And even though the state is largely desert, the average rainfall varies from 3 inches in the southwest to up to 40 inches in the northeast region.
With that said, it’s expected that new farmers might have a hard time getting growth, so it’s important to research what you’ll be able to grow easily in that climate. There are around 300 days of sunshine annually, and you’ll be able to take full advantage of that with their relaxed solar laws. Another figure to consider is the state income tax rate (2.59-4.50%).
Alaska, also called the Last Frontier, is one of the wildest states left in the United States. Over 95% of the state has no permanent population, and some locations are so remote that they can only be accessed by plane. It’s often called one of the most beautiful states, if not the most beautiful. It features some of the most untouched wilderness and immaculate landscapes and, to some, is considered the ideal location for homesteading.
That’s not to say there aren’t some cons. First off, the level of remoteness will be too much for some people. More often than not, you need expensive equipment to keep up, and there is a high cost of living in general. Also, the winters are long and harsh. All of the seasons would likely be considered “harsh” by the average American.
While off-grid living is not entirely legal depending on the town you live in, they do have homestead exemptions of up to $72,900, and you’ll enjoy a lack of sales tax. We recommend that you stay there before moving to experience the way of life.
Considered the most beautiful state in the continental united states, Montana provides a beautiful backdrop for all possible homesteading activities. Summers are mild, but winters are not, which means that your growing season is cut short. The region is no stranger to droughts and occasional wildfires.
But Montana is regarded as one of the best places to raise livestock in the nation, even with its mountainous landscape.
Other things that Montana offers residents are low crime rates, low costs of living, and a lower income tax than most other states. The laws support both self-sufficiency and homeschooling, and a homestead declaration can protect up to $350,000 in equity against most unsecured debts.
As one of the most surprising states to rank, Connecticut has many benefits to offer homesteaders. The culture and legal situation support and encourages both small farms and homesteaders. They are homeschool friendly, allow off-grid energy, and have mild acreage laws for livestock. For any farmers reading this, you’ll know that the New England terrain is rocky but can grow a lot with some work.
Water in this region is heavily protected and clean and plentiful, so that will not be a resource you mustn’t be concerned with. The climate is rather mild as well.
A major drawback is going to be the startup costs, as Connecticut has some of the most expensive land costs in the nation. The property taxes are also higher than the average. There is a homestead exemption, but it only protects up to $75,000 of the equity in your home.
Coming in with another northeast state, Maine is going to be as close to Alaska’s benefits you can get on the east coast. It’s beautiful. You’ll be able to choose your level of isolation as there are regions called townships with almost no permanent population. And for the locations with a year-round presence, you’ll be able to find a lot of like-minded individuals due to Maine’s culture of self-sufficiency.
There are plenty of natural resources, including generous yearly rainfall (40-46 inches), good soil, and a mild climate. Additionally, there is a good balance of all four seasons, and you are generally protected from natural disasters.
Legally, the state of Maine supports homesteading with low property taxes, state and local laws that favor off-grid setups, and rather inexpensive land prices. But the cost of living is slightly higher than the average.
In Kentucky, you’ll find a good mix of homesteaders, small farm owners, and off-griders. A few reasons for that are the mild climate that enjoys four distinct seasons, good soil that grows most anything, and a high demand for locally grown produce. Over 50% of the state is considered farmland, which is supported by 45 inches of rainfall annually.
Some drawbacks include a fairly dense population, a sales tax of 6%, and the necessity of permits to construct, repair, or change buildings you own. But to your benefit, there are zoning limitations, the cost of living is 16.3% lower than the national average, and homeschooling is easy to do.
Like most other states in the southeast, West Virginia is considered a great state for homesteading due to a generally low tax rate of both property and state income (3.00-6.50%) and lower cost of land. The cost of living is also quite low, at 22% lower than the national average. And while zoning restrictions are becoming increasingly strict, West Virginians enjoy a good deal of freedom on their property.
The climate, like the rest of the region, is diverse and enjoys all four seasons, but overall it is considered mild. The landscape is very mountainous, and each year, they get roughly 44 inches of rain, so collection won’t be an issue.
Something homesteaders should be aware of are the regulations around homeschooling that require getting approval from the school board with a letter of intent to homeschool, a written-out curriculum, homeschooling days per year, methods of assessment, and continuous progress information.
In Arkansas, you can enjoy a very affordable cost of living, soil that will grow almost anything, plenty of outdoor activities, and incredibly diverse landscapes. You get roughly 200 days between the last frost which means you have one of the largest possible growing seasons.
For those looking to get away from the rat race, you can easily isolate yourself. But for those looking to enjoy a community, you may be hardened by the high poverty levels, poor health, crime, and underfunded schools. Homeschooling laws are very relaxed, though.
As for starting your homestead, Arkansas sports some of the lowest prices for land in the country and offers unlimited homestead exemption and moderate farmland cost. And on the other hand, the state doesn’t offer much help for starting a solar system, sells land plots in rather large chunks, and has a state income tax of 2.00-5.50%.
The final state we will mention is Virginia, with its fertile soil, cheap land prices, and relaxed homeschooling and livestock regulations. Zoning laws, in general, are beneficial to homesteading efforts, and the state goes so far as to allow you to sell goods from your house with no limit.
Each year, Virginia gets about 44 inches of rain and enjoys roughly 180 growing days with a rather moderate climate. The legal situation is generally positive, with a maximum homestead exemption of $10,000, and how off-grid living is completely legal.
# of Homesteads
Median Price per Acre
Exemptions Married Joined Owners
Laws & Statutes
|Montana||151,600||32.1M||$28,861||$250,000||-||Real property or mobile home you occupy to $250,000; sale, condemnation, or insurance proceeds exempt for 18 months. Must record homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy.|
|North Dakota||118,472||17.4M||$46,117||$100,000||-||Real property, house trailer, or mobile home.|
|Colorado||107,618||22.1M||$11,561||$350,000||-||Real property, mobile home, manufactured home, or house trailer you occupy to $250,000; $350,000 if owner, spouse, or dependent is disabled or age 60 or older; sale proceeds exempt 2 years after received.|
|Nebraska||104,260||22.3M||$49,830||$60,000||-||Limited to head of household; cannot exceed 2 lots in city or village, 160 acres elsewhere; sale proceeds exempt 6 months after sale.|
|Oklahoma||99,557||14.9M||$19,628||-||-||Unlimited for 160 acres rural, 1 acre urban. $5,000 limit if more than 25% of total sq. ft. area used for business purposes; okay to rent homestead as long as no other residence is acquired.|
|South Dakota||97,197||15.7M||$77,352||-||-||Unlimited for 160 acres rural, 1 acre urban. Real property to unlimited value or mobile home (larger than 240 sq. ft. at its base and registered in state at least 6 months before filing) to unlimited value; sale proceeds to $30,000 ($170,000 if over age 70 or widow or widower who hasn’t remarried) exempt for 1 year after sale.|
|Kansas||89,945||13.1M||$11,596||-||-||Unlimited for 160 acres rural or 1 acre urban.|
|New Mexico||87,312||19.4M||$6,000||$60,000||$120,000||Joint owners may double.|
|Minnesota||85,072||10.4M||$47,375||$450,000||-||$450,000 or, if the homestead is used primarily for agricultural purposes, $1,125,000; cannot exceed 1/2 acre in city, 160 acres elsewhere.|
|Arkansas||74,620||8.1M||$10,558||-||-||For married person or head of family: unlimited exemption on real or personal property used as residence to 1/4 acre in city, town, or village, or 80 acres elsewhere; if property is between 1/4 to 1 acre in city, town, or village, or 80-160 acres elsewhere, additional limit is $2,500; homestead may not exceed 1 acre in city, town, or village, or 160 acres elsewhere.|
|Wyoming||67,315||18.2M||$54,000||$20,000||-||Real property or house trailer you occupy.|
|California||66,738||10.5M||$19,965||$600,000||-||Minimum homestead exemption of $300,000 and a maximum of the median sale price for a single-family home in the prior calendar year in the county in question to a maximum of $600,000.|
|Oregon||62,926||10.5M||$16,162||$40,000||-||Real property, mobile home or houseboat you occupy or intend to occupy to $40,000 ($50,000 for joint owners); property cannot exceed 1 block in town or city or 160 acres elsewhere; sale proceeds exempt 1 year from sale, if you intend to purchase another home.|
|Idaho||60,221||9.7M||$62,500||$100,000||-||Real property or mobile home to $100,000; sale proceeds exempt for 6 months.|
|Washington||58,156||8.5M||$80,357||$125,000||-||The homestead exemption amount is the greater of $125,000 or the county median sale price of a single family home in the preceding calendar year. Value is based one the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, or if the Washington Center for Real Estate Research no longer provides the data, a successor entity designated by the Office of Financial Management. If the homestead is subject a judgment in favor of the State of Washington for failure to pay that state’s income tax on benefits received while a resident of the state of Washington from a pension or other retirement plan, there is no homestead exemption.|
|Alabama||41,819||4.6M||$18,103||$15,000||$30,000||Real property or mobile home to $15,000; property cannot exceed 160 acres.|
|Missouri||34,633||3.6M||$14,078||$15,000||-||Mobile home to $5,000|
|Wisconsin||29,246||3.1M||$25,229||$75,000||$150,000||Property you occupy or intend to occupy; sale proceeds exempt for 2 years if you intend to purchase another home.|
|Florida||28,096||3.3M||$34,900||-||-||Real or personal property including mobile or modular home to unlimited value; cannot exceed half acre in municipality or 160 acres. Bankruptcy requires 40 months residency in homestead.|
|Mississippi||24,126||2.6M||$10,835||$75,000||-||$75,000 for 160 acres; sale proceeds exempt. Mobile home (as personal property) to $30,000 (Mobile home does not qualify as homestead unless you own land on which it is located).|
|Louisiana||22,988||2.6M||$26,767||$35,000||-||Property you occupy to $35,000 (if debt is result of catastrophic or terminal illness or injury, limit is full value of property as of 1 year before filing); cannot exceed 5 acres in city or town, 200 acres elsewhere.|
|Arizona||20,268||4.1M||$4,164||$150,000||-||$150,000 for real property, an apartment, or mobile home you occupy to; sale proceeds exempt 18 months after sale or until new home purchased, whichever occurs first.|
|Michigan||19,861||2.3M||$18,333||$30,000||-||$30,000 / $45,000 if 65+ or disabled. ; property cannot exceed 1 lot in town, village, city, or 40 acres elsewhere; spouse or children of deceased owner may claim homestead exemption.|
|Utah||16,798||3.6M||$195,960||$20,000||$40,000||Real property, mobile home, or water rights to $30,000 if primary residence; $5,000 if not primary residence.|
|Iowa||8,851||903.2K||$51,087||-||-||Unlimited for 40 acres rural, 1/2 acre urban, homestead retains its prior protection despite annexation.|
|Nevada||4,370||704.2K||$59,942||$550,000||-||Real property or mobile home to $550,000. Must record homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy.|
|Alaska||3,277||363.8K||$62,163||$72,900||-||Principal residence up to $72,900 (joint owners may each claim a portion, but total can’t exceed $72,900)|
|Ohio||108||7.7K||$69,620||$136,925||-||Real or personal property used as residence.|
|Illinois||74||5.7K||$29,250||$15,000||$30,000||Real or personal property including a farm, lot, & buildings, condo, co-op, or mobile home to $15,000; sale proceeds exempt for 1 year.|
|Indiana||30||1.8K||$43,750||$19,300||$38,600||Real or personal property used as residence to $19,300. Property held as tenancy by the entirety may be exempt against debts incurred by only one spouse.|