What Homesteading Really Costs…

Are you dreaming of leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind and living a simpler life on a homestead in Illinois? Before you leap, it’s essential to understand what homesteading costs in Illinois.
While the idea of a self-sufficient lifestyle may sound idyllic, the reality is that homesteading requires a significant investment of time, money, and resources. From purchasing land and building infrastructure to purchasing livestock and maintaining equipment, there are many expenses to consider. In this article, we’ll break down the costs of homesteading in Illinois and give you a realistic idea of what it takes to live off the land. 

Land costs

Homesteading often requires a significant investment in land. Depending on the location, size, and quality of the land, the cost can vary greatly. In Illinois, the cost of land can range from a few thousand dollars per acre to tens of thousands of dollars per acre, depending on the location and availability of resources like water and electricity. In addition to the cost of purchasing the land, homesteaders may also need to consider expenses like property taxes, land surveys, and any necessary permits or zoning requirements. Once the land is purchased, ongoing expenses may include maintenance, improvements, and upgrades to the property.

Building materials 

Building materials are an essential part of homesteading, and the cost can vary depending on the type and quality of materials used. Some of the building materials that homesteaders might need to consider include lumber, roofing, insulation, windows, doors, flooring, plumbing, electrical wiring, and fixtures. The cost of building materials will also depend on the structure’s size and complexity, such as the main house, barns, and other outbuildings. In addition, if homesteaders plan to use sustainable and eco-friendly materials, such as solar panels or reclaimed wood, the cost may be higher. It is essential to budget for building materials carefully and prioritizes which projects are most important to avoid overspending.

Tools and equipment 

Homesteading requires a variety of tools and equipment to maintain the land and carry out tasks such as planting, harvesting, and building. The cost of tools and equipment can vary depending on the type of homesteading activities being pursued. For example, if the homesteader is raising livestock, they will need fencing materials, livestock feeders and waterers, and other animal-specific equipment. If the homesteader is growing crops, they may need tractors, plows, seeders, and other gardening equipment. Additionally, the cost of maintaining and repairing equipment should be factored in. The total cost of tools and equipment will depend on the scope of homesteading activities and the quality of equipment purchased.

Livestock and feed 

Overall, the cost of livestock and feed can be a significant expense for homesteaders, but it is also a crucial aspect of self-sufficiency and sustainable living. There are several expenditures involved with livestock and feed while homesteading:
  • The initial purchase cost of livestock: The cost of purchasing animals for your homestead can vary greatly depending on the type, breed, and quality of the animal.
  • Feed and water: You will need to budget for the cost of feeding your animals, which can include hay, grain, and supplements. You will also need to provide a clean and reliable source of water for your animals.
  • Shelter and fencing: Depending on the type of animals you have, you may need to invest in building or purchasing covers for them to protect them from the elements. You will also need to budget for fencing to keep your animals contained and safe.
  • Veterinary care: Just like humans, animals can get sick or injured, so you will need to budget for the cost of veterinary care, which can include routine check-ups, vaccinations, and emergency care.
  • Breeding costs: If you plan to breed your animals, you will need to budget for the cost of breeding and caring for offspring.

Seeds and plants for gardening or farming  

Seeds and plants for gardening or farming can be a significant expense for homesteaders. The cost of seeds and plants will depend on the size of the garden or farm and the type of plants being grown. For example, heirloom seeds and organic seedlings may be more expensive than non-organic and hybrid varieties. Other factors that can affect the cost of seeds and plants include the time of year, availability, and shipping costs. Additionally, homesteaders may need to invest in tools and supplies for starting seeds indoors or in a greenhouse before transplanting them to the garden or farm.

Water supply infrastructure (wells, pumps, piping) 

The cost of water supply infrastructure can vary greatly depending on the specific needs of the homesteader. For example, the cost of drilling a well can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the depth and location of the well.
  • Soil preparation: This includes purchasing or renting tillers, shovels, rakes, and other tools needed to prepare the soil for planting. 
  • Seeds and plants: You will need to purchase seeds and/or plants that are suited for your local climate as well as any specialized varieties you may be interested in growing. 
  • Water supply infrastructure (wells, pumps, piping): If you plan on using a well to water your homestead plants then you’ll need to invest in a pump and associated piping system which can range from several hundred dollars up into the thousands depending on the size of your project. Additionally, if you don’t have access to an existing source of water then you may need to drill your well. 
  • Fertilizers and soil amendments: You’ll likely need to purchase fertilizers and other soil amendments such as lime or compost to ensure that the soil is adequately nourished for optimal plant growth. 
  • Irrigation equipment: If you are planning on using an irrigation system, then you will need to invest in hoses, sprinklers, drip lines, valves, and any other specialized components needed for your particular setup.

Heating and cooling systems 

The cost of seeds and plants for heating and cooling systems while homesteading can vary greatly depending on the type of system you are looking to install. Generally, the costs involved include buying or growing your plants, purchasing soil amendments such as fertilizer, compost, and mulch; purchasing tools such as shovels, rakes, and hoes; constructing raised beds or other structures for plant growth; installation of drip irrigation systems; purchase/installation of pumps for water delivery; and any other materials necessary to construct the system. Additionally, there may be additional labor costs associated with planting the seeds/plants in their designated areas and maintaining them throughout their life cycle.

Wind turbines or solar panels for electricity generation  

The cost of wind turbines and solar panels for electricity generation while homesteading will depend on the size and type you choose, as well as any additional equipment or materials needed. Generally, a small-scale residential wind turbine system can cost between $10,000-$30,000 with installation costs added in. Solar panel systems for home use generally range from about $5,000 to more than $25,000 depending on the size and quality of components. In addition to these upfront costs, there are ongoing maintenance fees that should be taken into consideration when budgeting for this type of energy generation.

Fencing material for animal control

The cost of fencing materials for animal control while homesteading will depend on the type and size of the fence you need, as well as any additional materials or labor costs. Generally speaking, common fencing material options include wood, metal, vinyl/PVC, chain link, and electric. The cost can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand depending on your needs. Additionally, you may need to factor in the cost of tools and supplies such as posts, screws/nails/bolts/wire ties; gate hardware; concrete mix; barb wire (if applicable); ground stakes or anchors; paint or sealant if using wood; etc.
For instance, a 4-foot-high, 100-foot-long chain-link fence can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, while a 4-foot-high, 100-foot-long wooden fence can cost $1,000 to $2,000 or more. If you plan to build the fence yourself, you’ll need to factor in the cost of tools, such as a post hole digger and a fence stretcher, as well as any additional materials, such as gate hardware and posts.

Fuel for transportation/machinery

The cost of fuel for transportation and machinery while homesteading will depend on the type of vehicle or machinery being used, as well as the type and amount of fuel required. Generally speaking, costs associated with fueling a car or truck may include gasoline, diesel fuel, oil (for engines), and possibly even propane if the vehicle is equipped to use it. [10] For larger vehicles such as tractors or other heavy equipment, diesel is generally the most common form of fuel used due to its higher energy density compared to gasoline. Other costs associated with using fuels can include storage fees if tanks are needed to store large amounts of fuel on-site at your homestead. Additionally, depending on where you live and how much you plan to use your vehicles/machinery, taxes may also need to be factored into your overall expenses.
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