5 Common Homesteading Myths Debunked

If you read it on the internet, it must be true...right? WRONG! 

While the internet can be a valuable tool that teaches fathers how to 3D print arms for their sons, & it provides us with heart-warming stories that help us remember the good in humanity, the internet is also a massive source of misinformation, outlandish tales & outright lies. 

Over the years, the internet has given rise to a number of notable & memorable hoaxes. There are consistently celebrity death hoaxes, rumours that you can charge you iPhone in the microwave, fear that the earth will "go dark" for 15-days, a whole host of scams, & so many other outlandish lies, rumours & falsehoods. While many of these hoaxes & scams seem laughable to most of us, there are many who have fallen for the misinformation or fallen for a scam which has cost a lot of time, money & embarrassment. All of this serves to prove that you really, really, really can't believe everything you see & read on the internet.

The misinformation & hoaxes surrounding homesteading are no exception. When it comes to homesteading, there are many myths that have been circulated & perpetuated on the internet. Many of these myths have been accepted as fact & have served to deter people from taking up homesteading. With so many myths & hoaxes out there, it's important to do your research & to sort the fact from the fiction.

The Truth About Homesteading: Five Myths Debunked

Homesteaders All Start Out With Free Land

While there are still ways to acquire free land for homesteading, the reality is, the overwhelming majority of modern homesteaders pay for their land.

The rumour that you can acquire free land for homesteading seems to stem from The Homesteading Act which was passed by the United States congress in 1862. The act granted 160 acres, or more, to families & individuals who were willing to move to the Mid-West, or Alaska, harvest the land & live off the land for five-years or more. The idea was to incentivise the settlement of the remainder of the country & the areas of the United States that had rougher terrain, promised a tougher life & had an unsavoury climate.

Many people believe that this act is still in place, which has lead to the misconception that, as homesteaders, you are given free land to live on. The reality is, however, The Homesteading Act was abolished in 1976 & the American government hasn't given away free land in a long, long, long time. 

Instead, most modern homesteaders purchase the land they live off of, just like everyone else.

To Be A Homesteader You Need a Background in Ranching & Farming

The idea that homesteading is synonymous with ranching or farming is false. Homesteading is about living a self-sustaining lifestyle whereas farming & ranching are essentially jobs which generate income. 

While a background in ranching, farming & country living might better-prepare you for the ins & outs of homesteading & a lifestyle of living off the land, this experience certainly isn't necessary. The majority of homesteaders aren't those who were born into rural life. Rather, these are people with a pioneering spirit, ready for adventure, just like the homesteaders of days-gone-by. 

Modern homesteading requires a great deal of gumption & a lot of research, but country roots are not required.

All Homesteaders are Hippies

For starters, what's wrong with being a hippy? In my opinion, absolutely nothing! Having said that, the idea that homesteaders are "just a bunch of hippies", is little more than a sweeping generalisation of a lifestyle many people know little, or nothing about.

Modern homesteaders come from every walk of life & a variety of backgrounds. There isn't one political group more predisposed to homesteading than another. Your socioeconomic background has little to do with your desire to homestead. There are a variety of reasons that people choose homesteading & homesteaders are a pretty diverse crowd. The commonality between many homesteaders seems to be the spirit of adventure. 

While there certainly are homesteading hippies, tie-dye & taking it easy aren't intrinsic to the homesteading lifestyle.

All Homesteaders Live 100% Off-The-Grid

There are many homesteaders who eat only what they grow & raise. They light & heat their homes with flame, their source of water is a nearby lake or stream. These homesteaders have no dependance on electricity. Their clothing is made & washed by their own hands, their food is stored in homemade root cellars & pantries...they're living completely off-the-grid.

While there are these types of homesteaders, there are many more modern homesteaders who have carefully woven the modern world into their homesteading lifestyle. Electricity, plumbing & modern appliances are common to many homesteads. What's more, the modern homesteader has  a luxury the homesteaders of the Wild, Wild West did not. Their life & survival is not dependant upon what they are able to grow or produce themselves. If something goes wrong, & in homesteading, things tend to go wrong, farmers' markets & grocery stores are always there as a backup. 

While homesteading is about living a self-sufficient & sustainable lifestyle, that doesn't mean modernity must be shunned altogether. 

To Homestead, You Must Buy a Ton of Land & Move to the Country

Many assume that, if you're going to be a homesteader, you're going to have to buy a lot of land & move somewhere remote. You'll live way outside the city, live in a tiny house & be surrounded by sprawling fields, all of which re your responsibility to sow. 

This is simply not the case. You can homestead right from where you are living at the moment. If you're home is a semi-attached townhouse in the middle of the suburbs, or a small block in the inner-city, you can become a homesteader. You don't need space to raise cows, or acres of land to plant vegetables. 

Homesteading doesn't requite much space at all. All you really need is gumption & ingenuity. If you don't have an outdoor space, grow an indoor garden. If you have a small backyard, build a free & easy chicken coop. Learn how to make & preserve food. You can even try alternative method of refrigeration (just be careful & mindful of spoiled food).

The reality is, there isn't one way to practice homesteading or be a homesteader. It's a lifestyle choice that can be undertaken anywhere by anyone with the desire & willingness to put in the work.

Featured on The Essential Life

A Message From The Essential Life

If you have anything that you would like to add to the conversation, or if you have any questions or comments, please make yourself heard in the comments - we're listening. You can also connect with The Essential Life directly by contacting us here

We would also like to invite YOU to shape the future of The Essential Life by becoming one of our guest bloggers. If you would like to share your knowledge, or your story with The Essential Life community & you'd like to see your articles featured here on our website, please submit your articles here

Each blogs & articles that you share on the Essential Life will be attributed to you. We also include your bio & links to your website & social media with each article that you publish on The Essential Life. In addition, The Essential Life works tirelessly to support all of our contributors by promoting you on our own social media.