The Route We're Taking To Begin Homesteading With No Debt (& Our Progress So Far)
It’s the first of October, and I figured probably time for an update since our last one!
The purpose of sharing these updates is to show glimpses into our homesteading journey, so that when someone visits this site years from now and sees us living on our land, working from home, with beautiful plants and animals and hand-built structures dotting the landscape, living the dream essentially, and all with no debt… they can go back and see the beginning, they can see the steps we made and the time that it all took.
Not only does this make things more realistic, but I think it could also help people brainstorm ways of accomplishing similar dreams for themselves.
SO WHAT HAVE WE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR?
It was this time last year that we really started to get serious about things. At that point in time, all we knew was that we wanted to live in this very wild and remote place where we could enjoy the slow pace of life and the inspiring landscape. Since then, our plan has ripened and become more and more clear.
The lifestyle we’re working to create is so far from finished, it’s just in the beginning stages really, but we have made progress toward it and every single day we continue to inch a little closer.
Let’s take a look back at what we’ve accomplished in the last year toward our off-grid homesteading goals!
BEGAN NEW CAREER PATHS [SUCCESSFULLY] THAT ALLOW US TO LIVE WHERE WE WANT
It was around this time last year, having just returned from the wilderness of northeast Washington (where we now live), that I sat in a coffee shop in a little town in Kentucky wondering how in the world I would ever be able to live in that remote wilderness that I loved so dearly full-time. How could I really make a life there, and a good life at that? With three people per square mile, jobs are few and far between.
I had no idea that just a couple of months later, I’d be making a full-time income online. It’s amazing what could be around the next corner if we’re willing to give it our all. You really just never know…
Read more about how I self-educated to be able to work online from anywhere here. I’m slowly working on an Ebook that will outline the details of exactly how I made this happen, so sign up for the newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out when I publish it.
A few months later, in January of this year, Eric decided that getting his CDL would be the best (and quickest) way to be able to live and homestead in a remote area. The few jobs that do come available out here often require a CDL, and at worst he could always go over the road then return here on days off.
He signed up for a really reputable CDL school which ended up being only a few miles from my father’s home in Wisconsin, ironically, and in February of 2018 we transitioned there for a few months while he completed the schooling and training.
Now he works for a wonderful local company and has probably one of the most beautiful routes that a truck driver could have - driving through the beautiful Washington and British Columbia mountains all day, then returning home to me each evening. We expected he would have to go over the road and we wouldn’t see each other for weeks at a time, but things worked out in the very best way they could have.
Does he want to be a truck driver forever? Of course not. Eventually, Eric plans to write music again and to hone a craft— he’s especially drawn to woodworking and blacksmithing— and turn those things into his full-time work. But, for now, our lines of work allow us great freedom to live where we want while making lucrative enough incomes to save for buying land and building a homestead in the near future.
Check out my blog post How To Make A Full-Time Income From Your Off-Grid Homestead for some more ideas to help your brainstorming.
RELOCATED OURSELVES & ALL OF OUR BELONGINGS TO THE AREA WE PLAN TO HOMESTEAD
For us, this meant going across the country, from the South to the Northwest. We moved 2,300 miles away!
This was a big move and took a lot of planning and preparing on our part, all while beginning entirely new career paths.
Living for a full year in an area before buying land in it is very important - I realize this now more than ever.
The specific places we now know we want to buy land near have evolved since we’ve been here and we’ve met local people who tell us about certain areas and point us in the direction of land for sale that is not listed on the Internet.
So moving here was essential, even though we aren’t yet ready to buy land or start building.
ARRANGED A LIVING SITUATION
At the beginning of summer, I wrote an update to let you all know about our current setup. We’re still in that same setup and plan to stay in it until we’re ready to start building.
It is essentially an RV on our friends property that they’re letting us stay in as a kind of work-trade, and out of the simple goodness of their hearts.
We’ve been tempted many times this summer just to rent our own place, but were able to talk ourselves out of it each time remembering that all of the money we would put toward rent could be put into our little savings box instead! Besides, actually finding a rental home out here is… not realistic.
I have to say that one of the biggest sacrifices we’ve made throughout this whole journey so far is not having our own place - we both miss it terribly and long to have our things and our aloneness and more space. But this is a crucial part of the journey to having our own homestead — saving money! So, if it doesn’t contribute to that goal, we try to steer away from it.
WINTERIZED OUR LIVING QUARTERS
We just finished winterizing the RV, using strawbales, and we still have to purchase a few hundred dollars worth of supplies to insulate the water hoses. This winter might be a little difficult - living in an RV with paper thin walls in a climate that sits under feet of snow for six solid months. Our biggest concern is the above-groud external water source…but we’ll see how it goes!
Again, sacrifices like this might have to be made while you work to save enough money to buy land outright and build your own house, which is what we plan to do within the year!
ACQUIRED HUNTING & FISHING LICENSES
This will help cut down on food costs while familiarizing us more and more intimately with the landscape.
In fact, as I type this, my husband is out with a friend hunting deer and grouse! After working sixty hours this past week, and not getting in bed until after 11 last night, he was up at 4AM to go hunt. Let’s hope it’s fruitful!
Here’s our to-do list between now and next Spring:
Sell the 2wd Honda Element
Purchase two 4wd vehicles (one rugged truck and one that is better-suited for travel)
Save money! This means working a lot and minimizing expenses as much as possible
Start milling lumber to build the house with (this will require buying an Alaskan sawmill & appropriate chainsaw)
Build a small livable cabin so we can transition full-time to the homestead!
It might not sound like a lot, but these are pretty great feats. The route we’re taking —to build a homestead slowly with cash— requires a lot of time and patience before the rewarding payoffs start trickling in. Once this list is completed, we will have a home (with no debt or monthly payment!) and land to build sustainable systems on that will feed and nourish us in all kinds of ways. From there, we can install off-grid power systems, huge gardens, build more structures for personal shops and studios, and just have fun with it!
SO YOU WANT TO BEGIN HOMESTEADING BUT AREN’T SURE WHERE TO START?
I would suggest doing the following:
Figure out the area you want to live long-term on your off-grid homestead
If work options aren’t available in that area, or you want to be able to work from home, start researching how to make a full-time income from your homestead. I’m not talking about filling out surveys and making a little here and there, I’m talking about self-educating and really skilling up, then beginning to do work for people, thereby building a portfolio slowly, and taking it from there. I managed to do this in under a year, and so can you. Check out:
Self-Educating To Be Able To Work From Anywhere and How To Make A Full-Time Income From Your Off-Grid Homestead
Minimize expenses and save money - if you don’t have a budget and you live paycheck to paycheck, you’ve got to do better. Sorry. Even if it’s $20/week, you can do without something and put that money back. Saving $1,000/year is better than zero. Going through life with no budget, making impulsive buys for short-term dopamine release, will not get you anywhere. Sit down and list out your monthly expenses (including bills of course but also food, gas, miscellaneous things that tend to come up, etc.), then subtract that from your monthly income. Whatever is left is what should be going into a Savings envelope. Seven months from now, you might come across acreage for sale with owner financing available but they want $1,500 down. Budgeting and saving now could be the difference in whether or not you can buy that land then.
A goal this big doesn’t happen overnight (which is why most people have 30-year mortgages). But it can happen in a year or two, and debt-free, if you start educating yourself now and outlining a solid plan of action.
If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below. I’m more than happy to help in any way I can. We’re all on this path together, after all.
Until next time ~
My husband and I are working to build a Nordic-inspired homestead in the Washington wilderness slowly with cash and no debt. You can follow the journey here!
I write about:
our homestead journey
health & wellness
wild food foraging
DIY & craft projects
making a living online from home (or anywhere)
my own recipes from scratch
and much more