The best state for homesteading depends on many things and may not be the same for everyone. Every state has pros and cons, so which is best for you will depend on how you rank the individual pros and cons. For example, I would never consider homesteading in Alaska; it is far too cold for me. My son, however, loves it there and many people successfully homestead in the state.
So to determine the best states for homesteading, I decided to look first at the factors I am looking for in a homesteading location. You may not agree with my ranking; that is fine. We don’t want to be bidding against each other for the one ideal piece of property. Here are some of the factors that I consider to be most important in choosing your homestead location.
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Good Soil and Easy Access to Water
This seems obvious, but I once tried to build a homestead on hard Texas clay. I had chosen a house with land, without considering the quality of the land. It was hard digging for that garden and my vegetables were small and sometimes misshapen. Check the soil in many different places around the property and consider whether water is available near the garden spot and where you might want animals. Also check the quality of the water and consider having it tested.
Another thing to check is the history of the land. An environmental assessment will tell you whether it has any environmental risks associated with former use. You don’t want to be gardening on a former hazardous waste site. This may seem rare to you, but it happens more often than you might think.
If you want to grow all your food, you need moderate weather and a long growing season. I consider USDA Hardiness Zone 7 to be a good cutoff for me. Lower zones can still be farmed, but you will need more land because of the shorter growing season.
I live in zone 9b where I have a long growing season. We grow two crops a year, planting in the early spring and in the late summer. Most plants die back at mid-summer because of the heat, but even then many plants thrive. While the garden produces well, people and animals may find the heat unbearable.
Southern states get more sun and are warmer, while coastal land benefits from the moderating effects of ocean breezes, but have higher humidity in general.
Remote Location or a Low Population Density
It is possible to homestead in the suburbs of a big city; however, most prepping homesteaders are looking for a more remote location. A remote location insulates you from many societal problems should SHTF, however it also might limit your access to emergency care or help when you need it. If you choose a remote location, take care to develop a good relationship with your neighbors, you will be relying on their skills as well as your own.
Instead of a remote location, you might choose a location in a state with low population density. Living near a small town has many of the advantages of the city, while still offering you insulation from the desperate masses.
Find a Community of Like-Minded People
Probably most important is choosing a place where you feel you belong. You belong because you love the area, but also because you have much in common with the community. If you don’t share similar values and ideologies with your neighbors, you may end up being the odd-man out.
To survive in a SHTF situation, you will need to band together with your neighbors. If they don’t trust you or feel that you aren’t their “type,” you may never be able to establish that connection. You could be shunned because of your politics or your beliefs on any particular issue. Get to know the neighbors before you buy.
My Thoughts on The Best States for Homesteading
The best state for homesteading is fairly personal and depends on our personal likes and dislikes. However, I am going to discuss the pros and cons of several states from my point of view. Perhaps you will have other areas of concern or reasons to choose a particular state. If so, leave me a comment below telling me why you like your state or don’t like mine.
States with Fertile Land, Easy Access to Water, and Moderate Temperatures
Oregon and Washington have fertile land, plenty of rain and moderate temperatures, putting them high on the list for farmers and some homesteaders. However, I would think carefully before locating in these states due to their high concentration of liberal voters. It is probably only a matter of time before these states pass laws against rainwater collection or other laws that may not be friendly to homesteaders. Unless you are like-minded, this may not be your community.
Virginia, Iowa, and Tennessee also have moderate temperatures, fertile land, and plenty of rain. Most homesteaders are able to grow good crops and raise animals. Land is moderately priced and the population density is favorable to homesteaders. You’ll find other homesteaders as well as experienced farmers here.
States with Warm Winters and Long Growing Seasons
The southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and eastern parts of Oklahoma enjoy mild winters, fertile land and generous rain fall. However, The summers can be hot, hot, hot. You’ll enjoy a long growing season, if you can work in the heat and humidity.
Choose your land carefully because some areas are prone to flooding and others are swampy during some months of the year.
Moderate Temperatures, Good Soil and Rainfall
The summers are a little more comfortable in South Carolina and Georgia than in the steamier states of the south. It is still hot in the summer, however, the moderate humidity (inland) makes a world of difference. First frost is usually around October or November, so you’ll enjoy a long growing season with a mild winter. Some areas have rich black soil, while others have rocky clay, and still others are sandy, so check your soil before buying. South Carolina and Georgia land prices and taxes are very reasonable in most areas.
Make Sure You Have the Basics
New Mexico and Arizona show up on many homestead lists, however, I do not agree. For me, the lack of easily available water is a deal breaker.
They enjoy cheap land and warm weather, but it is tough to grow your own food without water. Many people truck in their water, but in a SHTF situation, it may not be as easy.
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Which State is On Your List?
If your favorite state is not on the list, don’t worry. This list is colored by my own preferences for warm weather and inexpensive land, however there is no reason you can’t homestead anywhere.
Every state has its own challenges and advantages, so a lot depends on your skill level and how much land you can afford. Let me know your preferences below.