You might be wondering if apartment homesteading is really possible.
Homesteading isn’t as much about where you live as it is how you think and live your life!
Loosely defined, homesteading is simply living a life of self-sufficiency, where one provides for many of their own needs.
Self-sufficiency is accomplished many different ways and it doesn’t have to include living in the country!
Much of what’s written about homesteading in an apartment or “small space homesteading” is directed to those who are working towards rural living someday.
However, studies would indicate that many folks dreaming about country life will never get there, for one reason or another.
Further, there are people who would never want to live in the country, but want to meet more of their own needs overall!
Why live for what may or may not ever happen?
You can homestead in an apartment!
You can homestead in the city!
You can homestead in a rental!
Let’s do this!
Apartment dwellers have a number of distinct advantages over rural homesteaders! Why not take advantage of them?
One key advantage is that you have more control over your time.
Rural homesteaders often have land and livestock, which can be wonderful!
However, it also means that you’ll be running around after loose livestock or sitting up all night in a cold barn delivering a baby goat.
- Fences need to be repaired, as well as tractors and other equipment.
- Crops get eaten by deer and pests.
- Storms bring down trees and power lines that must be dealt with, and the list goes on.
Apartment dwellers usually don’t have to deal with those things, allowing you more time to focus!
Let’s take a look now at the homesteading skills for apartment living that will make you more self-sufficient in an apartment!
Create a home-based income in your apartment
The most important way that anyone can become more self-sufficient while homesteading, regardless of location, is to create an income that’s independent of an “employer”.
Creating a way to earn money without having to report to a place of employment each day is something homesteaders work hard to achieve!
When you can create income without leaving your home, this provides you with tremendous freedom! If your business is exclusively online, you can earn a living from anywhere! No traveling to a job every day, no need for a fancy wardrobe, no need to eat out….think about that!
At no time in history has it been easier to create a side-hustle! With not much more than a laptop, folks are creating very nice incomes! From blogging, flipping books on Amazon, drop-shipping, tutoring online or being a virtual assistant, the possibilities are endless!
You might want to check out my book “Start Your Own Homesteading Business” for everything you need to be thinking about when starting your own business! Why not make money doing what you LOVE?
Entrepreneurship takes hard work and commitment, but anyone can do it. You’ve got to be disciplined with your “off-time” to work on and grow the business.
But once it’s up and running, some businesses provide “passive income” (like blogging), where money is earned whether you’re online or not!
But for those of you who shudder at the thought of “techy” things, I have a great link to share with you.
Side Hustle Nation is one of my favorite go-to sites for all things “side hustle”! You could spend hours on this website, but the ideas are endless for creating income!
Think about what skills you have, even if you haven’t used them in a while. Maybe you used to be a hairdresser, or perhaps a bookkeeper. Could you utilize those skills somehow to earn extra money now?
Do you love animals? Maybe you could dog-sit or start a dog-walking business!
Don’t get discouraged if your first idea doesn’t pan out, keep moving forward until you find your niche!
Work to Eliminate Debt
Debt is like dragging a “ball and chain” around every day.
Debt also limits you in so many ways. Many people work jobs that they hate because they have debts to pay off.
I know. My husband and I had about $100K of debt when we first married almost 30 years ago. It took us 3 1/2 years to pay it off, but we took some pretty drastic measures to do it! NO regrets though!
Once you’re out of debt, you’ll never go back to your old habits again! THEN, you can begin to save for a rural homestead if you want, or just live the life you want with the money you earn!
Reduce Your Consumption and Conserve
People shop unnecessarily for many reasons…
Boredom. Loneliness. Lack of focus.
If you want to be self-sufficient in an apartment or anywhere else, you need to limit your overall consumption. Especially when living in an apartment, you only have so much room!
After all, stuff costs money as well!
Work on yourself and ask the hard questions about why you shop if you need to. Then, find ways to use your time and money better to further your self-sufficiency goals!
Conservation is another key to being self-sufficient. As an apartment dweller, you may or may not have the capability to track your utility usage by looking at the meters. Try to find yours, though, it’s the best way to monitor your energy usage.
Either way, work to lessen how much power and water you use. Tracking the true numbers is always best, but if you aren’t able to, then you’ll have to track your usage by the utility bills.
Look at how many kilowatts you used last month, and look for ways to reduce your usage.
Same with your water bill.
Homesteaders are very conscious of how much power and water they use…
In order to be free or less dependent on the grid, homesteaders must first reduce their overall utility needs. There’s no alternative energy source out there that will service a home full of unnecessary power usage.
Grow Food in Your Apartment
Assess what you have available to you…
Windows or balconies that face south are best for container growing, however, you can make do with 1/2 day of sunlight if needed.
Examine your windows and figure out what direction they are facing. What about a balcony or deck? Chances are that you have somewhere you can grow something.
North-facing windows aren’t going to do you much good, unfortunately.
Container gardening is very popular and easy to do! Most fruits and vegetables can be grown in pots, believe it or not!
I grew tomatoes and peppers in 5-gallon pots for years, even though I had to move the pots once a day to harvest the most sunlight.
Is there a community garden nearby that you could utilize?
Does your apartment complex have a patch of unused land that could be used as a garden?
Do you have a friend with some land who might allow you to garden there?
How about a roof-top garden?
Besides reducing your consumption and debt load, gardening is one of the best ways to homestead in an apartment!
Don’t be afraid to ask!
Think outside the box!
Volunteer for Gardening Experience
Community garden – Many cities and towns have community gardens. For a small fee, you can use a plot to garden all summer long! Community gardens create community as well as allow you to grow some food and get some dirt under your fingernails! Call your city or township to ask about community gardens in your area.
CSA’s – “Community-supported agriculture” are essentially “co-ops” where people have access to fruit and vegetables from a farm, in exchange for a subscription fee or even labor. CSA’s are all a little different, you’ll need to check into them. Local Harvest has contact information about local CSA’s and farms, check them out here.
Become a Fish Farmer
Whether you grow fish to sell on a retail basis or grow fish as a food source, you should definitely check out this apartment fish farmer and see he does it!
Cook from Scratch
So many Americans eat a diet consisting primarily of processed food.
This is not only unhealthy, but costly. Have you seen the price of a fast-food meal lately???
Learning to cook from scratch is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family! You are able to choose what ingredients you want, and control what your family eats!
Take a step at a time and begin to replace what you buy at the grocery with healthier, homemade versions. Don’t overwhelm yourself, just begin going in the right direction.
It doesn’t matter where you are “skill-wise” in your cooking, just begin where you are. When I was in my 20’s, I couldn’t boil an egg…not kidding.
If you are fortunate enough to have a mother or grandmother who cooks, ask them to teach you how. Ask them to share family recipes that you could make together! Or maybe you have a friend in your apartment building who likes to cook.
Believe me, people who enjoy cooking generally enjoy cooking with others! Reach out and expand your horizon.
Learning how to make your own bread is a wonderful homesteading skill, regardless of where you live!
You can not only barter with your fresh bread, but you can also give it as gifts!
Our society is used to having a plethora of fruits and vegetables to choose from at the store, virtually any time of year! But when food travels from halfway around the world to your town, the nutritional value is greatly diminished. Fresh produce is best when it’s fresh-picked, full of all the vitamins and minerals you deserve to get from your food!
It’s so much healthier and less expensive to eat what’s in season!
Especially if you are able to plant a container garden on your balcony or deck, you’re to want to eat what you’ve grown!
What you can’t eat, you should preserve for later!
Learn to Barter
Bartering (or just trading things of value) can be very useful for someone wanting to be more self-sufficient in an apartment complex! You can save money as well as build relationships with your neighbors!
Goods and services that are available just down the hall are usually going to be an apartment dweller’s first choice, assuming that the person offering them is legit.
Maybe you know how to cut hair or you’re an amazing cook. These services could be bartered for other items you need!
How about house cleaning? Dog walking? Rides? Sewing? Computer work?
Make, learn or grow something you can trade with or sell!
Put your skillset out there and see how it can save you money!
Learn to Can and Preserve Food
Preserving food is one of the most important skills for homesteading in an apartment!
You can grow an amazing garden, but if you don’t know how to preserve it, you can only eat it for a few days. Homesteaders spend a great deal of time canning and preserving food for the months to come. You can easily can food in an apartment!
Preserving food is so empowering!
If you know nothing about how to preserve food, may I suggest that you begin with freezing? It’s very simple to do.
Dehydrating would be the next level of food preservation to learn. You’re going to need a dehydrator, I could encourage you to buy the best one you can afford.
Water-bath canning would be next, you can water-bath most fruit, jams and tomatoes.
Finally, there’s pressure canning. This technique is required for low-acid foods like most vegetables, beans and meat. I would have an experienced canner teach you how to do this. It’s not that difficult, but it can be a bit intimidating.
Hang Your Laundry to Dry for Self-Sufficiency
I love hanging my clothes out to dry!
Not only do I save on utility bills, but my clothes last longer. Very few countries actually have clothes dryers, including large parts of Europe.
Read more for ways to hang clothes inside…
I could write a novel solely on the topic of how many toxins cleaning supplies contain.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want toxins in my home any more than I can control. And the prices???? Uh, no.
General cleaning supplies are so simple and inexpensive to make, it’s crazy! It’s one of the easiest ways to homestead in an apartment!
Here’s my general cleaner recipe that I use every day:
- 1 part water
- 1 part vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. dish soap
- 10-20 drops of either tea tree, lavender or Thieves essential oils
Put in a glass spray bottle and use it in kitchens, bathrooms and all general cleaning. How simple is that?
My shower/bathtub cleaner consists of this recipe:
- 1 part vinegar
- 1 part Dawn dish soap
Spray in the shower or tub, wait 10 minutes and rinse.
You will save so much money making your own cleaning supplies, you won’t believe it! It’s just one more way to lessen your dependency on the store!
Those who long to be more self-sufficient are very conscious of water consumption and preservation.
Swales, (which is a fancy word for ditches), that direct water from one point to another are often utilized on farm property. Capturing and redirecting water saves money and saves one of our most precious resources!
This won’t always be possible when you’re trying to homestead in an apartment. However, if you are able to catch some rainwater from a downspout or even from a rooftop, you could water your plants with it or flush your toilets with it. I wouldn’t recommend that you drink it unless you are very skilled at water purification. Also, make sure it’s legal where you live.
Re-Purpose Like Grandma Did
Re-purposing and up-cycling are big in the homesteading community, as well as living zero-waste.
There’s no better way to save money than to look for a second life for everything you use, whether it be clothing or a plastic container! Enjoy these resources as you pick up new ideas!
Don’t Be Afraid to Try
If you are learning to be self-sufficient in an apartment, don’t be afraid to try new things, even if you don’t get it right the first time.
Failure visits everyone, but don’t let it stop you! Keep trying to gain more and more independence as you homestead in an apartment!