Best States for Homesteading – Top Places to Start a Homestead in the USA

You might think the land is the most critical aspect of choosing a homestead location. However, the state where the land is located can be just as important. Some states are much better for homesteading.

Here’s why and the best states for homesteading in the USA.

If you want to learn more about homesteading, see these introductory posts:

Why Choice of State Matters for Homesteading

No matter how self-reliant you want to be, you will still be subject to the local laws and regulations of the place where your homestead is located.

In some cases, this could crush your dream of being self-sufficient. In other situations, the laws actually might work in your favor.

Here are some state laws, policies, and resources to look out for.

Rebates for Renewable Energy

Setting up a homestead can be expensive, especially if you want to install renewable energy like solar. The federal solar tax credit (ITC) allows you to deduct some of the cost of your solar panels from your taxes.

On top of this, many states or municipalities offer additional tax rebates or incentives for going solar. You can save a lot of money on initial costs by choosing one state over another.

Price for Excess Solar (Net Metering Policies)

Another thing to consider in regards to homestead location is net metering policies. Net metering allows you to sell excess generated electricity back to the power company.

Some states have terrible limitations on net metering. For example, you might not be allowed to sell excess electricity if your solar system is over a certain size.

By contrast, some places use net metering to incentivize homeowners to install solar and buy back electricity at prices higher than retail value. You can learn more about net metering policies here.

Net metering policies won’t matter if you want to disconnect from the grid completely.

Being Legally Allowed to Detach from Grid

Want to disconnect from the grid entirely and rely only on your own electricity and water source?

In most areas, it is actually illegal to disconnect from the grid!

These laws are usually decided on a local level and not state level, so you’ll have to research the laws of your potential homestead location carefully.

State Homestead Laws

Homestead laws allow people to declare all or part of their land as a “homestead.” There are two main benefits to doing this:

  • Homestead is protected from creditors: The homestead cannot be seized due to unpaid debts, personal loans, medical bills, etc.
  • Reduced property taxes: Sometimes, the homestead won’t count toward your property taxes. In places with high property taxes, this can add to significant yearly savings.

Homestead laws vary drastically by state. Usually, they specify an exact amount that is protected. For example, Massachusetts has a high homestead exemption amount of up to $500,000. Arkansas lets you protect your entire home. By contrast, Kentucky only protects $5,000.

The homestead protection amount isn’t always the same as the amount that gets exempted from your property taxes (if any).

For more on this, read our post about Homestead Declaration.

Property Taxes

When you homestead, your property is your main asset. Property taxes can be very high if you have a large, valuable piece of land. In the long run, buying a pricier piece of land often makes more sense, but in a state with lower property taxes.

As mentioned above, some state homestead laws allow you to deduct the value of your homestead from your property taxes.

For example, a state might have a $50,000 homestead property tax exemption. If your small homestead is valued at $75,000, you only need to pay property taxes on $25k of it. So, even if the state property taxes are high, you might not have to pay much thanks to an exemption.

Climate & Natural Resources

I often see Arizona and Nevada in lists of the best states for homesteading. Sure, land in those states might be very cheap – but it is cheap for a reason!

You’ll have difficulty living off the land without natural resources like water and rich soil. Climate is also very important, especially for novice homesteaders.

The growing season is very short in colder areas like the northern states. You can still homestead there, but the learning curve is higher.

I suggest taking a look at the USDA Hardiness Zone map. Zones 6a to 8b are generally best for homesteading. Warmer zones are suitable for growing but are usually more prone to natural disasters.

Community & Remoteness

Does your vision of homesteading involve living far away from civilization and going months without seeing anyone? Then, you won’t care as much about road conditions, schools, and the number of farmers’ markets nearby.

But maybe you envision a close-knit community that helps each other with tasks, trades homemade products, and offers support.

In this case, you will want to choose a state with more homesteaders and services. For example, Oregon offers homesteaders many grants and educational opportunities. Plus, there are many farmers marketers around the state for selling your goods.

Disaster Safety

States like Florida, Texas, and Louisiana might be great in some aspects for homesteading, but they are also very prone to hurricanes and flooding.

It’s much harder to evacuate when you have a homestead, especially with animals to care for. So, think twice before homesteading in an area prone to disasters.

Read more about the states with the least natural disasters.

Homeschooling Laws

If you have children and want to homeschool them on your homestead, you’ll need to consider those laws, too. Some of the best states for homeschooling are Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

See a map with homeschooling laws here.

Whether You Qualify As a Farm

Many states provide various tax benefits to farmers, such as exemptions or rebates on property or sales taxes. There are also plenty of tax deductions for supplies like seeds, feed, and equipment.

In some states, it’s straightforward to qualify as a farm. For example, New Jersey only requires you to have 5 acres and sell an average of $1,000 annually to be a farm. Some states are much stricter, though, so check the local laws.

Best States for Homesteading

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best state for homesteading, and many of these factors are very personal in nature.

I’ve tried to be unbiased and chose the top states based on all the abovementioned factors, like taxes, favorable homesteading laws, and climate. Here they are!

1. Iowa

Iowa homestead

Iowa has some of the most arable land in the United States, which makes it great for starting a self-sufficient homestead. Since the state is big on agriculture, you’ll be in good company with many of your neighbors growing food.

The cost of living in Iowa is low. Yet, the school system is still great, and nearby Des Moines is bustling with culture if you feel the need to connect.

Of course, there are downsides to homesteading in Iowa. The state is primarily flat and visually dull. The winters are some of the worst in the USA.   Depending on your income, the state taxes might get very high.

Read more about homesteading in Iowa.


  • Lots of fertile land
  • 100% homestead exemption for up to 40 acres rural or ½ acre urban
  • Low property taxes
  • Very relaxed homeschooling laws
  • Net metering for solar power
  • Solar tax credit up to $5,000; solar installations exempt from sales tax
  • Low cost of living


  • High cost of farmland
  • Tornadoes and flooding common
  • Harsh winters
  • High sales taxes

2. Wyoming

Wyoming has a lot of things going for it.

The cost of living is very low, there is a low population density and plenty of agricultural land suitable for farming or raising animals.

The vistas are beautiful, and you can enjoy homesteading in peace in this state.

There are surprisingly many sunny days in Wyoming: 114 days of the year are clear, and the state averages over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year – more than even California! Only Arizona gets more sun; a Wyoming homestead could be great for solar power.

Not everyone will appreciate the remoteness of Wyoming life, though. If you aren’t near a big city or town, you might have to drive long distances to get supplies or send your kids to school. There aren’t many cultural institutions and only one public university.


  • Incredibly low state property taxes
  • Low cost of land
  • Not prone to many natural disasters
  • No state income tax
  • One of lowest state sales taxes
  • Relaxed homeschooling rules


  • Only $20-40k protected under homestead exemption
  • Very dry; less than 10 inches of rainfall per year
  • High wildfire risk – more on preparing for wildfire
  • Short growing season
  • Near the Yellowstone supervolcano

3. Arkansas

Colorful sunset in Eureka Springs, Arkansas from a lookout tower

When it comes to homesteading, Arkansas has a lot to offer. Many homesteaders flock to the Ozarks because of their beauty and natural resources. There are over 9,700 miles of streams and 600,000 acres of lakes.

Read more about homesteading in Arkansas.

Arkansas has a lower learning curve for homesteading than many other states in the USA. The land is primarily arable, and the climate is moderate. The USDA puts most of Arkansas in the hardiness zone of 6b to 8a, which means you get about 200 days between last and first frost.

The cost of living in Arkansas and land prices are still reasonably low. However, it can be difficult to find land since most of it is already taken by large agriculture operations.

If you enjoy solitude, the state is a great place to live. However, if you want to get involved with local communities, you might be a bit upset by the amount of crime, poverty, poor school systems, and other issues.


  • Unlimited homestead exemption
  • Very low state property taxes
  • Relaxed homeschooling rules
  • Moderate farmland costs
  • Net metering for solar
  • Long growing season
  • Mild climate
  • Low cost of living
  • Lots of natural resources


  • High state income taxes
  • High sales taxes
  • No state tax refunds or rebates for solar
  • Hard to find smaller plots of land for sale in some areas
  • Poverty, crime, obesity, and poor education are big problems

4. Idaho

Dirt hiking trail leading to the Goldbug Hot Springs in Idaho

Idaho is another highly-agricultural state in the USA. Because upwards of 15% of the population is farmers, you will find a community sympathetic to homesteading ideals.

Read more about homesteading in Idaho

Because of its natural beauty and low cost of living, many people are flocking to Idaho. The state has experienced a huge housing and population boom, making it a bit harder to be isolated. Traffic jams are also becoming more common.

Don’t be surprised if land prices in Idaho spike.


  • Lots of arable land
  • 50% of value of home and up to 1 acre exempt from property taxes (up to $100,000)
  • Multiple state tax incentives for installing solar
  • Very relaxed homeschooling rules
  • Fairly low cost of farmland
  • Lots of natural resources


  • High state income taxes
  • High sales taxes
  • Harsh winters
  • Occasional flooding, wildfire, and earthquakes

5. Oregon

Oregon is becoming an increasingly popular state to move to, especially with Californians who want to escape the rat race and high cost of housing.

Nature lovers will never be bored in Oregon because of all the public land that is open to anyone. There are beaches for surfing and diving, forests for hiking and camping, and even deserts.

The cost of living in Oregon is still pretty high, and average home values are one of the highest in the country. But, despite this, farmland in Oregon is still very affordable. Oregon has a strong homesteading culture and over 30,000 small farms in the state.

There are a lot of resources to support your homesteading endeavors, like farmers’ markets where you can sell food, free educational opportunities for farmers, and grant programs.


  • No state sales tax
  • Moderate property tax rate
  • Lots of state and local tax rebates on solar power
  • Full net metering on solar
  • Strong homesteading community
  • Affordable farmland available
  • Lots of resources for homesteaders and small farmers
  • Relatively safe from natural disasters


  • Very high state income tax
  • Only $40k protected under homestead exemption
  • High cost of living

6. Indiana

In particular, the southern half of Indiana is particularly good for homesteading. It has a warmer climate with fewer days of harsh weather, so you’ll have a longer growing season and be able to diversify your crops. The southern half is also less populated than the north.

While homesteading hasn’t taken off in Indiana as much as in some other states, it still has a long farming tradition. There are over 56,000 farms in the state, and 96% are small, family-owned operations. Since there are already so many farmers, finding affordable land for your homestead can be tricky.

Living in Indiana is affordable if you can swing the initial high land prices. The taxes are manageable (at least compared to most of the country). The state also has plenty of beautiful green areas; it’s not all just corn fields!


  • Moderate property taxes
  • Fairly low flat-rate state income tax
  • Relaxed homeschool rules
  • Some solar components are exempt from sales tax
  • Net metering available for solar up to 1MW


  • Very high farmland costs
  • Only $19.3-38.6k protected under homestead exemption
  • High sales taxes
  • Lots of tornadoes and flooding

7. Virginia

When it comes to growing your own food, Virginia is one of the best states. It is in the USDA Hardiness Zones of 5a to 8a, which means it doesn’t get extreme highs or lows. First, frost doesn’t hit under the under of November for some areas, which gives you nearly 200 days of frost-free growing.

Virginia is more populated than other states, so you’ll have difficulty finding land if you want to be reclusive.

Farmland is pricey, while property taxes are low, the income tax is high.

You might also be annoyed by noise from the many highways or the sound of jet planes overhead from the nearby military bases. However, the higher population means more resources like schools and job opportunities (in case you don’t plan on homesteading as your main job).


  • Arable land
  • Low property taxes
  • Temperate climate
  • Long growing season
  • Lots of rain
  • Moderate sales taxes
  • Net metering and programs that buy back electricity for more than retail cost


  • High farmland costs
  • Fairly high state income taxes
  • High cost of living
  • Strict homeschooling rules
  • Very low protection under homestead declaration
  • Some areas have high population density
  • Prone to natural disasters, including flooding, hurricanes, and drought

8. North Carolina

No, you won’t find many homesteaders on the coast of North Carolina. However, the western part of the state is great for homesteading. A lot of people choose to get land in the mountains. It’s not as suitable for growing food but is great for raising goats for milk.

True, the western part of the state doesn’t have as warm of a climate as the eastern part. However, the weather is still mild, and you get a relatively long growing season. There are also wild berries, mushrooms, and other plants you can forage or grow. Being away from the coast also puts you further out of danger from the many hurricanes that North Carolina has each year.

Land in North Carolina can be costly, and the state income and sales taxes are also high. However, the state does have some laws favorable to homesteading and good rebates for installing solar systems.


  • High protection under homestead declaration
  • Rebates for solar available
  • Net metering for solar
  • Low property taxes
  • Long growing season


  • High land costs
  • Fairly high state income tax
  • High sales taxes
  • Very high natural disaster risk
  • Strict homeschooling rules

9. Missouri

Missouri is an excellent state for homesteading because of its long farming tradition. You’ll find a community of people who know all about self-sufficient living. There are nearly 95,000 farms in Missouri, most of which are family owned and under 300 acres. The local laws tend to be favorable to homesteading.

Much of the state is great for growing food, though there are plenty of areas where the soil is rocky or lacks timber for building and fuel. Unfortunately, the best homesteading land can be costly to buy. Property and sales taxes are moderate, but the state income tax is high.

Missouri experiences all four seasons, though the winters are relatively mild, and the summers aren’t as bad as its southerly neighbors. The location does mean Missouri often gets hit by natural disasters like flooding, tornadoes, and ice storms – so be prepared.


  • Moderate property and sales taxes
  • Net metering for solar
  • Decent growing season
  • Rebates for solar
  • Relaxed homeschooling rules


  • High state income taxes
  • High farmland costs
  • Low protection under homestead declaration
  • Natural disasters very common
  • Humid summers and cold winters
  • Prone to droughts
  • Multiple nuclear power plants

What do you think is the best state for homesteading? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Mississippi is a great homestead state! Homeschooling restrictions are not bad at all, land is very reasonable priced, good for growing vegetables, herbs and etc. People are very friendly and helpful, only the big cities have alot of crime. Mississippi rural areas are not bad for homesteading!

  2. Hi Seriously looking for 10 to 20 acres suitable for growing my own personal food i’ve been checking out Ozarks of Missouri to Idaho definitely want to build a log house self sustained. Definitely a safe place to live is a must ……

  3. This was an absolutely fascinating and educational read! I currently live in Minnesota but am looking to relocate. I’m not necessarily looking to homestead myself (technically, anyway) but I AM looking for a quiet, rural, clean place to live where there ARE a lot of homesteaders, farmers, and mom-n-pop stores for me to give all of my business to; a small community to get involved in and contribute to. I need space with great natural surroundings and peace and quiet! (If I never see another city, I’m perfectly fine with that.) Any recommendations, advice, or warnings would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Bookmarking your site and will be spending time today devouring it.

  4. This is very helpful! Question; I’m
    Interested in grazing animals or chickens; I’m not interested in growing vegetables; would this list change with this in mind? A lot of information pertains to growing seasons for plants – which does translate some to grazing . Would appreciate your thoughts

    • I’m not an expert on grazing animals. Though I suspect your biggest priority would be findingn cheap land since some animals require lots of pasture. The type of pasture will also matter depending on whether you want to graze animals for milk or for meat.

  5. Anywhere you can cheaply buy and live off-grid even with swamp water around is fine. Keeping a few chickens, growing nuts to make milk, making sourdough starter and keeping it alive, utilizing a greenhouse and cooler weather cold-frame while growing fresh edibles, having an herb-garden for seasoning foods and healing oneself, and ensuring the vehicle with chicken housing attached for heading for safer ground is the best location.

  6. Iowa homestead exemption seems to cover both single and married people.
    Iowa code 561.16 Exemption. The homestead of every person is exempt from judicial sale where there is no special declaration of statute to the contrary. Persons who reside together as a single household unit are entitled to claim in the aggregate only one homestead to be exempt from judicial sale. A single person may claim only one homestead to be exempt from judicial sale. For purposes of this section, “household unit” means all persons of whatever ages, whether or not related, who habitually reside together in the same household as a group. (Updated as of December 5, 2021)

  7. It looks like the Arkansas homestead exemption applies only to married people or head of a family and not singles.
    Arkansas Constitution of 1874 Art. 9, § 3. Homestead exemption
    The homestead of any resident of this State, who is married or the head of a family, shall not be subject to the lien of any judgment or decree of any court, or to sale under execution, or other process thereon, except such as may be rendered for the purchase money, or for specific liens, laborers’ or mechanics’ liens for improving the same, or for taxes, or against executors, administrators, guardians, receivers, attorneys for moneys collected by them, and other trustees of an express trust, for moneys due from them in their fiduciary capacity.

  8. I live in southwest Wyoming and I’m wanting to know the difference between a homestead n a small farm. also we want to have a small rescue for animals n I don’t know really how to find the land and the government. here is no help. my wife and I love the desert, but we love the forests to. we lived in olympia Washington yrs ago and it was amazing there. I love Oregon also. we have been thinking of Arizona. my wife wants an earthship, and I love them but I’d like to do shipping containers also. maybe a mic and I don’t know if we can build our dream home… please help someone

  9. I live in ohio, I am retired and dream of living a sustainable lifestyle. I would want to stay in this state so I can also share this lifestyle with my grandchildren. Is there anyone from Ohio here? I could use all the advice I can get

    • Hi, we live in Ohio not quite 5 acres just north of Columbus, we are more suburbs than country. We do have chickens, and raise pigs for meat ever year year. We have several large garden plots were do all kids of vegetables for canning, and a small orchard of apples, and peaches. We just painted blackberries. We keep mason bees and leaf cutter bees to help with our fruit trees and our gardens. Thinking of expanding to meat rabbits this year. Is there anything I can answer for you.

  10. I don’t t ever see Tennessee or Kentucky on these lists. What’s the cons of these places, why don’t they make the cut? Seems Much more affordable then Oregon. I’d love to go to organ, but would never be able to afford it. We have narrowed it down to Kentucky, Tennessee, Alaska or Pennsylvania. TIA

    • There are obviously a lot of other states which could be great for homesteading, Kenctucky and Tennessee included. This is what we came up with after balancing all of the parameters from property taxes to local regulations to natural disaster likelihood.

  11. Does anyone have experience homesteading in the eastern part of Washington State? I’m new to all of this but would like to purchase .8 acres of land there to start, but can’t find much information.

  12. I’d love to see if tennessee might be a good option. It seems pretty good for climate and homeschooling so wondering if there’s a reason I don’t know of to stay away. We are also considering NC so glad that made the list 🙂

  13. Arkansan here, and outside of the Little Rock area, there is not much crime! The north central part of the state is particularly beautiful. There is everything from mountains to acres of pasture. Almost any land you buy will have access to water. The southern part of the state is very commercially agricultural and flat, a lot like Iowa honestly.

    Thanks for the write-up!

    • We recently visited the Hot Springs area and it was lovely. But when I was reading about the area I do remember coming across info that said Arkansas crime rate was a little higher than the national average.

  14. I would like to see Florida listed as well. New York is a big state, and seeing them ranked would be good. New Jersey is nicknamed The Garden State, so it has to be good. Pennsylvania would be good having a look at because it does not really have the adverse weather conditions as Virginia.

    • Unless you’re rich, your really not wanted in NJ. Remember that is the state with the most millionaires. As far as NY, the cost of land or just living is one of the worst in the United States.

    • Pennsylvania doesn’t have the adverse weather conditions VA has? Philly and Richmond have almost the exact same climate. And The south east regions is really mild compared to most of the rest of the state. Pittsburgh gets twice as much snow as Philly and Richmond

    • I see people homestead – Farm in the more rural parts of New York State which is upstate closer to The Great Lakes, for me I want a
      place close to the Atlantic Ocean though were I can park a Sailboat,
      and I don’t like The Southern States due to a lot of Hurricanes.
      To me the laws in parts of Europe are better due to the “Right to Roam”
      in places like Sweden and countries around there.

  15. I would love to see the pro and con list for Florida. And the ranking. I live in north east Florida and about an hour from the coast so hurricanes are never that bad. Just some rain.

  16. I am seriously thinking to buy a land and go for it, but my concerns are retirement and medical care. I am a teacher and Id love to teach at rural area.
    Does anyone know if this is possible?
    Thanks for the helpful information

    • You should maybe look into online teaching. I know a lot of people who teach languages online and make a decent living off of it. A lot of homeschooling parents also supplement with some online courses.

  17. Hello,

    I have always wanted to try Hawaii. The Big Island to be exact. I stayed with someone who was pretty self sufficient and it worked for him tremendously. The soil was great, the climate fast grow, rainwater harvesting legal, although the cost of land is high. I just wanted to know if you had any resources and or statistics about homesteading there. We are a couple in our 50s, no children, vegan and definitely want to save animals. That is just a small bio.

    Thank you!

    • Aloha Daisy,
      I live on the Big Island, near Hilo. Land prices are quite variable here. Very high for good ag land (usually minimum of 20 ac. lots.) Down in Puna region the land is very cheap, because it is basically lava covered with thin soil. While that is challenging, you can grow food under those conditions, know many folks that do just fine. We grow year round, have abundant water, and everything grows, which can be its own challenge! One change in mindset that needs to happen to homestead here is that you can grow food year round, so you don’t need as much land to provide for your needs. I plant corn all year long, same with most everything else. We are off-grid in every way and yet live a “normal” sort of life.

  18. Just wanted to state that the homeschooling laws in NC are not that bad. I live in NC and homeschool. The laws for homeschooling are not that strict. You do have to apply for a homeschooling license and have your child tested yearly by an accredited homeschool testing proctor as well as keep attendance. Other than that, you can choose which homeschool style, curriculum, if you school year round or follow public school schedule. Land prices are high in the Blue Ridge mountains (the western part of the state where I live) as well as cost of living, but the area is beautiful and the weather here kind of does it own thing as it is a temperate rainforest!


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