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Best States for Homesteading


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Last Updated: October 5, 2020

You might think the land is the most important 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.

Why Choice of State Matters for Homesteading

No matter how self-reliant you want to be, you are still going to 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’s some of the state laws, policies, and resources to look out for.

Rebates for Renewable Energy

Getting a homestead set up can be really expensive, especially if you want to install renewable energy like solar.  There is the federal solar tax credit (ITC) which 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 really end up saving 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 as an incentive for homeowners to install solar and will buy back electricity at prices higher than retail value. You can learn more about net metering policies here.

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

Being Legally Allowed to Detach from Grid

Want to completely disconnect from the grid 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.

Read:

State Homestead Laws

Homestead laws allow a person 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: In some cases, the homestead won’t count towards your property taxes. In places with high property taxes, this can add up to significant yearly savings.

Homestead laws vary drastically by state.  Usually they specify an exact amount which 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 which 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. If you have a large, valuable piece of land, property taxes can be very high.  In the long run, it often makes more sense to buy a pricier piece of land 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, then 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!

Without natural resources like water and rich soil, you’ll have a hard time living off of the land.  Climate is also very important, especially for novice homesteaders.

In colder areas like the northern states, the growing season is very short.  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 good 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 which 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.  Oregon, for example, offers homesteaders a lot of grants and educational opportunities.  Plus, there are lots of 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 a lot harder to evacuate when you have a homestead, especially when you have animals to care for.  So really think twice before homesteading in an area prone to disasters.

Homeschooling Laws

If you have children and want to homeschool them on your homestead, then 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 very easy to qualify as a farm.  For example, New Jersey only requires you to have 5 acres and sell an average $1,000 annually to be a farm.  Some states are much stricter though, so check the local laws.

Best States for Homesteading

Iowa homestead

There are obviously 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 factors mentioned above like taxes, favorable homesteading laws, and climate.  Here they are!

1. Iowa

Iowa is 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 also growing their own food.

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

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

Pros

  • 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

Cons

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

2. Wyoming

Wyoming has a lot of things going for it.

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

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

There are a surprisingly amount of 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 sunshine then them, so 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 also aren’t many cultural institutions and there’s only one public university.

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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 super volcano

3. Arkansas

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

Compared to many other states in the USA, Arkansas also has a lower learning curve for homesteading.  The land is mostly 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 is low and land prices are still fairly 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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

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

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

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

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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 which 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. There is a strong homesteading culture in Oregon and over 30,000 small farms in the state.

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

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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 tradition of farming.  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.

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

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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 definitely more populated than other states, so you’ll have a hard time finding land if you want to be reclusive.

Farmland is pricey and, 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 does mean more resources like schools and job opportunities (in case you don’t plan on homesteading as your main job).

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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 climate is still mild and you get a fairly 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 of the many hurricanes which North Carolina has each year.

Land in North Carolina can be very expensive, 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.

Pros

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

Cons

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

9. Missouri

Missouri is a great 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 very expensive to buy.  Property and sales taxes are moderate, but the state income tax is fairly high.

Missouri experiences all four seasons, though the winters tend to be fairly 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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. 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!

    Reply
  2. 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!

    Reply

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