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Homesteading in Suburbia

by Survival Dispatch Staff

The pinnacle of survival is often depicted as the rugged bush crafter extraordinaire, wearing a coonskin cap and scratching sparks out of two twigs deep within some cold, howling wilderness. While seemingly romantic, it has little to do with the kind of preparedness that will support families and communities through challenging times. Real life dictates a different lifestyle catering to a very real palette of needs. People have families and jobs. They have custody arrangements, waning elders, and imminent medical issues.

Make it official here: It’s okay to practice preparedness in suburbia. Not only is it okay, if you can’t fully abandon civilization for the boonies, it would behoove you to be a “suburban prepper.” Idealism can be paralyzing for so many people. People wait to garden because they want to move onto a 100-acre wooded paradise, or they put off learning medical skills because they just feel too busy. If what you can manage is 1/3 of an acre or 1 acre on the edge of town—great! Use it. There is a steep learning curve to the food production side of independence, and you learn by doing. “Only” 1/3 of an acre, or 1 or 2 acres, isn’t a deal breaker. You can get a lot done on that amount of land.

A suburban homestead of 1/3 acre can be filled with raised beds, fruit bushes and trees, and laying hens. (Laying hens, compost, and raised garden beds are a powerful trifecta for smaller spaces.) Increase that parcel size to an acre, and a greenhouse, row crops, and goats for meat and milk are possible additions. That is, if you are not subject to HOA regulations barring such things. 

It’s true that living closer to town may not be as ideal regarding security issues that come with being in more densely populated areas, but a lot of people want to live out in the country with a huge amount of land because they think they need a huge property. Newsflash: You don’t need that much land just to grow your own food. People with 20, 40, or 160 acres either don’t use most of that land, or they are farming the property for profit. That much land is excessive if you are aiming to produce only for your own needs.

Both situations have their pros and cons. In the sticks, you can’t get takeout delivered to your door, dirt and gravel roads aren’t as charming as they look. Larger properties require more active security measures. Rural areas are more removed from unique threats like civil unrest and tyranny, and more conventional locations are closer to medical care and employment opportunities. On the edge of town, most properties are on city water and drilling a well is not a likely option. In most of those areas, certain livestock like roosters and pigs will be out of the question due to noise complaints and sanitation concerns. 

There is no clear line between the two options. Both are workable, but there is one choice that is not acceptable: sitting on your laurels, waiting for “someday” to come. “Someday” is today. Do whatever you can do, wherever you are, right now.

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