We started traveling not long after we got married. It's been a fun ride and we've seen some pretty great things along the way! This gave us an advantage in deciding where to settle down and build our homestead at, too. After doing all of this traveling, we've found places we've fallen in love with and places you couldn't pay us to live.
We want to use this knowledge to help some fellow aspiring homesteaders make this decision! Here are our top ten list of states to homestead in(in no particular order):
1. East Texas
Pros: Farm friendly, great job opportunities(oilfield,) low taxes
Cons: Minerals rights are almost impossible to find, lots of pasture management
There's a little bit of everything in Texas! Woods, mountains, prairies and even a desert. We lived in east Texas for a while with our horses. Before I get into this, let me add that Texas is a HUGE state. You can drive 600 miles in one direction and never leave the state. So, of course, there's going to be different climates and challenges in each part of the state.
With that being said, I liked the eastern part of Texas the best. It rained plenty and it was farmer-friendly. The downside was that, compared to other places I've lived, the grass wasn't great and our pasture required a ton of rotation and management.
Nacogdoches is beautiful and if I were to settle down in Texas, that's where I'd plant my stake.
Pros: Lots of rain, great grass, agriculture-friendly state
Cons: High taxes, hard red clay
I actually grew up on a cattle farm in north Georgia, so I may be partial to this one. The grass in north Georgia is excellent, so it's great for livestock. In fact, I found myself putting a few of my horses up in the barn at night because they were getting too fat.
Georgia is known to be an agriculture-friendly state. In North Georgia, they have red clay, so there can sometimes be a struggle when drilling or digging holes, but with all the rain they get, it softens that clay up. There's mainly cattle farms and chicken houses up in that direction. South Georgia has more flat, sandy soil but that's where you'll find the majority of produce farmers.
I'm partial to the mountains, so if I had my choice of starting a homestead in Georgia, I'd probably settle down somewhere around Blairsville or Franklin county.
Pros: Windmills, gorgeous views, cheap land, low population
Cons: They don't get a lot of rain, lots of snow, harsh winters, high winds
Check out this picture I took in WY of the snow. Those are the tops of the fence posts just peeking out! They get harsh winters, some of the coldest in the United States.
Wyoming was actually my second choice, but I picked somewhere else because I love the rain. They are much like a western movie. They are a "fence-out" state, so cows free-range everywhere, along with wild horses and elk. Great hunting!
Pros: Great views, great hunting
Cons: High cost of living, harsh winters, short growing season
Montana holds the record for the coldest recorded temperature in the United States. It's an understatement to say that they have a frigid winter. I lived in North Dakota, for almost 2 years, pretty close to the Montana border.
If you don't mind the cold, Montana may be for you. In western North Dakota, we'd catch storms that came through Montana. They'd dump blizzard conditions and cold (I saw -18) weather. The wind chill reached -25 while I lived there and I was told that was a "mild" winter. Montana (and Wyoming) caught the worst parts of those storms!
It's currently September 10th as I'm writing this and Montana and Wyoming just received their first snowfall.
5. The state we settled on: (east) Tennessee!
Pros: Low cost of living, homestead-friendly laws, lots of rain, mountains, great views
Cons: Rocky soil, home school regulations
The mountains may not be a "pro" for everyone, but they were for me. I'm a mountain girl at heart. My husband fell in love with the Appalachians after we vacationed there (Helen, GA and the smokies) a few times.
I love how they still have laws that protect homesteads specifically and they don't dictate rainwater collection or solar energy. They are farm-friendly and so are their laws. On top of great farm/homestead friendly laws, the cost of living there is better than a lot of places I've been.
They do have a few cons, as everywhere does. As far as homeschooling goes, unless your child is enrolled in an umbrella program, or accredited home school program, they'll need to take standardized tests. That's a big downside for me, but given the excellent programs out there, it wasn't a deal breaker.
Another con is that since we're on the side of the mountain, rocky soil is going to be a downside. This wasn't as huge of a deal for me as it was for my husband, but again, it wasn't a deal breaker. Raised garden beds and a few other negotiations are a compromise to this.
I hope this has given you some insight to a few places to stake a claim! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them below in the comments!
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