This post was most recently updated on March 18th, 2020
So many people today find themselves living in a city apartment wishing that they were out in the country enjoying the homesteading life.
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Sadly this is only a dream for many, as the realities of needing to be near work over take the wish for a free-er life. However, there are some brilliant ways that you can turn your apartment or condo into a mini homestead, and you can start apartment homesteading today!
What is Apartment homesteading
While you may not have any green land to your name, that does not mean that you cannot embrace the homesteading mindset and start homesteading in your apartment.
There are many things that you can do just as well living in an apartment as I can living on 10 acres. These homesteading skills will help reduce your outgoing costs, improve the quality of your food and make you more self reliant and self sufficient.
The homesteading mindset
Homesteading is a state of mind not a piece of land. Frugalness and health are at the core of the homesteading ethos, as is self sufficiency and community.
All of these things can become a part of who you are while you are living in a small apartment in the city.
How to homestead in an apartment
Below are a lot of different ways that you can start your apartment homestead. Don’t try and start them all at once – choose one or two and learn to do them well before adding more.
Skills that are perfected will become habits and this is the best way not to become overwhelmed and give up.
Apartment homesteading ideas
1. Apartment Gardening inside
Just because you don’t have a plot of land to your name does not mean that you cannot start to grow at least some of your own food right where you are.
Container gardening is all the rage, with so many people wanting to grow food wherever they are. Try mason jar herb gardens or growing salad greens in hanging baskets instead of pot plants.
2. Window ledge gardens
All your windowsills are fair game for loading up with containers of fresh salad greens and herbs. Basil in particular loves a good sunny window ledge to grow on!
Be sure to protect the wooden ledge by using saucers under your pots and wiping up and spilled water immediately.
3. Patio gardens
If your apartment is lucky enough to come with a balcony or patio, turn that space into a mini food forest. You will be amazed at what fruit trees don’t mind living in pots! Ask at your local garden center for what fruit is best in your area. Given a big enough pot, most dwarf fruit trees will be quite happy.
Microgreens are the sprouts of many different vegetables, they are highly nutritious and take up very little space to grow.
5. Get a community allotment/garden plot
If you are serious about growing more of your own food, it is a great idea to find out about local community gardens to use or allotments to hire.
If there aren’t any in your area, look for abandoned lots and see if you can make one of your own. Many cities are encouraging the growth of community gardens, and some even provide grants/funding to get them started.
Where to buy your food when you are apartment homesteading
6. Join a CSA
Most areas these days have some form of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system. Some do a one off joining payment then you get cheap boxes of fresh food over the season, and others are free to join but you pay a little more each week for your box.
A CSA is a great way to support one or two local farms and ensure you are getting fresh local produce (and sometimes meat)
7. Farmers market
Your area might hold a weekly farmers market where local farmers and food artisans come and sell their wares. What better way to make real connection with your food than to meet the people actually growing it.
Supporting your local growers is the best way to get spray-free, organic food for affordable prices.
Buying your meat from the butcher supports local business and smaller farmers. You are more likely to get better quality meat and they can give you advice of preparing it too.
9. Buy seasonal
Buying your food seasonally is the best way to both save money and ensure that your food is at its peak nutrition. Buying fruit and vegetables in season will allow you to pick up bargains for you to preserve for later use.
Preserving food when apartment homesteading
Learning to can your food is a great way to preserve anything from fruit, to meat to vegetables, soups and other premade meals.
If you are new to canning, it is best to start with easy recipes that include either sugar or acid to help preserve the foods – this means you can simply waterbath can them.
If you are planning of preserving low acid vegetables or meats you will need to learn to use a pressure canner, which is perfectly safe once you know how.
If you don’t have space for storing large numbers of cans/jars and bottles then dehydrating food is the next best idea. You can make jerky with meat, fruit leather or vegetable powders all with or without a dehydrator.
Personally I really like using a dehydrator, I find it takes up very little countertop space, very little electricity and give a better quality product than using an oven.
If you have space for a freezer, freezing your bulk purchases is another good option for preserving food. There are even ways to freeze things without using endless amounts of plastic.
DIY for apartment homesteaders
13. Fix it
If something breaks at home, instead of buying a new one, check on YouTube and see if you can fix it yourself. In the last 3 years we have successfully fixed a leaking freezer, a broken washing machine (twice), the dishwasher, vacuum cleaner and the chainsaw all with the help of DIY videos on YouTube.
14. Build it
If you need something new, you might like to see if you can build it yourself. Again YouTube can be your friend!
15. Make it
Learning to sew, paint, craft and other skills can all be beneficial to an apartment homesteader. Plus, as a bonus, you might find a new hobby that you enjoy.
Livestock you can keep in an apartment
16. Keep some meat rabbits
Rabbits are one of the few animals that you can successfully keep in an apartment. They are legally considered pets, and they take up very little space. Rabbits breed like you wouldn’t believe and grow very quickly.
If you clean them out once or twice a week they will not stink up your home either.
17. Keeping quail in an apartment
Quail are the perfect animal for raising in apartments. They are small, quiet and quite productive. You can keep one rooster and 5 or 6 hens. Their eggs are edible, and they can breed from 6 weeks onwards.
Composting for the apartment homestead
18. Bokashi boxes
While a traditional, large compost heap would be sinky, gross and inappropriate in an apartment, bokashi boxes do not smell and are very effective at composting. You can buy the whole kits from here.
19. Worm farms
If you have a balcony or patio space, a small worm farm is a great way to use up your food scraps as well as making great food for your plants. You can buy them here or learn how to make them on YouTube.
Greener living on your apartment homestead
20. Conserve power
Conserving power is a good way to both save money as well as helping save the planet. Turn things off when you have finished using them. Use only what you need to, and if you need to get a new appliance, choose the one that is more efficient.
21. Install solar
If you have some sunlight hitting your balcony or patio, you can buy a small solar panel (often marketed to camping enthusiasts). With this solar panel you can at least charge up your portable devices such as tablets and phones.
22. Use a solar oven
Solar ovens are a great way of using the free power of the sun to slow cook food. You can make them yourself or buy them pre-built.
23. Reduce waste
Reducing our footprint on the earth can start with stopping wasting so much. Packaging, food, clothes, toys, gadgets, these are all things that we can learn to make do with. Use up your leftovers, compost your scraps, buy the options with less packaging and buy second hand or go without.
24. Go plastic free
There are many ways to reduce your use of plastic in the home. You can make your own beeswax wraps to replace cling film, as well as making many swaps to sustainable products around the home.
25. Make your own soap
This is a handy skill to have! Save money and make luxurious soap combinations that you simply cannot buy in stores. You can make your own laundry soap, body soap or shampoo.
26. Make your own cleaning products
Most commercially available cleaning products can be replaced with soap, vinegar, baking soda and some elbow grease (scrubbing).
27. Give up the shampoo
Shampoo is one of the greatest cons of modern life. Our great grandmothers used to use simple soap, or sometimes a little egg yolk to clean their hair.
The more shampoo you use, the more conditioner you will also need to keep your hair from drying out and becoming brittle.
28. Line dry your washing
Give up on the dryer, save power and make your clothes last longer! Line drying can be done inside over a rack, or outside one a patio or balcony.
29. Herbal medicine
Learning to use herbal medicine and old fashioned cures for simple illnesses will allow you to reduce the time you are unwell and improve your self reliance.
The herbal academy is set up specially to teach newbies how to use herbs in your everyday life. Find out more here.
30. Cook from scratch
Teach yourself to cook from scratch by using some of our recipes here, and again YouTube can be helpful in learning to cook and bake.
If you are living in an apartment, you can learn many homesteading skills and become an apartment homesteader. Whether you are saving up your pennies for a big farm in the country or you are content apartment homesteading from here on out, these tips and skills will help you learn to be more self sufficient and prepared for whatever life might throw at you.
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