Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be better?

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BungeeBones's picture
BungeeBones
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Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be better?

I have been able to do both rural and urban homesteading. I built a small cabin in the mountains of NH, heated with wood gardened etc for quite a few years. Lived without power for a little bit too. Went from that and entered the business world only to lose it all in the last real estae collapse before this one but later came upon distressed urban properties that had been confiscated by the city for taxes. I bought one not realizing the city itself was responsible for the blight by their red lining taxing strategies. I refused to pay the taxes so they got it back a few years later anyway but in the mean time I milked it and did urban homesteading there.

 

Now we are seeing the blight getting into the suburbs and I was wondering if homesteading in suburbia is a good idea or not.. Sub urbs have their own problems. Like the urban area, you do not have things like mass transit and are dependent on the automobile. I used to buy groceries for a month in the rural place. Another problem I see in suburbia is land use and zoning.  To me, all the empty yards with unmowed lawns is a resource. I would have dairy goats grazing and keeping them mowed and be selling to the milk to the aging baby boomers in relief of  their increasing digestive disordersLaughingbut zoning generelly doesn't allow that. In most places you can't even grow chickens.

 

The urban situation was different. Though the laws were technically on the books the city was too broke or had bigger fish to fry to give a darn about zoning laws "in the hood". Drugs, maybe? Goats? Not really unless someone complained..

The old expression "40 acres and a mule" was from the idea that it took forty acres of land and a mule to support a family and that was about the size that one man with a mule could effectively manage.  With our knowledge of fertilization, hybrid seed and mechanization we need far less land and a lawn tractor instead of a mule. It may revert to using the empty houses as barns.

 

Just food for thought and fun...

 

What type of homesteading do you want to do???

 

 

alochin's picture
alochin
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

Very difficult question.

Many choose rural, but rural life requires more fossil fuel than urban in our current economy. On the other hand, cities exceed their carying capacity, so in the event of societal collapse, rural looks better. In a controlled descent, I would guess than suburban is the best: enough land for a good garden, and still close to town.

The response to your question depends on how bad things will get. Nobody knows yet.

jpitre's picture
jpitre
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

Alochin wrote:

"Many choose rural, but rural life requires more fossil fuel than urban in our current economy."

That statement may be true if one chooses to live a city/suburban life style in the country, but if one goes "country" all the way, I don't think so. For example, 10 cords of wood and a couple of hundred gallons of diesel per year (or less)and enough electricity to light a few light bulbs is nowhere near the fossil fuel consumption a typical city family goes through. Even more so when you consider that most of the food consumed by the family is produced out of the use of the aforementioned diesel. Assuming an organic style of farm, then the same fuel may also be producing excess food for the city folks to consume.

Think of a typical suburban family with two cars driving 30,000 miles per year equates to 1,200 gallons of fuel annually (or much more if driving large SUVs) Many urbanites drive much more than that as well as spent time on public transport as well as airlines etc.

Most of the calculations that I've seen dealing with "city" power consumption overlook the tremendous expenditure of fuel required to provide utilities, including water & sewer, freight to bring consumables into the city and carry waste (including sewerage) out of the city, often to and from far away places. Not to mention the power consumed by various service requirements in the city including street lighting, police, common area maintenance etc

Jim

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papaswamp
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

Depends on your location. Every place is different. I'm in southern suburbia (Florida) wedged between the Ocean and the intracoastal. More seafood than I can shake a fishing rod at. It's not a bad spot. The Homeowners Associations do have ridiculous rules that state no gardens or water caching barrels, etc. but State laws fortunately prevent enforcement by the HOAs. I mostly guerilla garden to keep everyone happy.

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

Tagging this thread - I'll be back.

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poisonivy113
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

I'm debating about where I would live eventually as well. Right now I'm not in a realistic position to make any kind of move. Limited job options (long story) and I'm kind of stuck in my current job because it does pay fairly well and I have a lot of debt to pay off. I've cut back on some of my living expenses, sold a money pit house, etc. Still the debt is a huge burden that will take a while to get paid off.

I definitely prefer city life. Can't stand suburbia and all the tracts of houses that look alike. I like to be near things to do. But I also enjoy things like hiking and skiing, so I like to be fairly close to areas where these types of things can be done. I generally don't like the area where I live now, chose it to be close to aging parents but would not have come here otherwise. It's in upstate NY. I eventually want to get out of NY altogether. The high tax anti business culture is really bad. I also don't think its the best place to be in a severe oil shortage scenario, because the growing season is so short. 

I recently visited Salt Lake City and LOVED it. If it were financially viable for me to move now, i would give strong consideration to it. I wonder what anybody knows about that area in terms of worst case scenario survival. At least water shouldn't be a problem where I currently live. What about SLC? 

I know skiing may not survive long term as a sport, but until that happens, i plan to continue. Same true of other types of activities. 

Any advice from those who are familiar with SLC would be apprectiated!

 

docmims's picture
docmims
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

OK.  Things you can count on if the shit hits the fan:

1) The government will survive.

2) The government will look out for number 1 (itself).  The government keeps track of where food and other

necessities are stored and it will help itself to those as it deems necessary -- ie, they will take it from you.

3) there will be security in cities(even though crime will increase) because the rich will demand security and

they will get it.

4) if you live in the country it will be up to your community to defend itself.  If you are a hemit in a cabin by yourself

you better have some defense or you will become a ' secondary crime' victim -- an Argentinan(i believe) term

for those isolationist folks who get tortured by roving bandits until they give up their food supply and valuables

and are then murdered.

 

I think I would opt for a smaller city with good crime demographics and community and probably a military base.

There will be rising city crime, but i think the countryside will actually be less safe.  If you are young and healthy and able

to defend yourself and do backbreaking farm work you can try homesteading.  Those of us who are older will probably need

to just take our chances in a city.

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

In normal times any environment can be productive for imaginative folks.

But Docmims addresses the WTSHTF situation and says:

1) The government will survive.

and

3) there will be security in cities(even though crime will increase) because the rich will demand security and they will get it.

But doesn't a breakdown or crisis or collapse, whatever you want to call it, imply at least a drastic reduction in government if not an outright failure? If the excrement hitting the fan consists of economic breakdown, as is most likely, then there probably won't be "rich" to demand anything 'cause money (FRNs) will be worthless. A collapse by definition is a game changer. A paradigm shift. New rules.

I would have to disagree with the contention that the city would be safer in a crisis. Criminal opportunists would find a target rich environment with overwhelmed police forces in the city. The huddled masses may experience food shortages strained by "just in time inventory" currently practiced by retailers. I feel much safer in my ability to defend and feed myself and my family in a rural setting during a meltdown than I would in the city. Growing 'taters isn't that "backbreaking"  and you don't need to be "young and strong" to defend yourself; just well armed with a couple of alert watchdogs and lots of defensable space around you. Vigilant and prepared neighbors help too.

docmims's picture
docmims
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

valid points, but theoretical.  I am just going by actual events in a country with a huge inflationary breakdown as in Argentina 2001 --

not a Mad Max scenario.  Argentina recovered and is back in the mix now, and I think the US will recover but there will be very tough times.

docmims's picture
docmims
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Re: Rural, Urban or Suburban homesteading... which would be ...

I am not talking about a total collapse like a nuclear event or massive disease induced die off.  More of a a slow highly inflationary spiral developing over greater than 3 years which is the most likely scenario in my mind.  Just to clarify my comment.

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