We want to homestead and currently live in the Midwest currently. We are considering Texas, Arkansas, TN, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi to name a few. Basically any southern state. Possibly even Florida. We want a rural place that will still be rural when we pass the place to our kids. I’ve heard Arkansas is the best but not a lot of work to be found there. So where do y’all live or would recommend?
My wife and I currently do a sort of suburban homesteading in Tennessee, we're about 30 miles outside of Nashville, and are moving to a more rural location in TN this year to pursue more homesteading stuff on a larger parcel of land, far away from Nashville. I can speak on what I'm familiar with and that's Tennessee as I've lived here my entire life. There's lots of rural properties for sale of a wide variety (woods, woods/pasture mix, no dwelling, with dwelling, etc.) of all sorts of sizes. There's 7, almost 8 frost free months in a year for gardening and crops. A lot of just about everything (with some exceptions such as tropicals like citrus) will grow here. We get plenty of rain in a year, with the dry season being the fall. If you need a job or have a career, Nashville is booming with jobs-a-plenty, if you're willing to commute from rural homestead to the city. TN has no income tax though we do have a 9.25% sales tax on everything. Weather patterns are changing and shifting a little, so we get our share of tornadoes in TN and mighty thunderstorms with large hail that just tears everything up. There's really no fracking going on in TN so ground water supplies tend to be good. There's not nearly the scale of industrial agriculture as compared to Kentucky or corn belt states, so there's less chemical drift here, but there are still pockets of GMO corn and soybean going on in the state, just no sprawling mega-farms.
My wife and I looked at land for sale in KY, NC, VA, WV, and northern GA. I learned there's a ton of fracking going on in WV, unfortunately, it's a beautiful state. There were some nice looking places in KY, which has no sales tax, but also has big-ag firmly footed there with plenty of poisons being used annually. NC could have worked for us, but we were finding more plots of land suited for our needs and budget in TN. Interestingly, north GA was expensive compared to TN. We didn't want to go too far south as there starts to be no winter, and we like having some sort of four seasons, which meant FL was out for us. I think there's going to be pro's and con's to every state, and I believe knowing your needs and goals will help you choose the right one.
The more we looked, the more we came back to the state we live in. It really suits us for our lifestyle and our desires to have livestock and grow more food than we can currently do in our present location. If you have any questions about Tennessee I'll do my best to answer them! Good luck in your search!
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
Thank you for your response. We have looked at TN some. We liked northeast but I know Knox is growing so much and people are flocking to that area. So I feel in the years to come it will be way more populated. Maybe WestTN, not way west...But an hour from Nashville maybe. We like Chattanooga but not the nuclear plants near there. I can only imagine the water quality with that, wouldn’t be any fishing for me haha. Being in the Midwest I’m fairly used to tornadoes. I’ve heard they are building a new interstate or some highway through middle TN/ West TN area. Have you seen or heard of this?
SC native here, anything you want can pretty much be found somewhere in SC. The taxes in NC keep me on this side of the state line.
Of course we have hot and humid summers, but you have coastal areas, fantastic swamplands, mountains, the sandhills, slate belt that has gold, clay lands, big cities and charming southern small towns, large lakes and great hunting lands, rich history and proud heritage3.
There is some big ag in some areas much like James said about TN.
We do have income taxes but they are low as well as the sales and property taxes.
Water can be found rather shallow in most of the state especially the sandhills.
Hey Leah, I have not heard of any new highways being built here. 840 is supposed to be a loop around the city, but only the southern half has been built, and that was some years ago. The northern half is hung up in courts with some people fighting it all the way. I do think it'll be a matter of time before the northern half gets built, eventually. The place my wife and I bought last summer is in the west section of the state. Going west of Nashville the soil improves, less rocks in it, that's where I start to see some more small farmers growing corn and soy, and going east of the city, there's more rocks in it and less agriculture.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
Land is cheap in WV.
I have lived here all my life. i grow up on a small farm and we truck farmed to pay the bills.
WV's population is always decrease do to no Jobs. So if you want to Homestead and have the most land for your dollar. WV is the place
I live in north Florida, and I was not expecting how beautiful and mild the weather is here. You can grow pretty much year round, except in July and August, so it takes a little getting used to the adjusted planting schedule. This area is relatively rural so there are lots of plots that are agricultural. If you look in the Palatka area, you will find a lot of 5 acre plots from a housing project that never really took off, that are pretty secluded and beautiful, so you can have your animals without bothering anyone. Things to look out for are sink holes, which happen occasionally and clay underneath your house, so you have to ask the real estate people about that specifically. Other than that, I would definitely consider visiting. You will fall in love with the grassy fields, live oaks, and palm trees I promise you. Plus no matter where you are you are no more than an hour or two from the beach, either the Gulf or the Atlantic ocean. Near Palatka there are lots of properties that are lakefront or river front, if that is something you are interested in. The culture here is very diverse. There are old timers, that have owned farms for generations and young hippies that have started homesteading projects, so there are lots of farm shops and communities, depending on your taste. You can choose to live close to the city, like Jacksonville or Tallahassee or live in a cute little town like Micanopy, with great antique stores, or go even further out into the really rural areas. I can't say enough good things about north Florida! Best of luck :)
Is it hard to garden in Florida? I’ve heard it is due to the sandy soil. Anyone lived in any of the other southern states like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi? We are def considering TN..at this point I just worry about allergies there. What about Oklahoma, although not Southern I do know a couple people there (they just don’t homestead). Thanks :)
Greetings Leah, My generations run deep here in beautiful North Florida, born and raised! I too, lived off grid, in the wonderful state of Tennessee. I'll give you my two cents worth on both. As for Tennessee it is a lovely state with much to offer. I've lived in the east, central and west areas of Tennessee and by far the Upper Cumberlands are the best! The Knoxville area and the Tri-Cities area are getting crowded. Nashville...well it's Nashville. West Tennessee we found to be a bit too warm, but there are lots of creeks, springs and reasonably priced land to definitely make it worth looking at. The areas around Cookeville are hard to beat. Depending on the area you will probably be between 1500 and 2000 feet above sea level (nicer summers), land is starting to go up, but still affordable. Higher education can be found at Tennessee Tech University, which has a great organic program. and the surrounding communities are hard to beat! Putnam, Overton, Jackson, White and Fentress counties have awesome little towns with unique cities and towns that make them so inviting! There is no state income tax and local taxes are pretty low. I recently spoke with a Nurse from Arkansas and she was trying to explain all the taxes to me and I couldn't keep up with it all. Years ago I spoke with a gentleman who retired to North Carolina and he left saying that it was to expansive for regular folk. I definitely do not want to knock or disparage these other states, just saying it so you can do your homework completely when considering all things.
Florida is great if you can handle the heat and humidity! North Florida is kind of neat as we can grow citrus along side apples! I live in zone 8b and though it can be hard to manage, it offers many and great possibilities. Now for us, living off the grid here would be hard (not saying that it couldn't be done!). Florida as Tennessee has no state income tax and I find it a reasonable place to live. I sometimes wish my hardiness zone was a little further south, but I'm thankful for the quiet North Florida land and communities. When I traveled to Belize CA, I found that the Mennonite run town of Spanish Lookout reminded me of a small North Florida/South Georgia rural community! We have great food and culture (who doesn't like cornbread!) and many springs, rivers, the Gulf and the Atlantic all within very short commutes! Our seafood is second to none. If you have any questions especially about Tennessee and or Florida I would be honored to help in anyway possible!
Greetings Peter! I definitely agree with you that what a person thinks is "Best" will get multiple different answers. Especially with Permaculture folk! What I wrote, answered why the areas that I picked in Tennessee were superior in may way of thinking. The Upper Cumberlands have better weather, reasonable land prices, good education centers, low taxes, great towns and communities. Leah's question/statement included rural and homestead and so I focused on those key words. She also asked, where do ya'll live and or recommend? I've visited most, if not all of the southern states that she mentioned, have even actively looked at real estate in others, but I've had the pleasure of living in two of those, Tennessee and Florida, hence my focus. Western North Carolina and North Georgia, when compared to Tennessee, just fall behind on many levels in my mind, as I've studied those areas. I second James Fryers opinion above that North Georgia is expensive and I personally think that Tennessee is a better fit. Hugh Lovel's "A Biodynamic Farm" is a classic from that wonderful North Georgia area though and he probably would have a different "Best" opinion than mine: ) They are wonderful and beautiful states for sure and people would pick those areas for different reasons (Asheville, Earthaven Ecovillage to name a few), but I stated that I did not want to disparage or take anything away from them. So I focused on what I knew and the reasons for "My Best".
Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville are not rural by any means and the suburban sprawl around Nashville is legendary. Just look up the 840 corridor as mentioned above and you'll see. It's one of the many reasons people are fighting it and I doubt that even the small communities in those areas will stay rural. Leah wanted that when passing the homestead along to her children in the future. I spoke of the areas that I've personally lived in and gave my honest answers for her questions. Florida is my home state and my perspective is on my growing up here. I love the Cumberland Plateau, for the weather (a little higher elevation) and the great communities surrounding it. Much like southern Arizona where you are from. I love Patagonia, Sonoita and Elgin and their higher elevation gives them a better climate than say Tucson or Marana. Brad Lancaster "LOVES!!!" his Tucson neighborhood and Bean Tree Farm is a wonderful place in those lower areas. Perhaps folks would like the higher elevations further south with different climes? Your "Best" in southern Arizona is indeed different from other Permaculture minded people living in that area. I recently took a PDC in Costa Rica and we had people from North, Central and South America attending. I can assure you that all of our "Best" were different! People were focused on urban/rural and everything in-between. We had a guy from South America more focused on land/farming as he had a cacao operation. Definitely different than the rest of us and we all had different reasons and "Best"! In closing, I love Southern Arizona and can't wait to return next year! You are blessed to call that area home!