Ways to Homestead in a Deed Restricted Community
You may think that homesteading in a deed restricted community sounds ludicrous. I am here to tell you it is possible. Homesteading in any locale has more similarities than differences.
I live in the most populated county in the state of Florida. My community has many deed restrictions. It never crossed my mind that a day would come that I would regret the beneficial intentions of deed restrictions. Every homeowner hopes that one of the largest investments in most people’s lives will increase in value. Deed restrictions are meant to make sure everyone maintains their property to preserve the value of the community and each home within.
So, how then, can urban homesteading in a deed restricted community be possible? Let’s take a peek into how you can accomplish this and still be in compliance.
- Replace some of your grass with edible plants. If you do not have enough space for a traditional garden, you can grow an amazing amount in containers, vertical gardening, window gardening or just use your imagination.
- Neighborhood gardens have become a widespread way for urbanites to learn how to garden and to share space with like-minded people.
- You can replace shrubs in your yard with blueberry bushes. They will look just like other shrubbery but will yield fruit. This is a nice win-win.
- You can also increase your planting space by using decorative planters, old spruced up things like a wheel barrow or other cool oddities to make an artistic planter for herbs or veggies. Just use your creativity.
You don’t have to be a “tree hugger” to be an urban homesteader. Of course, you can be a “tree hugger” if you choose. Whatever your belief, you can do it and reap excellent benefits. You just need to start out doing a single, self-sufficient thing. You can expand from there and continue to make your life more self-reliant. Have fun and gain a feeling of accomplishment.
Think about times long ago. Many of our ancestors came across the ocean and had to make it or die trying once their ship landed in America. In our modern world, these extremes are not something you have to deal with. Pick a starting point and build from there. Learn and advance your homesteading skills. Tap into the resources available in your community and those of like-minded individuals.
Urban communities are changing the ways they used to govern the deed restrictions. In many associations, the once banned backyard chickens and goats are now acceptable. Just don’t get a rooster, you do not need one to have a chicken lay an egg. Zoning laws are also coming on board with the realization that having these backyard creatures makes sense in a world where healthy sustainable food is so important and becoming scarce. People want to know what is in their food. There has been a great deal of information which shows that many of the grocery store foods contain chemicals, hormones and pesticides. These things allow for bigger crops and more revenue but they also have huge unintended consequences. You can change this by taking control of a large portion of the foods you eat. Even changing a little at a time will remove a great amount of the garbage typically consumed.
Food preservation was once done out of necessity to make it from season to season. Today it is done for this reason and more. It’s comforting to know the food we eat and feed to our families is truly wholesome. In addition, if a family breadwinner were to lose a job, food would be waiting in the cupboard. One less thing to worry about because as an urban homesteader you will become self-sufficient.
An urban homesteader can do so much to become self-reliant just as other homesteaders with large amounts of land. You can install alternative energy to your home. You will even receive a tax credit for this and in a few years your investment will pay for itself. If the power grid fails as it has several times all over the country, you will be protected and still be able to have your own power. Different areas of the country will have better solutions for their specific environment for off the grid alternatives. There are windmills and solar. Solar offers an easier approval from home owner associations. If solar is not an option there are more things to consider. You can get a gas generator, just make sure you know how to operate it as they can be deadly. You can also purchase a smaller mobile solar set-up that is all self-contained. Any of these self contained units will only supply power to a limited number of appliances.
Living an urban homesteader life also means you will live a simpler life. Simplifying your life will reduce your stress and make your family closer by working together. You will begin to do as was done in the 1940’s. The saying was, “Use it up, wear it out or do without.” Not only will you have a sense of accomplishment you will save money. Living in an urban area also gives you more access to many thrift stores where bargains will amaze you. It is actually fun to go to several of these to discover items you least expect at great savings. i.e., men’s designer shirts, some brand new, for under $4. Cha Ch’ing!
Learn to do it yourself. You can learn new skills wherever you live. Make new friends and trade skills. Perhaps you like to garden and your neighbor is the “Tim the Tool Man” type. Work out a trade-off and save both of you money.
You can purchase water barrels to have an alternate source of water. If the city should have a broken water main or other problems you will still have water. Water is life. You cannot live long, perhaps three days, without it. Having a few water barrels that you can decorate with paint or some design will not make your yard look shoddy. The barrels can actually become an artistic statement. If a water barrel doesn’t appeal to you, try canning your own water in ½ gallon mason jars, purchase canned water on-line, or bottled water for emergency use. If there was a water shortage you might have to use less than desirable water. This could present serious health risks. You would be wise to invest in a high quality water filter now. There are some great ones available. We use a Berkey Water Filter. We use ours every day because our city water has chloramines and other additives. The Berkey water filter makes a surprisingly good taste difference that I would not have expected. If you decide to purchase a high quality water filter system make sure to buy additional filters to have on hand.
If you can afford to have a deep well dug, most deed restricted communities will allow it. Generally, the city water departments will also allow a well as long as you are using it for your lawn sprinkler system. They generally do not allow wells to be used as drinking water. If they allowed for this, they claim the water is not potable and they do not collect money for waste water going into the sewer system. If there were to be a grid down or water system failure you would be prepared with an alternate water source. The area where you live may or may not allow wells to be used as drinking water. This personal water source would provide water for bathing, washing clothes and other household needs. You could expand your well’s usability by installing a whole house purification system which would make your well water drinkable. This system may not be allowed during normal times as we currently live. It could be a life saver in a disaster however. You could also take the purified well water and put it through a gravity fed filter, such as a Berkey filter to give yourself even more insurance your well water is as pure as possible.
A sewer backflow valve is another thing you might want to consider. Check out this article on sewer backflow valves. This device prevents sewer back-up into your house. A back-up can occur if there is flooding, a sewer system is compromised or if the grid goes down for an extended period of time. The valve parts are not expensive but the labor can run a few hundred dollars. This could be money very well spent. The time to consider and budget for these items is now. Being prepared takes fore thought. As an urban homesteader, you will want to do everything you can to be self-sufficient and self-reliant.
BEAUTY IS KEY
Much of your urban homesteading will be done in your backyard. If your deed restrictions prohibit a fence you will be more limited in what you can do. Fence or no fence, you MUST keep your property in pristine shape. You want your neighbors to appreciate what you are accomplishing and perhaps become involved themselves. It always is better with friends on your side. Be courteous and keep your yard looking great.
IF OUTSIDE SPACE IS AN ISSUE
If you find your limitations are over the top, don’t despair. You can homestead inside too. Shop at farmer’s markets, join a food coop and preserve the bounty. Learn how to pressure can, hot water bath can, ferment your own probiotic rich foods, dehydrate food and freeze food. It’s so easy you’ll be amazed. You can still grow food inside to provide fresher food. There are many ways to “homestead”. It really is all about doing a few or a lot of things to live a simpler, wholesome and self-sufficient life. Becoming more reliant on yourself will bring rewards you never imagined.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Being an urban homesteader does not happen overnight. Take one step at a time. Use the resources you personally have as well as those available within your community. Sustainability has become of huge interest to many people. As land is consumed by buildings, it has become much more expensive. You will need to utilize everything you have. You can even turn city-owned land into community gardens. Talk to people, talk to the city officials and start a grass roots community action committee. Going green is really a hot topic, you will find many people who will be interested in pursuing how they too can become more self-sufficient and self-reliant while going green.