This article is directed at people who have amassed hard-won resources and capital and are considering moving from the suburban model of living to the American countryside.
First, don't listen to the media. While it is true that most (there are plenty of wealthy landowners and businesses) of rural America is a disaster zone of government dependence, addiction, and obesity, disasters create opportunity. There are winners and losers in this environment, just as there is in urban and suburban America. For better or worse, the winners are the people who are able to navigate the socio-economic realities in each environment.
Second, rural America is not very far from urban and suburban America. In the farm states of the middle of the U.S., there is endless opportunity to live a very different life, and still have access to universities, hospitals, culture, food, and entertainment within an hour or two drive. Besides, if you succeed at this you will find that you head into town for such diversion on only the rare occasion.
Third, "farming" is not required. There is precious little money in professional agriculture, especially for novices. Keeping a family milk cow, a couple dozen laying hens, and a few hogs or sheep while growing a big garden is not "farming" by any stretch of the imagination. Human beings have to eat—growing healthy and nutritious food by the sweat of one's brow is simply a sensible activity—but if you are not raising several children I cannot imagine why someone would want to do all of the work involved in running a real homestead. And again, I am talking about real homesteading, not living in a trailer with a half a dozen dogs, a couple of chickens, and a goat while collecting a disability check from the government, and certainly not "homeless-steading."
The family will need an "off-farm" income. This is not to say that you cannot buy a hundred acres next to your homestead and run 40 cow/calf pairs on it, or plant a tobacco patch (we won't grow tobacco), or run a greenhouse business in the spring, but these sorts of sporadic activities will not provide the income that even the most productive homestead families will require, even if they do produce a little cash. The family homestead will need a breadwinner, who also tends to the heavy work around the home, and a homemaker (and children) who tends to the kitchen and barn, the milk cow, the garden, the chickens, et al. This is the socio-economic reality of homesteading.
A functioning/productive homestead will cut your monthly bills down to a manageable number—well, when compared to your suburban life—and does not require both spouses to work full-time—primarily because homesteaders do not need two cars (and two car payments), high property taxes, and overly expensive homes/shelter. And that means that homesteaders can actually afford to have children during the epoch of life in which they were meant to have children—while they are young enough that they might still be alive when the grandchildren come along. I often say, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, that the difference between homesteaders and suburbanites is that a suburbanite will have 10 cars in their lifetime and a homesteader will have 10 children in their lifetime.
And maybe this is all out of your reach (but maybe you can help your children before they become trapped by debt and wage slavery). Better to realize that now rather than endure another crushing defeat by denying that sometimes our reach does exceed our grasp. Or maybe it is time to reconfigure your own personal socio-economic circumstances (and form a family).
Okay. So you have had enough of traffic, neighbors living on top of you, and the local municipality sucking the life out of you and you are going to make a move. You have enough capital to buy sufficient land (a minimum of 40 productive acres), build a house and a barn on it (or buy land that already has a house/barn) and drill a water well, and fence the barnyard, paddocks, and pasture, with a hayfield, a woodlot, and some reasonable garden ground. You had enough capital left after all that to stock your place with wood stoves, kettles, and traction, and all of the implements, equipment, and tools necessary to maintain the property—OR—you have enough youth to finance all of that and pay it off before the age of 40. As I said before, it is youth or money.
(I don't have the time or room to spell out all of the stuff you need or why you need it—and, more importantly, what you don't need and must not waste precious resourced on!!!!! For that, you are going to have to invest a few bucks in my best-selling book, "Prosperous Homesteading." (Click the link!) And if my agenda was to sell this book, I would be blowing sunshine up your skirt about how anybody can do this and "homesteading" is anything you want it to mean. You see any sunshine around here? No, I am an aspiring novelist—I do want to sell my novels. But my very real homestead is a labor of love, as was the book on homesteading, and a gift to my children.)
But no matter what or how—the homestead will still need a breadwinner with a trade or business that has sufficient demand in this environment to provide a good income, and; a homemaker who can handle the day-to-day demands of the home, barn, and garden. That is how a family achieves meaningful self-reliance. Otherwise, you will just end up as another rural government dependent and poverty-stricken "Prol" playing homesteader on youtube/social media.
A homestead is a home. A real home. With a real family. Not a suburban facsimile of a home. In this lifestyle, you are digging in for the long haul, long enough to raise all of your children to adulthood. You are accepting the reality that you will get old (if you are lucky) and die (lucky or not), and you are accepting the personal responsibility of providing a path to the future for the generations to come. This is a vastly different set of values than social-justice-warring and virtue-signaling in the childless save-the-planet mindset of the do-gooders-who-do-no-good.
Lastly, a real homestead has a much better chance of long-term success if it is part of a larger cooperative and interdependent community. The Amish and Old Order Mennonites are an excellent example of this. Your community does not have to eschew electricity, culture, and intellectualism, but there is wisdom to be learned from these groups. And there is wisdom to be learned from those who tried and failed as every collectivist (commune) homesteading group has done. Collectivism does not work and has not worked in productive agriculture at any time in history.
There is nothing virtual or online about the resettlement of the American countryside. This is real.