James Dakin wrote Homesteading for $3,000 in 2006. I downloaded it free. This book starts off OK with the premise that most people think about the homestead as a cute little house on several acres, the animals, garden, and stream and pond. Sure, that's how I think about homesteading although it doesn't quite describe my five acres of paradise, nor my five acres of bug-out property. He then goes on to write that you'd have to pay a lot for that, perhaps $100,000 or more. In my case, in beautiful Great Central Valley of California, much, much, more.
Mr. Dakin writes about all the ways you can live for less than $3,000 per year. Much of his suggestions are absurd in a normal situation. They are good suggestions for when TSHTF. He talks about travel trailers, mobile homes, old cars and buses, tents, then caves...as long as other critters didn't get there first. He suggests buying a piece of land, even without water because you can just haul water each day. You don't need a vehicle or want one because that costs money. A bicycle will do, or a cart and buckets for your water.
His ideal? Buy near a small town...that's what just about everyone will tell you so that's nothing new. Spend under $1,000 for the land (only in the desert can you find that, and even then you won't find that in California) and pull up your travel trailer. Set up a patio barbecue. Don't worry about not being able to garden, just buy a bunch of wheat. Lack of jobs isn't an issue. Sit back and collect welfare and food stamps. Not at all my cup of tea!
He did give a few good suggestions. If you have a south facing window, put a U curtain rod at the top and hang a black plastic curtain. The sun will heat the space and the hot air will rise above the rod and shower your room with warmth. I liked that idea.
A mortgage is not being self sufficient. I am willing to work for 5 or 10 years to pay off a mortgage than to live the primitive ways that Mr. Dakin suggests. I'd rather spend a bit more money on a better piece of property and then work to make my property a paradise (as self sufficient as possible) rather than spend less and work much harder just to survive. Even when I picked out the bug-out place property I made sure there was water on the property, even more water less than 1/3 mile away (hauling buckets of water would get old!), it has firewood, and the ability to grow a garden.
I read blogs of families who live in trailers and mobile homes. They haul water. They use an outhouse. It's a hard life but they love their lives. If I was younger and just starting out I may have been more agreeable to that harder lifestyle. If I have the choice I'd rather try to live less primitive, but still have the knowledge and skills necessary to live without the luxuries, if need be. Even James Dakin doesn't live how he suggests, nor has he tried all the ways he writes about. Still the book does have some ideas if times get really tough. It's worth reading, especially because it was free.