Are you a homesteader or a prepper? Both lifestyles are linked by their focus on self-sufficiency, but there are some key differences when it comes to motivation, food storage, water storage, shelter, skills, off-the-grid living, security, medical needs, and lifestyle. Let’s examine them so that you can see where you fit into the spectrum.
One way to view the differences between homesteaders and preppers is through motivation. What caused you to pursue a more self-sufficient lifestyle?
For many preppers, it is the fear of a cataclysmic event – either caused by man or by nature – that could put them and their families in a life-threatening situation. Preppers plan ahead for the breakdown of traditional services that provide food, water, shelter, electrical power and security. Preppers hope to be self-reliant in the event of a short-term or prolonged emergency situation.
Although homesteaders may store food and supplies in a similar way as many preppers, they are motivated by the desire to live a more traditional, self-sustainable lifestyle. Homesteaders hope to be self-sufficient on an ongoing basis.
2. Food storage
Another way to compare and contrast homesteaders with preppers is with food storage. While both groups store food, they go about it differently.
Someone with a pure prepping mentality focuses on maintaining a certain amount of inventory and on how long that inventory will keep the family healthy. Some preppers have enough food and water stockpiled for 30 days, while others have enough to last for more than a year. Preppers often purchase these food supplies in bulk quantities from online or brick and mortar retailers.
Since homesteaders are seeking sustainability on a long-term basis, they grow or raise much or all of their food. Therefore, they store enough food to keep their families fed from harvest to harvest and to hold them over in the event of a poor or damaged harvest. Most homesteaders prefer to store their own foods rather than pre-packaged or commercially canned goods.
3. Water storage
Most pure preppers store water. They also focus on ways to filter and purify water in the event of a disaster. Some preppers have wells with manual pumps in place and/or water catchment systems.
Homesteaders generally don’t store large supplies of water. Most try to have a well or a spring on their property, and most have a system for collecting rainwater for their gardens and their animals.
Some pure preppers have a shelter located in the country that they can retreat to in times of emergency. Defensibility is considered in the construction and location of these structures. Although some preppers live at these shelters, they usually tend to be more like hunting cabins or weekend retreats rather than homes.
In contrast, homesteaders work the land they live on and do not have emergency retreats.
Both preppers and homesteaders focus on learning survival skills such as hunting and finding food and water in the wilderness.
Pure preppers learn these skills in order to survive during a time of disaster. Homesteaders, however, learn these traditional skills as a way to maintain their self-sufficient lifestyles.
6. Off the Grid living
Both preppers and homesteaders are intrigued with off-the-grid living. Not being dependent on public utilities is an advantage for both groups.
A difference is that preppers feel that being off the grid is important during a critical breakdown of communication that a disaster could bring, while homesteaders enjoy the savings and self-sufficiency that being off the grid brings.
Both preppers and homesteaders may own guns; however, there are differences here, too.
Since preppers are aiming to be ready for a doomsday scenario, they may store large amounts of weapons and ammunition in an effort to protect themselves from looters and other criminals. However, homesteaders generally use their guns for hunting or for protection from unwanted animal intruders.
8. Medical needs
Since preppers are planning ahead for a huge event that could affect hospitals and medical services, they often purchase and store large amounts of first aid and medical supplies. They also learn about natural remedies for emergency situations.
Homesteaders also educate themselves on natural remedies and many grow medicinal herbs. Homesteaders do not stockpile medical supplies beyond what they would need for normal non-life-threatening situations, however.
People who are concerned solely with prepping aim to store enough food and supplies to last during a disaster, but otherwise they may lead “normal” 21st century lifestyles. In fact, you may not be able to distinguish a pure prepper from a non-prepper unless you see their long-term storage pantries.
Homesteaders, on the other hand, are seeking a more natural lifestyle. They may live in a small home on a small piece of land or they may live in a large home on a large piece of land, but they are learning to rely less on others and more on themselves.
Homesteading requires a frugal mindset that is quite different from the norm today. Homesteaders seek to grow their own produce and raise their own livestock. They learn to build and fix things themselves. They earn money for things they cannot make themselves by selling items they raise or make on their homestead.
It has been said that all homesteaders are preppers but that not all preppers are homesteaders. In fact, many homesteaders may start out as preppers, but, as they educate themselves on prepping, they begin to embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle.
The terms prepper and homesteader are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Are you a prepper or a homesteader? Perhaps you are a bit of both.