Where to Start Homesteading in Tennessee in 2023

Tennessee is one of the best states for homesteading in the entire country. And even though I live there, this isn’t my bias talking.

Tennesse receives high rainfall, has a long growing season, and has virtually no laws against homesteading or off grid living. This is unlike some of its western counterparts, such as Colorado or Arizona.

But it’s not the same everywhere. For example, I live in the eastern part of the state, in the Appalachian mountains. While we receive a ton of rainfall (I’m talking over 50 inches), the temperature can be more extreme. There weather is unpredictable and yes, it snows more than in the flatlands in the western half of the state.

To keep things easy, this article will walk you through the best places to start homesteading in Tennessee. The best places to homestead in Tennessee are those with a low population density, crime rate, and cheap land with few zoning laws. Some of the best counties for homesteading in Tennessee are Rutherford County, Washington County, Gibson County, Franklin County, Lincoln County, Perry County, Wayne County, and Marion County.

Lucky for you, we’ve written detailed guides on homesteading and off grid living in every state. Find yours here. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about homesteading in Tennessee, here’s our full guide.

Homesteading in Tennessee
There are many lakes that can be found in Tennessee.

How We Picked:

To find the best counties for homesteading in Tennessee, we took a few factors into account. Here’s what we were thinking about:

  • Crime Rate: We tried to find counties with the smallest crime rate. To be fair, Tennessee has a higher crime rate than the national average, but it’s mostly centered around areas such as Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville. Most places ideal for off grid living, have a smaller crime rate (or at least less violent crimes).
  • Low Cost of Living: The cost of living was the second thing we looked at. We wanted somewhere that was relatively cheap. Thankfully, Tennessee has no income tax, and even its sales tax is relatively low at 7%. The average cost of living in the entire state is only $37,499 per year. Compared to other states, especially those out west, this is extremely low.
  • No Zoning Restrictions: When homesteading, the last thing you want is a property that isn’t zoned for farmland or residential. The counties on we’ve chosen have the least restrictions (although it can be a case-by-case basis for some properties). Typically, the most rural counties are the ones with the least restrictions.
  • Cheap Property: Tennessee has been known for its inexpensive land. However, that’s in the process of changing. With a steady flow of people moving in (we’re talking over 83,000 people in 20222 alone), cheap property is becoming hard to find.

Below, you can find a map of all the counties in Tennessee to familiarize yourself with the region. As we mentioned, we’d recommend staying away from the major cities, such as Nashville (Davidson County), Memphis (Shelby County), Knoxville (Knox County), and Chattanooga (Hamilton County).

A map of the counties in Tennessee

Here are the Best Counties for Homesteading in Tennessee

So, you know what we looked for and how we selected the counties. Now it’s time to reveal our options.

As always, we recommend visiting each county, state, and general area before making the move. No matter how good an article is (and we think this one is pretty good), it won’t give you the true experience.

Watuaga Lake in Eastern Tennessee
Watuaga Lake in East Tennessee

Gibson County

In the western portion of the state, Gibson County is one of the best counties in the state for homesteading. The climate is suitable for off grid life and there is an excess of rainfall each year (54 inches in 2022).

Furthermore, due to the low population density, the price of property and the cost of living in Gibson County are comparatively modest. Roughly 50k people live in an area of 603 sq mi, which is big.

More specifically, we recommend looking at the western side of this county. Additionally, if you’re a fan of small towns, Gibson is home to the cute town of Milan, Tennessee. I know, confusing name…

Average Rainfall52 inches
Violent Crime Rate26.8
Median Property Cost$69,000

Franklin County

Franklin County is located in the southern portion of the state, has a medium population density, and, for the most part, offers everything you would need for homesteading. Currently, there are approximately 85k people living in an area of 553 square miles. The cost of housing is lower than the statewide average, while the cost of living is just below the statewide average.

We will say, Franklin County is closer to the city, and a more ideal spot for someone who wants to homestead in close relation to city life. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a small farm to sell at the Farmer’s Market.

Additionally, like many places in Tennessee, Franklin county is blowing up. No, not literally. In 2022 alone, it grew by 7.5%. Wow.

Average Rainfall53 inches
Violent Crime Rate11.9
Median Property Cost$152,425

Lincoln County 

Lincoln County is located in the southern section of the state. You will have no trouble finding adequate land for homesteading and living off the grid in this county.

Lincoln County has a low population density, with only about 35k inhabitants living in 570 square miles. The cost of living is lower than the statewide average, and it’s in a relatively rural area.

However, Lincoln County is a bit more expensive than some of the other options. However, if you can find the right spot, we’re sure you won’t be disappointing at homesteading there!

Average Rainfall56 inches
Violent Crime Rate5.1
Median Property Cost$229,000

Perry County

Perry County is located in the western section of the state and is ideal for those looking for dirt-cheap land. Thanks to the low population density, cost of living, the property prices are some of the lowest in the state.

There are currently roughly 8k inhabitants living in 415 sq mi; even though this county is relatively tiny, you will have no trouble finding adequate acreage for homesteading. 

Even though this county is tiny, the crime rate is a bit higher. That’s not to say this area is dangerous, but, like many places in the Southeast, there is an opioid problem.

Average Rainfall43.1
Violent Crime Rate19
Median Property Cost$102,100

Wayne County

Wayne County is located in the southern region of the state and is one of the state’s largest counties. This is one of the best counties for homesteading in Tennessee because of its enormous size and low population density.

Wayne County contains roughly 17k people living in 734 square miles. Seriously, there’s nothing out there but farm land, rolling hills, and, yes, lots of cows. Your best chances for homesteading and off grid life are in the county’s southern corner.

Average Rainfall59 inches
Violent Crime Rate16.5
Median Property Cost$179,900

Marion County 

Marion County is located in the southern section of the state, where the cost of living and land prices are among the lowest. It’s dotted with mountains, rainfall, and a friendly small-town environment. Seriously, everyone knows everybody. Most people that grew up there, have families who have lived in Marion County forever.

However, it’s still a popular place to move to. That’s because the county has a low population density, with approximately 28k people living in a 500-square-mile region.

Average Rainfall56 inches
Violent Crime Rate18.3
Median Property Cost$143,100
Homestead in Tennessee

Final Thoughts on Homesteading in Tennessee

As you can see, there are numerous choices for off grid living and homesteading in Tennessee. You need not be concerned about the higher crime rate than the national average if you stay away from the larger cities. The best thing about this state is that the cost of living is minimal. If you can find a cheap plot of land, you will have no trouble living off the grid or homesteading in this state.

Here’s my Complete Guide on Choosing the Best Land for Off Grid Living.

Where To Start Homesteading in Tennessee (2023)

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