Homesteading in Colorado is a dream for many city folks. Colorado was the first state to legalize marijuana, which can impact leniency on other laws such as gun laws and cottage food laws, all of which are important to the homesteader.
So what does Colorado offer regarding homesteading that other states don’t have?
Is Colorado a good state for homesteading? Colorado offers many opportunities for the homesteader. The land is relatively cheap, the gun laws and cottage food laws are quite friendly, and livestock can graze easily on the plentiful land. Exemption laws make homesteading in Colorado a lucrative opportunity as well.
So, where and how to begin your homesteading dream in Colorado? This comprehensive guide covers the important factors to keep in mind and provides details about the different laws that are relevant to every homesteader in the state of Colorado.
Homesteading in Colorado
Not only is the land in Colorado budget friendly, but it’s also plentiful. Raising livestock might be a little challenging, but the livestock will have no problem grazing and fattening up off the land.
Still, there’s more to homesteading in Colorado than just buying land and raising livestock. The state laws can make or break your homesteading plans, and that’s what we’ll cover next.
Colorado Homestead Laws
The homestead laws in Colorado allow homeowners to designate a portion of their property or holdings as a homestead. That automatically exempts the designated land from bankruptcy laws, which protects the homeowner against homelessness.
In this respect, Colorado is no different from other states that allow homesteading. The only difference is in the amount of the property allowed to be exempt. This will be covered in more detail below.
Colorado Livestock Laws
The Colorado livestock laws are as unrestrictive as can be expected. You don’t have to install fences to keep your livestock in. That’s the responsibility of your neighbors.
If they don’t want your livestock to wander off onto their property, they will have to fence their land to keep the livestock out.
This arrangement has the advantage of giving your cattle plenty of land to roam whether you own said land or not. The tricky part would be locating any wayward or lost livestock that might have wandered off away from the herd.
Colorado Zoning Laws
The Colorado zoning laws are also quite permissible. These laws dictate what can and cannot be built on each parcel of land. However, there are many gray areas and loopholes within the zoning laws of the state that let you get around.
Colorado Cottage Food Laws
Cottage food laws are not applicable in Colorado the way they’re enforced in other states, so you won’t have to apply for a license to sell food from home, and you won’t have a health inspector come check your home every now and then.
The only requirement under Colorado laws to start selling food from your homestead is to pass a food safety course.
That said, there’s a limit to how much you can sell of each product. The net worth of every sold product shouldn’t exceed $5,000 annually.
Colorado Homestead Exemption
The Colorado homestead exemption law is quite generous. It allows the homeowner to designate about $75,000 in value of their property as a homestead exempt from bankruptcy.
Since the land is cheap in Colorado, this can amount to a considerable part of the property. It gets better. If you, your spouse, or a dependent is disabled or above 60 years of age, that exempted amount goes up to $105,000.
Colorado Gun Laws
Politics aside, the gun laws in Colorado are a 2nd Amendment advocate’s dream. You’re allowed to own a gun and keep it in your house, your place of business, or in your vehicle.
Furthermore, you can carry a firearm in the car if you’re using it for your own personal protection or to protect someone else in the vehicle with you.
The only caveat here is that you can’t have a loaded firearm other than a pistol or a revolver in the vehicle. If you carry any firearm other than those two, it has to be unloaded.
Available Land in Colorado
Colorado has about 31.6 million acres of farmland. Not all of this land is available, however, as there are already 38,900 farms up and running. Still, you can either buy land and start a homestead or find an existing farm for sale.
Colorado Land Prices
The price of the acre in Colorado varies depending on whether the land is for pasture or for growing crops.
An acre of land for pasture averages $845 compared to $2,160 for an acre of fertile land to grow crops. On average, the land prices in Colorado are almost half of the national land prices.
In 2019, the average acre of land in Colorado sold for $1,570 while the national price for an acre that year was $3,160.
Colorado has a dry climate since it’s landlocked and has no access to large bodies of water.
The difference between high and low temperatures throughout the day is large, and the same applies to the differences in temperatures between summer and winter. The state averages about 17 inches of rainfall a year.
The first frost is around the first week of October, and the last frost can be as late as mid-May. The average annual temperature is 43.5℉. The state falls inside the Growing Zones 4 to 6.
Colorado Growing Season
The average growing season in Colorado is 157 days. You can get a head start and plant your cold crops in early April unless the last frost comes late in your area. Start plants indoors to get even more of a head start.
Number of Homesteaders in Colorado
According to the latest statistics, there are 107,618 homesteaders in Colorado. That number increases by the day as the state is a popular magnet for novice homesteaders thanks to the state’s accommodating laws.
Is Colorado Good for Off-Grid Living?
Off-grid living is one of the perks of homesteading, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking to live off-grid in Colorado, then San Luis Valley in Costilla County is an ideal spot.
The zoning laws are quite lax, the land is cheap, and there is already a thriving community of off-grid dwellers in the area.
Can You Homeschool in Colorado?
It’s easy to homeschool your children in Colorado. All you need is to provide written notification to the authorities 14 days before the start of the school year. After that, it’s up to you what you choose to teach your kids.
How To Find Land for Homesteading in Colorado
You can find land in Colorado for homesteading on property websites such as landwatch.com and landsearch.com among others. You can also find farms and homesteads for sale on these websites which you can snap for a good price.
Tips for Homesteading in Colorado
- Set a budget before you start your hunt for land for homesteading.
- Plan every step of the way and set a timeframe and budget to achieve each step.
- Insure your homestead at the first opportunity.
- Decide on the fences, cages, and structures you’ll need for the different livestock you’ll raise.
- Start your homestead with just a few crops and add more species as you gain experience and settle down.
- Set milestones for the short term and goals for the long term.
- Understand the various state laws that are related to homesteading and take advantage of any perks offered by the state.
- Educate yourself as much as possible before beginning. There are many fantastic books to help.
List of Helpful Resources
- Uproot Colorado
- Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation
- Colorado State University Extension
- Colorado Agriculture Council
- Colorado Young Farmers Education Association
- Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association
- Colorado Farm and Food Alliance
- Colorado Farm Bureau
- Guidestone Colorado
What Can You Hunt in Colorado?
If you love to hunt, then Colorado has a lot to offer you. You’ll find small game including partridge, pigeons, quail, starlings, grouse, turkey, and pheasants.
If you go after the big game, then elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, bear, and pronghorn sheep will keep you busy and provide an extra source of meat as well.
Is There Free Land in Colorado?
It might be hard to believe that there’s anything, let alone land, for free in Colorado, but the town of Flagler has plenty of land to offer for free. It’s a small town with just one diner, but free land is free land.
If you want to start a homestead and become self-sufficient on a small budget, free land can go a long way toward making that dream a reality.
Colorado offers the beginning homesteader a wonderful opportunity to own a parcel of land at an affordable price. The state laws are lax and generous when it comes to zoning, cottage foods, exemptions, and gun ownership.
Even fencing is not required, and your livestock can roam free and graze wherever they like. Colorado also offers plenty of game for the avid hunter and a great opportunity to live off-grid.