The Lone Star State of Texas conjures up visions of open spaces ranging from humid coastal regions to desert badlands. The size of Texas means it encompasses a broad range of climates and soil fertility. Considering the expanse of Texas, what are the best places to homestead in Texas?
The best place to homestead in Texas is central Texas. The climate is mild, with less humidity than the east, but not as dry as west Texas. The soil in central Texas is fertile and suitable for growing crops all year round and raising livestock. Tornadoes and hurricanes are less of a risk.
Texas can be a good choice for homesteaders, but certain regions of the state are better than others. You can homestead anywhere in Texas, but the difficulty in certain regions will be greater than in others, mostly due to the climate and soil fertility differences.
What Are The Best Places To Homestead In Texas?
Texas is big and bold in its landscape, its climate, and its people, but what does it have to offer the homesteader looking for a place to put down roots?
Homesteading has gained a recent resurgence in popularity, but it has a long history in the USA. Abraham Lincoln established laws to protect homesteaders and encourage people to leave the cities and move out west to populate the country.
Many of these laws were established to address the growing overpopulation of the large cities and encourage people to venture into the vast, relatively unpopulated regions away from the large cities.
Many pioneering-spirited people began moving west in Texas to the open lands, spurred on by the laws implemented to protect homesteaders. Many of those laws are still in place today, making Texas a good place to homestead with laws to protect your rights.
From a geographical and suitability for homesteading perspective, Texas can be divided into 3 main homesteading regions; east, central, and west Texas. The climate and conditions in each of these regions impact the difficulty of homesteading in these areas of Texas.
You can homestead anywhere in Texas, but you will have different challenges and difficulties in each of the different regions.
Can You Homestead In East Texas?
East Texas has a subtropical climate, and the conditions can be very humid, especially in the coastal regions along the Gulf of Mexico.
This region of Texas experiences warm to hot summers and mild winters, with high humidity being the main problem in this part of the state.
The soil in east Texas is very fertile and rich, known as the black soil region of the state. Farming is extensive throughout Texas, but the eastern region has rich soil, making it easier to grow food crops.
The eastern regions of Texas receive the highest rainfall across the state, prompted by the warm, humid air pushing in from the Gulf coast. Annual rainfall averages at slightly under 50 inches or 1264mm.
Winters are mild, which extends the growing season and allows for crops to be grown throughout the year.
Winter maximum temperatures generally range from 63°F to 73°F or 17°C to 22°C, with the minimum nighttime temperatures dropping to between 43°F and 53°F or 6°C and 11.5°C. The low incidence of frost makes it possible to grow cool weather crops successfully in the winter.
Summer temperatures range from maximums between 80°F and 93°F or 26°C and 35°C, with minimums ranging between 60°F and 75°F or 15.5°C and 23.8°C.
Hurricanes are a frequent threat, especially close to the Gulf Coast, and as a homesteader, making provision for your livestock during these deadly storm conditions can be a challenge. Hurricanes can also wipe out your food crops, setting you back an entire growing season.
Can You Homestead In Central Texas?
Central Texas is considered subtropical, but the humidity typical of the state’s east is lacking. The summer heat is made more tolerably with the lower humidity conditions.
Central Texas is known for its arable land and is the state’s agricultural hub, making it ideal for homesteading.
Rainfall is often a challenge in the central region, particularly as you move closer to west-central Texas. However, there is generally an adequate water supply in the form of rivers on the surface and underground water for wells.
The climate in central Texas is perfect for livestock and growing food crops. The mild winters allow for growing seasonal vegetables all year round, and the proximity to major population centers provides a ready market for your homestead products.
Rainfall in central Texas ranges from 11 inches to 36 inches or 279mm to 914mm annually. Some rainfall experienced may differ from the averages due to local geographical features such as mountains, increasing the annual precipitation.
The region is susceptible to periodic drought, so water security should be a priority on a homestead in central Texas.
The winter temperatures vary between maximums of 61°F and 80°F or 16°C and 26°C and minimums of between 41°F and 59°F or 5°C and 15°C.
Consequently, the best place to homestead in Texas is central Texas, between the triangle formed by the cities of Austin, Fort Worth, and Abilene.
The temperatures increase and the rainfall decreases towards west-central Texas, making the central Texas region around Austin better for homesteading than Abilene in west-central Texas.
Central Texas counties offer some of the best tax benefits for homesteaders than in any other part of the state. This incentive is another attraction for homesteaders in the region.
Can You Homestead In West Texas?
Many people associate the west of Texas with desert conditions, but less than 10% of Texas is desert. However, all of the desert regions of Texas are in the west.
The climate in west Texas is classified as arid or semi-arid, which affects the rainfall, temperatures, and soil quality.
The arid nature of this region makes west Texas the least hospitable part of Texas for homesteaders. It is not impossible to homestead in west Texas; it is simply more challenging due to the harsher climate.
The humidity in the west is considerably lower than that of east Texas, but rainfall is low, and temperatures have greater extremes, including hot, dry summers and cold winters.
West Texas includes the Panhandle, the central section of west Texas, and southwest Texas. The largest city of the Texas Panhandle is Amarillo, while Lubbock is situated in the central region of west Texas, and Odessa and El Paso are in the southwest region of the state.
Cotton is the main crop grown in west Texas, but the success of the plantations is heavily dependent on water irrigation from underground water. The average rainfall is 18 inches or 466mm in the central region of west Texas, with the Panhandle receiving 19 inches or 499mm and southwestern Texas only 8.8 inches or 220mm per year.
Homesteading can be a viable activity in the Panhandle and the central region of west Texas if you manage your water well, but there is not much grazing for livestock on small homesteads. The state’s southwestern region is extremely harsh, making homesteading a constant fight for survival.
Are Tornadoes A Consideration For Homesteaders In Texas?
The infamous tornado alley is located in the northern regions of Texas and the Panhandle. The incidence of tornadoes in this region is higher than in any other location in the USA, with over 130 tornadoes each year.
The climate in the northern region of central and eastern Texas produces super-cell thunderstorms due to the humidity and heat. Tornadoes result from these super-cell thunderstorms and form readily in tornado alley.
Tornadoes can devastate crops and livestock on a homestead and even threaten your own life, unless you are adequately prepared for this dangerous weather. The most frightening aspect of tornadoes is that they are unpredictable compared to hurricanes.
Consequently, even though central Texas is good for homesteading, you may want to consider mid and south-central Texas as optimal homesteading regions in Texas rather than the northern regions.
Tornado alley also stretches across the northern section of East Texas, bringing the added danger of tornadoes to the risk of seasonal hurricanes.
The weather and climate conditions vary across Texas due to the vast amount of land this state covers. As a result, the best homestead zones are in the central regions of Texas, between Austin, Abilene, and Fort Worth.
Other regions are suitable for homesteading, but this region represents the best conditions Texas has to offer for a homesteading lifestyle.