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“Hipsteading,” or urban homesteading, is a trend that has grown in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. So what is hipsteading exactly? If you’ve noticed an influx of people posting photos of their sourdough starters on Instagram over the last few months or you’ve seen friends raving about their balcony herb gardens on Facebook, then you’ve witnessed hipsteading in action. While urban homesteading is not a new phenomenon, it has exploded over the last few months.

With issues like climate change and environmental toxins dominating the news, people have become increasingly concerned about their negative impact on the environment. The three Rs – reducing, reusing, and recycling – are more important than ever. Families are fleeing the suburbs for rural farmland, raising chickens, and growing their own food.

Hipsteading can also be quite gratifying. Rather than focusing on anxieties and fears about what’s going to happen to the world, we can focus on physical labor. As many businesses shift to working from home, the time that many people used to spend commuting can now be spent on back-to-basics activities like gardening, farming, baking, cooking, canning, and making or upcycling clothes.

As families embrace hipsteading, they reassess their living spaces. Those who were perfectly content living in a condo and driving to work may now see their beautiful condo as claustrophobic. They are actively seeking bigger spaces and greener pastures. As a result, many Bosley Agents have noticed changes in the market. Bosley Agent Steven Fudge, for example, has noticed he now gets different kinds of questions from clients when they are looking to buy a new property: “Can I put in a wood stove?” “Can I install solar power?” “Is there a rain barrel?” “Can I garden and make my own preserves?”

Fudge also remarks that it’s not just about nesting; it’s also about survival. People want to create a safe space during unsafe times and be prepared for other emergencies besides COVID-19, like climate change or social and political unrest. A safe space is one that is also self-sufficient. Sheltering in place is much easier when you have most of what you need at home already.

This shift in real estate requirements comes with a shift in demographics. Bosley Agent Donna D’Amico, who works in Niagara-On-The-Lake, says she sees many 20-year-olds wanting to move from a Toronto condo to a country farm. This change requires a learning curve. Many of these younger clients who grew up in big cities or the suburbs don’t know what a cistern or a septic tank is, and so they are looking to Agents to educate them. D’Amico has even been asked by her clients where they can buy chickens.

Bosley Agent Anita Merlo was informed by friends in the local market area that butchers in the Peterborough area are experiencing a business boom. They are so swamped with the demand that they can’t fill orders for whole cows and pigs until the spring of 2021. “People want to buy land where they can raise chickens and grow things, so there’s a shift in terms of how you live,” says Merlo.

However, this is not an option for everyone, especially in the Toronto area where open space is hard to find and comes at a high premium. Even if you can’t afford to move to the country, you can still be a hipsteader. This is a movement that is all about sustainability and the satisfaction of being able to control your environment.

It’s also a practical response to dealing with shortages in grocery stores or the inability to access retail chains due to closures. Instead of waiting in long lines for fresh tomatoes, many people have opted to grow their tomatoes at home. Growing your own vegetables is a better – and more productive – way of practicing physical distancing than going to a crowded store.

In a world where so much is beyond our control due to the pandemic, hipsteading allows us an opportunity to control our future lifestyle.

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