Good Simple Living is a YouTube channel led by the couple Jeremy and Melissa Souza (née Munro), which has amassed over 480,000 subscribers and almost 100 million views. Their initial goal isn’t hard to guess; the couple wanted to show people that a simple, self-sufficient life on a homestead, away from civilization, can be exciting and fulfilling. However, the channel shifted into showcasing their first infrastructure and housing projects in early 2020.
That’s when the Souza family moved to an empty plot in North Idaho, and started building a homestead. However, they wanted to make their home alone and knew that doing so required much money over two years of hard work. That was a problem, as they homeschooled all four of their children, so Melissa and Jeremy decided to cut costs and live in a camping trailer until they’d built a living space inside their pole barn.
They started work on their modern residence after their barn was move-in ready in late 2020. The family completed their primary residence, a concrete log cabin, on 21 December 2022, although the improvements continued. Their older daughter, Nevaeh Souza, who’d had a personal YouTube channel since 14 August 2017, began uploading videos from the homestead in late 2020. Thus, she attracted an audience of over 50,000 subscribers when the house was finished. The parents started their GSL Uncut podcast on 28 June 2023, hosting guests from various backgrounds. Here’s more about the Souza family.
They chose North Idaho
The Souza family initially lived in Washington State, and maintained a small homestead since at least 2016. However, their mortgage and car payments were burdensome, and the couple decided to become debt-free by age 40. They lived frugally for about three years before buying a plot in North Idaho for the current homestead.
They chose Idaho purposefully, as their research showed that it was the best state for off-grid homesteads because of little to no building regulations after Brad Little became the 33rd governor of Idaho in January 2019. Thus, they could skip pulling permits, scheduling inspections, and paying high property taxes. Jeremy and Melissa also liked the weather, scenery, and the low population, allowing them to isolate themselves from the world.
The family has come a long way since; their homestead now has a main house, an addition that seems just as big, two barns, and a shed. They also have a chicken coop, fencing around the property, a big garden, and a cat, a dog, horses and sheep. Jeremy and Melissa provided a breakdown of their initial expenses, and saved costs by being self-sustainable. Their property is now worth over $700,000, and they could have made over $1 million through YouTube and sponsorships, making the Souza family potential millionaires.
The journey started in 2016
Melissa and Jeremy married in 2008 and lived in Battle Ground, Washington State, although Jeremy was born and raised in Hawaii and still considers it home. They uploaded their first video, “Jack & Jessica Rabbit,” on 27 February 2016, about breeding rabbits for meat. The Souzas explained that they preferred rabbits over chickens because they could utilize their fur, as they had a tanning method that used egg yolk and salt. The couple then explained their channel’s mission, recording their activities on their one-acre or 0.4-hectare homestead to help others who want to live sustainably. However, Jeremy and Melissa immediately clarified that they planned to move to the Northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho to start a 20-acre or 8.1-hectare homestead.
The current plot gave them enough space to raise their four children, as they wanted to homeschool them, teach them real-world skills, and help them understand faith, history, music, and anything they showed an interest in. Melissa and Jeremy explained that they are lifelong learners, and that their children will ‘have muddy feet and smell like sunshine and dirt at the end of every day.’ Moreover, they had clear plans to section their property to grow all their produce, compost the waste, save seeds, and jar the excess food.
On 6 June 2019, the couple sat in front of the camera to answer some of the viewers’ questions. Jeremy explained that he worked as a police officer who singlehandedly financially supported a family of six, so they had some debt. However, he and Melissa decided to live frugally for a few years back in 2016, until they’d set aside about $200,000 in savings. Melissa said that couponing, not buying new clothes, and not going out for coffee or to restaurants significantly reduced their expenses. They were close to their goal at the time of filming, so Jeremy planned to quit his job, pay off all their debt, and buy the homestead for cash. That idea was exciting, because they wanted to be debt-free by 40 and initially planned to move after seven years. However, they fell in love with Idaho, and decided to expedite the process.
Creating the homestead
Melissa and Jeremy were ready to relocate to Idaho from Washington State in April 2020. They sold nearly all their possessions, processed all their meat rabbits, and bought a 26-foot or 8-meter-long camper trailer to live in. They expected a bidding war for their home, but one woman fell in love with it, so she kept raising her offer and bought it in one day for upwards of $600,000. Jeremy, a police officer for 14 years by then, quit his job roughly 10 days before the move.
They used that stressful time to talk about their oldest children, daughter Nevaeh and son Kaimani. They said every kid had distinctive responsibilities besides education. for instance, Kaimani, born around or in 2010, feeds cats, chickens, rabbits, and the family dog, and ensures that they eat before he does. He also helps Jeremy collect and stack firewood. After breakfast, Nevaeh was charged with gathering chicken eggs, and had a special apron.
The other daughter, Kirra, born in August 2012, and son, Eli, born around 2015, were still pretty young, so they mostly fed the animals and gathered eggs. Their parents designed the chicken coop and the rabbit hutches so that the children could do it without entering and risking injury or getting stuck.
All four children helped to plant seeds and rake and shovel the garden ground. In contrast, Melissa and Jeremy excluded all children from butchering on the homestead. However, they explained the anatomy, and taught their children to use all parts of the animal out of respect for what they viewed as a necessary sacrifice. The children helped during the skinning and tanning process.
Building the barn
After arriving in North Idaho, the family was eager to begin framing interior walls for the living space in their pole barn. They didn’t dislike living in their camper trailer, but it felt cramped. The family settled on creating a do-it-yourself (DIY) tiny home inside the barn, which they named ‘a small-sized barndominium.’ They built a massive loft, demonstrated installing joists and bracing, ran the electrical wiring, and insulated the walls.
The process wasn’t without issues, including that the inspector concluded that the wiring wasn’t up to code. However, getting the first lambs of the Olde English Southdown Babydoll sheep in March 2020, which they always wanted, softened the impact.
They were almost ready to move in by July, but they delayed it to install laminate floors, shiplap on the walls, add a black accent wall, and install a front door. After laying the carpets and arranging furniture in the kids’ bedrooms, they announced their six-part series about building a shed. Jeremy and Melissa added a wood stove, furnished their primary bedroom, and moved in during September. Their barn build was completed in early December 2020, about eight months after moving to Idaho, and just before the upcoming harsh winter.
Starting the modern cabin
Most viewers expected Jeremy and Melissa to take a breather, but the couple stuck to their plan. They obtained a green tractor from Pape Machinery and revealed the new series, Building Our Home In The Mountains, which would mark 2021. They took a family vacation to do indoor surfing in January, and started the build in early February. Unfortunately, Jeremy bent over to pick up a wood plank, his back muscles spasmed, and he spent hours on the floor, barely moving. They finished the chicken coop by 17 February, started developing their spring garden, and ordered the necessary seeds.
The family sold their trailer in March to recuperate some costs, and began waterproofing the foundation for their primary residence, a cabin built out of wood and concrete. They went through the standard building procedures, only running into issues with inspection, skyrocketing prices of lumber, and the shortage of materials. Three bears also showed up on their driveway, Idaho wildfires blocked their build process, and the whole family had COVID-19 to some degree in August 2021.
However, they had something to look forward to, as the Vice News crew recorded their life story for a report about self-sustainable living. Jeremy’s desire to construct a chandelier out of several deer antlers and hang it in the living room was what marked the rest of the project. Also, their dog, Kenji survived a surgical operation to remove cancer in June 2022.
New YouTube build video up! Siding Our Concrete Log Cabin When the Unbelievable Happened! Link here https://youtu.be/Ur6aoyZLONk
The Souza family announced that they completed the exterior and the interior of their modern cabin log home in late December 2022 and organized festivities to celebrate. One thing that eased their daily problem was putting the toilet into one of their bathrooms. Although they mentioned it briefly, many viewers forgot that the family had used a composting system for over two years. In simple terms, Jeremy had to ‘summon the courage to carry family potty buckets every few days, then take a lonely, long journey to the garden to dump it.’ Jeremy was ecstatic about another thing; he waited until the same period to install a lodge-style heat stove in their living room.
Shortly before they moved in officially, the family went to Hollywood, California, for a vacation, the first airplane flight for all of their four children. Before Christmas, they raised $150,000 for pediatric cancer and donated toys to kids in need and years’ worth of groceries to random strangers. Besides updating their home, the family began building a budget home gym in their pole barn, and added a black backsplash and gray tiles in their shower.
Constructing an addition
The work continued after they started living in the main home. Jeremy took Kaimani to Port Falls to pick out equipment for their home gym; his son got a squat rack with a bench, kettlebells, and free weights. They also scheduled Eli his first flight in a vintage airplane, which had been his dream for years. The family also began constructing an addition to their house in late March 2023. At the same time, Jeremy and Kaimani started running almost daily, and timing the distance to stay in peak shape.
They poured a 1,000 square foot or 93 m2 concrete slab for the addition in late May, then added external walls, stamped and stained the patio, and put on a roof, but were yet to figure out how to tie the two buildings together as of early September 2023. The family took a fishing trip around that time to relax from the heavy workload.
Animals and religion
Good Simple Living had an unnamed yellow-colored cat, a dog named Kenji, and sheep and chickens before September 2021. However, that’s when things changed; Melissa fulfilled her dream of owning and working with horses after two decades. She grew up riding two, Shikos Lexon and Rapparee, and even competed with them in some disciplines, but was forced to sell them before college. Melissa was thus thrilled when they received two horses, Koda and Lexon, from people leading two other YouTube channel owners, one of whom was behind The Tin Barn Farm. Melissa sold Koda because of his forceful behavior in July 2023, but got an old, calm horse, Little Debbie.
Melissa and Jeremy constructed her dream project in August, another barn measuring 64 x 40 feet or 19.5 x 12 meters. That was outside their plan; they originally wanted to buy and assemble a kit barn in the spring of 2024, however, she knew that Little Debbie needed more space and better protection from the elements. She is 18 or 19 in 2023 and has undetermined health issues, meaning that the upcoming winter will endanger her health.
Another common question besides the horses’ names is their religion. While the Souzas never pushed it on their viewers or discussed their faith, they celebrated some Christian holidays. They clarified that they are not Mormon, but have shared a recipe for Amish sweet bread, meaning that they might have connections to the isolated community.
They sold their home
Estimating the family’s current wealth is complex. We know that they wanted to have about $200,000 in savings before purchasing the North Idaho homestead. However, it’s uncertain if that was part of their seven-year plan, which was reduced to about three years.
Jeremy and Melissa did a full breakdown of their finances in 2019 and didn’t mention that amount. Instead, they revealed that the Idaho property cost them $255,000 in mortgage, and that the Washington State home was worth about $600,000. In hindsight, their home sold for slightly more due to the bidding war – Melissa stated that after selling their home and paying their mortgage, they would move to Idaho with about $320,000 in their bank account. They received a quote of $58,000 for the materials for their 680 square foot or 63m2 pole barn, which they paid off with cash. They also paid for the road paving, septic, and the well from savings.
Melissa also shared that their living expenses for taxes, various insurances, communications, and car petrol would be about $1,500 monthly in 2020. They also started paying medical insurance at about $400 per month, and allowed $100 for various unexpected costs. Thankfully, she said that YouTube paid them about $2,000 monthly since September 2019, covering the bare minimum. They possibly burned through their savings, but thanks to inflation and their investments over three years, their 20-acre homestead is worth at least $700,000.
YouTube is their main income source
According to SocialBlade.com, Good Simple Living earns between $440 and $7,100 per month, meaning they could take home about $85,500 in 2023 before taxes. The website suggests that advertisers pay between $0.25 and $4 for CPM, or cost per 1,000 views of an impressionable audience. The family received about 250,000 views on average between 2020 and 2023, with a few outliers at 30,000 and 500,000, and the viewer count went over a million in about six videos.
We assume they continued making about $2,000 monthly throughout 2020, steadily growing to about $3,000 in 2021 and $5,000 in 2022. With those averages, they made $24,000 in 2020, $36,000 in 2021, and $60,000 in 2022, totaling about $205,000. If we used the high-end CPM mentioned above, Good Simple Living made up to $400,000 from nearly 100 million views.
However, viewers should remember that Good Simple Living has promoted various products and services for over three years; finding one video without an affiliate link is challenging. For instance, they received sponsorships from Good Chop, ButcherBox, AG1 by Athletic Greens, and Kamikoto Knives. Companies such as EverLog Systems provided siding for their home, and Pape Machinery sold them their John Deere tractor, presumably at a reduced cost. Those sponsorships doubled or tripled their income, putting it at $400,000 at the low end and about $1.2 million at the high end. The family certainly isn’t struggling for cash; they received an offer to film a reality TV show in March 2022, but turned it down because it didn’t fit their goals.
Other YouTube channels
Good Simple Living released the first episode of their YouTube-only podcast, GSL Uncut, on 1 July 2023, which might have brought them an extra $1,000 to $2,000. Their daughter, Nevaeh, who sings and plays the piano and the guitar, has had a YouTube channel under the handle @NevaehSouza since 2017. However, she only began uploading videos for the public in October 2020, and committed to a regular upload schedule after a few months. She mainly demonstrates the homestead life from her perspective, not that of her parents. Nevaeh now has almost 60,000 subscribers, and over 3.75 million views, meaning she could have earned up to $15,000.