The most important step on the path to self-reliance and independence is getting out of the city.
I say that this is the most important step for many reasons. Things are simply cheaper in the country. There aren't so many taxes. Utilities just aren't as expensive, generally speaking anyway.
I don't number this step because, while it is the most important, some folks just won't be able to do it right away, if ever. And there are steps that you can take while still in the city.
Plus, when you live out in the country and it's a five mile trip to get into town, you think twice before going to eat out or to see a movie (especially with gas prices going up like they are).
The second most important step is to get to know your neighbors. This applies in the city too, but especially in the country. Through our neighbors we have learned quite a bit. We found our source for eggs, milk and butter through one of our neighbors. Our neighbors have also helped us out a few times when we forgot something or just needed a hand. And we return the favors too, that's what neighbors are for.