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Hello Permies, and thanks for having me. I'm new to this place and thrilled to be here.

My wife and I have taken an interest over the last year in alternative living/homesteading/permaculture/etc. We're also in a position where getting land is a real possibility.

As I also tend to pay attention to economic issues, I suspect that we're headed for a rough ride over the next decade. Maybe worse than rough. With that being said, if you had the opportunity to choose ANYWHERE rural or semi-rural to live (within the U.S.), where would that be? If you were as self-sustaining as possible, what location would be most favorable? Ideally, we wouldn't be all that far from a mid-sized city; we'd be in a place that tends to foster self-sustaining communities and/or ideas; and it would be a little on the chilly side (right now we're in southeast Texas and can't wait to leave).

Obviously there are issues to consider like heat/cold, water supply, soil type, etc...as a Colorado native I'd love to live there, but water is a real issue. As is cold, but I would think dealing with harsh winters without electricity would beat dealing with harsh summers. I could be dead wrong.

I look forward to hearing from you guys.
 
master pollinator
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I have a homestead going up for sale soon here in Maine (about a month).

It is actually a pretty good deal because only 3.7 acres is up for sale, house and barn, but another 12-100 acres could be leased out (by me). Of those acres, 22 acres are already fenced with gates, roads, etc.

It is fully self-suffecient now, with some of the best soil in the state. It is located about 4 miles from MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmer and Gardner Association's Headquarters), and a about 8 miles from Unity College; a well renowned environmental college. Honestly, this is the Permicultural Capital of the world.

The barn on the 3.7 acres can hold 150 sheep, and the house is 2000 sq feet with 1-1/2 bath, 3 big bedrooms, huge closets and a 24x40 great room. Heat is 100% radiant heat. Most of the lumber came off the land, along with the slate that makes up some of the house.

Community wise, it has the lowest crime rate in the country, and I have never locked my doors in all my life of living here, in fact I cannot give you a key to the house because I do not know where it is.

Taxes are a bit high though, just the 3.7 acres with house and barn is $1900 a year! Other issues include a short growing season, an nearby Amish community, and of course our cold winters.

We are going to be asking $179,900.








 
Shaun Richardson
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Boy, that sounds awesome. It will be out of our range though.
 
steward
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You can narrow it down a lot by figuring out your ideal summer highs and winter lows and also your max and min for those.  That should narrow you down to a much smaller chunk of the country.  

Secondly determine your humidity tolerance.  That could cut the territory in half again.  If you love humidity, North Dakota and Mississippi could both be on your list.  They might have vastly different aggravating bug issues in the summer.

Then decide if you "need" mountains or an ocean nearby.  

After that it's down to cost of living, cities you'd want to live near, price of land and other things like that.

If you don't currently own a house, a great time to buy is just after a crash.  If you do own a house a great time to move to a lower cost of living area is when your area is on the upswing before the more rural area has caught up.  I don't know if my area has recovered yet from the last crash....

If you don't mind a bit of cold, northern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan are nifty.  Here's a 3 bed, 1 bath 1100 sq ft house on 10 acres with a barn, 3 car garage and pole building for $115K.
Realtor.com listing
 
master pollinator
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From my experience, it's important to think about if you plan to live there for the rest of your life, what will you be able to do at, say, age 80.  If you don't live in community (family or others) how will you manage in the most extreme conditions that climate will present?  When you're 80, will you be able to shovel snow or tote firewood in the freezing dead of winter?  Will you be able to sit quietly in the shade with a wet cloth on your head in the roasting dead of summer?  
 
Shaun Richardson
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Mike Jay wrote:You can narrow it down a lot by figuring out your ideal summer highs and winter lows and also your max and min for those.  That should narrow you down to a much smaller chunk of the country.



For this reason a more temperate climate is ideal. Extremes are tough, but we both tend towards cold. And we definitely DON'T love humidity, so places like Mississippi would be out of the question. We prefer colder weather, hills (or mountains, but water is higher on the list of priorities, and the cost of living in Washington is currently prohibitive).

I'll check out Wisconsin and Michigan.

As far as the crash goes, that's precisely why we're trying to hold off as long as possible. From my understanding, the country has recovered relatively well since the 2008 fiasco, but we're headed towards more trouble for a plethora of new (and old) reasons. Better to wait until then.

Tyler Ludens wrote:From my experience, it's important to think about if you plan to live there for the rest of your life, what will you be able to do at, say, age 80.  If you don't live in community (family or others) how will you manage in the most extreme conditions that climate will present?  When you're 80, will you be able to shovel snow or tote firewood in the freezing dead of winter?  Will you be able to sit quietly in the shade with a wet cloth on your head in the roasting dead of summer?  



That's the real kicker, in the long run. You won't be able to shovel snow or deal with the heat at 80, imo. That's why establishing being community-oriented, doing good work in the world, and being a good person are so vital for your "retirement"!
 
Mike Jay Haasl
steward
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I just met a fellow homesteader today who happens to be in his 80's.  He was in between his two coffee groups so he stopped in to talk about seeds.  He won his age class at a snowshoe race on Saturday (high temp was 12F).  He doesn't shovel much, that's what his tractor is for.

I'm sure 80 year old people in Mississippi have similar adaptations.  But being close to health care facilities and building a local community are probably good ideas.
 
gardener
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Hubs and I just bought a place in MO, in October. We'd originally been thinking (dreaming, is more accurate) of CO - preferably near a decent sized lake(without being right on one). I've always been happiest when I've been an easy drive from both mountains & a decent sized body of water. But, since mj has been legalized there, a mass influx of people has caused the cost of living to skyrocket, according to friends who live there. This is a **huge** issue for anyone on a fixed income. Looking at that, combined with a much more realistic view of our personal abilities (and lack thereof), a more in-depth look into both the weather & political climates, the water and mineral rights issues, etc, we shifted gears and directions, entirely.

I don't know if this helps, or makes it more difficult, but you should give serious consideration to anything you feel strongly about. For us, that meant looking very closely at the general, long term political climate; considering lakes we hadn't even previously known about, more specifically defining what characteristics of the 'mountains' were necessary, for contentment; and just how much work we were realistically going to be able to expect of ourselves on a daily basis, as well as in weather extremes. That last also plays heavily into just how livestock-centric we wanted to live. Putting off garden work for a few days, if my fibro attacks me, or his heart is giving us cause for pause is one thing. Delaying livestock care to address those things is a horse of a different color. This decision alone can make a world of difference in land needs, which in turn, can drastically change costs, and even location options - especially if your preferred combination of livestock and crops have their own climate issues.

We jumped at the best time of year, for a buyer - the last quarter. Most people want to move in fairer weather, when the holidays aren't looming, etc. Prices tend to go down, then - and back up, in spring, when everyone is looking for a 'fresh start'. But, we also had been living in a rental, so we wouldn't have to worry about our purchase of one place being contingent on selling the other.
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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Yep, my dad at 86 was the oldest person to complete the Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim, but that doesn't mean I will be as fit if I make it to that age -I didn't inherit his good genes!  
 
gardener
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From a preparedness perspective, to some extent it would make sense to buy the land before real estate prices crash, depending on when that will be, so that you can get your system set up and your trees (very important) planted and established sooner than later. Waiting until a recession might be poor timing. Around here wood chips, wood for hugelkultur, firewood, compost, etc all become scarce when times get hard. Things get unpredictable and unstable, which makes building the base of your homestead very difficult.

 
Shaun Richardson
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Carla Burke wrote:Hubs and I just bought a place in MO, in October. We'd originally been thinking (dreaming, is more accurate) of CO



I grew up in Aurora, and I love Colorado. But you're right about the cost of real estate - it's insane. You'll see in the post above, someone is selling a 3 bedroom house (with acreage) for $179,000. You could hardly get a one bedroom townhome in Aurora for that price.

Looking at multiple factors is a must. As much as I love mountains, I don't love them to the point of giving up everything else. And the political climate will DEFINITELY make a difference - I love freedominthe50states.org, which describes the general orientation of each state. If it weren't for the heavier restrictions in the east, we'd be near the east cost, most likely. Upstate New York looks beautiful.

James Landreth wrote:From a preparedness perspective, to some extent it would make sense to buy the land before real estate prices crash, depending on when that will be, so that you can get your system set up and your trees (very important) planted and established sooner than later. Waiting until a recession might be poor timing. Around here wood chips, wood for hugelkultur, firewood, compost, etc all become scarce when times get hard. Things get unpredictable and unstable, which makes building the base of your homestead very difficult.



Being so fixated on land prices, I hadn't thought about this. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

 
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Check with the locals around where you are buying, and look into if your people will be welcome in the future demographics of the area. There will be lots of 'no go' zones in the future.
 
pioneer
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I would find out where Joseph lives, and go there.  His community sounds awesome.
 
pollinator
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East tn has some nice attributes. Typically plenty of rain. Lots of small holding farms. Lax building codes in rural areas. Ability to get to town if needed: chattanooga, knoxville, etc.

Monroe county is where we landed and if you shop foreclosures or Craigslist, you can get good deals. Soil is clay/loam/mix so building ponds isnt hard. Lots of land comes with mature trees that if you proceed carefully can serve as pillars in a food forest: acorn, but, berry, fruit, etc.

There is a good book by Joel skousen called strategic relocation that you might find useful.
 
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The World economy has proven to be cyclic, so it’s only a matter of time before there’s another downturn and times get hard again – the only uncertainty is the severity and length – recession versus depression, notwithstanding man-made or natural disasters.

Personal crises like health usually occur without warning and, frankly, getting to 80 years of age and being able-bodied is the exception not the rule.

That’s why I don’t understand, given a choice, why people would opt for a long term permaculture scenario – a place to live until expiring – in a climate that is below Temperate/Mediterranean ones.

That is, the ability to grow food and resources 365 days a year and not need to hibernate for months at a time, with the mad rush to tin, jar or dry everything before the cold hits and outside food production slows or ceases.

Also, living in cold climates usually means using more resources than their warm weather counterparts to survive e.g. produce more greenhouse gasses, use of materials for construction (greenhouses, serious insulation, etc). And importantly, the necessity to do heavy maintenance works to keep things moving - preseason preps, moving snow, then the thaw issues.

Acclimatisation usually takes a few years whether moving from a cold climate, a warm or hot one.

So, if given the choice for a climate to maximise productivity and enjoy into dotage, I’d choose Temperate or above.

 
Shaun Richardson
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J Davis wrote:
There is a good book by Joel skousen called strategic relocation that you might find useful.



Thank you, I will check this book out. East TN was actually already on the list, too...from what I've read, it has a pretty temperate climate. Comparatively speaking, anyways.

F Agricola wrote:

The World economy has proven to be cyclic, so it’s only a matter of time before there’s another downturn and times get hard again.



Not only is the world economy cyclic, but so are world powers. At least, when they follow similar trends. Political gridlock, as well as concentration of wealth and power, are recipes for disaster. Not saying humans will repeat their past mistakes; just saying they probably will. When you rely on the number of centralized resources that we do, it's very easy to get a disastrous chain reaction. Paired with a currency that is manipulated and controlled, the chain reaction is worse.

This is one reason we are actually looking at more rural areas, but unlike some people who just want to unplug, we still want to interact with the marketplace as necessary.

That reliance on centralized resources IS what makes me hesitate when considering an extremely cold climate. However, I don't know if you've been to southeast Texas, but it is unbearably hot and humid in the summer. Having grown up in the cold, it does seem easier to heat a home than to escape this heat, no matter how economical your house is designed.

Temperate is best when not relying on central air/heat.
 
steward
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Trace Oswald wrote:I would find out where Joseph lives, and go there.  His community sounds awesome.



Some of what makes my community awesome, was built by the ancestors. Much of what makes my community awesome is derived from the choices that we make every day.
 
Trace Oswald
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:I would find out where Joseph lives, and go there.  His community sounds awesome.



Some of what makes my community awesome, was built by the ancestors. Much of what makes my community awesome is derived from the choices that we make every day.



I'm positive that is true. A community of people that makes the right choices,  willingly, to help one another sounds like a pretty wonderful place to live.  The OP seems to be looking for geographic recommendations. 5 plus decades into life, I find geography matters less and less to me,  and people more.
 
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I'm in agreement with J. Davis. I like Eastern Tennessee. I own undeveloped land, all forested, just north of Chattanooga, which is an easy 20 to 25 minute drive to downtown Chattanooga. I am well familiar with this area, having grown up in Alabama, and having spent significant time in the Chattanooga area. The problem for me is just getting down there permanently, so I can begin development.

As far as TN goes, the climate is to my liking, and there are no state income taxes. However, the sales tax is higher than where I now live. But, I've found that not paying the state income taxes I am now paying significantly compensates for possible other higher taxes in TN. If I could keep my same job, it would be like getting a significant raise to move to TN. My land tax on the undeveloped land of about 13 acres (two parcels) is currently around $400 per year.

From my perspective, anywhere east of Nashville is worth considering. Obviously, the closer you get to large metropolitan areas, land prices go up significantly, such as Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, etc. I don't know much about western TN, but I've never had the warm fuzzes for that area.

Before moving to a new area, I would recommend spending at least some extended time there, getting to know the area, and meeting people (if possible). At a minimum, you could possibly spend your vacation time there. Before purchasing my land, I met some of the "country" neighbors in the area. Even now, when I travel down there, I just go up and knock on doors, and chit chat with them. I found that if your neighbors like you, they tend to keep an eye on your property while you're not there. They can also be a treasure trove of information on the area. This also helps establish some tentative relationships before you move there.
 
Shaun Richardson
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I've spent some time going through a book called "Strategic Relocation" (which one poster recommended above). While I'm not overly paranoid about a nuclear holocaust, there are other reasons the author points to places like Colorado/Utah/Idaho for preferred living. The combination of politics, climate, taxes, etc. make Utah and Idaho both ideal for us. Land is more affordable there than in Colorado. It was encouraging to check out Joseph's site and see how he pays homage to his ancestors.

East Tennessee is the runner up - the climate seems to be more temperate than the south. Winter actually exists there. It doesn't exist in Houston.

I've seen a number of posts mention the importance of people, which is also something I'm coming to realize. My wife and I have both been loners for a long time. In part that's because we never had the right people to hang around. As an industrial construction worker, I am simply not surrounded by people who share my interests. My occupation is another reason we want to change things - I don't want to contribute to the industry any more than I have to in order to pay down debt and get out!

I'm so used to thinking only about us, not realizing that hey, there actually are other people out there, and we will be able to help each other. That's part of why I sought out this forum and joined. Without a strong network, humans can't sustain themselves. In the internet age it's easier, but it's still taxing being alone.

It'll be weird going from a 6 year self-imposed exile to actually working with other people again!

My wife and I will be documenting our journey from industry to more sustainable living, though it will be a long-term project for sure.
 
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I read if you want to protect your self if shi_ hits the fan you need to be 150 miles or more from any city of population 100,000 or more.

there are two places in the usa where that happens

and suprise you where they are

i was thinking out west , mid west, rocky mountains

nope  a county in west virginia and northern main
 
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