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best place to live for homesteading/PC?

 
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Not sure if this is the best place to post such a question, and I'm sure there are other threads on this topic so perhaps I could search this.  But I wanted to ask anyway....
My husband and I are going to be looking for a place to create a homestead/food forest/permie paradise, and we'd like to at least know where we want this to be within the next 4 months or so.  Because of my husband's work, we'll most likely always have a small place in FL that he/we can come to here and there as need be, so I'll have something growing here.  We currently live in FL and while I love it, the mountains are home, (and I miss winter!) and I want to create our "main" home somewhere that is closer to mountainous areas, preferably close access to wilderness.

My question is- if you could go anywhere in the US to start a homestead, where would you choose (and why)? I obviously want to take into account soil and climate conditions, a current permaculture community in that area that I could be involved with, etc etc.  
I am leaning towards Colorado as a personal desire, I just love it there so much.  I have lived on the mid-east coast my whole life and I do love that area so I'm not opposed to it, but really we could go anywhere at all.  So I would love some ideas to get us thinking about it!

Thank you
 
master gardener
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Location: southern Illinois.
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Great question, but much of this is personal choice. I can point out positives and negatives with every area. Maybe a reasonable approach for be for the two of you to list maybe 5 must haves followed by 5 absolutely nots. That should help to eliminate some parts of the country.
 
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If I lived in Florida and wanted mountains, I would look at Alabama or even Tennessee.

It doesn't snow much though.

Having to travel between two locations get old in a hurry.
 
Posts: 27
Location: Big Island Hawaii
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NW Montana is amazing, and still somewhat undiscovered unlike Colorado.  Whitefish / Kalispell are have a lot to offer between skiing in the winter and mountain lakes for fishing and hunting.  Not to mention the clean air, pure glacier water, and little traffic / noise pollution.  In Flathead County it is one of the few places in America that has absolutely no zoning.  West Texas also but water is mighty scarce.  Glacier National Park is in the area and the largest uninterrupted intact ecological environment in the continental U.S..  There are 4 National Forests, I think, that are up next to each other spanning from Canada down to Wyoming.  It's starting to get expensive to buy property but nothing like Colorado yet.  Go on vacation there and you'll see how easy it is to fall in love with the area.  Good luck
 
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Here are my must haves:
- Trees, lots of 'em.
- Deep soil. 10 meters deep at least before bedrock features in.
- Not too dry. Has to have at least a moderate amount of rainfall. Paying for water is ridiculous & expensive.
- Room for expansion. If I buy some land (solo or with other people), I want there to be nearby land that is likely to be available for purchase in the next decade or two.
- Abundant natural wildlife. This allows for a lifetime of learning about the native species, & has the added benefit of hunting for meat.

Must nots:
- Flat scrubland. I love the mountains & mountaineering too much to give them up.
 
gardener
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If I could go anywhere, I'd consider the following:

1. Tax burden. High income taxes? High property taxes? Tax breaks for veterans/retirees/disabled?

2a. Homeschooling laws. HSLDA.org has good info on which states are homeschool friendly.

2b. Educational opportunities. Are colleges/trade schools available in a reasonable distance? Does your state offer tuition assistance for veterans/academically gifted/native born students?

3. Climate. Four seasons or mild? Lots of rain or desert? Earthquake/tornado/hurricane/volcano prone?

4. Political leanings. Does the government tend to be hands-off with homesteaders? Do they seem intrusive with issues like livestock/water collection/gardening/etc? Do their regulations seem well-thought and practical? If you're buying raw land, are there restrictions on which kinds of structures you can build? Are mobile homes ok? Are there restrictions on lumber harvesting?

5. Decent proximity to extended family if an emergency arrives. If you have aging parents, would you be able to get to them in a timely manner? Do you have grandkids you'd like to visit? If you have difficult family dynamics, would you prefer to be far, far away?

6. Length of growing season. Think about the trade-offs you'll need to consider: short growing season but less parasite pressure, vs. longer, warmer growing season with potentially miserable summers and more pest pressure.

7. Religious/social congregations nearby. Do the "locals" seem like-minded with you? Will you be able to fit yourself into a social circle?

I learned that there is no such thing as "perfect". We have to bloom where we are planted.
 
pollinator
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As has been said, it's very individual.  There's also a strong tendency in human beings to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence!  Sometimes it really is, but often it's not.  Here is what I look for -- some of these criteria I used when we moved from (semi-arid, high desert) Eastern Oregon to south-central Kentucky.  Others are what I'm using as I consider moving farther south in a year or so.

1.  Plenty of water.  That ought to be number one on your list.  Soil can be improved.  Temperatures can be worked around.  But if an area doesn't have adequate water even in a good year, what's going to happen in a bad year.  This was one of the reasons I wanted to move from Eastern Oregon, where our particular location averaged about 17"/year and our well was about 250' deep.  Here we get forty-fifty inches per year, and our well is about 30' deep.  Moving farther south, I think we'll end up with about the same rainfall or maybe a little more, and wells should be close to the same.  Though I do plan to start collecting rain water, too.

2.  Low property taxes.  Kentucky's aren't bad, but I'm looking at Alabama or Mississippi, where, when you turn 65, you can file to have no property taxes at all if I understand correctly (I will verify that before making a final decision).  This is really important to me because my sole source of income is SS now; my mentally handicapped daughter, who lives with me, gets disability.  So we are on a fixed income.  I'll be 65 next year.  And inflation is starting to get really bad.  We need to keep as much of our fixed income as we can for other necessities.  This puts Alabama and Mississippi at the top of our list.  (We don't have to worry about income tax as our income is so low, and sales taxes only matter if you are buying things.)

3.  As little winter as possible.  This is not only for being able to grow more stuff, but also for survival.  The electric grid is going to get more and more unreliable in the future, and I think that goes equally for other forms of heating fuel.  We need to be able to heat with wood, but using only a very small amount of twigs and sticks because my back is getting worse every year.  So I'm looking as far south as we can get -- we can survive without AC if we must (we don't have it here -- fans keep us pretty comfortable even on the hottest days), but we couldn't survive a northern winter without heat.  Keep in mind that I grew up in Alaska, and prefer northern climates, but right now, for those of us who aren't all that able-bodied anymore, or might become disabled in the near future, I think the south is more viable.

I'd like to be just outside of a small town (one big enough to have a Walmart, but not much bigger than that), but the least expensive land is usually a little farther out.  Also the least regulations if you want to live on your land in a tiny house for a while, or even just camp there for a while.  I'd love to have good soil, but soil can be improved.  I've been watching videos done by a guy named David the Good (I think his last name is really Goodman); he grew up in Florida, and most of his gardening has been done there, with some in Tennessee and some on Grenada, but he's currently in south Alabama with some of the worst soil I've ever seen.  They've only been there since last August or so, and he's already improved the garden soil enough to be getting decent crops.  He's a permaculture guy, too -- look for him on youtube if you want.  

There are a lot of other things that are important -- family nearby if possible, like-minded people, and so on.  But those are my top criteria in choosing a state to look for land in.  I started with Florida, but it's more expensive and I don't think it has the property tax thing for people over 65.

 
Stacie Kim
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Low property taxes.  Kentucky's aren't bad, but I'm looking at Alabama or Mississippi, where, when you turn 65, you can file to have no property taxes at all if I understand correctly (I will verify that before making a final decision).  This is really important to me because my sole source of income is SS now; my mentally handicapped daughter, who lives with me, gets disability.  So we are on a fixed income.  I'll be 65 next year.  And inflation is starting to get really bad.  We need to keep as much of our fixed income as we can for other necessities.  This puts Alabama and Mississippi at the top of our list.  



Alabama does not tax pension or Social Security. Many of our acquaintances, who live on pensions and SS, have purposefully chosen their homesteads in Alabama for that very reason. Add in the MUCH lower property taxes, and it's a very desirable state for setting out roots.

Sales tax in Alabama is 7.5% (I believe...don't quote me. And various counties might have different add-on local taxes.) I just know my animal feed guy in Alabama assesses sales tax at 7.5%, and even so, his prices beat anyone in Georgia.

We chose Georgia for the very generous HOPE scholarship program, which pays tuition in full for students who keep a high GPA in school. However, once our kids are graduated and finished college/trade school, we would definitely consider moving across the river. Our daughter finished a BSN completely on the HOPE scholarship, which was a treasured opportunity.

Hubbie's aging parents live on the West Coast. We are actively trying to convince them to let us move them to Alabama.

I don't want to hijack the thread with a sales pitch for any particular state, I just want to re-assert that figuring taxes is high priority for us.
 
pollinator
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I guess that I think differently. Water can be harvested, unbearable temperatures are something that can't be changed. To my mind, the south is going to become more and more uninhabitable.  I'm more concerned with how codes and rules are enforced rather than if they exist. I don't want to be in an area where anything goes, because I don't want neighbors building a development. It's all well and good when we want to be able to do permie stuff, but others will want to develop properties for money. Regulations or lack thereof go both ways. Typically, work arounds can be found for small scale stuff.

Property taxes here in Oregon are complicated. Blanket statements like they are high aren't useful, the answer is it depends, and there are ways to lower them. No sales tax here. I don't have taxable income, so no idea how that is. But with small business things, most income can just be reinvested in the property for improvements and won't be taxed.

All and all, I think that you can make a lot of areas work, but what are your priorities. Personally, I would never leave the west coast. I don't do humidity.
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