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Criteria for Choosing a Town for a Permastead

 
                                  
Posts: 175
Location: Suwon, South Korea
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I just came across an article that listed the following criteria for choosing an affordable town to settle down in:
1.  Population of from 4,000-80,000 (over that and the cheap housing is usually in a "bad" part of town).
2.  Decent library (shows civic concern by the government).
3.  Good grocery store.
4.  Movie theater (if it can't support one it's supposedly a bad sign).
5.  At least six decent houses for sale under $50,000.
6.  A good "feel" to it.

To me, from this list, numbers 1 and 6 make the most sense.  But my own list would comprise the following:
1.  Within, say, 30 minutes from cheap shopping, nursery, building materials, auto repair (to some this would mean a Walmart and Home Depot).
2.  Culturally compatible and low crime.
3.  7-8 month growing season.
4.  Lenient zoning regs and low taxes.
5.  Free from toxic waste and various kinds of pollution.
6.  In a State/region that's been losing population and at the bottom of the economic cycle but is not a basket case.
7.  Close to town but not actually in the town.

Would like to hear other criteria that may be important.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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I wouldn't trust any large region to be free from toxic waste: I'd verify every plot. Some varieties can be remediated better than others.

My experience has also been that, unless you make waves, the bad part of a large city is much safer than a small town in bad shape. Look up the individual rates of each sort of crime, if you want crime rate to be a meaningful part of the equation. Crime here tends to be against property or among gangs, with other sorts of crime less bad per capita. In my tiny home towns, crime tended to be vehicular manslaughter, people going axe crazy and killing their families (sometimes only the spouse), and various sorts of sexual violence (including within the high school football team). Here one can become an unattractive victim, and there are other victims to choose from. It's also large enough that the police department has an internal affairs division. Last, there are some people living here with real money that they didn't make via the sale of illicit drugs.
 
pollinator
Posts: 240
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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I also thought the crime correlation with population density is a red herring.  In the rural area where I live, the rates of property crime and hard core drug use (heroin, meth) is higher than many cities.  Using some sort of criteria to choose your location makes sense.  I just think the crime logic was off.
 
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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quote from Joel Hollingsworth:

Here one can become an unattractive victim, and there are other victims to choose from.



Would you mind going a little deeper in to this please?
 
pollinator
Posts: 490
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Personally I'd look for a 4-year college within driving distance, whatever that is for you.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1290
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Hmm.  I think our area meets most of those criteria, although our growing season (without season extenders) is shorter than seven or eight months. 

I would have to agree about tiny communities having high crime rates (at least in some instances).  The other thing I don't care for about a tiny community is the gossip that goes on.  It seems like some people don't have anything to do but talk about other people (usually maliciously, I guess that's more exciting!), and in a small community where everyone knows everyone else, that can be uncomfortable. 

I think that Klamath Falls is about an ideal size (we don't actually live in K.Falls, we live about twelve miles out of town in a small bedroom community), with around twenty thousand people, more or less.  There are six grocery stores, a Super Walmart, Home Depot, two feed stores, several nurseries, a number of gun shops, a nice theater (which we can't normally afford to attend -- cheap seats are twenty dollars!), a movie theater, churches for every denomination, two or three private schools, a hospital and quite a few clinics/Dr. offices, and so on.  There are enough people that you don't get the gossip every time you meet someone, but it's a small enough town that you are likely to see someone you know every time you go to town.  It's also a small enough town that the surrounding farms and ranches could probably feed almost the entire population without much help from outside (if our water holds out -- we're in a drought right now, as there wasn't much snow this winter, and the screwy government thinks it's more important to provide water for a few trash fish in the river than to the farms that feed the population!).

Kathleen
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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we fit the bill if you forget about the 7 to 8 mo growing season..i guess if you only counted cold weather crops during some months we can grow some things for 7 to 8 months outdoors..but mostly tenders will only grow here for 90 to 120 days if you are lucky..but we did have some things edible growing here in March and will likely still be harvesting some things in October....so that is 8 months..but those cold months are only limited to cold weatehr loving crops
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Posts: 1290
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Brenda Groth wrote:
we fit the bill if you forget about the 7 to 8 mo growing season..i guess if you only counted cold weather crops during some months we can grow some things for 7 to 8 months outdoors..but mostly tenders will only grow here for 90 to 120 days if you are lucky..but we did have some things edible growing here in March and will likely still be harvesting some things in October....so that is 8 months..but those cold months are only limited to cold weatehr loving crops




Well, with season extenders, we could be said to have a seven or eight month growing season, too, I guess.  We are in USDA zone six. 

Kathleen
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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gary gregory wrote:
quote from Joel Hollingsworth:
Would you mind going a little deeper in to this please?



Sure.

Whoever might commit a crime against you will usually try to estimate their chances of success, what they have to gain, and what they might lose. In a town with a large number of people, it would make sense to commit crimes only when success seems nearly certain, the benefit is great, and any potential downside is at a minimum.

Small towns don't offer much choice of victim. Everyone being involved in each other's business has two important consequences: it's less practical to mislead criminals (you'd have to fool your friends as well), and criminals are more likely to have powerful (relative to the size of the town) connections.

I don't have much money, but I appear to have even less. I also make an effort to seem alert and confident when I'm out and about. If I walk to a cafe with my laptop, I try to choose one far from freeway entrances, and go when the streets are relatively busy. I don't like to be seen with Apple products (which are easy to fence) or large sums of cash. I would buy black earphones if I had an iPod, and any cash above a certain amount never goes into my wallet.

I was robbed once, and I handed over my wallet, backpack, and cell phone. This ended up being a good idea not just because it gave them no reason to harm me, but because of the information it ended up producing. I have one of the least valuable phones possible, so it wasn't much of a loss. The real incentives were probably my friend's iPod and Macintosh, which had been visible to the street from where we had been sitting a short time before.

Some people carry firearms most of the time, but there was a weapon trained on me before I knew it existed, and the robbers consistently operated in a way that would have prevented me from defending myself. Presumably they aren't the only ones who knew how to do so. My opinion is that if more people carried, armed robbery would be more lucrative, because in addition to income, it would yield capital equipment. There's a chance I was robbed with a weapon that was [url-http://articles.sfgate.com/2003-04-11/bay-area/17484653_1_uc-berkeley-campus-berkeley-police-assassination-of-richard-nixon]stolen from Sean Penn[/url].

Lastly: being robbed at gunpoint is very stressful, but it doesn't even make the list of worst five experiences I've been through. City livin' is the life for me. Don't worry about this stuff too much.

Brenda Groth wrote:
we fit the bill if you forget about the 7 to 8 mo growing season.



My location is outside that window, too, on both sides: >8 if you irrigate, <7 if you don't.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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after the news this week where someone lost a finger to a guy stealing his newly purchased Ipad..I guess you are better off buying over the internet so no one is able to see what you purchase and rip you off on your way out the door.

i do see the benefit of living in a small town area..5 miles from here...but there are some benefits of having a larger town closeby (20 and 35 miles in two directions)

the ambulance and fire department are in the small town, but the hospitals are in the two larger as well as the drs and stores

most emergency items needed in case of running out are avail in the nearby town..but for decent prices you are better off traveling to the larger ones.

there is a good school in the closeby town and some recreation as well for those interested in those things..lakes, golf etc..but i don't much care about them..

i also thing goo public lands that are easily accessible are great for foraging,hunting, fishing..whatever.

it used to be we used to know all the peole on our road..not su much any more..our son used to ride his bike into town alone at a very young age...wouldn't probably allow that now.
 
Posts: 122
Location: Sacramento
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Methamphetamine labs are changing the whole equation of rural life.  There are too many labs in the middle of nowhere, and these people have no qualms about killing.  Here on the Pacific coast, they are taking advantage of budget cuts to park and forestry officers by creating pot farms in the middle of national parks.  They use any possible toxic means to get their crop, so we now have parks that could qualify for Superfund status.    Meth sites are even worse.

If you look at a property, get its history!
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 490
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Another thought - were I not so firmly planted where I am - I'd consider permasteading in Detroit. Lots of juicy things looking to get off the ground there.
 
Posts: 418
Location: Eugene, OR
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Adequate rainfall is always a consideration.
 
Daniel Zimmermann
Posts: 122
Location: Sacramento
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Now might be a great time to get into Detroit, price-wise, but I'm not convinced the city is serious in its deconstruction plans.  Also, I'd want sturdy fencing, a good guard dog or two, and a reliable shotgun.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
Posts: 1290
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Antibubba wrote:
Now might be a great time to get into Detroit, price-wise, but I'm not convinced the city is serious in its deconstruction plans.  Also, I'd want sturdy fencing, a good guard dog or two, and a reliable shotgun.



I've looked at the prices of property in Detroit, and considered the possibilities, but have the same reservations that you have.  Besides, aren't property taxes there still quite high?

Kathleen
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