Hey everybody, figured I would see if anyone had any advice or experience in what my wife and I are planning.
Wife and I live in MA in a mobile home in a park with a decent reputation. We own it outright, no mortgage, and are currently fixing it up, as it was abandoned when we purchased it. Last big project left(lump sum money wise anyway) is to build a gable or shed roof over the awful flat roof. Due to our very tight budget, we are thinking we might have to try to get a home improvement loan for the materials for the roof.
The getaway plan:
Fix up the mobile home, sell it in a few years(based on sales of similar trailers in our park we are hoping to walk away with 20-30k after we repay the above mentioned home improvement loan), get an RV or convert a bus, and drive us, our cats, and our stuff down the coast to either NC, SC, or FL. No more New England winters!
The motorhome may or may not give us a place to live once we get down there. If we can't live in it for a little while, it will at least make the move much more comfortable than a U-Haul truck lol.
The arrival plan:
Live in motorhome in park or on private land till we find land/area that we like. If that won't work, then we use what money we have to buy another mobile home and live there(preferably purchase MH on land so we can resell it later to purchase "till we die plan" land.
The 'till we die plan:
Find a few acres with southern exposure to build a natural home, preferably bermed with greenhouse attached. Grow small orchard, large garden, possibly wind turbine or watermill depending on site. A little space for tinkering, woodworking, wife's metalworking and art, etc. Die peacefully in our bed at the same time, use our ashes to plant a tree, you know all that happy horse... stuff.
Our big question right now in our planning is, where should we plan to move to?
Cheap cost of living(looking for early retirement/part time working situation. Getting out of the "rat race" is the whole point here)
More sunlight year round and warmer winters than MA(winters can be so depressing here!)
Cheap, suitable land(that we can build naturally on, won't be buried in permits and red tape,etc)
Land near ocean if possible
Peace and quiet, and a little space between neighbors.
Being vegetarians, we want to grow a lot more of our own food. I don't think we will ever go as far as a homestead, but halfway there sounds quite nice.
Jobs within driving range(she has retail experience, I have security, but both are willing to look in other industries)
Probably looking for more forest, or forest and field type land
So can anyone recommend which of the 3 states(NC, SC, FL)sounds like it would fit our needs? I've been checking out climate maps, city data websites etc. And a lot of it is outdated, and not relevant to the lifestyle we want to live.
All are pretty good options, I have lived in all three. You can be in one hour of the ocean and still get cheap land (especially in SC), and no one cares what you do with your life (which is opposite what people assume). SC tends to be a little flood prone that close to the ocean. Just be ready for some cultural acclimation. I'm a yankee and there is definitely an adjustment period. Of decades. Don't be "culturally imperialist", if you are going to move down, they are just fundamentally different in outlook. One specific thing I noticed is that most people don't really care if they are poor. Maybe it is because that doesn't mean you freeze all winter, maybe its historical, no idea. Lots of savvy handy people you can learn from. Still pretty segregated but mostly by habit, although there are pockets of anger.
They will accept you if you don't treat them as backward, just different.
I found the growing season in north FL really tough, basically two short growing seasons a year. NC is pretty benign. SC can be hard to predict and summers downstate are misery, worse than FL in my opinion. No hydro anywhere near the ocean because low elevation changes. Solar possible in all. I would agree that NC mountains are a little silly right now, Asheville has metastasized! SC upstate is really nice but getting more expensive.
Basically if you want to be within a couple hours of the beach, it's flat. First decision point is ocean versus hills.
Standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants with dirt under their nails
Lakefront is not cheap anywhere for big lakes. Ponds are very doable. I fled MA too...
You may want to road trip in the summer and see what your tolerance is. Upland SC and NC are nicer but more expensive. Still if I could pick I would consider extreme NW SC or NE Georgia. Probably 5k/acre and possibly hydro. Beach is not close. Will be expensive soon. 30 min to myrtle Beach us still cheap but smoking hot in summer. Pick your upside and pick your downside.
Standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants with dirt under their nails
We found 4 acres and a house built in the 1930s for 50k in east TN with southern exposure. We have spring water, and wood heat. And ponds all over the area (built for fish and other livestock).
It was an excellent find because the soil, trees and land was more important than the old hardly updated house. We are right outside of copperhill, tn. Also we are backed up to 200 acres of forest behind our property, they are split into lots, they aren't for sale publicly, but we are inquiring about purchasing a few lots against ours, and they are relatively cheap considering the location we are in brings a lot of diversity and tourism (ocoee river).
Location, and land quality was very important for us!
We moved from north Florida panhandle swamp area to TN because the climate was superior for the types of food and trees we wanted to be able to grow.
The coast (where sea level rise is quickly becoming a problem) is quite expensive. However, if you move inland, say an hour or two drive, the prices come down and you get some of the lowest costs of living in the US.
What are also changing are the climate zones. The Fall Line in Georgia and South Carolina used to be 8a; in another decade it's going to be more like 9b. This is going to be a boon to vegetable growers, because in 8a you have to shut down from November to March, while in 9b there is something to grow all year round.
Don't invest too much time learning about wind turbines. The southeast coastal plain is the worst place in the country for siting a wind turbine. Even when you get above the 50-60' trees, there isn't much wind, and the topography is no help at all. Solar has a lot of potential though.
The other thing you said that made me raise an eyebrow was "sell it in a few years" -- there's no time like the present to make your dreams come true. Once you decide to do something, go ahead and do it, and then let things work themselves out. If that means renting out your place there to be able to afford to rent a place here, so be it. I've made many moves before settling down here, and with each one, I had leftover business, that if I had waited for it, I wouldn't have been able to move. Of course, the best way to move is to have a job lined up waiting for you, so maybe instead of checking out the maps and city data, you check out the job listings first. Once you find a job that pays the bills, you can look for that nice plot of land close-by.
So maybe your big question right now in your planning should be "who's hiring?"
Those are really good points John and thank you for so much info! The couple years is because we have to replace the roof and reinsulate and finish the interior walls and floors. There's another that needs to be done before we can sell or rent our mobile home. I am however going to focus more on job placement and look further inland. There seems to be slot more owner finance land in NC as opposed to the other states, which would give us more options.
I recently relocated from Chicago to the triad-region (Greensboro/Winston Salem) with my partner & our tiny house on wheels. We have been very happy here. We are about 3 hours from the ocean, and 3 hours from the mountains (Asheville). While we aren't on the coast, the drive is short enough to go to the ocean over the weekend. We have just started our search for land & have seen 2 acres for around $20-30k.
Here in Central NC it is nice , The bad snows mostly stay to the west in the mountains and foothills. The coast gets a lot of flooding because of storms and hurricanes that come in along the coast. 3.5 hours either way ( east or west ) I can be in the mountains or on the coast without dealing with the weather it brings. Land is cheaper if you find some that is " in the middle of no where " , 20-30 minute ride North ,East or West to get to a bigger town. There are several lakes in the area so there is year round fishing along with hunting, Might be something to think about.
Thank you Randy that is exactly what we are looking for! The wife and I have honed in on central NC thanks to everyone's wonderful input! Now we just fix up this mobile home enough to sell it, buy a used RV, and drive ourselves and our stuff down. The company I work for has multiple branches in NC, so I should be able to transfer rather than finding a whole new job, and she has family in the area to help us get settled!
After my search Central NC near the Triangle is my top choice to relocate as well! Im from Minneapolis and am drawn to this for the balance between proximity to mountains and oceans, warmer climate, and decent water access, with reasonably affordable land. Im looking forward to seeing where you end up down there hope to run into you! If you're curious to check out what the permaculture scene is like down there I found a few resources already that could be useful for you. Im looking to visit for a short course and check out the place before I decide where to relocate this season:
Armel that's fantastic! I'm going to be checking out those links today for sure! Thank you so much! We are expecting to be moving in about 2 years, so I will probably be contacting you asking for advice on the area as a fellow permie 😁. Please keep me in the loop, I would love to hear how the move goes!
Just curious: Why do you list NC, SC, and FL as choices but not GA? GA has a beautiful coast and also has the advantage of being set "inland" as far as the East Coastline goes. Because of this, it has a very long continental shelf that helps protect the coast from hurricane damage- the hurricane loses power as it heads toward the coast because it is so shallow for miles. Also, due to the state of GA being inward, most of the time hurricanes skip right past anyway and tend to hit NC coast the most.
We were looking for a coastal state, my wife loves the ocean but the water is too cold most of the year for us up here in MA. She also has family and has lived in NC before, which gives us support and experience there.