So we are planning to move our home and business in about 10 months. Because we are self employed, living in a state with small business friendly taxes and policies is important. We are currently considering 4 options (I'm listing the nearest big city but we'd want to live at least somewhat rurally):
1. Reno, NV
2. Spokane, WA or maybe somewhere more central in the state
3. South Dakota (Don't know enough about SD yet to specify an area--open to ideas! They have very favorable small biz system)
4. Texas (Same deal, don't know enough yet. Only have ever visited Austin but I really liked it--probably too spendy though)
Things that are important to us:
1. Ability to live off grid/self-sufficiently
2. Affordable housing and land
3. Friendly to small biz
4. Decent weather. Right now winter's are mild here but last like 9 months. We had 6 weeks of summer this year (didn't start until last week of July). I'm sick of being cold and never seeing the sun. It's also hard to grow food here due to the very short growing season.
4. Low risk of natural disaster. Ideally we'd like to live someplace where there is almost no chance we wouldn't shelter in place.
5. Reasonable homeschooling, no-vax, homebirth, natural medicine laws
6. Natural living resources (midwives, ND's, good food, etc.)
Right now we live in a super crunchy area but one that has weather issues. Also looking to be further from extended family issues.
Any thoughts on these areas? Any specific towns or areas we should look at?
ETA: To add Texas.
Mama to DS (6/07) , DD (6/09) , and DD (07/12) ..
I live in MN, I went to college in SD and know a number of people who still live there. SD does have very business-friendly climate, that's for sure. And real estate does tend to be much cheaper than in other areas of the country. But it's my understanding that incomes also tend to be lower.
Sioux Falls is the biggest city, but it's not a huge city. So you'll have some of the city amenities, but you'll be missing out on things like major league sports teams. There are some nice small cities/large towns on the east side of the state, most of them on I-29. Rapid City is the biggest city on the west side of the state. You've got the Black Hills& Rapid City in the west, huge stretches of sparsly populated prairie in the middle of the state, and then more population on the Eastern border. If you're in Portland now, don't underestimate the importance of distance. I remember being hugely shocked when my college roommate told me her minimum wage summer job was in a town 35 miles away from her home. I asked her why in the world she'd drive that far, and she looked perplexed (as if explaining something completely obvious to an idiot) and said that there weren't any jobs in her town, and that was the next closest option. She lived in the middle of the state, BTW. Towns are much closer together in the east and west.
South Dakota does tend to be a conservative state, and isn't hugely crunchy. But just like anywhere I think you can find a group of like-minded people, even if you're in the minority.
The "decent weather" criteria is one that might make you cross South Dakota off your list. It really depends on what you mean by decent weather, everyone likes something different. Winters will be cold. If you live on the east side of the state, it can be VERY windy. Much of SD is a gigantic prairie, and there isn't much to slow the wind down. There will be a few days each winter when you are snowed in, schools & business will be closed, roads will be impassible until the plow trucks make it around. Despite the cold winters, summers can be hot.
South Dakota does have long winters, but still has a decent growing season. And of course you can extend the growing season with cold frames, etc. In terms of self-sufficiency, hunting and fishing will take you pretty far. There are a lot of people who come to SD only for the good fish and game. In general, land in the east will be better suited to agriculture, but there are exceptions.
I'm an unintentional weasel feeder and I suck at proofreading.
I'd be wary of Texas - it is drought prone and I know several people who lost all of their veggies (suburban gardens) to this year's drought and that was in eastern Texas; western Texas is even more desert. But there is a huge farm culture. I don't know exactly how badly the larger farms were hit, but I know you have to make sure you have a good source of water, and there are places where getting prime water rights is expensive. Depending on which part of the state you're in, you get a decent mix of seasons - hot, dry summers and cold winters with snow. And Texas is part of tornado alley - an average of 153 tornadoes hit a year. It really sounds like I'm hating Texas, and I don't mean it to! I just want to make sure you know. I know most of this from my brother's girlfriend who was born and raised in Texas telling me about her family who are ranchers.
I'm a poetic Pagan married to my Christian rock star, trying to start our family.
I would also hesitate to move to Texas. I grew up in Louisiana/Texas and the whole family still lives in Texas. I'd give it checks for being affordable, having land, and business friendly, but that would not be enough for me to overlook the weather.
Everyone's heard of the droughts down there, but even in a good year Texas is going to be dryer than most places. Keeping a garden alive is real work many years. Water bans are pretty common in towns and having a good water supply in the rural areas is not easy to get. The far east of the sate is usually the most reliable for rainfall.
Besides droughts, it is also seriously hot. Are you willing to trade cold winters for 1-2 months of 100+ days(or a ridiculous 3 months this year for San Angelo and Wichita Falls)?
Like the pp mentioned Texas is part of tornado alley and the gulf side does experience occasional hurricanes. Plus there's always the threat of wildfires. Of course you never know with natural disasters...we had a tornado and hurricane in New England this year, but since you mentioned it the frequency of tornadoes can be really alarming if you're unaware of them.
-Us , Him and her
Have you considered looking around the Springfield, MO area? We recently moved here from Omaha, NE, and the housing and land prices are fairly inexpensive (we bought a really nice 8 year old 1600sqft home on 5 acres for 125,000). My husband owns his own company, and they are really friendly to that around here. We live kind of out in the sticks, though, more down towards the MO/AK border, east of Branson.
Kara - Homeschooling mom to Greyson (13), three lazy cats, two hyper dogs, and 11 crazy chickens. Loving our life on 5 acres in the middle of nowhere. TTC #2 for over 12 years. Soon to be a stand-in mom for foster babies!