red_state_blue_state

So you had a great Easter weekend. The family was all together in one of those rare moments and you all went off to church to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Sure, that new pastor took the opportunity to exhort the congregation to be more welcoming of a recently arrived busload of illegal aliens that’s being sponsored by the church. And yes, much of the sermon she gave seemed to call into question whether Christ really rose from the grave.

But now it’s a new week, and it’s back to work. Unfortunately, you’ve just heard on the radio that I-97 has been shut down by a seven-car pileup, which means your 30-minute commute has now been extended to an hour and a half. No surprise. It seems like it’s an every-other-day occurrence. And yes, just before you left for work, your 7-year-old daughter announced that from now on she wants to be recognized as a boy. It seems that the previous week, her trans-teacher conducted a class exercise where she randomly reassigned each child with one of the current (state-approved) 27 genders. As you run to your car, you think to yourself, “Well, at least her new gender is old-school.”

As your car approaches the stalled onramp to I-97, you also think to yourself – and not for the first time – that it’s time to get out of here.

Last week, we started looking at a process to help you do just that. It begins with the idea that this time you really mean it: That you’ve decided within the next year you’re going to leave your blue-state hell behind for a place of far greater personal liberty and responsibility. And the first step, outlined in last week’s column, was to use three general criteria to make the initial first-cut of states or regions that embody those goals.

The three categories that we used were: Overall crime rate, regional climate and population density. Each of these categories will provide you with useful information for acquiring a new, more self-sufficient lifestyle, but they’re just the first cut. But having made that cut by selecting a few states for further study, it’s time to dig in deeper.

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Here’s an example. After a quick run-through of each state’s crime rate, the kind of regional climate that I like, and the overall population density of each state, I’ve decided to take a closer look at three adjoining states: Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Your personal choice of states or regions may vary. Perhaps those northern climes are a bit too chilly for you. No problem, it’s a big wide country; but because these are my choices, we’re going to use these as examples.

Montana population density

Let’s start with Montana. Just from our initial categories, Montana has a lot going for it. Its overall population density is low, as is its overall crime rate. And as a USDA plant hardiness zone map of Montana shows, much of the western and southern portions of the state are classified as 5a to 6a plant hardiness zones, suitable (with some care) to the production of a good self-dependent garden.

Montana plant hardiness zone

Now, let’s start getting a little more specific with our “hierarchy of needs” list as applied to Montana. One big concern is our homestead’s distance from local population centers. With Montana, this isn’t much of a problem. There are only four cities in the state with populations in excess of 50,000 people, and the largest is Billings with a population of just a touch over 100,000. Each of these cities is surrounded by counties with extremely low population densities. As an example, adjacent Treasure County has a total population of less than 1000 people. If you’re willing to spend an hour driving, you can establish your homestead in a location where your nearest neighbor might be miles away.

Montana county populations

That might still be too close to an urban center for your tastes (it is for mine), but considering the current unemployment rate for Montana as of February 2018 is 4.1 percent (essentially full employment), the prospects of being able find a job are pretty good. So please don’t start spamming the comment section with whines about not being able to afford your new, more independent life in Red State Land. Sure, you may be taking a pay cut from your metroplex job … but if less money and more freedom isn’t a good fit for you, stay where you are and “may your chains rest lightly upon you.”

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Okay, so there’s a lot to be said for Montana, but what about the negatives? Well, if you go to the Freedom in the 50 States webpage put out by the CATO Institute, you can see that Montana is ranked 17th overall, which is better than some, but not as good as Idaho (7th) or Wyoming (13th ). But even those numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, so make sure you actually read each state’s more detailed description, because the site lists some things –such as same-sex marriage and pot legalization – as positives in the personal freedom categories.

Another concern about moving to Montana is it has a fairly high government-employee-to-citizen ratio as seen here.

Wyoming is worse in these categories, while Idaho is far better. These ratios are important, because more civil servants almost always equals to more petty masters.

Finally, let’s take a look at water concerns for Montana. Below is a precipitation map for the state. As you can see, most of the state has sufficient precipitation to support gardening, but you should always check the actual numbers for the specific areas in which you are interested, because microclimes can make a major difference.

Montana precipitation

All of this is good information and can really be helpful in narrowing down the places you’ll be searching for property. But don’t limit yourself to just one state or region. In the above example, we still need to take a closer looks at Wyoming and Idaho.

Next week, we’ll cover how to look at more specific locations within our regions of interest. So start digging into the specifics of each of the states on your short list and write them down, both the good and the bad. And get prepared … to move for freedom.

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