Your own personal Shangri-La: A live-in bug-out

By Pat McLene

Cabin (Pexels copyright-free image)

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been taking a look at finding the perfect place for our own personal Shangri-La: a live-in bug out.

In the first part of the series, I suggested the process should take no more than a year. I began by choosing a region within the U.S. that suited my own proclivities; specifically, the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Please remember this is just an exercise. I’m not suggesting the entire readership of WND should move to the inland Northwest; nor has my description of this process been complete. Simply because I found I liked southwestern Montana doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have found a nice or even nicer place in the states of Idaho or Wyoming. And your regional choices may be completely different than mine. You may have determined that the best places for you would be found in Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine.

The steps I’ve outlined in the last few weeks will only be of value if you have determined that living and remaining where you are is ultimately destructive to the safety and well-being of your family. And make no mistake, making such a move is consequential. After many years of watching a number of people come and go around my homestead, I’d estimate that about 25 percent of them regret their decision. These are the folks that simply cannot leave their city lifestyles behind; as a result, they usually don’t stay too long.

Is prepping the right thing for to do for Christians? Or should we just be trusting in the Lord? Learn about that balance in “Be Thou Prepared” by Carl Gallups – “Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble.”

But assuming that’s not you, let’s take a look at your next step. So far you haven’t even needed to leave your computer desk, and you’re still not at the point where you actually need to make a physical trip to the regions you selected. Last week – again for the purposes of this exercise – I chose to concentrate my home-hunting efforts into Beaverhead and Madison Counties, both located in the southwest corner of Montana. I chose those two counties on the basis of topography, precipitation, plant hardiness, low crime rate, relatively low property costs and population density.

But narrowing things down to just two counties still isn’t sufficient. Beaverhead County alone is larger than the state of Connecticut; so the next thing you need to do before you buy those airline tickets or load up the family sedan is to get more acquainted with the areas you’ve chosen. It will make your life considerably easier when you begin to actually search for property if you already know the lay of the land. It is here that Google Maps and Google Earth will play an important role. Spend a lot of time on these two tools, print off paper copies of maps for making notes, and start memorizing place-names and road designations. Eventually you’re going to have to actually talk to people who already live in your area of interest; and going in with an understanding of the lay of the land will not only make your life easier, but it will also demonstrate the seriousness of your intentions and interest.

Next, start developing connections. A while ago, I wrote a column about how to find employment in the country. In that column I suggested that anyone considering moving to the hinterlands would be wise to have already “clubbed up” by joining a national fraternal organization such as the Elks, Eagles, Kiwanis, or Moose clubs. In rural areas, the local movers and shakers of the community are loyal members.

If you didn’t take that advice then, do it now. Immediately. There are a lot of great fraternal organizations out there, and a quick search in the counties of Madison and Beaverhead will show you that there is Elks Lodge in both of their respective county seats (the Elks are the largest fraternal organization in the United States with over 1500 lodges, so the odds are pretty good, especially in rural settings, that there is a local lodge somewhere near your home-hunting ground).

In a backwoods setting, being a member of a fraternal organization can be of great importance for a number of reasons. First off, it’s extremely likely that many of the local real estate agents are members. Other members will likely be leading local employers, county and city officials, and members of the local police. But even before you’ll need a real estate agent, your fraternal organization membership will be valuable because it allows you access to one the most knowledgeable individuals in your area of interest: the Lodge secretary. And because you are already a member of that fraternal organization, the secretary is duty-bound to assist you, if possible.

A quick phone call to the secretary, introducing yourself by name and Lodge number, and a request for assistance because “you’re planning to move out that way,” can likely get you the skinny on the best (and worse) real estate agents, people with property for sale that will never get an MLS listing, and even potential job prospects. It’s also possible, if you’re both friendly and respectful, to get an offer of a place to stay (temporarily) while you’re in the area looking for a place to live.

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But a word of warning: The four pillars of Elk membership are fidelity, brotherly love, charity and justice. It’s been my experience that small lodges in rural settings take those pillars seriously. If you’re a lodge member of a fraternal organization in a small community, you are far less likely to be taken advantage of. But conversely, if you don’t take your obligations of membership seriously, you can quickly find yourself ostracized; not just by the organization, but by the community as a whole. So be prepared to be an active and helpful member. It’s the quickest path I know of for community acceptance, and that’s a critical factor for a successful move to fly-over country.

Well, that’s it for this week. Next week I’ll provide you with a few more ways to easily get to know your potential new home region without ever leaving your seat. So until then, join a club, get to Googling, and prepare for your next adventure.

Seventy-five percent of you will be happy you did.

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