I Loved New York

It is snowy and cold here in Moravia, New York, my hometown. Moravia is in Central New York’s Finger Lakes region. I was born in Maine and moved to N.Y when I was six years old. After nine years in a suburban tract house outside Syracuse, my family moved out here in the countryside. It was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Except for a year of school in Vermont, I’ve always lived here.

I have loved this place. The rolling, fertile farmland, lakes, streams, gullies, hardwood forests, and even the winter snow and cold, all add up to a remarkably beautiful environment, one that is well-suited to living the “good life.”

I have a friend who lives on a very nice 200-acre farm in these parts. He never travels on a vacation away from home. “Why would I want to?” he asks me before saying, “I already live in Paradise.”

Granted, New York is blighted with more than its fair share of cities, but they can be avoided. And there are so many beautiful little rural towns and villages, like Moravia, that it offsets the ugly cities. There is, however, a blight on this state that can not be avoided, and it is on the verge of becoming very serious.

I’m speaking of that blight known as government taxation and over regulation. It’s enough to ruin paradise.

This is on my mind because I got my property tax bill a few days ago. I own 1.5 acres with a plain house of less than 1,500 square foot. I also have a shop that measures 24 x 32. And I’m out in the countryside. My property tax bill is $1,439.61. When school taxes come due, the amount will be roughly the same as property taxes.

A neighbor up the road has 50 acres of woods with a doublewide trailer and a small pole barn. Their property taxes are almost $3,000.

I can afford to pay my taxes, but I know there are people around here who are struggling with their tax burden. I have a close family member who is old, retired, sick, with no savings, and on a fixed monthly income of Social Security. He can not afford to pay his taxes on a run-down old farmhouse and 25 acres of mostly swampland.

This reality makes me angry. Any government system of taxation that drives people from their homes and land is immoral. It is evil. That’s what I think.

It is my understanding that New York State has one of the highest property tax rates in the nation. And now, to add insult to injury, this state is in serious financial trouble. Booming Wall street profits have contributed many hundreds of millions of dollars to state coffers in recent years. Now, with the crash of wall street, and the loss of so much, the state has lost a huge income source. N.Y taxpayers are now left holding the bill for overgrown government.

What now?

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, our governor has proposed 88 new taxes and fees. An 18% “obesity tax” on non-diet soft drinks has garnered national attention. He also wants state employees to forgo a 3% yearly raise that their union recently got them. There are more ideas being proposed. But resistance to cutting the budget is strong. Nobody wants to give up any government money to help alleviate the fast-approaching budget crisis. It is a train wreck in the making.

It is impossible for overgrown government to cut its size to any significant degree. There is too much momentum. Too many special interests. Too much politics as usual.
But, clearly, the size of state government, and the scope of government regulations, must be reduced. There is no other viable option. Unfortunatley, it isn’t going to happen easily, and isn’t going to be pretty. N.Y. residents (especially property owners) are going to pay dearly in the years ahead.

To compound the problem, the population of N.Y. is sure to decline as a result of the increasing tax burden. There will be an even-greater Exodus out of New York. This will make the tax burden even more onerous for those who remain behind.

I have told my wife, The Lovely Marlene, that we need to start thinking more seriously about where we will move to. For now, we are tied to this place because we have two elderly parents who need our help. Then there is the matter of my job. It is a state job. It pays the bills. But I think the state will have to eliminate my job in the years ahead. Really, they should eliminate it. That will make it much easier to leave New York.

Marlene has reservations about leaving. She has some close friends here. She doesn’t like the thought of leaving her friends. But I’m of the mind that it will be an economic necessity for us. I will never have an abundance of money. We must find a place where property taxes are low, where we can live simply, inexpensively, close to the land, and be secure from the burden of immoral property taxation.

Where is that place?

Michael Bunker recently blogged about Why he chose to move to Central Texas. His reasons are very compelling. But I’m not convinced that is the best place for my family to go. I have an aversion to hot, dry places (not to mention big rattlesnakes and hurricanes). I’m more of a forest dweller. And I like the change of seasons.

I’ve been thinking about the Tennessee/Kentucky area. I understand the taxes are low there. Western PA sounds appealing but I imagine their property taxes must be up there. Does anyone actually live in West Virginia? I have a mail order business that ships things all over the country. I almost never send anything to West Virginia (Maybe people in West Virginia are waiting for a really good sale on my Whizbang Books).

It occurred to me that maybe I should return to the land where my roots run deep—Aroostook County Maine. That is where my parents and grandparents and great grandparents lived. Like Central Texas, northern Maine has few people and is far from big cities. But the land is fertile and beautiful. Just check out Paul Cyr’s Photo Album if you need proof. The land is also reasonably priced. I have no idea what the taxes are.

Then there is the question of how do you move to a strange place, with relatively little money, and find a community of like-minded people? The Amish (who are now moving into Northern Maine) move in groups. They bring community with them.

There are plenty of questions and concerns and unknowns that come with uprooting one’s family and transplanting it to another place. I feel like a North American Abraham being called out of Ur of the Chaldees to a foreign place. The call is a quiet one right now. But I have a feeling it will get louder.

I welcome your insights and suggestions.

58 comments:

vdeal said...

Herrick,

Indeed people do live in West Virginia, myself among them. There is a reason we call it "Almost Heaven". BTW, I have ordered from Whizbang books. WV, as a Mid-Atlantic state has moderate weather throughout the year with four very distinct seasons. The temperate forests here are abundant with wildlife and streams with fish. Rural diversified farms are the rule rather than the exception, except for some large poultry producers. We are for the time being largely unaffected by the current economic crisis and the state is fairing relatively well. Alas, good jobs are not plentiful unless one drives into the more urban areas (which are small by NY standards). If you have any more questions please ask.

Rob said...

Probably a little farther west than you want, but my property taxes are about $50 per year.

I manage something like 20 acres or so.

Its all woodland, and quite pretty with the bonus of 8a gardening zone. Figs grow nice here without having to pot them up. Rosemary and others live through the winter.

You will have to give up a lot of the white fluffy stuff, as we get very little snowfall here, but we get plenty of moisture and your watering is reduced quite drastically.

We have our own problems though, just like any other place. I have lived in Texas on two different occasions, and I have to say it is really quite different down there. San Antonio was my home for four years and was one of my favorite areas. I have to say though the prettiest places I have ever lived in my life have been in Ohio, Maine, then Arkansas running a close third.

Anonymous said...

I believe oklahoma has low property taxes. I have heard that people are actually heading up there from the Great State of Texas becuase there property taxes are too high.

Rob said...

Oh, did I mention a growing season pretty much all the way to November? First frost is usually about mid-way through November quite easily. But beware of the Blackberry winters. They can creep up on you.

Marci said...

We are looking to move, but have found friends that want to move with us. We plan to take our little community to Tennessee. :)

Matt B said...

I live in a small town in middle Tennessee called McMinnville. Actually according to Wikipedia we live in the slowest growing town in Tennessee. Which has its benefits and its downfalls. Personally I like it. I'd be glad to call you neighbor, come on down!!

Ralph said...

I am a desert rat our here in Arizona. I live on 5.5 acres and have double the property tax. AZ has very little private land so we have a big load to carry.

As a desert person, my first thought is always water. So if I was to look for a survival place (which is always on my mind lately) water is at the top of my list. Next would be growing season, followed by available game. None of these makes AZ ideal!

I have some experience in the South. East Texas is good. Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi are ok too. All are ok on taxes as well. But I have friends who have literally made a living off the land in Missouri. If the tails they tell are true, it's the place to be. Grow all your own crops, abundent game, plenty of water, good seasons. And, my friends are able to get enough cash money cutting wood to get by on the stuff that must be purchased. I'D check out Missouri.

Lynn Bartlett said...

ND has a surplus in their coffers, and the current legislature will start fighting soon to figure out how to spend it. Too bad they aren't thinking of giving it back to us. Although compared to the rest of the US we have relatively low taxes, but we are starting to catch up to the rest of the country. All we did to our unfinished house last year was add 2 windows and a permanent door -- and our taxes were raised 69%. ND has been lauded on the Communist Party's website as the most socialistic state in the US.

Marlene may not appreciate ND, but where we live just 2 miles from the Canadian border we have lots of hills, woods, lakes and rivers. We have all 4 seasons, but currently we are a bit heavy into snow and cold!

Matt B said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that taxes are too bad here in TN. Our property taxes anyway. Here in McMinnville the sales tax is 9.75%, but they can't tax what I grow in my garden. And they can't get me on the seeds either if I save my own.

Beau said...

I live in Southwest Missouri - about an hour north of Springfield.

I paid about $725 in real estate taxes plus another $150 or so in personal property taxes (for cars, farm equipment, livestock, etc.). I have a smallish house - about 1800 sq ft, on 13.5 acres if that helps with your comparisons any. Not dirt cheap, but better than New York by the sound of it.

The cost of land is pretty reasonable. $1500 - $2500 per acre depending on how clear the ground is.

The state is very forested where it hasn't been cleared for pasture. Lots of rivers and streams, and rolling hills in the Southern part of the state. Most people grow hay and raise beef. We do very well with our small flock of sheep and dairy goats here (and chickens!).

The Pilgrim Pundit said...

Herrick,
The issue of 'community' is an important one. We have also looked at various places to move for these and other reasons. Some of the priorities that Mr. Bunker lists in his essay on this subject are excellent. For us, the two most important issues are 1. Like-minded church, and 2. General freedom, like homeschooling laws. Of course, the other issues, ie; land zone, building regulations, soil type,etc., fall in this second category for us. Interestingly, Oklahoma is the only state that has a Constitutional guarantee for the right to homeschool. Very important to consider the general tone of the powers that be! You can check various homeschool regulations of the States through H.S.L.D.A. and that gives a great indication. Missouri has no Constitutional provision for homeschooling but, then again they have no requirements at all! We are currently looking into WV because of a friend who has offered a small parcel connected to his land in exchange for our help in establishing his own homestead. The great draw-back is the lack of like-minded Churches in the area. With the lack of jobs being a close second in this case. It is EXTREMELY rural and once planted there, it is without a network of believers. If one had a reliable income, even a cottage variety one, it might be feasible. So far, I can't see any way to pay for those property taxes, (even the small ones), without actually turning a profit off the homestead. Is it possible? Yes. But there is definately little opportunity to work outside the home. Though this is the eventual goal, I am not sure that I am ready for it now. Community is the KEY. Might want to rethink the National Agrarian type organization, or look to groups like Exodus Mandate in South Carolina.There are several such groups around who are the seccessionist type and some are at least nominally Christian based.

Ann from KY said...

Hi Herrick,
I live in Northern KY and we have 4 seasons. I really like having 4 seasons. The good part here on the taxes is mine were 750.00 total for the year on 26 acres, a barn and a ranch style home of 1300 square feet. Jobs are plentiful here, and good ones too as we are 30 miles from Cincinnati, OH. We are close to good hospitals (children's in Cinti is well known) and lots of higher education options.
Homeschool law in KY is good! Good freedom to educate your children as you see fit. You have to notify the county superintendent yearly. I would contact HSLDA.org to see which states are homeschool friendly.
If you head for some of the more rural areas of KY, land can get cheaper. Caution in Eastern KY as drugs are a problem.
In KY, pensions (retirment income up to 40K per person) are not taxed. In TN, there is no state income tax, but a high sales tax.
The like minded belivers issue is huge! We drive 50 minutes to attend a very homeschool supportive church. I would pick an area I was considering and take a vacation there, making sure I went to church there too. Might be a good way to get a feel for an area. You could also subscribe to a local paper. By reading it, you might see what is important to people in the area.
We have nice hunting in KY, and a great deer season!! Bowhunting is still on until Jan. 18th. Overall, I like living in KY. I would like being FARTHER away from a big population center, but for now this is where God has planted us. God Bless, ann from KY

Herrick Kimball said...

vdeal-
I think you may be the only West Virginian to ever buy a Whizbang Book. :-) Can you give me an idea of how much property/school taxes are per year? Are there building codes and cose enforcement officers in the rural areas? How about homeschooling regulations? Any idea how much 40 to 50 acres of mostly wooded but with a little cleared farmland would sell for? Are natives friendly towards outsiders who move in? Does anyone from New York ever move to WV? Thanks for your help.

Rob-
What's a blackberry winter?

Anonymous-
I know nothing about Oklahoma. I think of it as desert and oil wells and big cattle ranches. Is that about right?

Marci,
That sounds good. I'm trying to remember...you live in Ohio, right?

Matt-
Thanks for the invite. It's nice to be welcomed. Can you give me an idea of property taxes on 40 to 50 acres of land with a barn and a simple house? And what does such a thing sell for these days? High sales tax sounds much more fair to me than high property tax. NY sales tax is 8%

Ralph-
Okay that sellles it. Arizona is getting crossed off my list.

Beau-
Thanks. You make Missouri sound good. I have considered Missouri. Do you have school taxes in addition to the property taxes? We have both here. Building codes and code enforcement officers?

Lynn,
I imagine ND is akin to northern Maine in many respects. You have building codes and code enforcement officers, right? Your boys and my boys would have a lot in common.

Pilgrim Pundit-
Good info to consider. Thank you. Missouri & WV are sounding like top contenders.

Annn from KY-
30 miles from Cincinnati is roughly equivalent to my location here being 30 miles from Syracuse. I think I want to be a bit further out. The newspaper idea is a good one. Okay, I'll remember to stay clear of eastern KY.

Thanks everyone for this info. I hope more people will contribute to this discussion. I'm sincerely interested in the feedback I get. No one is lobbying for Northern Maine. Hmmm.

Steven Martin said...

Herrick,
I'm also from WV and have ordered a Whizbang book AND garlic. Waiting for the details on the cider press. You should definitely check out the Potomac Highlands area of WV. We are near Romney, WV. Recent influx of Mennonites. They know value, and they work hard. Numerous "retreat" communities. Big hunting area. Good farm and orchard country with good local farmers markets. (for ex www.romneyfarmersmarket.com) Come on down, we'll show you around. You were not too far away when you were in VA recently. Nice 4 season climate which you'd consider mild compared to NY. Good support from WVU and local proponents of sustainable agriculture. We WV residents like the fact that not too many others really know.
I would quibble with the "ALMOST Heaven" marketing slogan that John Denver hung on WV. Its the real thing. We'd have to interview a New Yorker though. But we'd likely make an exception for you ;-)
Best regards,
Steve M
www.churchviewfarm.info

Anonymous said...

Herrick,

I need to put in a plug for Alabama here. For some reason, it has never been on the favored list of homesteading states. It has the lowest property taxes in the nation (http://www.landreport.com/2008/10/lowest-property-taxes-nationwide-alabama/). It has very reasonable state income taxes and a middle-of-the-road sales tax. The four seasons are there, more pronounced in the north of the state than in the south. There is good, affordable farming land in the north and the south of the state. The citizenry is conservative (sadly too Bush-loving though), well-armed, and has historically resisted efforts to raise property taxes or to alter the state constitution. Homeschooling is well-accepted and protected. Hunting and fishing are excellent. And the jobs picture, at least for the time being, is better than elsewhere. I would particularly recommend looking into North Alabama. Enjoy reading your blog.

TNfarmgirl said...

Herrick and Marlene,
East TN is beautiful and property taxes are low. Last year they were under $1200 for 45 acres, 2 barns, equipment shed, shop, greenhouse and 2 homes (1700 and 2200 sq. ft.) Great growing season, friendly people and of course, you already have friends here!

No building codes in the county.

When we moved here - we knew no one so I empathize - it is a scary thing to contemplate but we are so glad we did!

Still planning on calling - will email soon.

Blessings,
Cheri

Michael Bunker said...

Herrick, great post. First of all let me say that by my post I was not at all campaigning for Central Texas. In fact, I moved here because other people were moving out! But I do want to remove a few myths. First of all let me say that I absolutely believe that everyone ought to consider moving south, for many reasons, not the least of which would be that if things go horribly wrong (which they are likely to do) you may end up on the wrong side of some arbitrary line not of your own making. I certainly support those on here from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, etc. who are homesteading and seriously considering Christian Community. Now, here in Texas we do indeed have 4 seasons, though they surely wouldn't be what you are used to. Most of the Yankee folk have found that, although it is hot here, it is much hotter several states north of here (like Kansas and even up to Iowa). 104 here is not as bad as 94 up north with the humidity. In 2007 we didn't have a single day over 100, and last year we were hot for a little over a month, and even then it was a very dry heat. I spent a good part of my youth in Maryland and Ohio, and it is every bit as hot there in the summer. Fall and Spring here is beautiful, though in Spring we get heavy rains. Our winter here is very mild, but we have days of 80 followed by days of 30. We get 2 to 3 day stretches of temps in the 20's and 30's. Homeschooling is absolute here, and there is not one law or regulation controlling homeschooling. Property taxes are very low, gun ownership is expected, and there are no building codes. There is no State Income Tax, and our Sales Tax is about 8.25%.

Rattlesnakes and other creepy crawlies are just pests. Only 4 people a year die in Texas from rattlesnake bites. Your car is much more dangerous than a rattlesnake.

Semper Tejas!

Michael Bunker

Anonymous said...

Herrick, my name is Monte, I read your blog all the time and you have been an inspiration. I am currently in my 17th year of a twenty-year sentence in the US Navy. Your blog has helped me decide my path for the day I retire.
Due to all of the places I have been stationed, I have first-hand experience with a lot of locations.
If you would be willing to start rough (maybe even off-grid), I would highly recommend SE Oklahoma. It is not the usual OK you would envision. It is forested and hilly, more similar to Arkansas. There are many plots which are recently harvested pine plantations which you can pick up at $1000 per acre. Taxes are very low also, not to mention lots of good God-fearing people.
Also, have you considered northern Wisconsin? It is beautiful, land is cheap, taxes are a bit higher but cheaper than NY. The winters can be harsh though.
I too have considered Maine but I think the winters would be more than I could stand. Anyway, good luck in your search and God bless!!

Todd said...

Hi Herrick,

Western Pennsylvania has quite a bit going for it. We didn't get in on the rampant housing speculation like other areas of the country, so our property taxes aren't all that high. I pay about $900 a year for 3 acres with a 1,600 sf house (built in 1894) and 50' by 28' garage. I also own 4 acres of undeveloped land that costs about $90/ year. That money is split between the school district (about 70%), the county and the township. However, there is also an occupational privilege tax, municipal services tax, 2% state income tax and 1% local income tax. Not to mention the state sales tax.

Regarding new taxes to pay for bloated government during the economic downturn, New York isn't the only state with this problem. Pennsylvania is projected to have a $1.7 billion budget shortfall by the end of the fiscal year in June. Most other states are probably in the same situation, so tax increases are likely most everywhere.

There are some agrarian minded people in this area, and I do know a family that is homeschooling their children, so it can be done. I don't have any children of my own, so I don't know how friendly the state is to homeschooling.

Oh, and I can vouch that we get all four season here!

Todd

Matt B said...

Herrick,

I'm not 100% on that. But I will tell you that TN doesn't have a property tax. Its only the county and city. I own just under one acre and our house is about 2300sq/ft and we pay about $450 to city and about $450 to county. That's one reason why we are wanting to move out to the "country" (the city here is still pretty rural). Just doing some quick research I found a 28.740acre farm in my county going for $149,000. I don't know any specifics on the property so I can't say for sure that it is a good example of property price in our area. What the tax would be on that I can't say for sure. I'll do some digging and see if I can find out how to estimate that.

-Matt

Kim said...

We live in Middle TN. Our property taxes aren't high at all. There are a lot of likeminded people in our area. We recently attended a church where everyone was talking about and devoted to living a Christian agrarian lifestyle. The church itself was not about that but all the people were. I can't imagine honestly living ANYWHERE than TN. I've been all over this country and TN is my state of choice, hands down. Second would be KY LOL!

And TN is the perfect weather state IMO. Not too South so it's not sickenly hot. Not too North like KY that it snows a whole ton. A little flurry now and then. A nice cold winter which I like but not snowed in so I can still split wood and tend animals easily.

Tn is waiting for you. :)

Kim

Veiled Glory said...

Herrick,

Oklahoma does equal large cattle ranches, oil derricks, and a fair amount of desert. Toss in tornadoes, wild variances in temperatures, ice storms, WIND, military bases, and hail...you've got Oklahoma.

I've lived here for almost three years and am planning a move back to the lush Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia this early summer.

~Anna

Anonymous said...

Hello Herrick
I heartily recommend middle TN - Lord willing we'll be moving there in 2009.
Visit http://heritagecenterville.org/

Anonymous said...

In the interest of 'fair disclosure' to incoming Yanks :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZWrCEQcTPc

Kim said...

Quote
"Visit http://heritagecenterville.org/"

This is actually the sister church to the church we visited that I mentioned.

Kim

The Pilgrim Pundit said...

Herrick,
Alot of great info.
A few things that you might want to know; Pennsylvalia is consistently among the top contenders for Totalitarian Rule over homeschoolers, love the Old Amish area and pictures of milk stanchions but, I would never endanger my children willingly. HSLDA has some great info where you can actually see the active cases against homeschoolers in every state..great prayer material for the persecuted church. Also, We have yet to go to WV but, as I previously said, a friend has offered a couple acres so we are planning on going up in june(provided that baby is here already) and taking a look. Again, I can find many people that like rural living there but few churches on the web for the area we would be in(Roane and Calhoun County). As Brother Bunker pointed out, this is job one. Also be sure and check out the soil tilth there. While there are many farms and land is $1000 or less an acre, you have large patches of eroded land and limestone,gilpin/upshin type outcrops. They have done many fine surveys of the land there so you can get a view. Also, keep in mind that you are not going to drill a well in the area that I would be in due to the fact that it is entirely atop the Alleghanny Range. Mucho bucks! And rain catchment is limited to 1and a half months during spring. On the upside, there are NO building regulations or Codes. We are planning on helping our friend by taking up a portable sawmill, cutting down the trees, and presto...home-sweet-home, or maybe, shed-sweet-shed, we shall see! One last thing of importance, depending on where you are, they not only have 4 seasons, but 4 distinct zones ranging from BRRRR, to areas that you may grow sub-tropical plants and trees for the great part of the year. Very odd but worthy to consider for Co-op type production.

Tracy said...

Oh - Oklahoma is not at all like they are making it sound (at least not eastern Oklahoma). I'm in Kansas.

I suggest you do a major road trip (like your recent vacation) only this time use followers of your blog to "host" you in different locations. Obviously there is much west of the Mississippi that you have never seen and experienced. Such a shame. Don't limit your options until you have really experienced all the areas.

Jael said...

Come be our neighbors...the community is lovely here. Check out this great place on the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Board of Realtors site. http://www.cedarvalley-homes.com/
then go to find homes, residence, acreage, Butler County. (it's their new website and all the kinks aren't worked out enough to use the other buttons yet)
MLS #: 159604
MLS Area: Surrounding Area
Region: Outside Area
Type: Acreage
Address: 11154 LODGE AVE
Unit #:
City: Greene
Zip Code: 50636
Price: $135,000
Price Type: Gross
County: Butler
Property Name/Subdivision:
Parcel #: 0212251046
Township:
Gross Tax: 914

Then go to the Butler County website, enter the parcel # and see everything you want to know. Is it heaven? No...it's Iowa. ;-)-Jan

Matt Swanson said...

Herrick, Iowa is the place to be.

Please get in contact with Phil, he is an amazing man of God.
http://www.moorgatefarms.com/

Also, http://www.shilohiowa.com/

Kalona, IA has an amazing amount organic farmers within just a few miles.

Matthew said...

As the Third WV native to respond to your post...I would like to give you my perspective on the area. I live about 3 miles outside of the capital city, Charleston. My grandparents owned the land we live on and left it to my father who also lives on the land with us. Until this last year the taxes on all 48 acres was about $400 (including mineral rights). Then all the sudden they decide we have 2 seams of coal under the property and now we pay a total of close to $2000. So look closely at the area you are moving to...if the mineral rights aren't yours they can come in and take the coal with little rights to the actual land owner.

This being said I am very happy here. I married a Colorado mountain girl and brought her here and she is happy as a lark also. Although we are 3 miles from downtown (exactly 1/8 mile from the city limits), on our property you feel like you are out in the country. The valleys tuck you into seclusion.

The people are all friendly. If you drive through most areas expect to be waved at and feel welcomed. The city is changing this some here but further out it hasnt changed.

There are plenty of churches everywhere. We attend a bible following non denominational church here in town that has helped us grow in our relationship with Christ. In fact just this week my almost 5 year old asked us what he needed to do to be saved. And we are celebrating that he seems to truly understand what God is asking of him.

If there is any info I can get for you or answer any questions also, please let me know.

Matt

poststop said...

ME - I am with you, I keep finding some amazing values in N. ME, but too isolated for my wife and kids I think.

NY - The area Herrick lives in is unbelievably beautiful...between May and Oct, then the Sun disappears for 6 months, completely! I have looked at property a bit to the south but the taxes keep me out.

TN, KY - Drove through about a year ago, very nice. One area that I liked was about half way from Clarksville TN to Franklin KY. Looked like a postcard. I am also familiar with Centerville, don't see a lot land/homes available when I look online.

OK - Drove through SE OK a few months ago. Nice, rolling hills and grassland, cattle country.

MO - Same drive as above, a lot woodier than I would have thought, land looks cheap outside KC, could be a good place.

ND - Was there this summer. About 100 miles W of Fargo. Great farmland, great people. Very cold, fairly flat.

KS - Drove through middle of KS on the way up to ND, very pretty. One area I like to look for land is about 30-45 minutes S of KC. Looks nice, cheap also I think.

TX - I would look in E. TX. Between Greenville and Pittsburg on the way from DAL to Texarkana is nice. South of there is nice also. Not sure if TX and Herrick are a fit.

MS - Drove through Vicksburg couple years ago, the land just to the east was nice from what I could see.

IL - Windy, caorn husks flying across freeway in fall at about 50 MPH.

MT - Very pretty, would consider parts of it.

Speaking as someone who does a lot of looking, I do think I have seen prices start to drop in some areas. I am seeing more under 200K than I have seen in the past. Nice homes and up to 10 acres.

VoiceInTheWilderness said...

While Tennessee does have a high sales tax, it has no income tax, low property taxes, and fewer other taxes. Property values are not as inflated as many other parts of the country. Counties away from metro areas have very relaxed building codes, if any. The Volunteer State is aptly named, as I have found no shortage of God-fearing people who are willing to help out a neighbor. That being said, avoid the cities. They are like any other major American city. Tennessee has a green belt law where property taxes are a fraction of the normal rate for parcels of a certain size and with agrarian use. Tennessee's legislature just became significantly more conservative, as Republicans took over the House for the first time since Reconstruction. I have lived in Texas, but definitely prefer Tennessee. Kentucky taxes are too high, when compared to Tennessee. I live in Middle Tennessee, about 40 miles east of Nashville. There are definitely some places you DON'T want to live in TN. I prefer not to be in a place with a large percentage of migrant workers. I would also avoid several of the areas with hippie communes (Short Mountain, TN) and/or organized crime. I feel better about the direction the state is going in since the last election, which I cannot say about the direction on a national level. The Middle Tennessee area also has a huge amount of caves. We get enough snow to cover the trees, but not enough to impact travel most years. We know some folks who moved their whole church from Arizona to Tennessee. You should come visit. Come to Tennessee, we're playing your song.

Deb said...

I am totally enjoying this thread! I live in suburban Denver, but my heart is in the country. I spent my junior and senior high years in Charleston, West Virginia. So, some thoughts.

Most of the country thinks WV is full of backward hicks. There are plenty of wonderful down-to-earth people there. One of my brothers still lives there, and he's got a wonderful support network that look after him. Good ideas mentioned earlier are to check into mineral rights, into nearby coal mining that would impact your land, and the availability of water. I think it was Michael Bunker's recent post about Central TX that mentioned that water is hard to come by in WV, which you wouldn't suspect, from driving through there.

Living in Colorado, I can tell you that water is a huge factor in choosing a place to live. When things get really bad, you want your own water. Here in Colorado, it is illegal to catch and save water that falls on your land. Much of our water is legally destined for other states.

I agree with others, community is another biggie. Community doesn't have to be large in numbers, but it needs to be committed to helping one another.

God bless you as you follow God's leading. Please keep us all posted.

Michael and Aimee said...

Hi, Herrick,
Thought I'd weigh in here about property. Last fall we purchased a parcel of 26 acres in northern Missouri. The taxes for the year before on the full property (42 acres plus a farm house) were around $400. We were looking at homeschool laws and the ones in MO are pretty good. Iowa is awful for home schoolers, since your home school must meet the approval of the local school board and you must be supervised by a public school teacher. MO has no such restrictions. Check out the HSLDA web site for the rules in every state.

I am from Louisiana, where they have a homestead exemption on the property you actually live on - no taxes. There is in Louisiana a sales tax (pretty high) and an income tax (pretty low). North Louisiana is beautiful, but rather remote in terms of jobs and churches.

Since we have been missionaries overseas for all of our married life, we have gone to places with no Christians and planted churches, Now there are Christians! God has a way of connecting you with other believers. There is a lot to be said about prayer in regard to where to settle. Perhaps the Lord is leading you, like Abraham, to take a step of prayerful faith.
Aimee

Herrick Kimball said...

Wow. This is some amazing response. There is a WEALTH of insight and information here.

I'm disappointed to know that water is such a problem in WV. Never would have thought that. Upstate NY has good water resources going for it.

I'd love to do a major road trip around America but am limited by time and resources in doing so. I may foray into the south a little further for my next vacation.

I must say that I like the idea of an area where "gun ownership is required." I would feel much safer in a place like that. Favorable homeschooling laws are important, even though we are now just about done with homeschooling ourselves. And no building codes are an indicator to me that the govt. is thinking right.

Middle TN and Missouri are sounding pretty good to me right now, based on what I have read here. Northern Alabama? I never would have thought that but I know NY people who go to AL every winter instead of Florida and they love it.

Has anyone said anything about Arkansas? What's that like. And it must be that no one now living in Northern Maine reads this blog. Hmmmm.

Here is a site that has details about shortfalls in all the state budgets: State Budget Troubles Worsen

Thanks again everyone. I hope more people will contribute to this compilation of wisdom and experience.

Alan said...

Since no one has mentioned Indiana let throw that into the mix also. At least Southern Indiana. We definetly have all four seasons, rolling hills, and flat land. If you stay away from the cities land prices are reasonble and taxes while probably not the cheapest have come down with the property tax relief from the state. I only pay about $120 a year on 54 acres of vacant land and around $1300 a year on 36 acres, with barn, shed, garage, and 1800 sf house. The biggest draw back is humidity in the summer. It is only bad a couple of months but you can't escape it in the Ohio Valley. Homeschooling laws are not a problem. That may not be a big issue now but one day you may be blessed with grandchildren.

Alan

fast eddie said...

Good Morning Herrick, Its great to have you back and writing again. I hope your holidays were full of joy. I too live in upstate n.y.,Warrensburg to be exact, and have also felt the squeeze of the tremendous tax burden here.My wife and I are seriously looking at moving out of state when we can retire. As much as I love the beauty of the Adirondacks,it may be time to search elsewhere. I've looked at land prices in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area, and they seem reasonable. I recently purchased your whizbang cart book, and cant wait to save enough to buy the wheels.Keep up your writing, it is an inspiratation. Thanks Ed

Anonymous said...

This has been a wonderful thread. Hope you have the opportunity to post a summary. Sonya

Anonymous said...

Consider Indiana. Land goes for as cheap as $900/acre and averages $3000/acre if you stay away from the cities. There are amish in the area and many small farmers. Indiana has low taxes and leans conservitave. There is even a push to get rid of property taxes. I'll believe it when I see it though.

I like Indiana and proud to call it home.

Joe

vdeal said...

Herrick,

To correct a misrepresentation, water is not hard to come by in most of WV. The Potomac Highlands (the area of WV running down the Appalachian Mt. chain) is the home of many rivers. Water is everywhere. Not sure what the other posters are talking about unless they're in the SW part of the state where coal mining has ruined just about everything. My suggestion would be to stay in the Potomac Highlands or right next to them. This is the most scenic part of the state and you won't have a bit of problem with water. We get abundant rain and depending on the area, very good snowfall. Sometimes August and September can be dry but the water table will carry you through.

As for property taxes, they're pretty low, don't have the numbers right now. As for building codes and enforcement, the rural areas are pretty much do as you please. Septic systems do need to be permitted though. There are many churches though you won't find many on the web. Most people are friendly and outside of the cities almost everyone waves as you pass. I knew some people from NY who were college students here that lived here for a while.

Homeschooling is legal in WV and I know people who have done and are doing it. I don't know much more though.

WV was a Gold-star open carry state for firearms but lost that status because of regs in two cities that are being worked on. Gun ownership is very high and hunting and fishing are almost expected if you live in the country. You can usually tell the immigrants to WV because they don't hunt.

I've lived in WV all my life so this info comes from experience. Please ask more.

vdeal said...

Herrick,

You may want to check out James Wesley Rawles' SurvivalBlog website. There's a lot of good stuff there and he evaluates states (western only) on retreat potential. While you may not want to go west there are several links that give info on all states and he will get you thinking along lines you may not have. Here's the link:

http://www.survivalblog.com/retreatareas.html

Pauline Disciple said...

Kent County, Delaware. Low taxes, not far from DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, NYC. There is a liveley Amish community here. Our neighbor Kent County, MD was voted the best best rural place to live (http://money.aol.com/progfarmer/realestate/best-rural-places-to-live). Check out Delmarva, we are a beautiful peninsula.

vdeal said...

"not far from DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, NYC" doesn't sound like a place I would want to live. If things go south you know where everyone from those areas are going to head? Give me land well away from any metropolitan area.

Beau said...

To answer some questions about Missouri:

- We don't have school taxes in addition to property taxes.

- Building codes vary by city/county, but in rural areas tend to be minimal and sensible (like you can't put in a lagoon next to a river - that sort of thing). I would guess that the closer you get to KC or St. Louis, the more restrictive they would get. Same with code enforcement officers.

- Missouri is OK for homeschooling. We homeschool our kids, and the state requires that you keep records and that each child has a certain number of hours per year in core areas (math, reading, etc). We keep the records, but have never had to actually provide them to anybody.

Abiga/Karen said...

This has been so interesting. My daughter and family just moved out of the Chicago suburbs but the farthest they could go was central Illinois and prices for land are HIGH!!!(so we only have just over two acres) My son in law is a trooper here so he cannot leave the state and does not want to start over somewhere else. This is the farthest he would go from family too. The women in the family are the country beings. We also heard that some insurance companies may cancel your insurance if you have a fireplace etc so wood burning might not be a heating possibility for us and propane is ridiculous.
The people though have been very nice so far welcoming us and giving us friendship and advice. I so enjoy all of the info everyone shared evne if I can't go anywhere else. Blessings.

Jaye Spencer said...

Dear Mr. Kimball,

This is a great conversation! As a native Mainer living in exile (in NH! LOL!) I was excited to read that Aroostook County was included in the list of potential places you would consider for relocation. I had hoped to see more commentary from agrarian Mainers, as the desire to "go home" to Maine will be with me always. I do dream of a day when I will return!

I'm not sure why you have not had more comments, but I do know that there are large gaps in high speed internet access in many parts of Maine, so perhaps the agrarians just go to bed at night?

However, if you look at the map, Aroostook County is quite remote from large US urban areas, with the exception of Quebec, which is closer than Boston.

Perhaps you will begin the exodus to Maine! Pray on it! I hope so and I will keep checking back to see if there are any other Mainers who opine. Thanks for your writing; I enjoy visiting your blog.

Anonymous said...

Well I wish I could say "Come To Connecticut", but the taxes on property here are just brutal. I'm paying almost $4000/yr in a modest 2 story home squeeking out a living in a small woodworking shop at my residence. I'm able to economize in other areas which helps a lot.

I guess I'd put a plug in for the Northern Maine area. I've been looking on line and property is somewhat reasonable as well as the taxes. Winters are pretty severe, but if you're used to northern NY weather it's probably not too bad of a transition.

Nobody should ever be taxed out of their property. It really is tyranny, and unbiblical as well.

Anonymous said...

Herrick, there are many on here that have written about their states and I have been to many of them and would not want to live in the parts of those states I have visited. That being said I know all states have very beatiful areas as well, my state is no exception. I live in the beautiful state of Kentucky, I would not live in eastern Ky, currently live in central Ky but my heart is in western Ky. Central Ky with all it's horse farms is a beautiful part of the state whoever the people here are not as friendly as in the western part of the state. People in the western part of the state still pull over and pay respect when a funeral line comes down the road, you not see that in central Ky. Anyway come on down to western Ky (I am heading there shortly) for a visit I am sure you will like it very much. The other states I have visited and would live are Tenn., norhtern Alabama and southern Indiana. I took a two week vacation a couple of years ago to PA, Lancaster, Gettysburg areas very beautiful but not sure I would want to live there, not sure I wouldn't either!! Anyway good luke in your search I am sure the Lord will lead you to your promised land.

The Agrarian Wanabe
Tim

Julie said...

I have no insight or suggestion as we are struggling with the same thoughts. Right now we live in a subdivision in a conservative town in FL. While we like a lot of what the town offers there is more to send us away than to keep us here. I look at land with homeschool laws open in another window so I can check to see how invasive the laws are. With five small children it's important to me to factor that in.
We have looked at AL and KY and MO as possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Alabama - hands Down. Born and raised here and been everywhere else. Always come back gladly.
Low property tax.
Sales tax on food, but thats nothing compared to the property taxees elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Anyone hoping to live an agrarian life off the land should also consider the county/state laws, permit, and fee requirements on selling what you produce. Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that in PA a family farmer can slaughter and sell (in state) up to 20,000 chickens without requiring an inspection whereas in GA (or was that Alabama) it is practically impossible since the conventional farmers have a lockdown on poultry production. Same considerations for selling value-added products from your land such as baked goods, cheeses, and jams. I'd be interested in hearing from everyone what your county/state laws are on this matter.

daisyblend said...

Okay, okay, I'll put in my plug for MO. I'm finding this thread very interesting!
I can't say if the taxes are "low" because I've no basis for comparison except from what I've heard here (by which standards they seem to be on the lower end). For a 1400 sq ft home on 5 acres w/ no outbuildings we owe $390.68 this year - that's schools, roads, hospitals and whatnot. Another $26 personal prop. tax on our two older vehicles. Our local sales tax is something like 7%.
No building codes whatsoever out in the county except one new little statewide rule - if you have less than 3 acres you have to have a septic. More than 3 and you can do whatever you please. (I think I got that straight - I'd check it to be sure).
Homeschool laws here are some of the best, but I expect by the time my children are raising theirs, there won't be anywhere in the US that's homeschool friendly. Still, it's worth considering. Just don't hope to practice midwifery here! The state's plumb backward regarding homebirth, but we're working on it.
I think you're going to find beauty in some form or fashion wherever you go, and tastes vary widely, obviously. So, I wouldn't focus as much on beauty as practicality. I've lived 16 years in the SW corner of the state, just south of Springfield, and noted the balance of beautiful forests covered hills (hardwood & softwood) and rolling pastureland that make the Ozarks the Ozarks. Moving here to the SE corner (two hours south of St. Louis) a couple years ago I found I liked the countryside even better - more like the northeast. A little more rugged, a little more mountainous, but again a wonderful balance of pastureland and forest, with creeks and rivers running every which way. Very beautiful and practical landscape. The area primary makes it's living in cattle and timber. Fishing and hunting are very popular. Every town seems to have it's farmers markets and small animal swap meets.
I like some people's ideas of four seasons. {wink} I spent my first 10 years in VT and got kind of attached to the snow. We do get some snow every year, at least a storm or two dropping a few inches, but I would like a little more. And you can usually count on an ice storm or two. I've lived in MO almost 19 years and it seems that I-44 divides the state, weatherwise. If you want more snow and rain, stay to north of I-44. But as for "seasons," unlike the decidedly northern and southern states, ours are relatively equal in length. A good summer growing season punctuated by a gorgeous fall with plenty of moderate weather to grow fall crops, preserve summer harvest, split wood and prepare for a decent 3 months of winter. The daffodils (and garlic) start coming up in late Feb and it always seems to snow on the open flowers once before winter's really over. I say it's a good balance.
Rural Missourians are a friendly, accepting kind of folk, willing to hold a door open for you, help you with a sick goat, or share with you their best fishing spots. It's all I've ever really known, but I hear people aren't like that everywhere.
I fully agree that a good Christian agrarian community is invaluable. All the more so with bad times a' comin'. I wouldn't move for community alone, though. The land won't change, the laws will "evolve," but people (especially the strong-opinioned ones you find in such communities) are downright unpredictable! We almost moved to TN a few years ago for the community we found there and now that community is in shambles. We moved here to Fredericktown for all the other reasons and found our faithful Father had placed us right in the middle of a great community. Let Him guide you. I know you will.
Incidentally, when looking into MO, or anywhere close to it, you'll want to consider the New Madrid fault. We know folks who just won't move to the area because of it. The way we figure it, when the New Madrid finally goes, there won't be anyone in the US that won't feel the effects! When it comes to smaller tremors, I've heard it reasoned that the SW part of the state is safer because of all the limestone. Just thought I'd toss that out there.
Best wishes,
~K~

Steve said...

I haven't read all of the comments so this has probably already been mentioned, but community is of paramount importance for me and my family. I live in a similar state to yours, Herrick (Connecticut.) We have high taxes, socialist tendancies and communist everything else. I have very often seriously considered moving to northern Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, WV, and a few other places. I've even taken scouting trips out to some of those places. But what keeps me here in CT is our community; friends, family, parish, etc. We could move somewhere and be very close to debt free, but I have yet to find a place where the faith is as strong or dynamic as here. The time may come when we're forced out - and I'm keeping options open just in case. If I were single, I'd be outta here in a heartbeat - but for now we're staying put despite the northern liberal self-destruct mentality.

My 2 cents.

Angela said...

Oregon!! We have realitively low property taxes, no sales tax, no school tax, very little regulation on homeschooling, 4 seasons, lots of water, just about any thing grows here except citrus. No poisonous snakes, not even chiggers in the long grass. I'm not sure why every one doesn't want to live here... but I only brag in select locations. Great neighbors too...mls #600867. We'd love to share our bountiful blessed land with you.

Anonymous said...

South Carolina... :) We've got 300 acres, and our property taxes are less than $500 a year.

It's a little humid in July/August, but manageable. Good soil here in the Upstate. Winters are mild compared to up North. Mountains on one side, and beautiful Carolina beaches on the other...

Kristl said...

Mr. Kimball,
My fiance and I have been researching Maine (Aroostook in particular!) for the past year, and that is absolutely where we are heading. Low population density, slower-than-"normal" population growth, beautiful people and beautiful land, and, best of all, LOW PROPERTY TAXES. The land value of Maine is properly market-priced.
We have never been there, but we are planning a "pre-planning trip" hopefully this summer before we each begin internships in our chosen career fields. Being from Alaska, myself, the cold winters are what I am seeking. Western Washington is out of control, and likely will only become more so in the next few years.

God Bless you on your possible exodus! We'll see you there!

Anonymous said...

We are from south/central Il; about an hour south of Springfield. I was born and grew up here and came home after two years in Japan. But, that said, we, too are looking to leave. Homeschool laws couldn't be better--there aren't any. Taxes are high and land prices even higher. Land here in the middle of nowhere is about $6,000/acre. Our climate is hot and humid in summer, cold and blustery in winter; some snow, usually more ice, but glorious springs and autumns. Just about everything grows here, but water can be scarce in summer. You can however, legally collect and drill to your heart's content.

There is a farmer's market on every corner, but you are limited to 1,000 homeproduced chickens before many significant restrictions come into play. We, too, are home to some huge poultry conglomerates. There is only one poultry processor in the state! It's a little Amish operation about two hours from us. (I know, I know; we should be doing it ourselves!) The same is true of raw milk and livestock production.

You also have the stigma of having Blagoavich and Obama associated with our state. We used to be Republican, but now are staunchly Democrat--so much so that voting seems a waste of time. (We still do it, however.) Oh, and yes, there are corn husks (soybean and wheat chaff, too) blowing over the highways, and everwhere else, during harvest. :)

We, too, are looking at Central Ky.
We have travelled around souther MO and it is beautiful, timber covered, hilly, and cheap. It is also very remote. Finding a job would be tough where the land is cheap enough to buy. Much of the land available is "recreational" use which translated means very remote, not cleared and only good for deer and turkey hunting in its present condition.

Homeschool laws are a bit more restrictive than IL but not by much. There some large and very active homeschool associations in the state. If memory serves, of the four states: IN, KY, MO and IL, I listed them in the order of most restrictive homeschool laws to least.

Well, enough of my long winded 2 cents worth. This has been an interesting thread.

Another Heather

Amy said...

It's probably one of the hardest things to find a right place to live. For us finding a place where there are like minded christians who not only preach great things but also practice it is the hardest things of all. I also think that christian families should consider finding a place with a clean air to breath and a good healthy soil for gardening and animals to grase. If we draw a line from central TX up to Canada the right side or east side of US would be the most polluted side of America and then the left or west side is much cleaner. There are probably no places left in America with pure and clean air but some places should be avoided just for the sake of children. There are good maps over there that show pollution in America and I think we should pay attention to that. Few good websites that will tell you how polluted each state is http://toxicrisk.com/ and http://scorecard.org/ these are just a few websites but if we do research we can find lots more info. Also, there are states where home birth is not allowed and home school law is very strict. Lots of things to consider.

God bless you all.

Amy