Best state to live in?
A hypothetical: If you had the freedom to move to any state in the US, which one would it be and why?
Put another way, what US state do you think would best accomodate preparations for a difficult future?
Consider geography, climate, political climate, laws, prominent industries/careers, etc. The whole package.
I'd love to start with a suggestion of my own, but I have no idea! I suppose that's why I'm asking.
I looked for 4 years and considered many states all in northern US because of climate change. We chose Vermont because so many people there are already practicing and living low energy environmentally conscience life.
Enjoy the site. I hope you meet lots of like-minded people here. Maybe even some in your area. What part of VT are you in? My folks (now deceased) retired to Plainfield, NH, right across from White River Junction VT. They were on the Connetticut River, and could see Mt. Ascutney out their window, so I spent a lot of time in VT.
I have heard people from VT/NH sing their praises before. I have a friend who often rents a lakeside cabin in NH, and I accompanied him one winter. It was a beautiful place. A very quaint, pleasant town (forget the name). Lots (and I mean lots) of snow though. You say climate change was a factor for you…how have recent winters been? I’m not too keen on cold weather myself, so I’m not sure I could endure all those long icy months. I guess you have to focus a lot of prep time on food preservation and generating heat in grid down scenarios.
I tend to put alot of emphasis on growing things, especially organized in permaculture. With this in mind, I wouldn’t go anywhere colder than USDA zone 4b, or anywhere with super-irregular annual rainfall especially if the average is less than 30 inches. A place colder than 4b or drier than 30 inches per year both seem to be notable drop off points for what can be grown. Make no mistake, there are wonderful workarounds for both lack of moisture and cold, but they require more forethought and work.
Political climate is something I am less able to weigh in on. . . I have found Pennsylvania to be pretty good for me, as my personal ideology incorporates some aspects of so-called right and left. There aren’t too many regulations against greywater/natural building/homeschooling either. Not that these things are necessary, but its nice to be free to decide. Other states I have heard good things about in terms of personal agency are West Virginia and Idaho. Laws like these can change at the whim of local or state gov, so I don’t research them much though.
The careers thing is a HUGE topic. What it comes down to is that anywhere there is a community there is a possibility for productive interfacing among residents. For other careers, a solid university or college in the area or town often helps, especially if the city is smaller. I feel like I can’t give a good answer bc there are some sectors in which only one city is an option (international development), where others can be found anywhere (healthcare).
In any case, hope this helps.
As I am thinking about this subject, I find it is hard to say objective things. Linving in Western MA I may be partial, but here are some things I find about it (I think this is the best place to live for me, because I already know a lot of people here, I am part of the community):
* The winters are cold, but I have an easier time to accommodate cold, than hot – heating is easier than cooling, either my house or my body. And I appreciate the seasons, as they remind me of impermanence.
* The town I live in is not that far from larger centers, and compact too. That means I can live here without owning a car as long as I can negotiate getting entirely around by bike, which I can. If I put a larger emphasis on an all-of-a-sudden full-blown collapse, I would be more concerned about overpopulation, but for a slower decline (that we have been in for a while now) this works.
* CGolias commented about smaller college towns, which I agree, as in case of a larger blow-up many students would leave the area, which is helpful for the then-compromised infrastructure to deal with.
* Political organizations will affect life everywhere, can’t get away from them. The more traditional aspect of New England provide for slower changes, more inertia towards how society is already progressing, and that can help us through shorter crises.
* And again community: I cannot emphasize enough, this area is the best for me because I already am an insider here – people know me, and I know the local habits, the landscape what is possible and what isn’t. That is invaluable for me – without the social connections and social/geographical knowledge I would feel severely disabled.
* Kunstler’s Long Emergency had a very interesting evaluation of the 5-6 main regions of the continental US as far as general livability. I learned a lot from that description and his no-nonsense opinions relating to those 5 areas. There are many good places to live in the US, and none of them are ideal. I think a more important aspect is: is one able to live in the present and enjoy life today, knowing that each day can bring something totally different. If I am all caught up in my predicament, whatever I believe it may be, I cannot really experience life no matter how long I live and in what luxurious circumstances.
…But I happen to like the great lakes region (maybe Michigan). Plentiful water, good soil, opportunities for oil-free transportation and trade. I’m also partial to Chicago. The tax situation is not ideal, but who knows how that will look in 10 years.
I wanted to offer some thoughts about the environmental aspects of choosing a location. This is in no way a measure of climate change, but rather an offering of some insight on how climates work during periods of macroscale heating and cooling.
1. Temperature isn’t Linear
Temperature is a function of a variety of different phenomenon – amount of solar radiation, amount of vegetation, obliquity/solar angle of incidence, year, latitude and probably most important, pressure and water vapor saturation.
As we look at a general “heating” trend, from a climatological perspective, we need to keep in mind that an overall warming doesn’t necessarily mean that latitudes more northerly will become warmer, and more medial or equatorial latitudes will become scorched deserts. While these are certainly possibilities, it’s important to note that as recently as 1816 – there was an unusual cooling trend which cause large scale crop failures. The reason was, as it is now, related to dioxides in the atmosphere, though in different form, and different elevations.
Point is, solar cycles are much more important for determining long-term temperature trends. We’re in the midst of an unusually long rise to a solar maximum, and although I’m out of the loop at the moment, I don’t believe we’ve officially seen the decline begin, and it’s been ~14 years of an 11 year cycle.
The 1816 even happened during the Dalton Minimum – an unusually inactive solar environment.
2. Temperature is part of a transport mechanism
What we register as temperature is very often an associated element of a pressure gradient. This means that air is moving along a gradient between air masses. Increases in temperature are very often associated with increase relative humidities, and at altitude, cloud formation – the Warm Front is a great example of this.
This amount of water vapor directly impacts the amount of INSOLATION, which – as simply possible – traps IR energy, which deteriorates the photosynthesis of UV energy which plants require to produce cholrophyl. This is a very difficult concept to explain, but a good attempt can be found here: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Clouds/
3. Water is paramount
Beyond a doubt, the ability to catch, and utilize water is a tremendous aspect, but too much can also be a burden. I live in the PNW, and this year, we’re having quite a lot of rain. Things are growing, but if we don’t get more sun, we’ll start seeing an influx of nematodes, fungus and poor development in our crops.
No place is immune to problems, so it becomes an issue of managing them as sustainably as possible.
All in all, we still live on a planet that is very friendly to homo-sapiens. A good amount of our surface land mass is “capable” of sustaining human life, so the question becomes comfort.
As far as the other concerns on the list proposed by V2 – I’d say those are almost entirely subjective.
While I might not mind living on a farm in a town with 200 people, if I have children, how will they adjust to this? Will it offer the mental stimulation needed to develop and prosper?
Likewise, would the over-stimulation of an urban environment impact them in such a way that they’re unable to focus on any one thing on account of the overwhelming options?
I myself am particularly fond of New England (Vermont/NH) and the Utah, Idaho, Montana area, as all of these states have relatively relaxed political atmospheres and are not dependant on any single industry, many of the residents are already used to a slower, less opulent life, and there are simply fewer of them.
That said, I don’t think there is a nicer climate I’ve ever seen than Northern California.
Just some thoughts.
Thanks for the contributions so far, some thoughtful responses.
I feel I should contribute even a little something, so I’ll give what I perceive as reasons NOT to choose NJ…
1) Strictest gun laws in the nation. If personal protection with a firearm is a must for you, look elsewhere. It’s a painfully long process to obtain one. Want to change the address on your ID card? Get ready to go through the entire process all over again, as if you’re a new applicant. It’s also virtually impossible to get a carry permit. The only way that’s happening is if you have some real connection to law enforcement.
2) Most densely populated state, or close to it. It seems no matter what direction you go in, there are people and cars everywhere. NJ is a bridge between Philly and NY, the Turnpike being its main thoroughfare. You can find isolation southeast, towards the shore, and I believe the northwest corner still has some scenic solitude to offer, but even in this economic depression, it feels like development will soon consume the entire state.
3) Highest property taxes in the nation, or close to it. These taxes make renters of us all, and you will pay quite the premium to “own” here.
4) Massive budget problems, which makes me think the tax burden won’t improve at all. NJ is usually a member of the “blue team”, but they voted in Chris Christie to get things under control. He talks tough, but seems to be your typical actor, not truly willing to make the drastic, pain-causing changes that are needed. This paragraph probably applies to just about every state.
On the plus side, the climate is suitable for growing, potentially long seasons. The weather patterns have seemed more volatile in recent years. We’ve had an on/off cycle of brutal/mild summers and winters. Didn’t have a drop of snow this time, but the year before we got clobbered. Humidity is guaranteed each summer.
We recently moved from Chicago area to Texas, mainly for family reasons, but also because I feel that Illinois has a world of hurt to get through at some time since the state is such a financial wreck. Luckily we got out at even, as the housing meltdown was in progress.
Not that Tx is in the clear — Repubs here still want to spend on too many roads and have a large pension obligation too. But we have a ton of energy at the center of our economy here. Chicago has more finance, lawyers and others which I lump into “the parasitic class” which is a red flag for me. Michigan is an option, but only after the state discharges a lot of it’s debt (i.e. clears out those pension obligations). Wisconsin from Madison to Debuque(sp), IA is beautiful country, but strongly Catholic so there’s a cultural issue there (for some).
So like you, I suspect the tax climate in those states will be much worse in the next 10 yrs, even while residential house values continue to decline (in real terms).