You’ve seen two parts of Kit’s piece on Strategic Relocation, and the first part of my “staying put” counterpoint. I don’t know whether Kit has more to post, but here’s my second and final part.
Kit’s arguments are more dynamic, as you’d expect from the “go” rather than “stay put” viewpoint. But together I hope we both offer food for thought. We originally wrote these for people less advanced in the ways of freedom than most readers of this blog, so if you like them you might want to send the links to young upcoming freedom seekers or people you know who are on the fence about relocating.
Staying put, Part II:
A suburb? Seriously?
Pity the poor suburb. According to conventional wisdom, suburbs suffer the drawbacks of cities while offering few of the charms of small towns. Rows of cookie-cutter houses eject thousands of automobiles each morning that crawl onto a spaghetti of freeways — and crawl and crawl. Kids no longer play freely in yards or walk to parks or empty lots, but must be ferried by soccer moms to hyper-organized playdates. Schools offer barely adequate instruction in the atmosphere of a prison complex. Homeowners associations exercise petty tyranny and impose hefty fees for the privilege of living under petty rules. Unless you live in the sort of ‘burb typically described as “leafy,” suburban life creates a dreary image.
What’s to love — especially for a person craving greater personal freedom?
As it turns out, a fair bit.
A suburban house gives you your own outdoor space, but not enough to be overwhelming. You likely have sufficient room for a veggie garden and perhaps a flock of chickens, local ordinances permitting.
You can network if you choose, often with the aid of BBQs, shared schooling for children, mutual interests in gardening, or carpool commutes. These casual joinings are good excuses to bring up anything from politics to preparedness.
Yet at the same time, nobody’s likely to find you remarkable if you choose to be the neighbor who gives a friendly wave, then disappears into your house via a garage door that doesn’t open again until you’re ready for work the next day. Keeping to yourself is a suburban standard.
Suburbs may give moderately easy access to both urban delights and rural escapes. It’s possible you can create your own small rural retreat an hour away while still being based in something like the civilized world.
Just like every location, though, they have built-in drawbacks you simply have to prepare for if you desire personal independence and DIY security. For instance:
1. Unprepared neighbors. A typical suburban resident, accustomed to driving to the grocery store if they’re short an egg or a six pack of beer, just might be the epitome of unpreparedness. The concept of empty store shelves or dry gas pumps has never crossed most suburban minds. While your neighbors might be as willing as anybody else to share resources after a bad storm, real trouble might leave them staggering not only because they lack supplies, but because they lack the mental resources for coping.
2. Dependence on civic infrastructure. Similarly, you turn on the tap and water comes out. You flush the toilet and waste whisks invisibly away into some mysterious system. You drive on roads whose maintenance is reliably Somebody Else’s Problem. Somebody else provides light, heat, the power for cooling and cooking. How many suburbanites take all this so utterly for granted that they’d have no idea what to do if it all stopped even for a few days or weeks?
3. Difficulties evacuating. Granted, it’s probably easier removing yourself and your family from a suburb than it is from an urban center. Yet the problems are similar: everybody wanting to use a very few escape routes at the same time. On the other hand, if you and your neighbors have managed to create a prepared and coordinated community, you may be fine hunkering down when others have to leave; or at least you’ll be better prepared to get out ahead of the frightened and/or denial-ridden mob.
Things you can do “in civilization” to increase your freedom
Wherever you live, there are always hundreds of actions you can take to increase your own freedom. The following are just basic. Some are most applicable to a city, others to a small town or suburb. This is only a minute percentage of the ways you can increase your personal freedom wherever you are.
Some of these ideas build community, others improve personal preparedness or security. Yet others are for freeing and broadening the mind.
Grow a vegetable garden. Convert your suburban lawn into a productive food garden. In a city, plant a container vegetable garden on your balcony or in a bright area indoors, or join with neighbors to create a rooftop garden. In a small town, you might even be able to produce extra food to sell, trade, or give away.
Raise livestock. So large animals are probably off limits. But chickens, rabbits, and perhaps a goat or two might be feasible. In my town right now, someone is even raising two beef steers in a tiny pasture.
Find a maker space and create useful items for pleasure or money. In an urban area, a maker space might be literally that, a place where tinkerers find the equipment and encouragement to work on inventions. Elsewhere, it might just mean your own garage.
Use available resources (clubs, universities, libraries, continuing education programs, etc.) to learn new skills, meet like-minded people, and establish mini-communities based on shared interests.
Practice using your prospective escape routes on foot or bicycle.
Pack a go-bag and keep it up to date. Then have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C for getting out of Dodge when need be.
Pack a bug-in bag if you’re more likely to need to shelter in place after a disaster.
Gently network with neighbors about freedom, with the emphasis on practicality and creativity, not politics. You may find some are already “there” and others are receptive to a gradual, practical approach.
Build “ghost guns” with your own 3D printer or hold parties to assemble 80% uppers into real firearms. (Know the legalities, of course.)
Start a book club focusing on topics like preparedness or history.
Get healthy. Exercise. Improve your nutrition. Quit smoking. Curb your recreational drug habits. The healthier you are, the less vulnerable you are to becoming dependent or helpless.
Join a food co-op. It’s a good way to get healthy groceries at a discount while meeting others who may share your interest in healthy eating.
Walk. Save money and get exercise by walking as many places as you can. Walking also gives you the opportunity to observe your surroundings in a way that’s not possible from inside a vehicle.
DIY. Practice as many do-it-yourself skills as possible, from sewing to carpentry.
Join influential local organizations. These will vary from place to place, but you probably know those in your area that are best for making connections and getting things done.
Shop at thrift stores and garage sales. You can live on less, recycle existing products, and increase your creative thinking.
Volunteer — at the local library, emergency department, hospital, food co-op, etc.
Patronize local businesses. You’ll be increasing the health of your community while meeting neighbors and picking up local information.
Go on weekend skill-building expeditions. Shooting, orienteering, wilderness survival, first-aid, food prep, you name it.
Convert a corner of your basement or garage into locked storage for sensitive items.
Be a good neighbor even if you choose to be a solitary one.
Beware of “experts”
As you decide whether to stay where you are or relocate, you’ll find that various experts, entrepreneurs, and political theorists want to influence you in your decision — and they rarely ever think you can be more free if you simply stay put.
There’s been a push for years to get freedom seekers to move to certain areas. Reasons vary. The Free State Project wanted a critical mass of libertarian activists to change the political culture of New Hampshire by moving there en masse. The loosely defined Western Redoubt (in the Rocky Mountain region) has drawn survivalists, back-to-the-landers, and others fed up with the cultural corruption, taxation, and over-regulation of the coastal blue states. Every few years, entrepreneurs attempt to draw prosperous freedom seekers to self-governing “gulches” outside the U.S. The latest of these is the Seasteading Institute’s Floating Island Project, now in the process of creating a community in the waters off Tahiti.
All well and good. What’s not so good is promoters who — though either true-believerism or a desire to make a buck — pressure others into believing that relocation is the key to freedom. There are always a few such folk out there.
I mention this both because you will encounter such promoters (not here in this book) and because absolutism about the need to move sets up a false dichotomy: “I must relocate in order to be free. I can’t or don’t want to relocate, therefore I can’t be free and must just give up.”
Whatever your decision about where to live, don’t be swayed into a hasty decision. And never, ever assume that some guru knows more than you do about what’s good for you.
When it comes to relocation, as well as all other aspects of freedom, there is no all-holy One Way.
You can be free wherever you are.
Are there locations that might be freer or more strategically advantageous than others? Sure. And ideally, you might prefer to be in one of them. But if you’re happy where you are or if you’re bound to your location by obligations you don’t care to break, don’t give up.
Remember that freedom is largely made up of a mindset plus the actions that follow from that mindset. Even a crime-ridden inner city can offer freedom to the right person with the right mind-set at the right time.
What’s best for you … depends on you.
Chose where you want to LIVE, then make that place and that life work for you.
The following, mostly by Kit, concluded the chapter that contained our full point-counterpoint.
Points to Ponder
1. When you think about living anywhere, what advantages and other conditions are non-negotiable for you?
2. What type of living situation makes you feel the most comfortable?
3. If you decide you’d like to move, what creative ways could you fund that move?
4. How could you realistically support yourself in an area where your current trade doesn’t have a market?
5. What concerns would you have about your family if you stay where you are? Or if you move? How do they feel about changes (or about not changing)?
6. If you decide to stay, what changes could you make to feel more free in your current situation?
7. Have you researched any other parts of the world, country, or state beyond where you now live?
8. How much does personal privacy play a role in your decision?
9. Are you under any outside pressures either to go or stay? And do you perceive those pressures as legitimate or unwarranted?