Having a guest here this week has been most instructive.  Since our guest is a tax attorney, not to mention an extra class ham radio operator, and a genuine expert on the economic longwaves, it’s great to have a “fellow traveler” to this place to kick things around with.  Thinks like “the future” and where to be when it happens…

As you know, sustainability is huge with us.  I  can see the handwriting on the wall, already.  Just look at China and you can see how too much computer and too much government “social scoring” can lead to massive losses of  personal freedoms.  Including, by 2020, a government that will be able to control where and how you travel and a whole lot more.

Think of this as “post & you’re toast” governance.

Thought control – in a manner supporting a self-appointed government – is not what we like to think of as the pinnacle of human progress!

Still, it’s coming to our country as well..and sooner than later.  All those servers up in Provo aren’t there to check growing conditions for us home gardeners or to get more accurate weather forecasts.  They are used to build a national database on each of us “tax chattel.”

Aging, as we are, though having a good deal of life still ahead, we’ve  come to the idea that another 10-years in the East Texas Outback isn’t a good plan.  By then, I will be 80.  Things taken for-granted now – like dancing around for 5-hours with a 35-pound leaf blower on my back – may be moved to the “too hard pile.”

For younger souls, though, there’s another reason to think in terms of Strategic Relocation away from Big Cities.  In addition to climate change.

When you go back to the Middle Ages, you can study how Nation-States and City-States worked.  As Wikipedia puts it, “Historically, this included cities such as Rome, Athens, Carthage,[1] and the Italian city-states during the Renaissance..”

A few are still in operation today: Monaco, Singapore, and Vatican City.  But, the tie-up between cities and states is evolving as the new banner Techno-State.

This is a form of government where people work their butts off, but in the end they all essentially rent their lives from the government. There is no room for anything but “More Work, Citizen…work harder!”

We’ll pass.

Such governments require payments at many levels:  In China, several are apparent:  There is the matter of taxes, then there is “social scoring” and of course, there’s political affiliation with the right (dare I say only) Party?

Yeah, some Worker’s Paradise, China:  The web reveals how the “Personal Income Tax Rate in China is expected to be 45.00 percent by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations..”

Who can tax their chattel the highest?  Our Federal Debt is pushing us down that road.  For now?

The US approach is better – but not perfect.  Taxes are going up quickly here, as well.

Since our tax fellow is from the Land of Kasich, we were shocked to learn that the property tax in Ohio runs 3.3 percent and in some cities, there’s a 2.5% income tax in addition to a state income tax.  Toss in the Federal taxes AND sales taxes, excises, and a whole lot of others (federal gas taxes, taxes on liquor, and soon the pass-throughs of tariff increases) and we aren’t that far behind China.

The only plan to prosper is to get debt free as soon as possible and one way to do that is get rural but in a way where you still have good bandwidth.  Land is cheap, fewer regulators, cleaner air, and less violence.

We want to continue living in a sustainable manner.  We are already capturing carbon and we are harvesting energy from the sun, plus  (when so driven) we’re able to grow basic vegetables and such.  Everyone CAN do these simple (climate-friendly) things, yet how many do?

How many people actually think-through their energy footprint living in a city versus living sustainably and semi-rural?

The outline of what our “step-down” property will be is pretty simple:

  • Less than 1,500 square feet.
  • Single-level floor plan.
  • Two bedrooms, two baths.
  • All ADA compliant – lever type door knobs, too.
  • Provision for a ramp entry should mobility ever become an issue.

We still want enough (fenced) yard (and a warm enough climate) to do some high-intensity gardening. Even so, a quarter-acre (10,000 sf lot) with a small house and garage on it ought to be enough.

We’ve done enough traveling that we’ve begun to sketch areas on maps that appeal to us (green) and areas that don’t.  Have a look:

This is not to suggest that all the areas in blue are too cold.  Sure, young and strong like Hop-a-long can handle the 30-below zones.  We don’t want to fight with Ma Nature.  Cooler than Texas in the summer, warmer in the winter sounds about right.

The red areas?  As much as California has a pretty good deal in terms of property taxes, the population pressures, both self-arising and from neighboring Mexico have cooled our jets on those areas.

The yellow area is too prone to violent winds – tornadoes, hurricanes and the like.

While a case could be made (weakly) for parts of Nevada and down through northern Arizona, the area over to about Albuquerque is too sparse for us.  We figure a minimum town size of 200,000 would be about right.  Or, a bedroom community within a short medevac flight from first-class medical.

If you haven’t traveled from Las Vegas over to Albuquerque, it’s pretty enough country if you like dry, rocky land.  There are some great areas along the route – from about Williams, Arizona where you can board a train for a ride up to the Grand Canyon and on over to about 60-miles east of Flagstaff, it’s beautiful.  Until winter comes.

Then, the temps drop down into the extremes and Flagstaff being at 6,819 feet the air is thin and cold.  Result: The growing season up there is only 105-days.  We are more “climate conscious” than most because we understand heating degree days cost money.  (We get the sense people living in mandatory heat areas – the Dakotas to Maine – who really believe in doing something about climate should move to a more sustainable climate!!!)

By contrast, the growing season in our part of Texas is about 260 days.

The red zones are, to our way of thinking, overbuilt or have geopolitical risk being near the border.

The reason for sharing all this with you it to help you get your “thinking cap” on.

Now, mentally overlay where the nuke plants are in America:

Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia look like reasonable candidates to us.  Arkansas – Lake of the Ozarks area – was on our list until we looked at this map.  Elaine was a “downwinder” once – during the 1950’s atomic tests upwind from Arizona…

You see, in Life, there is income and there is out-go.  Income is what you make after taxes and the outgo is the billings associated with maintaining your life.  The art of living is to have a good deal leftover for discretionary spending on whatever makes you happy.  Simple enough concept?  Not really – many people talk it, but damn few walk it.

If you focus on “sustainable” locations (not too hot, not too cold, long growing season) and then get into a medium-sized city, you can likely have a pretty good lifestyle.  With luck, a 15-minute (or shorter) commute. and being “close to food” you can buy better local organic produce.  With a fenced back yard, no reason not to put in a good garden, too.

With all the talk about climate change and such, it shocks me that more people haven’t figured out that our future – and sustainability – as more likely to be achieved in small to medium towns in the under 250,000 range.

The more we eye both aging – and what will be the “most sustainable path” for our children, the more we come to the conclusion that Big Cities  are a has been.

Historically, it’s where people were moving when the farms ran into issues with pricing in the lead-in to the Great Depression.  While Big Cities were great during World War II – and provided a huge manufacturing resource, something changed toward the end of the Cold War Era.

Big Cities became areas where civilian populations could be held hostage for political purposes.  While we hope the threat of nukes is not as high as once was, new threats have appeared – like municipal water supplies and anything Internet-connected.

Ultimately, sustainability is about getting close to the resources you personally need and have to employ the fewest number of intermediaries to form your personal supply chain.

Sure, Amazon IS Seattle and Apple IS Cupertino…But if you can get on fiber in a town of 250,000, our thinking is that getting out of big cities while the “gettin’s good” wouldn’t be a bad thing, regardless of your personal demographics.

Write when you get rich,