I first heard about the Free State Project in 2010 when I picked up a flyer at a Libertarian Party event. The idea immediately appealed to me, so I put it up on my icebox, and there it sat for the next eight years. As my retirement inched closer, I started to give more serious thought to The Move.
Before I made my first expedition out here, I communicated with a party member who made The Move a few years earlier. He told me about the first public hearing he attended after he moved here. It was in Portsmouth, and the selectmen were going to consider a new ordinance regarding safety equipment being required for children to bicycle or skateboard.
Having just moved here from The People’s Republic of San Francisco—where at least 75% of the residents have an intense faith in government—he was shocked at how almost each person who got up to give public comment was basically delivering a similar message: “Don’t pass this ordinance because it’s the job of parents, not the government, to take responsibility for their children.” My friend was blown away by the public comments, and as he noted, “You can just imagine how the hearing would have gone in San Francisco.” Even more amazing was that the hearing was held in a liberal city, not a small village way up in the North Country. When I heard about such public comments from all but one speaker in a liberal city, I made up my mind right then and there that New Hampshire is the place I want to call home.
I made several trips over a two-year period to search for a property and home. I searched everywhere from central New Hampshire to way up north almost to the Canadian border, but as fate would have it, I ended up in a small rural town in the Lakes Region about 40 miles from Concord. I bought my home almost exactly two years ago and made The Move in November 2018.
Everyone thought I was crazy to leave a “world class cosmopolitan city” like San Francisco for rural New Hampshire. They had plenty of negatives: cold and bitter winters, black flies, high property taxes, opioid crisis, no diversity, an uneducated populace, high energy costs, cabin fever, wild bears, Lyme’s Disease, you name it—New Hampshire has problems, they warned. At minimum, friends and family urged me to try it for at least one full year before buying. One friend warned me that I would be in for a “rude awakening” once I moved here.
To all that, I say “Bull!” I’ve been here about half of the first winter already, and it hasn’t been that bad. Mind you, we’ve had some pretty good storms already, including a 22-hour power outage in late November, plus I’ve been out shoveling snow in 5 below temperatures. Indeed, the energy costs are significant in the winter, and if you’re counting on your family and friends from moderate climates to visit in the winter, forget it. Mine have already come and gone, and everyone said, “See you in the spring!” (It’s OK—that’s why cellphones, email, and video chats exist). On balance, my car insurance dropped almost in half, I no longer needed earthquake insurance, gas is about $1 less per gallon, and my food costs are down. And no, I haven’t been accosted by any bears yet, but occasionally I see deer on my property.
Property taxes, unfortunately, are all over the place statewide, so it really depends on where you end up buying. I happened to luck out, and through no special research on my part, my town has a very low tax rate. According to the Tax Collector ladies who visited my house in person, one of the reasons this town has low property taxes is because 3 of the selectmen have been in office for at least 100 years, and they don’t like to spend taxpayer money, unless really necessary.
My town actually mails out an annual booklet to each property owner detailing all the money spent during the previous year—including salaries by job description—by category and by vendor—down to the penny! Coming from San Francisco where a million or two lost or squandered is only a rounding error, I’m so happy to live in a place where local government officials actually take their fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers seriously. Small government—just the way I like it!
The liberty community has been very welcoming. As one friend put it who is moving here in about two months, it’s great to have built-in friends as soon as you move here. I joined the Lake Region Porcupines and helped out with their Christmas toy drive in December. My understanding is that they also pass out jury nullification pamphlets to potential jurors at the courthouse. I’ve been to Taproom Tuesdays several times over the years—great bunch of liberty folks.
Best of all, I’m partial to the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, which takes politics seriously and reviews the bills the state legislators are proposing and lobbies legislators who are receptive to the ideas of liberty to vote yea or nay. Currently there are a lot of anti-liberty bills circulating in Concord due to the results from the November 2018 election. They’re even trying to create a state income tax on wages (currently it’s just on passive income) and establish paid salaries for all 400 state legislators. Turning citizen-statesmen into professional politicians and giving them more “revenue stream”—that’s a recipe for total disaster. Just look at California and San Francisco. We’ve got our work cut out for us!
Lastly, prior to moving here, I had a Ron Paul “Love Revolution” bumper sticker on my old car, and knowing I would need all-wheel drive for the winters, last spring I bought a new car here (no sales tax, unlike California, where some cities are now charging over 10% for sales tax). I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find another Ron Paul bumper sticker because it’s been seven years since his last run. I determined that I better locate another Ron Paul bumper sticker once I got here, or else driving somehow just wouldn’t be quite right without it. However, when I registered my new car and got my new license plates, my discomfort completely vanished with the New Hampshire car license motto “Live Free or Die.” That says it all for me: no Ron Paul bumper sticker needed any longer—I’m home at last!
-Aubrey Freedman, moved 11/18/2018
Chris has served as the Mover Coordinator for the FSP Team since 2012. An early mover in 2004, she uses her knowledge of the state and the liberty community to help visitors and movers network and build new lives here.