Arizona might not be the most common origin state for an FSP participant. Though not quite as free as New Hampshire, Arizona is toward the free end of the scale, particularly in comparison with neighboring California. In fact, the Grand Canyon State is full of freedom-seeking refugees from California, not unlike New Hampshire’s situation with neighboring Massachusetts. But having been born in New England, and despite not having lived here since around my early teen years, nowhere else has ever felt quite like home. I have always felt some odd pull back to this place, even stronger than the lure of the mild Arizona winters (although I could do without another 115°F summer).
I’ve always had libertarian leanings, but never saw much hope for any major changes, even in Arizona. Years ago, I’d heard vague rumblings about the start of the Free State Project, but it had long since fallen off of my radar. Then, in February 2016, I picked up that week’s issue of The Economist magazine, and I happened upon an article entitled Live Free, or Try. To my surprise, it announced that the FSP had reached its “trigger” number! I immediately regretted not having followed the FSP more closely, but I resolved then and there to return not just to New England, but to New Hampshire, and I soon signed the FSP’s Statement of Intent.
I was lucky enough to have two things working in my favor to make this move happen rather quickly: a wife who was also ready for a change, and a Fortune 100 employer that happens to have a large presence in New England; and which was, crucially, willing to relocate me.
The Desert Southwest has its charms, but the Phoenix valley is like one contiguous mega-city, with individual towns blending together and no sense of place as one drives through. Conversely, New England/NH has so many beautiful, scenic towns – just point your car in any direction, set off on a 45-minute drive, and you’ll pass through several. Each has its own unique character and, crucially, sense of place, as some towns have been there for 300 years and clearly aren’t the result of the latest (mostly awful) trends in urban planning. We quickly zeroed in on Windham, near NH’s southern border, a well-managed town with good access to nearby cities, with Manchester 20 and Boston just 35 interstate miles away. We moved in the summer of 2017, a few months after taking the pledge.
The transition from the Sun Belt was much easier than I’d imagined, despite not having lived here for 20+ years. And if my Florida-native wife can handle this first winter, anyone can. We’ve decided to embrace our new environment, and we truly enjoyed our family’s very first White Christmas. I feel so lucky for the opportunity to live in such beautiful, interesting surroundings while participating in this amazing FSP experiment, and wholeheartedly recommend NH to any freedom-lover who’s considering taking the plunge.