I discovered the Free State Project in 2015 while still living in “Commiefornia.” I had just been laid off from my software engineering job and I was looking for work trying to get my wife and I out of the state after reading about the emergence of the “Silicon Prairie” in the Midwest. California was expensive to live in, the people were obnoxious, and the state’s politics were bothering both of us to the core. We wanted out!
I don’t remember the exact turn of events that led to our initial discovery of the Free State Project, but if I had to venture a guess, it was likely an offshoot mentioning from a comment on a political website or something along those lines. Nevertheless, I discovered the movement, scoured the website for clues whether it was still active or was an abandoned idea, read up everything I could, and my wife and I ultimately ended up watching the “101 Reasons” and “Libertopia” videos together before we discussed joining and signing.
After viewing the two videos, we took a few days to process everything we’d learned and do some soul searching. We weighed the pros and cons of life in New Hampshire versus life in the Midwest. The Midwest was cheaper (despite having more taxes), warmer (on average), and closer to our family members, but we both pretty quickly decided we’d gladly trade those things to finally be around people that didn’t view us as “fence sitters,” “Republican-lites,” “Angsty Overgrown Teenagers,” and all the other usual slurs against Libertarians. We wanted our future kids to grow up in a place where they wouldn’t have to feel like they were “evil non-conforming freaks” just because they believed in self-ownership and not equating stealing with charity.
I started expanding my job search to include New Hampshire firms as well as Midwest ones. Sadly, an opportunity with a New Hampshire firm just didn’t come in time, and when Hewlett-Packard offered me a position in Arkansas, we had no choice but to take it; the alternative was homelessness. We moved our belongings and secured an apartment for half the cost and twice the space. We spent the next half year or so getting our debt under control and our ruined finances back in order just in time for me to be laid off from Hewlett-Packard after it split into Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and merged with Computer Science Corporation to become DXC Technologies.
Newly unemployed again, I tried again to get work at a New Hampshire software firm. The results always ended the same: “We like your skills, but we’re not convinced that if we move you here you’ll want to stay.” You’d think I could just say “I’m staying for sure, I’m with the Free State Project!” but apparently, the FSP was a hot-button issue with New Hampshire firms at the time and I was advised to avoid mentioning that. It became clear that I’d either need to work a remote job or find a software firm that had offices in both Arkansas and New Hampshire if we were going to move.
Then, out of nowhere, my old employer who had laid me off, DXC Technologies, asked if I wanted to come back to work with the position becoming Remote after 6 months! Our household income tripled, and we started saving for a house. We were all set for a July 2019 house purchase, but the mortgage companies kept denying us. So we secured another apartment begrudgingly.
We hired some professional movers to transport our stuff to the new apartment. There were some complications on move-out day (there always are…) regarding what stuff was being contractually moved in what vehicle, and not wanting to argue in the 112 degrees Fahrenheit heat of August in Arkansas, we ended up abandoning some items. We drove for three days from Maumelle to Manchester and were simultaneously overjoyed and thoroughly exhausted seeing the Welcome Wagon when we got to our apartment. Three people showed up and were life savers in terms of getting our car and truck unloaded, and they even assembled our bed as we got the pizza ordered so we could just crash after it was all over and sleep for 16 hours straight.
We’ve been here 3 months now, and we’re still trying to get things “straightened out,” so sadly we haven’t had a lot of time to participate in many FSP activities. So far though, we’re enjoying the area actually having seasons and it not being a billion degrees outside in September. We’re still trying to get a house and look forward to starting a nice family in said house to keep the FSP going for generations to come!
Overall, the FSP has given us hope and a goal to aspire to to keep our morale up even in the darkest of times. We have no regrets about our move and are excited to see what the future has in store for us!