We Made the Move! Kat Dillon
Date of move: June 20, 2004
When I first heard about the Free State Project, I was actively looking for a good place to resettle. I had landed in the tiny town of Frost, Texas with my daughter in 2002, but never planned to stay. The Free State Project struck us like a lightning bolt: An opportunity to move to a beautiful part of the country, and to be a part of an important movement for liberty in our lifetimes. My home-schooled daughter, Kira (now age 13), and I were hooked!
Once the decision was made to be a part of the Free State Project migration, I had to get ready to be able to make the move. First, I spent many months living frugally so we could get out of debt. Then I had to start saving for the move; that took many more months. Right at the end of 2003, I took an exploratory trip to New Hampshire to check out the lay of the land. I had never been to the state before.
What an eye-opener! After a year in Texas, landing in New Hampshire and seeing all the trees, hills, and beautiful old houses brought tears to my eyes. Even in the midst of winter in December, New Hampshire is gorgeous! Having grown up on the west coast, I was stunned by all the old buildings, many dating from the 1700's. And the small towns! Many of them looked to me like something out of a picture book or a Norman Rockwell painting. It's just a wonderfully beautiful state.
It didn't take any time at all for me to conclude that Kira and I would be happy living in just about any part of New Hampshire (other than the larger cities like Manchester or Nashua). My preference was to be out in the country, but I had promised Kira that we'd move to a neighborhood with kids, so she'd have the chance to make some friends (in Texas we had lived way out in the boonies; Frost had a population of about 300...and we lived outside Frost).
The final decision on where to live was based on several important factors: (1) It had to be a place where I could afford to buy a place; (2) we wanted to be as far south as possible, to minimize winter and be closer to the large population centers where liberty oriented activities would be most pervasive; and (3) we had to find a place in a good neighborhood for Kira.
We started our search for a place to live in the Free State on the Internet, looking mainly for mobile homes so I could buy without incurring a load of debt (the website at http://nneren.com was useful in locating possible places to buy). As I looked, I made a list of possibilities, then went over them with Kira. We narrowed the possibilities down to ones we both liked that were in reasonably nice areas. There were a couple of realtors who were especially helpful to us, Dave Walthour of 21st Century Energy Shield, and Matthew Clark of Maisello Group. I then scheduled a week-long "buying trip" to New Hampshire, and set appointments to see the places Kira and I had agreed on.
During that trip I met a bunch of wonderful Porcupines, including Calvin and Karen Pratt, who set up a "meet and greet" for me. Besides Cal and Karen, I got to meet Karl Beisel, Sam Cohen, Dave Mincin, and many others.
As for the properties I was looking at, when I arrived in New Hampshire I found the better places disappearing off the market very quickly. But I was lucky: I found the perfect place for me and Kira in Keene, which had been on the market for only a few days, and even then I found myself bidding against someone else for it. Luckily, I was bidding with cash, and the owners wound up accepting my offer only because I wouldn't be financing the purchase. Kira and I agreed that Keene, in the southwest part of the state, was small enough to please me, big enough to please her, pretty enough to please us both, and cheap enough to be practical. We like living here! My only complaint is it would be more practical to live closer to the "action" going on in state...nearer Concord or Manchester.
The closing on the property, however, could have become a problem. It was scheduled for just after the First Annual Porcupine Festival during the last week of June 2004. Kira and I didn't want to miss the historic "First Annual Porc Fest," so we took a leap of faith and actually moved to New Hampshire before we closed on our new home...which meant we weren't absolutely certain we really had a place to live. (Yikes!)
Readying for the move, I arranged for a storage unit for our possessions in Keene, and resolved to drive a moving truck across the country, with only Kira to keep me company. The best price for the moving truck rental turned out to be from Penske, a 20-foot truck with a towing dolly for my car.
And I had never driven a truck like that before in my life.
Fortunately, there were a bunch of wonderful guys from the Dallas/Fort Worth FSP group who helped me. They even tried to arrange some publicity for the move: "First Free Stater Moves to New Hampshire from the Dallas Area!" Unfortunately, we got no takers on the story. Nevertheless, those local group members were a wonderful help when it came time to load the moving truck. (Thanks so much, guys!)
Then, a stroke of luck. I found out that one of the Dallas/Ft. Worth local group members, Mark Coleman, was driving across the country to attend the Porc Fest. So we decided to caravan to New Hampshire together, which was a huge relief because I was majorly stressed out about driving that huge truck across the country by myself. It was good to know that someone would be able to help if the truck broke down or some such thing. (Thanks so much, Mark!)
As it turned out, the trip to the Free State took three days, and went without any problems at all. In fact, driving that big truck was major fun! (I want to be a truck driver when I grow up!) ;-)
At the end of the three days, when we arrived in Keene, both Mark Coleman and LPNH chairman John Babiarz helped us unload. (Thanks guys!) And then the adventure continued as we immediately headed up to the Porc Fest in Lancaster in northern New Hampshire. Although we got there in the rain, our tent site was under the trees (like most things in NH), so we were able to get the tent set up in relative dryness.
The First Annual Porcupine Freedom Fest and Night on the Barricades. What can I say. It's really hard to describe that week. Kira and I never met so many good, kind, nice, funny, freedom-oriented people in our lives. We had a blast! The people were just exceptional. I've rarely met a group of people who I "clicked" with so easily. (Tim Condon kept asking me, "When are you moving up to New Hampshire?" And I kept answering, "I just did! I'm not going back!" LOL. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.)
After the Porc Fest, Kira and I returned to Keene, and the imminent closing on our new house. With my heart pounding in my chest, it went off without a hitch. We had our new home! In the Free State! We spent a week cleaning and painting our new digs, and then faced the chore of moving all our stuff from the storage center into the house. But once again, an FSP Porcupine came to the rescue for us: George Reich came over from Dover and helped us move in. (Thanks tons, George!)What is it like to have moved to our new home, the Free State of New Hampshire? Well, living here I've noticed several novelties: Motorcyclists without helmets, people with guns, land without fire ants, and grocery stores with beer and wine (in Texas we lived in a dry county). And the trees! They're everywhere! And they're wonderful! And the old buildings too! Plus, when we got to New Hampshire, it seemed that everyone I talked to was friendly and nice...just be prepared for the inevitable question, "Why did you move to NH?"
And everyone else wants to know "What about the weather?" It's no big thing for us. We're preparing for the winter now, and our place has a fireplace to keep us warm this first winter. I was real happy to get away from the Texas weather. I hate the heat!
Finding a job wasn't a problem either. I'm a computer programmer, and can work from home from anywhere, so I "brought my job with me."
Kira and I are finding out that we're discovering new and fun things in our new home state too. For one thing, we've rediscovered contra dancing! I had done it once when I lived in California. It's so much fun, and Kira likes it too. The place we go each week in the town of Nelson has been having contra dances for the last 200 years (!). In many ways, it's like taking a step back in time, and the people are incredibly friendly and helpful.
Bottom line? We've never been so happy that we made a move. Come on up! To the Free State!
Back to We Made the Move!