We Made the Move! -- Keyes
We Made the Move! Margot & Bradley Keyes
Date of move: January 31, 2005
By Tim Condon and the Keyes Family
It's not unusual to hear whining and grumbling about moving to the Free State because of "the bad winters" in New Hampshire. At least one set of migrating Porcupines respond, "Are you kidding? The winters in NH are mild compared to...."
But wait! We get ahead of ourselves. Say hello to the latest Free State Project dynamos to move to New Hampshire, Bradley and Margot Keyes, along with their four children (ages 6, 5, and two-year-old twins). They completed their Porcupine migration in the middle of winter by moving from Forest Lake, Minnesota to their new home in Epsom, NH (which is just outside Concord, which as the state capitol is an increasingly popular area for incoming FSP participants) in January 2005. It was a move "from one brrrrr state to a lesser brrrrr state," says Margot. "Moving from Minnesota to New Hampshire is a great distance, but not a great deal of difference in climate...except NH is milder than our part of the Midwest."
Bradley Keyes is the lead "computer architect and database designer" for Minnetronix, Inc. a medical technology firm based in Minnesota. As such, his job allows him to work from "anywhere" over the Internet, which he'll be doing from New Hampshire. Says his wife, Margot, "He plans to focus on his recruiting efforts. He says it will sure be easier after demonstrating that the move is possible, by doing it himself!" Bradley also runs his own website at www.ActiveMind.com.
Margot Keyes, a full-time mom, is an energetic activist for the FSP, and holds the position of FSP's "Greeter Coordinator," as well as being one of the organizers of this summer's Second Annual Porcupine Freedom Festival. One of the reasons they chose Epsom, explains Margot, is that "the girls will be in a Montessori program at Pathfinder Academy in Epsom, directed by Free Staters Wayne and Julie Anderson." (If anyone is in the area on Saturday, March 12th, Pathfinder is having an Open House from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
Did this dynamic family have any problems when New Hampshire was chosen in the vote as the Free State? Not at all! "We were 'glass-eaters'," says Margot, "and we would have moved anywhere the Free State was to be. It works out well for us to move so early as a family with young children. It will be easy to get them established in their Montessori school at a time when they were transitioning into a new school anyway because of grade levels. Kids this age are very versatile and adapt well when an event like this is presented positively. It also helps that we'll all be closer to our extended family members too!" (Bradley originally came from New City, NY, while Margot was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA; so moving to the east coast, and closer to their families, was easy.)
Margot and Bradley were bitten by "the Free State bug" last summer, she recounts: "After attending the 2004 Porcupine Festival last June, we came back to Minnesota and started planning for an immediate move. Although it took longer than anticipated for our home to sell, everything ended up being timed perfectly for finding both the right home to move into, and the perfect buyers for our MN home. Though the process was frustrating at times, we NEVER lost hope in the big picture of WHY we were moving to NH. Freedom can't wait any longer!"
The process of planning and making the move was helped greatly by other Free State Project participants, said Margot: "The forums on FSP's site were great! I really liked being able to talk to FSP-ers who are natives to the state, as well as those who had recently moved or visited parts of the state. We gathered a lot of information during our Porc Fest trip, including town magazines, real estate brochures, local newspapers, etc. The website 'nh.gov' was also helpful, as was obtaining the NH Guidebook from the state Chamber of Commerce. I began subscribing to New Hampshire Magazine and NH ToDo Magazine, in order to observe the local color and find out what NH'ers wanted the world to know about their state. It was fun to see those come in the mail each month, knowing I was closer to actually getting there myself."
But the Porc Fest in 2004 wasn't the only scouting trip that the two made to the Free State. "Bradley and I each made trips out to NH after our Porc Fest trip in June. The trips were in the fall, to search for homes, and what a beautiful time to see New Hampshire! The leaves are breathtaking!! I was truly surprised to note how wooded the state is. Minnesota and the Heartland is very flat and wide-open. NH is much more wooded than either areas of NY or PA where Bradley and I grew up. I was also impressed by the mountains. While not the Rockies by any means, the White Mountains are majestic and humbling to behold."
What about the house? Any trouble locating a suitable home for a family of six? "On Bradley's second trip," recounts Margot, "he found our new home. Videotaping was essential to give each other a feel for the area, the homes, etc. There is no better tool than the Internet for searching from long-distance; there are several realtor sites that will let you enter your requested home information, and then send you updates daily on homes available that meet your criteria. Even though we used the services of a 'realtor/tour guide', most of the legwork was done by us.
"Most of our research was based around homes available within a decent driving distance from our kids' new Montessori school. When we met with the Andersons at their school, Pathfinder Academy, in Epsom way back in June 2004, we knew that was where we wanted our children to be educated. Wayne and Julie Anderson are Free Staters themselves as well as being Objectivists and overall wonderful people that we immediately felt we could trust with our girls' education. The Montessori school teaches students from pre-school through junior high, which was also a strong factor for us. After this big move, we didn't want to have to do the 'school shuffle' every few years as grade levels changed."
What about Epsom? How did they decide on that town? "Back when we were unsure of where to move in the state," Margot explained, "it was great to follow discussions by fellow FSP'ers who were discussing their favorite locations. But once we honed in on the Epsom/Concord area, we relied on our own research. We were delighted to find that there wasn't just one, but two local Free State Project groups that we could belong to when we arrived: the 'Seacoast Porcupines' and the 'Merrimack Valley Porcupines'. They are both really active and have offered us an instant sense of belonging.
"We also realized how close Epsom was to Concord, the NH state capitol," says Margot. "We wanted to live near the capitol and be active in the political scene in the coming years, if not immediately. Being centrally located was also a plus, since it's only a short drive to just about everywhere! We're coming from a state large enough to put about eight New Hampshires into it, so the driving we'll be doing to go anywhere in the Free State will seem very minimal!"
"Bradley and I moved from a semi-rural area of Minnesota that is about 30 minutes north of the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. We lived on five acres there with lots of mature trees and lots of privacy. Now that we have our new home in the Free State, it's eerie how similar it is to our old one. We simply know what we like! After playing with the endless options, we happened upon our new home, a New England Cape on 5+ acres, surrounded by woods and off the main road via a private drive. Although the place is in solid structural shape, we have plans for both updating it (five new appliances in the first two weeks!) and doing inside construction to accommodate our large family, frequent planned get-togethers, and eventually adding a guest house/detached garage."
And to give us an idea of just how "in sync" this Porcupine couple is, Margot disclosed that she "hadn't even seen the home, except on video, until the walk-through prior to closing! Although that may seem odd to many," she says, "you have to just trust your spouse to know what you want."
What about the people in New Hampshire, I asked Margot. How do they seem, and have they met very many fellow Free Staters? The answer was immediate: "I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it was to see about a dozen FSP-ers show up within an hour after our closing! They were all there to welcome us and help us move in! We even had a note from someone who had dropped by WHILE we were in the closing! People simply couldn't wait to help us!! What really did the trick was to put our impending move from Minnesota onto the web site at www.nhlibertycalendar.com (a free service that ALL pro-liberty groups, not just the FSP, are using in NH). We offered refreshments to all who would come, and it turned into a great party! By the time the grandparents showed up with our kids, all the work was done, and our helpers were leaving so as to let us settle in."
"Within one week of our arrival," continued Margot, "a Meet and Greet was hosted on our behalf, as well as for two other participants who had moved to NH around the same time we had. There were 60 or more people there to welcome us! People we didn't even know were giving us lasagna plates and gifts for our children! We can't wait until WE can be the gracious hosts, and offer the same kind of 'royal red carpet treatment' that we received!"
It's well-known that many people respond with a "you're crazy!" when FSP participants announce intentions to move to the Free State and live in liberty in their lifetimes. To many people, such a move for individual freedom is just too radical...even for people who profess to believe in real liberty. But for the Keyes family, there wasn't any hesitation at all. "We truly didn't think of a move from MN to NH as any 'radical change'," explained Margot. "The climate is similar, only milder in NH. The New Hampshire winters aren't as long or as cold as they are in Minnesota. Snowfall is about the same. Since we're both from the east coast (NY and PA), making the move to New England seemed like coming back home, only more quaint than the places where we grew up.
"To tell the truth, every time we went to NH, we felt like we were on a vacation in a mountainous, woodland paradise. Even touring into the 'big' cities of Manchester and Nashua, they seemed more like small tourist towns than anything like the huge Twin Cities or Pittsburgh, not to mention New York City. Our main concern when we faced the move was our children, and then missing our friends in MN. But the welcome the girls received at their new school, Pathfinder Academy, was fantastic! Personal letters and pictures from every child in class and a school group photo! We received a very kind welcome from our new neighbors, complete with maps and a family directory -- well, that's enough to make us feel immediately 'at home'. We solved our worry about staying in touch with our friends back in MN by installing AT&T's 'Callvantage' Internet phone service. Pay only an extra $5 per month to have ANY area code number attached to YOUR phone number. Friends in MN can call us without long distance charges!
"So any fears or hesitations we had were blown away by our very first day in our new home." Margot continued. "We're surprised by how nice everyone is in town, people in stores, etc. doing things like holding doors open for us, greeting us on the street, etc.
What's the bottom line from Margot, I wanted to know. "The feeling that I am HOME!!!" she responded. "I love blending right in with the local scene, and the immediate opportunities to expand the freedoms that are already present in New Hampshire! From my understanding, we're one of the largest FSP families (with four kids) to move to the Free State. When I talk with friends about our relocation, some think we were nuts to take on so much with such a large, young family. But then I think of what our Founding Fathers and their families endured to live in freedom. It seems ridiculous to even try to compare. Freedom doesn't wait for the 'right time' or for a 'comfortable point' in our lives. We felt we had to move NOW, and get going to help make things happen as part of the Free State Project. We want to 'make it happen' TODAY."
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