We Made the Move!
Dawn Lincoln and daughters Jaclyn & Kelsey
Date of Move: April 2004
Reported by Tim Condon, FSP Participant Services Director
It's not easy being a single Mom, especially when you're responsible for
homeschooling two nearly-teenaged daughters. But Dawn Lincoln makes it look
easy. Dawn, together with her two daughters (Jaclyn, 12, and Kelsey, 10),
moved from Newington, Connecticut in April 2004, only six months after New
Hampshire was chosen as "the Free State" in the FSP vote of August and
September 2003. This dynamo Porcupine was one of the earlier members of the
Free State Project to move into the Free State, and made the move in spite of
homeschooling laws in New Hampshire that are more backward than many other
"I am currently homeschooling my daughters," explains Dawn. "The major
hesitation I had with moving to New Hampshire was the homeschool laws in NH. I
decided that I'd just have to deal with the over-regulation of homeschoolers,
and work to help make it better. Since then I've found that one of the least
invasive methods of complying with the homeschool RSA's ("Revised Statutes
Annotated," the NH term for statutes), is to use a private school as your
What about research? What kind of study did Dawn make of New Hampshire
before making the move? "Not too much!" she responds. "I knew I wanted to
follow the FSP and wanted to do it sooner rather than later. Being from
Connecticut, I wanted to find a spot in New Hampshire where I could be
relatively close to visit my family and friends in Connecticut, and have them
come visit us too. I needed an area with decently priced housing and access to
a gymnastics studio for my 12 year old, so I used the FSP web site to do some
research, and met with Jim Maynard and Shelly Otterson, both of whom live in
Keene in the southwest part of the state."
There were plenty of scouting trips to New Hampshire before the move,
though, Dawn recounts. "I made quite a few trips to come house hunting. It took
us about four months to find the right house in the right location for the
right price. After a few disappointments, we finally found the perfect house. I
focused on Cheshire County, wanting to be close to Keene but live in a little
more of a rural area than the city of Keene."
Now that she's "gone and done it," what are Dawn's impressions of the Free
State overall? "I love NH!" she responds immediately. "The people here have
been very friendly and helpful. The only person I've had a problem with is the
lady at the Department of Motor Vehicle, but that's pretty standard everywhere,
isn't it? This is a beautiful state with many people who really do believe in
Live Free or Die. In my area, I've found that a lot of people are from out of
state, especially Connecticut, so I'm not so much of an outsider as might be
true in other communities. The chair of our local board of selectmen is even
from Connecticut, and has only been in New Hampshire for about three years, so
'outsiders' are definitely able to become respected members of the community
rather quickly in this area.
Any fears about the weather? The weather is typical New England weather,"
explains Dawn. "Not much different from central Connecticut where we came from.
I know because I looked at houses in the middle of winter when it was snowy and
cold. Some areas get more snow than others, of course. My realtor told me
about a 'snow belt' - an area that gets more snow than most of the areas
surrounding it. We steered clear of there!
"There are lots of lakes and plenty of nice summer days to use them," Dawn
continued. "But I was glad we ended up with an air conditioner from our
involvement with Freecycle, when the temperatures were up around 90 in the
summer! Now we're looking forward to snowmobiling with friends this winter,
ice skating on the nearby lake, and snow skiing. We are fairly active - we like
to ski, bike ride, camp, hike, horseback ride, do gymnastics, swim, and boat.
As a result of moving, we'll most likely get into a few new things like
snowmobiling and/or four wheeling. It's really cool in the winter when you see
the snowmobiles riding along the trials near the roads!
"However, in the late spring/early summer, you do have to watch out for the
New Hampshire "official bird" - the black fly (deer fly, gnat, whatever you
want to call it!). They are annoying as can be and love to fly into your eyes
and bite too. I haven't tried this remedy, but someone told me that putting
ammonia on the bite will take the itch out
- I'll be trying it next spring!"
When exploring the Free State for a house to buy, Dawn recounts, she also
visited and met with other Porcupines, including Jim Maynard's girlfriend Pat,
Shelly Otterson, Justin Somma, and Calvin Pratt. She ultimately ended up
outside Keene in the small town of Winchester. Says Dawn, "I bought a house
right off the bat because I didn't want to have to move again. I have a 3
bedroom cape on an acre lot, just perfect for the three of us. My realtor was
awesome - Robin Smith at Masiello Group in Keene. Her work number is
603-352-5433 x 235. She worked very hard for me and helped us finally land in
the right spot. I highly recommend her."
What about new friends in the Free State? Has Dawn linked up with any?
"Yes! " she responds. "Luckily, there are many nice people involved with the
FSP who have been very welcoming and nice too! The 'Meet-and-Greets' have been
a great opportunity to meet people, as well as functions like the annual
Porcupine Festival, the Liberty Dinner, the Coalition for New Hampshire
Taxpayers picnic, the state LP convention, New Hampshire Liberty Alliance
meetings and more. I've met so many, it's hard to list them all! Kat Dillon and
her daughter Kira are two of my favorite FSP members. Kat is really sweet and
hardworking and funny too!
"I have also met a lot of people in town," Dawn continued. "My daughters
are volunteering at a nonprofit daycare center in town, and I volunteered to
help out on the Winchester Pickle Festival committee. It was a great way for me
to get to meet more people. Plus I know most of my neighbors too. For instance,
there's a farm right around the corner from us that has a sign up for eggs for
sale. So, our first day here we stopped in for some eggs. We are really lucky -
our neighbors at the farm have three kids and they homeschool and are
incredibly nice. So, the girls have been having lots of fun with their kids,
and helping with the animals."
What about the people in the Free State overall, I asked. How do they
strike her now that the move is complete? "Well, you have to go out and get
involved to meet people," Dawn responded. "But I'm very pleased with the
caliber of people that I've come across. They're nice, they're helpful and
friendly, and they seem to like their jobs too. The waitresses and cashiers are
even nice to you here!"
How did the move itself go, I wanted to know. Did anyone help Dawn and her
kids get you moved in when they got to the Free State? Says Dawn, "I had plenty
of offers but we moved in slow, one load at a time, so we were all set."
In the meantime, Dawn cautions, New Hampshire isn't perfect; there's plenty
of work for FSP members to do once they get here. "I was most surprised that
the Live Free or Die state is micromanaging their homeschoolers!" she said.
"And was even more surprised that many of the NH homeschoolers I've
corresponded by email with don't seem to think it's that bad!" Nevertheless,
she's glad, excited, and delighted to have "made the move" to the Free State:
"It's really cool to be part of such an awesome historical event like the Free
State Project. It's nice to feel like I'm really going to be able to make a
positive impact in New Hampshire, to help them retain and hopefully gain more
of the freedom they want and deserve. It's inspiring to see so many hard
working, intelligent, well-spoken individuals in this state, all working
together on various projects and within different organizations."
If you're wondering if making a move to the Free State might be right for
you too, and what it would be like, Dawn Lincoln has a few things to say for
you: "Come on up! Find a way to make it work and move as soon as you can! We
need more people here to make things happen. There are lots of hard working
people here already and lots of excellent organizations to get involved in. I
love New Hampshire! Personally, I keep the FSP stuff to myself until I really
know someone. Some people know about the FSP and think it's great, others have
heard about things like the Free Town Project and aren't so sure. But I don't
want to be prejudged by people so I just go about my business and volunteer for
things and get known that way, so I can be judged by who I am and what I do,
not for what groups I do or don't belong to."
"If anyone wants to contact me, please
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Alec Muller
Date of move: June '04
A Journey Toward Independence
by Alec Muller
Ten months ago I was unemployed, living at home with my parents, and
struggling to finish grad school (through distance-learning classes). I'd spent
five months looking for work both inside and outside New Hampshire with very
few leads. I'd been at home in Maine for just over a year, and I'd been
trudging my way through a master's degree for almost three years (they're
supposed to take about half that long). Gainful employment, a sense of
independence, and the satisfaction of having completed something all seemed
just beyond my reach. I was beginning to get discouraged.
All that changed, however, on a fateful day in May. A small engineering
and design company from Manchester called me and told me they'd take me on
as a contractor for a few weeks, and that it had the potential to turn into
full-time employment. I was elated to find any work at all, but this was a
double bonus because it meant that I'd actually be able to move to the Free
State right away, instead of waiting and having to change jobs later on. "How
soon can you start?" they asked. "Two and a half hours," I answered,
remembering how long it had taken me to drive down for the interview several
months earlier. They laughed and told me the following afternoon would be
I made arrangements to stay with an aunt and uncle in northern
Massachusetts, and for the next six weeks I commuted 45 minutes to an hour each
way into southern New Hampshire. Tired of the commute, I talked to other Free
Staters, found a rooming house through Joel Rauch, and did the paperwork to
become a New Hampshire resident. Deciding that a motorcycle wasn't going to
cut it through a New England winter, I made use of my residency and bought my
first car. New Hampshire's tax advantage hit me right away, and I figured out
that between sales tax and registration fees, I'd saved the equivalent of four
months worth of car payments just by being a Granite State resident.
The benefits of moving to the Free State go far beyond taxes, though. Even
before I got here there was an existing network of people who'd moved before me
or had lived here all along, and they made it far easier for me to set down
roots and establish a circle of friends than it's ever been for me before.
Bars, movies, get-togethers at people's homes, a day or two in the blazing sun
collecting ballot access petitions at town dumps I've realized that it's
important to have friends wherever you go in life, and for a libertarian in New
Hampshire, it's been a lot easier than I'd anticipated.
After five weeks in the rooming house, I moved in with fellow porcupine
Karl Beisel; he has a beautiful house in a nice north end neighborhood that's
only seven minutes from where I work. It has enough bedrooms for five or six
people, and he lets out rooms to porcupines, students, and professionals to
help pay his bills. It was a great improvement over the rooming house and the
long commute, but I think I liked the idea of Karl's house too much to
actually live in it for the long term; I wanted to copy it instead.
Over the next six months I saved everything I could while working on
distance-learning classes and pestering my bosses to define my employment. In
December I finally finished grad school after 3 ? years of screwing around, and
in early January, I finally came to an agreement with my bosses and became a
salaried employee after eight months as a contractor. Eight days after that I
made an offer on a six-bedroom house, and last week I closed on it and moved
in. After moving ten times in four years and owning nothing that couldn't be
moved by motorcycle, I finally have a place to call my own.
My struggle for personal independence is far from over, but the last few
months I've spent in New Hampshire have given me a tremendous sense of
self-confidence and satisfaction. My only regret is that I didn't start
looking for work here even sooner than I did.
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! "Joel"
Date of move: March 2004
Are you scared of taking that leap into the unknown? Of moving and
living in freedom in the Free State? So are lots of others!
But you need not fear. A steady stream of Porcupines is making the
migration into New Hampshire right now. Here's the story of one of them (who
wishes to remain anonymous; let's call him "Joel" for the purpose of telling
his story). Tim Condon, FSP Participant Services Director
My name is Joel, and I made the move from Tallahassee, Florida last year,
arriving in the Free State of New Hampshire in March 2004.
Because I was convinced by the Free State Project plan, and committed to
moving to NH from the time it was chosen, the only real research I did on the
state beforehand was to look over a map to see where the big cities were. I
chose to live in Manchester, the largest city and close to Concord and Nashua.
I arrived on a Thursday morning, found a newspaper, and started looking for
a place to live. By that afternoon I'd found a room to rent. Nothing fancy, but
it was clean and convenient.
On Friday morning I went through the newspaper looking for work. I'm a
carpenter, and I was surprised to find that there were lots of opportunities.
The very first person I talked to set up an interview for me that afternoon,
and I was hired on the spot, for more money than I had been making in Florida!
So within approximately 36 hours of arriving in the Free State, I easily
found both a place to live and a good job.
Not long after I arrived in New Hampshire, I had an opportunity to meet
another FSP member named Patrick who was visiting from Nevada. He was doing his
own research, and wanted to meet and talk to people who had already moved here,
so we got together for dinner. I was a little nervous. Up to that time I'd
never actually met another FSP Porcupine. I knew I wasn't crazy to have moved
across the country in search of liberty...but I wondered if other people
contemplating such a move would be.
I needn't have worried. Patrick turned out to be a normal guy, and our
meeting was the beginning of a great friendship. Later that same week, I
attended a Free State Project "Meet and Greet" party where I had the
opportunity to meet all sorts of Porcupines, from FSP President Amanda Phillips
to Michael Badnarik, who later became the national Libertarian Party
presidential candidate. It was a great event, and by the time it ended I knew
I'd made the right decision in moving to New Hampshire "ahead of the rush."
I've been in the Free State almost a year now, and I'm amazed at the
frequency of new arrivals. Every week I hear of someone new moving here, and
all are ready to get involved as soon as they arrive. We're putting together a
great team here, consisting of both new movers and long-time Granite State
residents, and we're going to make a difference.
For anyone and everyone considering "making the move," I say "do it now."
You won't be sorry. The reward is Liberty in your own Lifetime!
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Russell Kanning
Date of move: March 2004
Reported by Tim Condon, FSP Participant Services
For the early-mover members of the Free State Project, it's usually pretty
clear why they "make the move" to New Hampshire. But some make the move for
reasons other than the chance to live in liberty among other freedom-lovers.
Russell Kanning is one of those: He moved for love! Call it "Porcupine
love" (if the whole notion isn't sharply self-contradictory). Upon moving to
the Free State from Wyoming in November 2004, he married FSP leader and
super-activist Kat Dillon (who herself had moved to New Hampshire from Texas
less than a year before). They now make up a Porcupine family of three with
Kat's daughter Kira.
Russell was living in Victorville, California sometime 2003 when he first
read about the Free State Project. "I signed up within days of reading about
the FSP for the first time," he recounts. Then he moved to Wyoming later that
year with his family, hoping that that state would be the state chosen.
Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately Russell had one more move to make before
he could live among other liberty-lovers after New Hampshire was chosen in late
2003 by the FSP membership vote.
It was unnecessary for Russell to do any advance scouting in the Free
State. He and Kat had already struck up an online friendship as a result of
both being activist FSP members. "I knew I would like any part of NH," he says,
"so I had not made any exploratory visits. But I did ask plenty of questions.
And I married Kat as soon as I moved into the state, to Keene."
About his first impressions, Kanning says "I like New Hampshire even more
than I thought. It's not quite as cold in the winter as I expected, and it's a
little warmer than Wyoming. Also, the people are very friendly in New Hampshire
and seem to have positive impressions of the FSP on the whole."
Russell recounts the same story about both anticipation and trepidation
upon coming to the Free State and meeting other Porcupines. "One of the things
I was looking forward to in NH was meeting my fellow Porcupines," he remembers.
"I have not been disappointed. I've met so many Porcs in the past few months
that I can't name them all. In fact, many of them I met in just the first few
weeks after arriving."
Any fears about the cold winters that some people use as an excuse not to
make the move to the Free State? "I wasn't concerned about the weather,"
Russell says. "I knew I would like New Hampshire no matter where I ended up. I
had been living in southern California for about 16 years, but I grew up in
Montana and Utah, so I was used to cold and snow." But even so, New Hampshire
turned out to be a shock for Kanning: "I've never lived in a place with this
much rain and all the beautiful trees," he marvels.
One thing that did concern him, he says, was the welcome or lack thereof
that he and other Porcupines would receive upon moving to New Hampshire. "I was
curious to find out how 'flinty' the locals would be," he says. "As it turns
out, they're friendly and don't seem to mind outsiders coming from as far away
He was also surprised by the condition of the roads in the Free State.
"Since we have so many hills in New Hampshire, and winding roads, I'm surprised
at how nice the roads are, and how well you can get around the state. It's also
pretty obvious that the road conditions worsen as soon as you cross the border
into the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts," Russell says with a grin.
What about the job situation? Was he worried about his ability to find a
job? Not at all: "New Hampshire is a very busy place, and it wasn't hard at
all for me to find the kind of accounting work that I do," he recounts.
Kanning is also looking forward to doing wintery sport things with his new
family in Keene. "My new wife and daughter went sledding for the first time in
their lives yesterday," he said. "We'll also be doing some outdoor skating,
which will be new for all of us. I'm an avid sports fan and like to play
basketball too, so I'll continue doing that here in New Hampshire. I'm also
making the big switch to New England teams from the Utah Jazz, Denver Broncos,
and LA Dodgers, since New Hampshire is now my home and will be my home from now
Any words of advice to others who may be contemplating the possibility of
moving to the Free State as part of the FSP migration? Russell is very explicit
about that: "You will not regret moving to New Hampshire early," he says.
"Everyone I meet is glad they moved, and I'm surprised at how much we can
accomplish already in the state, and how much the good people of New Hampshire
are welcoming us here. Each of you should move as soon as you can. You'll love
every minute in your new home in the Free State!"
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Charlie Gershfield
When I was still only vaguely aware of the Free State Project, my
friend Herb was
telling me on the phone that I should move to New Hampshire because it
was a "libertarian state". I wasn't sure what evidence he had of
that other than what he had read on a license plate, "live free or
die". Herb and I used to work
together a long time ago in the defence industry and, since then, I did
the occasional contract job for him as we both moved around the country
in our separate directions. He was working in Burlington,
the time. Meanwhile, Hazel and I were looking for a place to move
to where our kids would be relatively safe, and where there would
be some career opportunities in the area along with a group of home
schoolers where the kids could find friends. We had already
decided on New Hampshire. It's possible to get a job here without
already knowing you - but it certainly doesn't hurt if someone has
with you and can recommend you. So, with job offer in hand we
went to work on the really big job - moving - and here's the story.
First of all, in order to move, you have to clean up a bunch of loose
ends and sell your house wherever you live. We owned a 40 acre
place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a do it yourself house
construction project going on, animals, a garage/barn that needed a
major cleanup job, an old house that needed demolishing and a bunch of
landscaping work that needed to be done. My advice to anyone
looking to move in the forseeable future: get your place in shape
now. Do not wait until you want to move because it's a lot of
work and it's cheaper if you're not being rushed to finish things in
time. Those of you who are well organized people where everything
is always in its correct place and the lawn is always mowed can
disregard the above advice. Also if you live in an apartment,
good for you. All you have to worry about is when the lease is up
- or when you can get out of it.
Of course, it's always best to travel light. But we all have a
bunch of stuff that we hate to get rid of. It didn't take much
deliberation for us to reject the idea of paying $15,000 to a moving
company. It's expensive to carry a lot of weight. So we
like to pack up as much weight as possible in boxes and send it through
the post office. They will keep your stuff at the post office at
your destination for some time - I believe it's up to 30 days - until
you can pick it up. Send it by the slowest cheapest rate
available. If you're lucky you may be able to get someone to pace
your stuff at the sending end so it doesn't all arrive at once at the
For this move, we purchased a 16 foot enclosed household goods
trailer. Including sway bars, electric brake controller and other
odds and ends it came to about $5000 brand new. Unlike a rental
truck, you can store things in it for months while you pack
or unpack. And the same vehicle comes in handy when you move a
year later - more on this in the next section. And, of course, if
you have no use for the trailer any more, you can sell it and get most
of your money back. There's a good market for used trailers.
We rented here for a
year before buying any real estate. During the year, we had a
chance to familiarize ourselves
with the area and look around for a property to buy. This also
allowed time for the old place in Michigan to be sold. It also
allows you one
year to change your mind and bail out without the complication of more
real estate problems. Find out the names of some newspapers
that you want
to look in for classified ads. Talk to real estate agents.
They know all about advertising in newspapers. You can find the
contact information for real estate agents in the area you're
interested in by searching on the Internet. Get a newspaper
sent to your current address for 3 months and start calling
landlords. We found our rental house in the Peterborough
Transcript. It was in Temple (about 45
west of Nashua) and this was in spite of the fact that we came with 5
kids, a dog, a rabbit and 4
Buying Real Estate
If you are looking for real estate in the Peterborough area (about an
hour west of Nashua, 1/2 hour east of Keene) I recommend talking to
Barbara Quinlan at
ERA Masiello in Peterborough (603-924-8373). She was very
ended up buying a place in Bennington, about 10 miles north of
Peterborough. It was close to people that Hazel had made friends
with during the first year but it was a nightmare for my commute to
Burlington Mass. However, the
place we got was cheaper than buying closer to the Boston
megalopolis. As a programmer,
fairly easy for to make the point that I need to stay out of the office
one or two days
a week to have time to actually write some code instead of go to
meetings all day.
And how cheap is it? It's expensive - at least in the southeast
portion of the state. Maybe if you're coming
from New York, Tokyo or London, you'll think this is cheap. But
standards this is high. Our place is an hour and 45 minutes from
the high technology center of the Boston suburbia, Burlington,
Massachusetts, and a 40 year old raised ranch on 5 acres in medium fair
shape with a large garage is $185,000, with 1200 sq. ft finished.
It goes up from there as
you travel east and south. And, as you can see from the picture
this house needed a little bit of drain pipe work in the back yard.
Regarding the actual houses, there are two kinds here (roughly
speaking): 200 year
old houses that are made from post and beam hardwood, and the typical
stick frame houses that are all over the country today such as the one
we bought, a "raised ranch", for example. For the same living
space, a twentieth century
house is cheaper and is easier to maintain than the antiques. The
old post and beam houses tend to be a
little out of plumb with no square corners anywhere and the floors are
not exactly flat or level.
Caring for one of these is a great hobby if you have the
time for it and certainly these houses have plenty of character.
And they were built strong. A hundred years from now, these
houses will be 300 years old and our raised ranch will most likely be
First the good news. There is no requirement to have insurance in
order to operate a car on the roads. Of course, you probably want
it anyway and you need it to drive out of state. But we purchased
a used car from a dealer and drove it off the lot without talking to an
insurance agent. That was nice. The state seat belt law
only applies to under 18 year olds.
Now the rest of the news. If you're bringing a trailer in, you
should try to get a title for it first, or at least a copy of
one. They have a rough time understanding that you don't have a
title because the state you came from only issues registations, not
titles. Property taxes are high - and we were unable to figure
out how to predict what they would be based on the purchase price of
the house and the town it's in. They re-evaluate the property
every now and then even if it hasn't been sold recently. In taxes
and registration, our 2 cars and a trailer are about $400 a year.
We had to go back and forth between the town hall and the DMV
(Department of Motor Vehicles) in Milford to finally pay it all.
The driver's license is done at the DMV. You are supposed to get
the car inspected, although they don't volunteer that information when
you register the vehicle. Gas stations and repair shops do
it. Cable, phone, electric etc. was somewhat confusing. You
should get the story from whoever lived there before you about who to
contact about all that. To register to vote, start at the town
I already had a contact for a job
in the area, but it seems that the Nashua, Manchester, Concord region
has a lot of
business and industry. And there is the route 128 (I-95) area in
Massachusetts and the whole greater Boston area to look in.
Remember that if you work in Mass., you'll be paying real estate and
real property taxes in New Hampshire and income tax in Massachusetts -
the worst of both worlds. This is what I'm doing, but anyway,
What It's Like
Some people are concerned about the northern winters here. After
spending 7 years on the shores of Lake Superior, the winter here seemed
There's a long fall where the
leaves turn gradually
from north to south, different species showing their colors at
different times. For those of you from the West, you have to see
the fall colors in the East. Then, there are the rivers and
lakes. This area is full of hills, some mountains, carrying rocky
streams feeding into lakes that you can swim in or paddle around on in
a kayak. The kids get plenty of swimming time in the
summer. There's enough sun, rain and growing season to grow nice
vegetables here in your back yard.
And it's not as sweltering hot
as some places are in the summer.
The people here have turned out to be generally quite friendly.
the commute isn't so bad - there are enough considerate people on the
road that let each other in, so that it's pretty pleasant - not at all
like the stereotype of the Boston area drivers, who are supposed to try
and run you off the road while pretending they can't see you.
The home schooling involves a little more bureaucracy than where we
There are no reporting requirements in Michigan. We decided to
join an organization. The kids are enrolled in Clonlara,
a secular school in Anne Arbor, Michigan. Clon
home schooling paperwork from all 50 states and they help you out.
When we first came up with the idea of moving, the kids were not
excited. But after a year, they have met a lot of
new friends and are now happy that they moved.
are a lot of home schoolers in the area, so, for you home schoolers out
there, your kids will have plenty of friends. You yourself will
also have an automatic group of people you have something in common
Any time you move, there will be things about the old place that you
didn't even realize were important to you until they are gone.
New activities take the place of old ones and your life inevitably will
change. While some people welcome the change, others eventually
refuse to move any more because they don't want to disrupt their lives
I was originally from New York. There are Italian neighborhoods,
German neghborhoods, Polish, Korean, you name it. People like to
live near other people with a common culture and language. I
never found a libertarian neighborhood in New York though, or anywhere
else in my travels for that matter. After
being here for a year, I've come to the conclusion that this may be the
closest thing to a libertarian
neighborhood we'll ever see in our life time. And it may be a
good place to move to before finally deciding to stop disrupting your
life with additional moves.
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Denise
Greetings and salutations! :-) (anyone who knows me knows I'm not really
that formal in person!)
I was a *really* early mover. (I have been in NH for just over a year now).
I had signed a lease to move to NH from MA in August 2003, mailed my ballot in,
and moved into my new apartment. I had been considering moving North for some
time, and with starting graduate school last year, I needed to not be paying
$1300/mo + utilities anymore. Besides I like the liberty minded independent
streak in the whole state. (Just look at how many vanity plates are out there
on NH roads. Freedom of expression is certainly alive in that way up here!)
I am currently working in MA, and living in Southern NH. I expect to change
jobs within the next year, but right now I am biding my time while pulling
together funding to purchase a small camp. I will eventually rebuild it, in
order to make it affordable for me to own my own home.
Some people complain about the high property tax rates up here. But
considering the average cost of the homes themselves here, compared with living
in a major metro area such as Boston/NYC/DC as I was, the amount spent in taxes
is much lower, as the housing prices are lower for much nicer homes. As a
comparison, my parents live in northern NJ. When I told them what the annual
taxes were on a home of the same selling price as their home might go for, they
were amazed how much less per year they might pay in NH, for a home of similar
size but including a nice amount of acreage near Concord, and are seriously
considering moving up to retire. And as more freestaters move up here, we
should all join the NH taxpayer association (as all local New Hampshire-ites
should!) in order to work on reducing the rates even more, allowing us to
influence how our money will be spent in our communities, and attempt to move
more toward a smaller government.
In any case, if a single woman can make it work to move up here, and be
considering purchasing a home, I think most anyone can.
I hope my little note is useful to some, and I am on the local porcupine
list (ladypantherrr) if anyone would like to ask me more.
- Denise, Nashua area
Back to We Made the Move!
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
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
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
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!
I Made the Move! Patricia Evans
Date of move: September 2004
By Tim Condon
Some people have all the luck! It's hard enough picking up and moving with
your family to attain liberty in your lifetime. But think about people who have
to make the move from far-flung places such as Fresno, California (Varrin & Edi
Swearingen), Eugene Oregon (Christine Lopez and Seth Cohn), Forest Lake,
Minnesota (Bradley and Margot Keyes), or Frost, Texas (Kat Dillon and her
daughter Kira). Yikes!
Not to mention the inevitable search for a new job. But then there's Patty
Evans. In order to live in liberty in her own lifetime, she had to pick up and
move...a few miles across the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border.
And--gasp!--she even got to keep her job (in Massachusetts), and now simply
commutes across the state line!
Meet Patty Evans, whose roundabout introduction to the Free State Project
may have resulted in the shortest move into New Hampshire of any migrating
"My first association with the Free State Project was about a year ago,
driving south on Route 128 in Burlington, Massachusetts," Patty explained. "I
am fascinated with vanity license plates, and couldn't help but notice the
plate on the car in front of me. 'ANARCH', it said. Little did I know that I
was driving behind self-proclaimed anarchist Amanda Phillips, the President of
the Free State Project!" I made the connection when a co-worker told me a few
weeks later about the FSP and Amanda, and her license plate. He thought I would
be interested in the Free State Project because I grew up in Plaistow, New
Hampshire, and had been planning on moving back to NH for quite a while."
One thing led to another, and soon Patty got a chance to meet Amanda
Phillips in person. "A few weeks later my co-worker invited Amanda to stop by
our workplace so we could meet her and each sign a Statement of Intent. I made
an apple pie for the occasion, and decided to decorate the crust with 'NH' and
a porcupine, the mascot of the Free State Project. Amanda liked it so much
that she posted a photo of my pie on the front page of the FSP website for
almost a month! The caption under the picture, coined by my co-worker, said
'Live Free or Pie'. I still use that caption as my personal signature, and
include a link to the photo and the FSP website. LOL, you can still see that famous pie (long
"Why did I join the Free State Project? Honestly, in the beginning I agreed
to join simply to help with the membership count. I didn't consider myself
Libertarian by any means, and the closest I ever got to being a political
activist was making sure I got out to vote on the appropriate day. But I
already had personal plans to move back to New Hampshire, a move of only a few
miles because I lived in Haverhill, Mass., right on the NH border. I didn't
have to make any soul-searching decision, like other more courageous members of
the Free State Project, to leave my extended family, my job, and my home to
move hundreds (or in some cases, thousands) of miles away from my hometown. In
fact, I've been living in New Hampshire for almost a year now, and I still work
at the same job in Burlington, Mass., and my family is nearby. So that part was
Faced with the breakup of her 24-year marriage, Patty found it a good time
to make the move to New Hampshire that she had been planning. "I have some very
dear friends who live in Kingston, NH, who offered to let me stay with them for
as long as I needed," she recounts. "I moved into their home in June 2004 and
stayed with them through the summer. I am still so grateful for their
hospitality and for the opportunity to live with them temporarily in New
Hampshire. I remember the first night that I left work, and realized that I'd
be commuting home to New Hampshire."
"'Home to New Hampshire'," she mused. "That sure has a nice ring to it!"
"My friends live on a small lake, so during that summer we spent many
evenings out on the lake, in kayaks or in their canoe. Many of their neighbors
around the lake do the same thing, so on the Fourth of July everyone paddled
out to the middle of the lake to watch the fireworks. It wasn't town-sponsored
fireworks, although we did see some professional displays from the surrounding
towns. The fireworks displays we watched from the middle of the lake were from
the yards of houses surrounding the lake. Everyone put on their own displays
because fireworks are legal in New Hampshire! Many of the neighbors hunt
together, and all take advantage of the open-carry guns laws too! It was that
night that I knew I was never going to return to Massachusetts to live."
"So here I am, almost a year later, writing this letter from my new
residence in Seabrook, New Hampshire. My personal life is still in limbo, so a
temporary housing arrangement seemed like the perfect solution for now. I love
the ocean, having spent all my summers growing up in a cottage that my parents
owned in Newbury, Mass., so I searched for a place to live in the beach
communities of New Hampshire. There are only 16 miles of coastline in the
state, so I didn't have to search very long. I found a winter rental unit,
actually half a house, at Seabrook Beach, and moved in during September 2004."
"Immediately after I moved back to NH, I couldn't wait to get those green
and white license plates with the Old Man in the Mountain, and of course the
state motto 'Live Free or Die' depicted on them. Until now, it's been almost 25
years since I had a NH license plate on my car," Getting the car registered
turned out to be a "paper chase" for Patty, but she found out that the way they
do it in New Hampshire still made it quite a bit simpler: "It's not necessary
to go to the DMV in Epping, NH for most registration transactions," she
recounts. "The Town Clerk in any New Hampshire town has the authority to issue
license plates, renew registrations, and other routine registry transactions.
So for a small $1.00 fee you can save yourself the trip to the DMV. And, as I
mentioned above, I'm fascinated with vanity license plates, so of course I had
to apply for one, which only costs $25.00. I picked one to honor the Free State
Patty quickly found that there were financial benefits to living back in
New Hampshire when she started shopping for car insurance. "Although New
Hampshire doesn't require auto insurance, I decided to insure anyway, since I
commute each day almost 40 miles into Massachusetts. I was able to insure my
car through Geico, which would have been impossible in Mass., since they don't
do business in that state. The result was that my insurance bill went from
$1,150 per year in Mass. (I'm a step 9 driver, the best rating you can have),
to an annual cost of only $850 in New Hampshire."
Even though she may or may not be living permanently in her present town of
Seabrook, Patty Evans has found that she loves it there. "I just love small
towns," she says. "There's an exchange area at the Seabrook town dump where
people can drop off unwanted items that are still in working order, so someone
else can have them! I haven't been there yet, but I also understand that's also
the place to go to hear all of the latest town gossip."
"In this small town, I'm greeted by my first name at the post office. And
neighbors who have lived here for years have invited me to their homes for
coffee. During the Christmas holiday I was invited to a neighborhood wine and
cheese party. When I had surgery on my throat in December, five minutes after I
got home my doorbell rang; it was a neighbor who lives across the street. She
had been waiting for me to come home so she could bring me a container of
homemade chicken soup. Amazing! My friends thought I was very brave to try to
start a new life by moving to a town where I didn't know a single person, but
after living here for six months, I feel more a part of this community than I
ever did in Haverhill after living there for 25 years!"
Yet another adventure Patty had was the first time she got to vote in a New
Hampshire town election. "I moved here from Massachusetts in September 2004,
but since there is no minimum period of time you have to live in the state
before being allowed to register, I was eligible to vote in the March 8th
elections. On the way to the polls I couldn't help but notice the proliferation
of campaign signs along the sides of the road. Hand-drawn signs stuck in snow
banks called out simple messages like 'Rachel Small for Librarian' and 'Asa
Knowles Tried and True'."
I knew I had arrived at the Seabrook Community voting center because the
snow banks, before and after the center, were literally covered with
candidates' signs, some professionally printed, but many homemade! One giant
sign, eight feet by eight feet, said 'Write in Earl Frost - Selectman!' in
bright red, hand-painted letters."
"Even though I got there early at 9:00 a.m., I was surprised to find the
parking lot was almost full. I found it amazing because it was a very cold and
rainy morning. If this were the town in Massachusetts that I had moved from,
the rain alone would have caused low voter turnout. In the pouring rain I saw
many senior citizens, some of them handicapped, dutifully struggling to get out
of their cars so they could go vote. The citizens of this little town take
their right to vote very seriously."
"At the entrance to the Community Center, both sides of the sidewalk were
lined with candidates. They were toughing it out in the cold and rain with
umbrellas and big smiles. They welcomed each voter as they arrived, and some
passed out what looked like business cards. One of the cards I received was
quaint, and yet stirring: 'Write in Earl Frost III - Selectman - New Blood'.
Inside the Community Center there were even more candidates greeting voters.
After making my way through all the smiling candidates, I entered the Community
Center gym and was directed by yet another smiling face to a line forming in
the middle of the room. When it came my turn to vote, a poll worker told me I
could pick any booth that 'didn't have feet'. I puzzled over that for a moment,
and then realized that almost every booth had a curtain and a set of feet below
it. Seabrook's town charter specifies that 'all elections for municipal offices
and statutory ballot questions shall be by Australian Ballot in accordance with
state and federal laws'. I soon figured out that 'Australian Ballot' means
"The most interesting Article to vote on that day concerned repealing a
'cat license' ordinance. It turned out that Seabrook was the only town in the
state, and possibly New England, to have a cat license requirement. Citizens of
Seabrook were charged $7.50 each year for their cat licenses, and the fine for
unlicensed cats could run up to $70.00. The intent was apparently to reduce the
feral cat population in Seabrook, but like so many government bright ideas, the
ordinance seemed to have the opposite effect. Many citizens, owning more than
one cat, and not able to afford the license fees and fines, released the cats
into the wild, which in turn increased the feral cat population in the town. Of
course I voted to repeal it! And the repeal succeeded, by 1,043 to 747 votes."
"I have to say, I am so impressed by this town and its people. I am so glad
I moved here. And I hope that I can help with an 'evolution' (not a
'revolution') through my association with the Free State Project. There is a
level of grassroots political activism here in New Hampshire that I haven't
seen since the early 1970's. Free State Project early-movers are already taking
active roles in their new communities in so many different ways. They are
running for local offices and become involved even at the State House level by
getting to know our representatives and the House Bills they support. Free
State Project members are also testifying at hearings at the State House, and
protesting injustices--such as the recent zoning variance issue in Hampton that
threatened to destroy a resident family--by handing out flyers and standing in
front of the courthouse with handmade signs during hearings on the matter. FSP
Porcupines are also raising money for pro-liberty organizations like the
Liberty Scholarship fund and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance."
"The most amazing thing about the FSP early-movers is how much they care
for each other and their new home state, and how willing they are to help each
other become comfortable in their new homes. I have attended a few Seacoast
Porcupines group monthly meetings, and have become acquainted with many of the
Seacoast early-movers. I also met Kate and Adam Rick when they were visiting
last summer at a 'Meet and Greet' at Newick's in Dover, NH. I've also helped
out a little by reviewing pending House Bills and posting them on the House
Bills email list. And I'm also responsible, along with my fellow Porcupine
co-worker, for the release 'into the wild' of the Geocaching Free State Project
Says Patty, "The Free State Project early-movers are like true pioneers,
laying the groundwork, clearing the fields, and planting the crops that will
support the liberty-loving communities of New Hampshire's future, and I'm proud
to be a member of this group!"
Back to We Made the Move!
We Made the Move! Karl Beisel
Date of move: June 19, 2004
After my first visit to New Hampshire in the summer of 2003, I could barely
think or talk about anything else. More than a year later, and after 5 months
of being a New Hampshire resident, I still can't think about anything else. I
love this place!
My decision to make the move was pretty easy. The city in which I lived,
Washington, DC, was already a cesspool of corruption and unfreedom. The
government's dysfunctional overreaction in the aftermath of September 11 only
worsened the situation barriers were erected around city parks, SAM
sites popped up on the National Mall, machine-gun toting "police men" put
everyone in their place at public gatherings. Even that perennial of terrorist
targets, the local DMV, had metal detectors and more guards installed. The
city, and its surrounding suburbs, had gone mad.
What a difference in New Hampshire! In December of 2003, I took a week off
to explore the southern part of the
state for a town or city where I could see myself living. When I passed
though Concord, I stopped at the State House. I had read that there were
(gasp) no metal detectors, and people could just walk in and go about
their business. I tested it out, and sure enough, walked right in, visited the
House chamber, and toured the facility on my own. The whole state seemed as
far removed from Washington, DC as the moon, but much prettier.
As a result of my tour, I chose to live in Manchester. The following
spring, I traveled back to Manchester to buy a house. There was plenty of
housing to choose from in the city, something for just about every budget. I
quickly found what I wanted and moved in mid-June.
After moving, I met a number of other Porcupines, as well as several
like-minded residents. There was no shortage of things to do for the freedom.
Activities like meet-and-greets, political meetings, conventions, campaigning
for political candidates, and informal social gatherings quickly maxed out my
schedule. Most of the folks who have moved are very active in various ways to
promote freedom. This is incredibly encouraging.
Of course, life isn't all about the fight for freedom its about
enjoying its fruits as well. As a hockey player and fan, New Hampshire's got me
covered, with several local leagues, a top college team, and a minor league
team. I'm looking forward to other winter sporting opportunities that were
less accessible to me before. I'm now in the process of starting an adult
kickball league here in Manchester, one of the very few good things to come out
of Washington, DC.
The bottom line is that moving to New Hampshire was the best decision I
could have made. I think I'll stay! :)
Back to We Made the Move!