(Reposted from The Lazy Faire)

 Today started off with a promising snow flurry, which quickly tapered off and left only a light dusting of snow, which in turn was quickly melted.  Stacey and I commiserated over our mutual disappointment in the paucity of snowfall this year, which led inevitably to a discussion of our growing dissatisfaction with Pennsylvania in general.  We love the community of friends we’ve slowly grown here over the last eight years; but in many ways it is becoming clearer that PA is not going to be the optimal state in which to live out our dreams.

This then led to an impromptu research session into various US states, and the throwing-together of a spreadsheet to compare various state attributes head-to-head.  We defined our criteria for “goodness” in a state consist first in foremost in the triumvirate of terrain (we love the mountains); snowfall (we love snow); and friendliness to homeschooling.  To that we added a laundry list of lesser criteria, mostly having to do with how much various aspects of life are regulated, such as tax load, gun laws, restrictions on raw milk sales, anti-midwifery laws, etc.  In aggregate these latter measures paint a picture of how oppressive or liberal a state’s policies are.

After a lot of research and some spreadsheet-fu to assign weighted scores to each statistic, we arrived at the following top-five list:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Colorado
  • Montana
  • Oregon

It wasn’t a surprise to see Alaska high on the list.  Alaska has long been on my mental list of possible long-term destinations; if for no other reason than that I sometimes just feel like getting the hell away from everyone.  Alaska has plenty of space, plenty of mountains, plenty of snow, and a generally lax legal environment.  

But Idaho as number 2?  I’ve never given a second thought to Idaho; if anything, I just thought “something about potatoes” and moved on.  Turns out Idaho meets or exceeds our requirements in almost every way: a hands-of policy towards homeschooling; large swaths of mountainous wilderness; and hefty snowfall.  We’re definitely going to be doing some more research into Idaho, and maybe a family vacation is in the cards…

The other surprise was that New Hampshire, long at the top of our shared mental list of destinations, didn’t even make it into the top five (it landed at number eight).  This is largely due to the fact, new to us, that New Hampshire’s homeschooling regulations rival Pennsylvania’s in onerousness. We once spent a summer vacation camping out with the Free State Project in the New Hampshire mountains, so that we could evaluate it firsthand as a potential destination.  Now it’s not looking nearly as attractive.

So.  Idaho, huh?  Anyone else have any thoughts on Idaho?  Any Idahoans out there?

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  1. well, Idaho is close to me (i am in WA) so thats a plus. my friend’s fiancee is from Idaho. she grew up fairly isolated (like the nearest neighbor was Ruby Ridge, couldn’t picture a a row house isolated) and dirt poor, but doesn’t seem the worse for it. she lives in MD now, has a good job, is happy etc.

    she did say that the culture she grew up in was very restrictive about women. she didn’t go to college for a while because she didn’t want to be a nurse or teacher and those were really the only two options given as valid. of course, she grew up very strict christian so i am not sure how much of that was the religion and how much was the state, or if they were intertwined. so watch for that.

    good luck in your search, and my prayers for you – if you don;’t mind.

  2. Doesn’t surprise me…

    .. given your qualifications.. idaho, in many ways sounds like it’d be ideal.

    The only real negatives that I’d heard about Idaho are the really strong Aryan Nation groups that are out there… Otherwise, the scenery is supposed to be beautiful..

    Not my ideal.. but then again..that was already fairly clear.. 🙂

    1. Re: Doesn't surprise me…

      Yeah, we were just looking up some other stats, and discovering that Idaho is a pretty right-wing state – gay-marriage ban, etc. *sigh*

      1. yup..

        I’m pretty sure that Montana has a much higher share of libertarians amongst the right-wing crowd than Idaho does.. Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon also..

        Alaska too, of course… But I also seem to remember that the rates of rape and spousal abuse in Alaska were some exceptionally high number.. (came up during the election, I think) like 3x the national average or some ridiculous thing.. That might be just propaganda by anti-palin folk.. but it’d be worth checking into before deciding to relocate there..

        as for New Hampshire—one thing that seems to be true is that it is being overrun (at least on the state level) from fleeing-Massachusetts folk.. so it is, over the long run, going to tend liberal.. and not nec. the kind of pragmatic, live and let live, compromise oriented midwestern liberals, but more like the orthodox, far more ideological brand of East-Coast liberal that can really drive me up the wall sometimes..

  3. I have libertarian-ish friends up in Montana, and they all love it. It’s sort of part of the culture. And there’s definitely snow. I’d probably put it above Idaho, just in terms of attractiveness due to the number of good people I know up there.

    But that’s my two cents. 🙂

    1. I should probably add that I consider it above Colorado because it’s comparatively so, so cheap. (Given only the choice between Colorado and Montana, I’d choose Colorado, because I really, really don’t care for snow and cold. But given y’all are fond of that stuff, it’s no contest.)

  4. Folks live there

    There is some tech employment around Boise.
    North of there, in the Rockies, the state is just stunningly beautiful.
    Very, very red state, though, Larry Craig notwithstanding. 😉

  5. Don’t know nothin bout Idaho, but everyone I know who lives in or has lived in Colorado or Montana loved it. I’m Montana specifically is pretty big brother lite.

    I’d avoid Alaska. I remember either you or Stacey mentioning SAD at some point, which would make Alaska a very bad choice.

    1. Alaska not so bad…

      I do get especially dark and moody in the winter, but mostly when there’s no snow. That’s the trouble with snow-free locations – if there’s nothing to do outdoors, it gets me down. We want a snow-full location! I do because I want to do those winter sports I always hear about and left Florida in search of. Would like a sound reason to buy snow shoes, for example. Can’t do that here. When would I use them? Rarely.

      1. Re: Alaska not so bad…

        As someone who has lived in a very snowy environment, I recommend seeking out snowy places that are nonetheless temperate (like maybe Colorado). I grew up in Heidelberg, which got lots and lots of snow every winter but was not dangerously cold either. I know a few folks from Minnesota who say that most people don’t even go outside in the winter time unless they have to because it really is just THAT COLD. I can only imagine that in Alaska it must be worse in the winter, maybe?

      2. Re: Alaska not so bad…

        You could also buy a whatyemacallit light. The sun spectrum ones.

  6. My parents retired to Colorado. They LOVE it. No political requirements for them, though. They live in the desert near the Grand Mesa though, but they do keep calling and bragging about their snow.

  7. Potatoes! yup that about sums up my knowledge of Idaho as well.

    Alaska pays really well for traveling nurses. not that this has an relevance to you whatsoever, we were just discussing this at work the other day.

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