(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:
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?