Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The 7MSN Ranch 2.0

Can we talk?
Something’s been on my mind for months, and I sure could use some advice.

I need help figuring out the rest of my life.

The ranch will be paid off in a little less than five years (1,795 days to be precise). 
I will be 66 when that happens and able to retire if that’s what I feel like doing at the time. 
As much as I want to live here forever, I’d have to be crazy to think I could pull it off. 
Taking care of this place requires a lot of physical work. The chores are easy for me to do now, 
but when I’m 70 or 80, maybe not so much. And hiring help isn’t a practical option, 
given the ranch’s remoteness and the 11 miles of dirt road to get here.

Which brings me to the realization that I need to develop the 7MSN Ranch version 2.0.
It should probably be a little closer to somewhere than nowhere (5MNS?), 
or at least on a paved road. 
The question is, where? 


 That’s where you come in. I’m thinking if I crowdsource the answer 
among people who know and understand me, surely we’ll be able to identify options 
for my forever home. Five years seems like a long time to figure this out, 
but by the time I research, visit, and agonize over the decision, 
it will likely be time to put up the for sale sign on this place.

So ... here is what I’m looking for:
1. Utopia
Got any ideas?
I kid, but not really. 

My wish list is lengthy:

1. A place with wide open spaces where my animals can live as naturally 
as possible and there won’t be a neighbor in sight – rural but not remote.

2. A place where I won’t live in fear of natural disasters, including but not limited to: 
floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires and severe drought.

3. A temperate climate – not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry.

4. Within a few hours’ drive to an airport – not that I plan on traveling,
 but I do love having houseguests.

5. Reasonably close to a thriving small town with charm and a grocery store 
(sort of the opposite of Mountainair, New Mexico).

Ok, so maybe the list isn’t that long, but items 2 and 3 sure do narrow down the options.

Might you or someone you know live in a place like this? 
Have you vacationed or visited somewhere and said, “this is heaven and I want to live here.” 
I realize that no place is perfect and I may have to compromise on one or more of my wishes, 
but with all of you helping me look, I’ve got to think almost-utopia is possible. 
And with any luck, one of you already lives there and I’ll know someone when I arrive!



185 comments:

  1. What an interesting question! I'm Aussie so can't chip in unless you want to ship three donkeys, a dog and a cat a very long way, but will read the comments with interest. :)

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    1. If I were 30 and considering this move, Australia would be in consideration. Now, probably not.

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    2. SOrry but you forgot the chickens!

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    3. I know. I thought of that afterwards!

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  2. Is there an implied criteria 6? Do we factor in the possibility of Ethel and Fred joining you in utopia?

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    1. that's clear! or is it a joke?

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  3. I live in the the Smoky Mountain area of East TN. Knoxville has an airport. There are rolling hills in the area, Morristown is about 25 miles north of where I live, and has most of what you mention. Not sure if you will find a place where you can't see a neighbor (we can see lights in the winter, but are pretty secluded only a quarter mile from a two lane state rd). Kingsport is another area in extreme upper east TN, they get way more snow, but pretty temperate. They have a little airport. Western North Carolina (with Asheville for an airport) is another beautiful area. Waynesville, Sylva, Bryson City. Just food for thought. Politics here stink, but can be ignored. We are very green, maybe 30-40 inches of rain a year. If you buy acres, you might have to have it bush-hogged/clipped. Most folks love to mow grass. Not me. We do have to weed eat, but no lawn (mountainous terrain). We do have coyotes, bobcats, and bears (where I live, in Cosby TN, but I am right at the edge of the Smokies). We moved to TN from San Diego 44 years ago. Love living in retirement in East TN.

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    1. Tennessee is getting alot of mentions here today. Maybe you all are on to something.

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    2. I live in N Ga. But can attest to the beauty of the smokeys. You can find very rural in East Tennessee, North or south carolina or northeast georgia. That area is beautiful

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    3. TN has teaching hospitals at both the Univ of TN and Univ of Memphis if access to health care is a factor. Both are excellent hospitals.

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  4. Truth or Consequences, NM
    Kingman, AZ (avoid dolan springs!)

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    1. I've wondered about T or C, but have never been. Road trip! Isn't Kingman really hot?

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    2. TorC is freaking awesome. You'll love it. It does have a Walmart, lots of artsy places and good food. The mineral baths are the awesome. Deming and Las Cruces are an hour away for more specialized shopping.

      It's on my list as a possible home base. When I'm ready to stay home more. Here's a great blog post http://phunnyfarm.blogspot.com/2012/02/truth-or-consequences-new-mexico-usa.html


      Kingman's climate is similar to 7MSN. Altitude is about 4,000 feet above sea level keeping it usually in the dry 90s in the heat of summer; occasionally it will hit 3 digits.

      LOVE TX Hill Country but have never spent any time there, in the winter or summer.

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  5. Tough decision Carson. At least you are giving yourself plenty of time to figure this major, and final move, out. My area, the Great Smoky Mountains of TN, fits the bill as far as your requests go. You can have seclusion, yet be close to small towns like Wears Valley, where I live, Townsend and Maryville. 20 to 30 minutes will take you to Pigeon Forge or Knoxville. Airport in Knoxville too. Weather is usually perfect, although we are going through en extremely hot spell this summer, but who isn't?!? You have the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at your back door for hiking, biking, photography, etc. Just sayin' ... Good luck.

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    1. I'm wondering how the open spaces of the east would compare to the very wide open spaces of the west. Moving "back east" has not been on my radar but I'm trying to keep an open mind.

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  6. I'd LOVE to have you as a neighbor! We are in rural NW OR, but our house is on the market. One friend pointed out moving will only get more difficult (physically) as we age (me-64, husband 72). Our "Utopia" lies on the east side of the the Cascade Subduction Zone, in WA or OR. We'll be trading life at 'Back of Beyond' for small town life, which means less maintenance, less travel time to amenities, but able to entertain and interact with people. It is good you are taking the time to find another paradise. Good luck with your search.
    Mick

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    1. East of the Cascade Subduction Zone...I'll definitely be looking that up, because at least I'd be in the same state as Danni, who lives in the land of rain west of there.

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    2. We are on the East side of the Cascadia Subduction Zone too. Near charming Walla Walla, WA

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    3. A friend of mine lives in Enterprise, Oregon (far NE of Oregon) and it seems like it might fit the bill. Kristi

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    4. Ditto for Enterprise - beautiful Wallowa County but not easy to travel to and from or for good medical care nearby. Take a look at central Oregon - Crook County has lots of space and a very good airport nearby in Redmond. The climate is dry, like you are used to there but throw in all four seasons to enjoy. (And without the awful humidity of Tennessee!) World class doctors are available in Bend due to the high livability.

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    5. Here is the New Yorker piece about the BIG one: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one. Another tidbit to consider is east of the Cascades receives less rain (~8") than west of the mountains (42" Portland). A website I keep returning to is Sperlings http://www.bestplaces.net/
      Mick (Michele)

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  7. West of Bandera, there's Utopia, TX. Lovely little place. Just about anywhere in the Texas hill country is beautiful, unfortunately San Antonio is starting to creep in, especially to the north (It's gobbling Boerne as I type). I've always loved Bandera. But again, you do have to be careful of flooding with all of the rivers and creeks in the hill country. I'm thinking you might also be considering a possibly warmer "winter" climate? This is so exciting. Looking forward to reading all of the suggestions.

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    1. I joined a Texas hill country group on Facebook awhile back, then the floods happened. There must be a place there far enough away from a river. Maybe it's Bandera?

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    2. Bandera has the Medina running along the edge of town but stays mostly high and dry. FM1077 just to the south of town (just across the river) is very nice ....and high. Definitely wide open spaces. I understand where you're coming from on that requirement. Doesn't hurt that it's the Cowboy Capital of the World.

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  8. If I could afford it, I'd retire near Fredericksburg, TX The land is so pretty there and just a short way of town you have find places with no visible neighbors, etc. It's an hour and a half to Austin if you need to go to airport or to fancy town for something (music, festivals, big stores, etc.). The people are very nice and friendly and it's got the Western vibe.

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    1. That's in the Texas hill country, right?

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    2. Yes. My thoughts went to the hill country too. It can get droughts and floods but awareness of topography can limit flood issues. We were on Lake Travis - north shore - for a while before Colorado and found out that some people can't live there due to 'cedar fever', an allergy to one of the subspecies of juniper. Not sure if it's the same one you have. A scouting trip as long as you can make it in the fall is an idea. (You could move up the road a bit to Colorado too. Would love that.) aunt Jean PS see you at Pie Town!

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    3. Fredericksburg, TX is a great, friendly town. Prices have increased steadily in this area. Bandera has the open spaces. You could also look at other towns nearby, such as Llano or Mason. Having been in Central Texas for over 20 years, you will go through periods of drought. The wells dug today are deep and many put in water storage tanks as a backup. The area is beautiful.

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  9. I will give this some serious thoughts but before I do, because it's the obvious question, what, around MB Farm, is not met on your list?

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    1. MBF may be too wet, but everything in life is a tradeoff, n'est pas? Did I spell that right?

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  10. I have no perfect location suggestions for you, but hope that you continue to include all of us in your daily life once you do find your Utopia and retire! :)

    And I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's good suggestions on the perfect place to live.

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    1. I'm counting on you all to talk me back from the ledge once this shit starts getting real.

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  11. Good Morning, Linda!! I was in about the same boat as you ... where to go that I could afford in retirement. I use to take roadtrips from central CA to CO and I discovered Canon City, CO ... right on Hwy. 50, only 35 miles West of Pueblo, just shy of an hour S. of CO Springs and about 3 hours south of Denver. It's in one of the "banana belt" areas of CO, as is, Grand Junction. And ... it is affordable. I could not retire and afford to live in the East Bay area of CA. If we do not have what is needed here in Canon City ... then Pueblo or CO Springs are not that far away and there are hospitals and airports!
    The only downfall for Canon City is the fact it is a tourist town because of the Royal Gorge Bridge. So, it can be a bit pricy and prices aren't lowered for residents! LOL However, it is affordable for me being on Social Security. You'd have to do some on-line research and do some traveling to scope out the areas and what is available ... Penrose might be ideal for the animals, too.
    It's all going to take some time to find a perfect [or near perfect] fit for you, but you have a decent timeframe to do that in.
    Hugs from CO ... Marcia

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    1. I've been to Canon City! That's where I picked up George and Alan. I was so focused about them, though, that I may not have noticed much, although I do remember walking Smooch in a very nice park. I wasn't aware that CO had a banana belt. I'm really liking the idea of this area.

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    2. You probably walked Smooch in Veteran's Park. We have a Farmer's Market there every Tuesday in the summer growing season. And, too, we sit right on the Arkansas River. Plus, Florence is right up the road and it is the Antique Capitol of S. CO. LOL And that's where the Super Max prison is, as well ... what notoriety, eh?

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  12. Smith Valley, Nevada. Northern Nevada is wonderful.

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    1. I know nothing about this area but if you say it's wonderful, I'll add it to the consideration list.

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  13. What is your price range? Found a 5+ acre lot on Zillow near Durango on a paved road for 172.5k.

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    1. No idea yet. Whatever it takes, I guess, to buy or build a very small house with a garage and nice barn on a decent amount of land.

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  14. "Pioneertown is an unincorporated community, so small that you can address parcels with someone’s first name and they will arrive at the right place. You can drive for miles without seeing another human or even a building; people’s homes can be about a 10-minute drive apart. The boulders, the sand and the Joshua trees make the landscape look otherworldly." Kind of like a Woodstock, hippie place just north of Palm Springs, which means nearby California -- and Gianni's daughter, Claudia, and the Tonga Hut Tiki Bar! Might be worth checking out. Of course, Look here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/19/fashion/pioneertown-hollywood-california-desert.html?_r=0

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    1. Maybe you didn't see the part about "not too hot" and "no earthquakes."
      (She's my sister - I can say stuff like that to her.)

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    2. Nope. I saw that. But I had to wear a sweater or jacket all the time up in Pioneer -- it's 30 degrees cooler than the Springs 'cause it's high desert. And, you know, there are earthquakes everywhere -- even in Ohio. You're my sister. I can ague with you. We always do.

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    3. Maybe you could do a side list named: compromises with a) points that cannot be compromised b) points whre comrposie is possble (to which extend) - this could help narrow slightly your perspectives

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    4. Pioneer town, yes, has earthquakes. A fire roared through there a few years ago, too, and now they are always in danger of flooding. They do get some snow, but Temps can be in the 90s during summer. Check, too, as to their water availability.I know that in Morongo, which is near it, you have to truck in your own water!

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  15. I live in the Finger Lakes region of NY and want to move to TN. It looks so beautiful there. I follow Paradigm Farms Horse Retirement Blog and i just love her pastures. Mary Anne's comments sounds good to me. I've heard North Carolina is nice too.

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    1. Another vote for TN. I follow Paradigm Farms, too, and often think that would be a place my donkeys would love if I weren't around to care for them.

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  16. Well, South Dakota is out. :-) Not sure about too hot but definitely too cold in the winter and you never know what winter will bring you. It's a good place to visit though!

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    1. Too bad about the cold. The population density there, and lack thereof, appeals to me.

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  17. I had the same question as Brigitte. It gets pretty hot in the South but what does Justina think about her move? Her donkeys look pretty happy and the farm is beautiful. Might be too much grass though. Your search could be fun!!

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    1. If Justina would blog more, we'd all know more about that area. Justina, are you reading this? :-)

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  18. I second E Tennessee. Or Virginia is very lovely and I know a few people ((and donkeys) that would love to have you near :-) NE Alabama is at the beginning of the Smokies and beautiful. Or TN near Chattanooga. That whole area is beautiful and close to the airports in B'ham, Chattanooga and Atlanta is not too far away either :-)

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  19. Northern AB gal8/16/16, 7:10 AM

    You are wise to start looking early, we have been looking for a place further south where the winters aren't so long but are finding that #1 is the hardest criteria to meet. Once you have lived without close neighbours it is hard to go back to having them in your backyard, so to speak. Since I'm quite sure you have no plans to move to Canada, I will sit back and enjoy the comments. Good luck!

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    1. Canada is not out of the question, but all things being equal, it would probably be easier to stay in the U.S.

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  20. My part of western Oregon, the Coast Range, has the mild temperatures but you have to tolerate rain if you live in the northern part of it. It does have a promised big earthquake someday but except for on the coast, it'll mostly do damage, not totally destroy (be sure home is bolted to foundation). Most of it is farther from an airport than you'd probably like. Northern California is nice but again Sacramento is closest airport. Less rain though...except then there is drought.

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    1. If it weren't for the rain and that promised big earthquake, I'd move to NW Oregon ... near Danni and Paul ... in a heartbeat.

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    2. Well, our rainfall is way down along with moderating temperatures. We are ending up more like northern California used to be for temps, I think.

      That big quake will hurt some areas a lot but the mid-valley not so much. It will take out some bridges that didn't get retrofitted, be hard on downtown Portland, and the Coast but I figure most of us will get through it just fine. Interestingly enough some disastrous quakes have happened other places like the New Madrid fault; so not like it can't happen elsewhere. Just make sure your home is bolted to its foundation.

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    3. It's true, Carson...rainfall totals are way down here. And out here in the country, we don't have any bridges or tall buildings to fall down during the anticipated "big one". :-)

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    4. I've lived in Oregon nearly my entire life and I always chuckle when people say "Oregon has soooo much rain, it rains 9 months of the year, etc" We've had lovely sunny winter days, dry fall days, warm summer days. Yes, we get rain and snow just like most other places in the US. It's a nice place to live if you find the right chunk of land. :-)

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    5. And if the right chunk of land happens to be near another right chunk of land, what fun that would be, Tall Paul!

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    6. hush Tall_Paul! We don't want that kind of info getting out too much - lots of people moving in because our climate is nearly perfect! Biggest downfall in NW Oregon I think in coming years will be cost of living. Land prices are escalating, property taxes fairly high, no sales tax though, no poisonous bugs/snakes - pretty near perfect really. I absolutely don't even worry about the big one.

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  21. Michelle from Vancouver8/16/16, 7:19 AM

    As a Canadian, I can only sit on the sidelines.....unless you want to immigrate?!!!!
    I've been to rural WA & OR both are very beautiful.

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    1. But is there a place in rural WA or OR where it doesn't rain too much? That is the question.

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    2. Absolutely! You want a lot less rain than western oregon, then move east of the Cascade Mountains. Central Oregon is gorgeous, lots of high desert and beautiful mountains, no earthquakes, temperate compared to where you live (?) and plenty of space, rivers, beautiful. NE Oregon can get pretty cold, but it's amazingly beautiful. Enterprise, Joseph area. Really wide open spaces? Look in Eastern and South-eastern Oregon. We have been contemplating the big move to Central Oregon for a while now...we like LaPine. 30 minutes to Bend, airport, entertainment, many lakes, rivers, snow skiing and just about anything outdoors can be done. Hotter and drier than what we're used to here in the Northern Willamette Valley of NW Oregon. This is fun!!

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    3. Haven't been there personally, but have good friends whose son and family moved to Bend OR a couple years ago. They LOVE it there. High desert, mountains, trout streams, not-unlandishly-hot summers (they moved from Phoenix AZ area), winters mild and sunny. My only doubt is about availability of land. But worth checking out. I also second the suggestions to consider the western slope of southern Appalachians UNLESS you, like me, despise high humidity. It is gorgeous and very temperate.

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  22. Definitely check out eastern WA or OR. It sounds like it might be a really good fit! And it's so gorgeous, I just love the high desert.

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    1. Ha! See reply above to Michelle.

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    2. Eastern OR and WA are in the rain shadow of the Cascades and are considered desert so I don't think the rain is an issue. Maybe too cold though. What is the cold limit.

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    3. Kristi, there is no cold limit really, as long as it's not several months of below freezing temps.

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    4. that seems to rule Canada out!

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  23. Oh la la. Big question. Can't help from Norway, obviously, but will follow this quest with great interest. But may I say, you sure are a wise woman, taking care of yourself and your beloved animals this way. Best of luck, and keep us posted. V from Oslo

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    1. I always forget you're all the way in Norway. Thank you for considering me wise. You can bet I'll keep everyone posted.

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  24. Maybe Bend, Oregon? I haven't been there but I was looking at moving there several years ago and it sounded wonderful. Plus nice and dry for easy-keeper equines. I don't know how much snow they get though.

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    1. I've wondered about Bend, too. I'm adding it to my list.

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    2. As I was reading through these I was thinking Bend also. I travel there for business quite often and love it!
      I would move there in a heartbeat if it weren't for my "three hour" rule. I must live less than a three hour drive to an ocean. Bend is four.
      Medford and Ashland in southern Oregon are nice too.

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    3. Yes, don't overlook Southern Oregon. Beautiful area! Farther from Portland so less employment opportunities, but if you're looking to retire - who cares? Medford area can get hot in summer, but it's a dry heat - no humidity.

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    4. We drove through Bend a few years ago...lots 9f fields and barns! Nice area.

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  25. You know, finding the perfect place for you is such the perfect antidote to facing my own problems :) i might spend hours on it lol

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  26. Thanks for all these suggestions! I've got to get to work now. Will be back later this evening to keep reading/responding.

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  27. The middle of Kentucky! Beautiful, beautiful place to be. Your donkeys would love it - there is a reason why there are all the horse farms in KY. The weather is moderate all year and it's easy to get to anywhere from Kentucky. And this is from someone who doesn't live there (but would like to). Do some research and you'll be convinced that it's where you will want to be.

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    1. Hmmm. I'm adding it to my list right now.

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    2. As a lifelong Kentuckian, would love to have you all here. However, I envision grazing muzzles year round once the herd gets a taste of that tasty limestone laced Kentucky grass. Just saying. Secretariat retired here for a reason :)

      The horse country in central area very pricey. But so many nooks and crannies that suitable places must be near there.

      Western Kentucky has seen an influx of Amish/Mennonite families in the last twenty or so years. I know Christian county and Allen county proved hospitable. Tells me large farm tracts were available.

      We have a very temperate climate, humid as all get out in the summer. Pollen up the wazoo. And tornadoes can happen any time of year.

      Main health care facilities are around metro areas of Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentcky south of Cincinnati. Happy hunting. This is going to be fun.

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  28. There is a section of Arizona that reminds me of Pennsylvania but doesn't stay cold and wet for 6 plus months. There are mountains and lakes and pine trees. You do get snow, probably similar to what you get now. This area is around Show Low, Springerville, St. Johns,Greer and I could name many more little towns. Its about a 2.5 to 3 hr drive to Phoenix Sky Harbor and about the same to Pietown. Lol

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    1. I knew there had to be places in AZ that weren't too hot. Thanks!

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    2. Also Payson. It isn't too high or too hot. Good horse country. Show Low gets a LOT of snow in winter...check their average Temps! Another place is near Prescott...Chino Valley. My ranch change owner has horse friends there.

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  29. Colorado is your ticket...perhaps Longmont?

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    1. Colorado would be such an easy move. Longmont is going on my list.

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  30. I read you from France and if you consider moving here, there are beautiful regions (not too many, easier choice) you can live in. I will comment though on the feeling of this post :I love it, this feeling of being part of a community, even virtual, of being part of your thoughts, maybe helping you in searching/finding, I think it is a wonderful idea Linda. Thanks for making us part of your life adventure

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    1. I spent a few weeks in the French countryside - do you know Tramaille? It's sort of near Cluny. So beautiful and pastoral. Now if I could find someplace exactly like that in the U.S. ...

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    2. oh I don't know Tramaille and have not been yet to Cluny! yes there are sweet pastoral places in France. I Lived in Paris, Marseile and Rennes (in France) and I think you would love the Landes (south of Bordeaux), the bottom of the Pyrénées and the Camargue (west of Marseille).

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  31. Longmont. CO http://visitlongmont.org/

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  32. I grew up in Acme, WA, which was as close as possible to all your criteria. I would love to go back there. The area has been discovered by the Seattle techies and land prices are far beyond me now. If only I still owned the farm I grew up on..... You should check out north central and eastern WA though.

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    1. North central and eastern WA are now on my list. Thanks!

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  33. North Carolina! Bad politicians will soon be out of office and the state is beautiful. There are several areas where you can find the remote and rural feeling without being too far from good feed stores, small town charm, sustainable farming, and fun neighbors. (Rafer Johnson and Redford say they want new friends!) And with RTP, three top universities, and an airport right in the middle, you can have guests fly in and you can fly out with no huge issues. If you want links to existing properties for sale, let me know. I love looking at farms online and do it regularly for the fun of it!

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    1. I considered North Carolina when I wanted to leave D.C. 23 years ago. You've sold me that it's time to consider it again.

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    2. You didn't list Hurricanes on your want to avoid list. :)
      For the most part, inland North Carolina will get smacked with the Tropical storm force winds and rains. We had our 500 year flood some years back (2 storms back to back ... flooded the eastern part of the state , East of I-95.

      Another item to consider for your herd, the endemic species and diseases (ticks, mosquitos etc). We also have snakes.

      However, being a life-long resident, I do like it here. There are some old fault lines (Charleston Fault), but we do not have the seismic activity of the west coast. Depending upon where you setup shop, coastal plain, piedmont, foothills the weather conditions will vary as to how much winter you get and the amount of rain. We do have lots of creeks and rivers, so studying the flood plain maps is a good idea.


      As pointed out we do have 4 major medical teaching universities (Chapel Hill, Duke, Bowman Gray, East Carolina ) and the vet school at NC State. There are quite a few retirement communities in NC ... probably because of the location. Midway between the northeast and Florida, Mountains and beaches. I'm not sure how the cost of living would compare to your current location.

      It's going to be an interesting thought process.

      M in NC

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    3. That is an important point indeed, the vet, and a good one (not the one only used to industrial farm cattle)

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  34. I live in Blacksburg VA - what a beautiful area of Virginia with surrounding mountains to live in. Why not come back to Virginia and stay in the southeast portion or better yet somewhere along the the Shenandoah Valley area potentially near Morning Bray Farm. There are many beautiful small towns along the Shenandoah Valley with big city amenities and hospitals not far away. Depending on where you land, you can have a country life, small town life or city suburb. Each season is beautiful. I am sure that Nigel, Patrick, Bernard, Ellsworth, Buck and Grace would love to have play dates and you would be among old friends. Best Wishes on a complex decision.

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    1. Moving back to Virginia has crossed my mind today too many times to count.

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  35. I was thinking Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. It would be wonderful if you could have play dates with Morning Bray again!

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more about those play dates.

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  36. I would love to be neighbors with you but Item #2 on your list rules out California. Before moving here to the central coast of CA 25 years ago my husband and I looked seriously in and around Durango, CO. It is a beautiful area. We opted to stay in CA to be within driving distance of LA and SF because of our business. Now many of our conversations with each other, and friends, are the same as what you are considering. We are retired now and our acreage and animals are getting harder to handle if one of us is away or injured. What do we need to do going forward to stay here and keep our animals? I will be following the discussion and your adventure with interest!

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    1. Durango is beautiful but maybe too much snow? It's good to know there are others out there in the same boat and at the same stage of life - we can learn from each other.

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  37. Check out the Ocala Florida just above Central Florida beautiful Ranch Land there and great weather year-round

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    1. I should have added "not too humid" to my wish list. I fear that eliminates all of Florida.

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    2. and also you don't want Smooch, Johnny or any of your sweethearts to end up as breakfast for the caimans (or is it crocodiles?)

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  38. I knew this post was coming and it still jolted me just a bit to see it in daylight. :-) But ...it's also quite exciting esp since we've been talking here, too, about options in the next few years. I'm particularly fond of the Columbia River Gorge (Washington and Oregon sides) in between the wetter parts of Oregon and Washington and the super dry, desert-y parts. Much less rain, but still seasonal weather, lots of open spaces, and cheap land (relatively)... But then we're also discussing Portugal. How do you feel about Portugal? :-) :-) :-)
    Also, we love road trips. Let's do some.

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    1. Portugal? If you move there, I'll move there. But if you move to the Columbia River Gorge, I would also move there. I think it's time we sat down and had a serious discussion about all of this. How does early November sound?

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    2. Heh heh heh. Check your email.

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    3. Danni,
      I was thinking Hood River or the Dalles also!

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  39. I live in an ideal place but can not recommend it for you because it is terribly expensive. Do you read the wonderful Apifera blog about her farm of misfits, as she calls them? This year she moved lock, stock and animals, across country from the west coast to Maine. I think you two could bond. If you don't know her blog make a comment on my blog and I will look up her blog address for you.

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    1. I haven't checked the Apifera blog for a long time - had no idea she moved to Maine. Guess I'd better catch up. Thanks for letting me know.

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    2. I think you should give Maine a glance as well. I realize its far north and there will definitely be severe cold spells during the winter but I feel like it fits the majority of your needs. Land is relatively affordable in most areas and the frequency of natural disasters is low. It also has a low population density (especially for an east coast state). I spent most of last year living in Maine and came away super impressed with its beauty and people. I'm actually plotting my return as we speak. It's worth the research and maybe a visit if you like what you find.

      As a second option, I would also suggest (as many others have) the Appalachian regions of VA, NC, and TN. I follow along everyday and am looking forward to see how your search for MSN2.0 develops.

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  40. Sequim wa. Very nice , lowest rainfall for all of Western Washington. SW Washington, and Oregon , also very nice , no bugs or poisonous snakes, temperate climate, rain is different here, it's a nice gentle rain most of the time. Much better than the heat and snakes /bugs of any part of Texas or the South. People are friendlier to transplants too. Best wishes in your choices , Carol

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    1. I've never heard of Sequim until now but I'm adding it to my check-it-out list. Thanks!

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    2. Sequim is also a great place. Definitely take a look.

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  41. Second vote for NC here. Billie made a good case in her comment. Mountains on one side, amazing beaches on the other and a very forward looking + hip metropolitan area in the middle. Horse friendly, historically an agricultural state - lots of farmland available. Good luck with your decision. :D

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    1. Another vote for NC - it's officially under consideration.

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  42. I have no helpful suggestions (being 'way over in Australia!), but I can see that throwing it open to the floor garners all manner of useful data. And "foreigners" like me learn all sorts of stuff that is not in school books.

    Oh, I know you aren't planning to move out here, but anyone else thinking of it should bone-up on the quarantine procedures for pets. I believe it's still 6 months and that some animals are banned.

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    1. Always good to be reminded about the quarantines just in case I convince myself to leave the U.S.

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    2. Quarantine yes/6mths not any more. Though you need to start the process AT LEAST six months before leaving the US. Rabies is the biggest issue. yes there are banned animals the only 2 I remember are Pit Bulls and Patagonian Tooth Fish. Don't ask! LOL

      It has occurred to me that New Zealand maybe a tad tame for you. No snakes at all...can you wrangle eels? No bears no coyotes but the mosquitos on the West Coast are rumoured to be big enough to have flown off with a few tourists.

      ps loving this post! such fun hearing about the places people live and love. I have one more move left in me too...heaven knows where I'll end up! Who knows? We might be distant neighbors 😀

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  43. I have to put in a word for Eastern Washington as well... (Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities area, Walla Walla) We do get pretty hot in August (90-100 degrees) but for the most part we're pretty temperate. We're in the rain shadow so mostly desert type climate. We do have bugs (in the spring/summer) and snakes (I rarely see them). There are some neat small towns in the valley with fairly large properties for a reasonable price, lots of wineries and most of the larger towns (100k) have airports. Less than three hours from the hustle and bustle of the Seattle area. The Columbia River Gorge is a cool place as well. I love area from Hood River to Boardman OR. Across the river (on the Washington side) from Boardman/Hood River there are fewer cities but more land. Good luck on your search!

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    1. The Columbia River Gorge area is quickly rising to the top of my list. Thanks for those city names. I'll check them out.

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    2. We're outside of Ellensburg, WA, and far enough north of Yakima and the Tri-Cities that it's not as miserably hot in summer. Slightly moe temperate than the Bend OR area, too. Where we are is far enough east of the Cascades that we're out of the "rain/snow shadow" that we seldom get more than four or five inches of snow. Do need our irrigation to keep things green. SEA-TAC is about an hour and a half, depending on traffic and pass conditions. Biggest natural disaster threat is Mt. Rainier going up!

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  44. Middle Tennessee does have wide open places and is close to everything but very beautiful, green, and no state tax!

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    1. I need to start counting all these mentions of Tennessee. You all are very passionate about your state, and I will be looking at it closely.

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  45. NEW ZEALAND!
    1. Most definitely Utopia I kid you not 😀
    1.lots of wide open spaces , it's impossible to be really "remote" and it's mostly rural
    2. Hmmm earthquakes-we prefer to say we are shaken not stirred. Floods-yes but only in the low countryside. Tornadoes-no not really the odd water spout and little twister nothing to write home about. Forest fires? Don't live in the forest. Drought-choose a upcountry place where it rains
    3.Check! The Goldilocks zone is here
    4. 3 international airports on 2 small islands-how far can it be?
    5. We specialise in charming small towns. We even have Hobbitville.

    And I'll add one more incentive- the exchange rate is awesome! That retirement fund will provide one heck of a life style 😉

    Looking forward to your arrival, Heather

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    1. Heather, you make a very strong case and I am so tempted. Never say never.

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    2. And I'll come and visit, since I saw the Hobbit I'm in love with that country (and I met New Zealanders here in France)

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  46. You get a lot of Tennessee suggestions because Tennessee is great! Mountains in the east, lots of wide open farm land in Middle Tennessee. All four seasons, beautiful greenery, nice people, good food, close to lots of places (5 interstates meet in Nashville and it has an international airport), lots of small towns and festivals, no state tax. My family has been in Middle Tennessee since the 1700s and have seen no reason to more elsewhere :). Come on down!

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    1. Someone further up mentioned "the awful humidity of Tennessee." Is it true?

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    2. http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/united-states/us

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    3. Great link, Irmgard - thanks!

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  47. Lots of great ideas. Denny and I considered Pahrump, NV. An hour from Las Vegas, up in the hills, on an aquifer, cold enough in the winter to support lilacs, tulips and daffodils yet warm in the summer. Back when we were living in the RV there were no doctors/dentists there and only a Walmart and a Smith's grocery store but I hear things have changed and it's getting a little more urban in "town". Lovely area, red rocks nearby, desert surrounds you still.

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    1. Alan was captured from a herd in Pahrump, NV. He'd probably love to move back!

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  48. Where ever you decide to check out, I've found the forums on this website very helpful and honest http://www.city-data.com/forum/#u-s-forums We had relocated temporarily to Springfield MO and everything people said on these forums was true (although I did think the people were more friendly then stated). JMO but Tenn and KY would not be my choice; Tenn has very high allergy seasons which would be problematic for my family. I would look for a small town that had a college in it because then when you want to do something in town, it is there.

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    1. Thanks for the city-data link. What a gold mine. I imagine I'll be spending way too much time there in the coming months.

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  49. Iowa :) In the country you can live on pave roads and not have neighbors for miles. You wont get anything more than a tornado or a flood as a disaster. We have all seasons and in Iowa they can change very frequently. You can have every animal you have on the farm now. Minus the poisonous snakes :) Depending on approximately where you live you can be within an hour or 2 of an airport. You can find a hometown grocery store usually within 10 minutes and a much bigger store within 30.

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    1. I've actually spent a lot of time in Iowa (rode the ragbrai three times in the early nineties). The small towns were very charming. Hmmm.

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  50. Consider the Brazos Valley! (TX) I live in Bryan/College Station, home to the best veterinarian college in perhaps the world. I was born and reared here. It does get hot in the summer, and I whine and complain too much. HOWEVER, the weather is mostly great. Winters are mild. Last year I never wore a jacket...just a light wrap. We have good water. Houston and Austin are great neighbors, and offer easy air travel. Houston, a mere 1-1.5 hours away, offers all the benefits of the big city, and Galveston is just down the road when you need to hear the waves crashing and smell the ocean air. We're near the hill country, and if you consider our many lovely surrounding towns, you will find rolling hills, beautiful trees, and wildflowers in the Spring. I've never lived anywhere else, so I do fantasize about living someplace where the average high is never above 76...so far, that place seems to be Carmel by the Sea, in California...and WAY beyond my budget...and this Presidential election has me looking at land in Canada...just sayin'...but Texas is a great state, and a really wonderful place to live...and the worst part, which is the hot/humid summers, is bearable with sweet iced tea, cold beer, and the proper tonnage of A/C! We have a world class winery, Messina Hof, and they make the best Sangria, (plus about 80+wines), which also takes the edge off of summer. Our Fall/Winter/Spring, which is the majority of the year, are as ideal as you could hope for. Lyle Lovett, (Texan), sings a song with the line, 'That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas loves you anyway!' We'd love to have you and your many legged family!!!

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    1. Texas is definitely an option.

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  51. Well Wales (UK) is very beautiful, but I don't think you'd like the rain so much, and all the sheep might frighten the chickens, and it is hard to find anywhere really far away from anyone. Shame - I'd love to meet you all in person. I did a US road trip in 1983, coast to coast, northern and central states. I think Oregon was the most memorable for me.
    Enjoy the search. Pob lwc. Hwyl o Gymru. Nor'dzin

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    1. I think it's time for you to do another US road trip. Let me know when you're coming!

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    2. See that, Carson? Lil' ol' Oregon was the most memorable. :-)

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  52. An American in Tokyo8/16/16, 6:35 PM

    Wow, so many great comments!
    Too bad about earthquakes, they are not so bad once you get used to them! (Says the native Californian) ha ha!
    This is a fun post and an exciting time in your life! Woot woot!

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    1. I could handle the small ones, it's the big one where the state separates from the continent and disappears into the ocean that I'm worried about. Donkeys aren't good swimmers.

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    2. An American in Tokyo8/17/16, 5:55 PM

      California isn't going to separate from the continent and disappear into the ocean!! ha ha!!

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    3. and if it does, no need to swim anyway!!!

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  53. Northern AB gal8/16/16, 6:37 PM

    If you don't like close neighbours, Wyoming is the place to be, maybe a little too remote?? Why hasn't anybody mentioned Utah? my relatives travel down there every fall to go hiking and camping and really enjoy it. Surely there are places there that would meet your criteria?? If I had my wish I would live in Montana, a little too cold for you, but compared to what we have up here it seems heavenly! Am really enjoying reading all of the suggestions, you have your work cut out for you.

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    1. I'm wondering about Wyoming and Utah, too. Wyoming might be too cold but the population density is certainly appealing.

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  54. We moved to TN south of Nashville 20 years ago and just love it. We live in the country where there are more cows than people ....but it is humid...and we do get tornadoes. So as much as I completely love it here my vote is for Oregon or Washington. I so love the idea of you being near Danni or Ethel. It would be awesome to get a big piece of land and build a few small houses and create your own retirement community of friends and animals.
    Lisa G in TN

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    1. I love the way you think, Lisa.

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    2. Northern AB gal8/16/16, 8:31 PM

      And you could call it the 7MSN Retirement Ranch with a community arena/riding ring and trails. Oh I think this is a splendid idea. Good one Lisa!!

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    3. Building our own retirement community...I *really* like the sound of that!

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    4. Me, too?!? Our 14 acre retirement farm (think mini-Paradigm) is going to be too much for us in the next few years (we're both 65), so I've been mulling over the same issues as you...

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    5. An American in Tokyo8/17/16, 5:56 PM

      Oooooo, I would be very interested in a 7MSN Retirement Ranch Community!!! =D

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    6. that is an idea in itself, Linda. Maybe you could launch a parallel project: the 7 MSN Retirement Ranch Community. think of the advantages: have you planned to travel in your retirement years? here is the solution: with a community of "same kind souls" your animals will be taken care of more easily when you travel for eg. I have watched frieds going on early retirement and conceiving their new life with the mentality of an active job person, forgetting that down the road, for eg, they won't be able (or rather won't fancy anymore) driving 2 hours for shopping weekly or finding themselves in places cut off from the world in the middle of the winter or not having access for long periods of time to regular internet or having difficulties to find a proper wood supplier who delivers a full load of wood 500 meters from the final destination (which mean that they have to finish the job by hand). that is why I suggested you refine your list and do some homework before finding the best place. I thinkk the place is not the issue but the services (to say it in one word) is the whole issue

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  55. Must be tough to think about leaving your life there but as long as the animals go and you are happy, it will be a good move. Consider a little west to Arizona! Payson, Pine, Strawberry, Prescott, Verde Valley, Jerome/Clarkdale/Cottonwood, Flagstaff (maybe a bit more snow), Show Low, Pinetop, lower desert (maybe too hot), Sedona (maybe too expensive). Aravaipa Farms used to be for sale. :-)

    Anna Galentine

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    1. I was hoping someone knew something of Prescott and that general vicinity. It looks less hot than most of Arizona but not as cold and touristy as Flagstaff. I will add it to my list.

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    2. Prescott has a relatively mild climate. They do get snow in winter. Some of the areas around it are less expensive.

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  56. Being from northeastern Minnesota, I have to say I feel alot left out of this conversation. Other than some extremely cold ( -60 ) weather, snow up to our arses ocationally, mosquitoes so big and plentiful,they could pick up and carry little allen away, an occational forest fire, and few open spaces, we do have towns 20 to 30 miles apart. we do have airports. We also have beautiful lakes, about 10,000 of them. So we do have 2 things that meet your wish list! Even though i can`t recommend this state for you, we love it, so could you put one of those little red dots on our state just to make us feel better? We` ll pretend that your considering us. Ha Good Luck on your search, i am sure you`ll find the perfect home!

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  57. I live in Texas, was born and raised in Oklahoma. My favorite places in the world are Oklahoma (tornadoes, floods, heat, snow, earthquakes!) and New Mexico (one of the reasons I read your blog), and because I love OK and NM and have no great fondness for TX, I am of no use to you. But I am excited (and envious) to watch your decision-making process. :D

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  58. We retired to East Tennessee 2 1/2 years ago because we love the mountains, the fresh air and the friendly people, And my husband loves the low taxes! We live out in the country where we can go days without seeing anyone but are only 15 minutes from town. We are also about 7 miles from North Carolina and 45 minutes from Asheville so all sorts of recreational opportunities. I have to say this summer has been more humid (and hot) than the last two but fall and spring are amazing. And winter is mild (if you are used to Ohio winters). And if you move here I'll help with the kids?

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  59. You know with this Big Climate Change thing, don't worry too much about rain or drought, climate is going to get wild everywhere anyway!

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  60. Warrenton, VA. Decent hospital, close to big airports, still has rural character and the county is slow growth. It's a fairly horsy community so you could get easy help with your animals. Rarely an earthquake and you know when a hurricane is coming. When we have a drought is nothing like the west.

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  61. Wow!!!! I leave you for a couple of years and look what happens - you're soliciting ideas for places to live! I love Savannah, but I'm afraid it wouldn't work for you. I would have loved having you near me in Iowa, but then the Missouri River flooded (2011) and caused major havoc and damage. We also had tornadoes. Oh, well. You have a lot to chew over- maybe you should ask the "kids" what they think.

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  62. I was about to say Kansas, but then I reread number 2....

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  63. My area in NorCal is probably out, forest fires and earthquakes are not fun, add in the drought and way too many big city people moving here...well, you get the picture.

    I'm a native Californian but have lived in the Midwest and traveled extensively around Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and plenty of drives through the states around those. Wouldn't bother with any of them again, the weather is extreme and the bugs are horrible, but the people are pretty amazing.

    I know some people who moved to Tennessee, they love it, great housing prices and beautiful countryside.

    However, I took a road trip in the Spring to specifically look at some places between here and Texas. I always love Colorado, you've got choices galore of beautiful places with some nice space. You just have to pick the altitude that makes the snow less of a disaster. I have some friends who live in Pueblo, which they researched very carefully for quality of life and services for an aging population.

    I think there might be quite a few nice places in Nevada also, as well as Utah. I'd add one more condition to your search, water availability. The drought has made life pretty miserable for many people, wells failing and such.

    I like a little snow but I don't have equine family.

    Good luck!

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    1. Thank you for your wisdom, Suzanne.

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    2. Northern AB gal8/25/16, 12:51 PM

      Did some reading about Pueblo and looked at some properties for sale around there - it would be high on my list of places to relocate to. Not that my vote counts :) If you happen to find some extra change before Sept. 1st, Joe Cocker's ranch is up for auction: http://supreme-auctions.com/auction/crawford-co/ You could start your own guest ranch....

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  64. I love your blog (and your friends!) Might I suggest Bosque County Texas. Clifton area. It is the "upper hill country". The southern part (west/south of Austin- San Antonio) is crowded and expensive. Northern part west/north including Hamilton, Bosque and Comanche counties.Great weather. Good water. Great donkey land. Low crime, low cost of living, great clinic and hospital, great views. 90 miles to Dallas/Ft Worth airport or 30 to Waco airport. Lots of room here and just good country folks. Deb

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    1. Sold to the lady with the map tacks. I'll be sticking one in Clifton today. Thanks!

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  65. How about the Kansas Flinthills, an ocean of prairie where you can see for miles and miles. We have 4 seasons, you can make up your mind about the temps. Close enough to a new airport. There are still some nice small towns. Yes, we have tornadoes but it took me 55 years to actually see one. I plan to live on our place with my animals through my 80's.

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. Could you name a few towns in the Flinthills that I should investigate?

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    2. Strong City and Cottonwood Falls, aren't those cool names. These are very small towns. There is a Tall Grass National Preserve by Cassidy. Those areas are close to I-70. El Dorado and Eureka are a bit bigger. Also in the Gypsum Hills (east of the Flint Hills) there is Medicine Lodge. They have the reenactment of the Indians and the US Government signing of the peace treaty. My dad and I rode pastures one summer in the Gyp Hills on pastures he leased. Still trying to recreate that. There are a 1000 acres in the Gyp Hills that have trail riding. I'm not going to take their trail ride, but I do want to find a friend to go ride those pastures and recreate my childhood.

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  66. I dream about retirement, five more years for me too, I do research all the time. I am sure you don't want to come to California, but just in case I recommend Forest Ranch, California.

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  67. I forgot to mention, I know this is about you, but I have done research: I wanted to live in Knoxville TN when I retire until I found out the humidity is off the charts. My aunt lives there. But everything is GREEN! But I am a beach bum at heart and I love Florida so much. I know, humidity off the charts, I have a cousin who lives there. I may just stick around dry climate California and visit everyone I know when I retire. I just had to put my other three cents in the bucket! I am late to the party as usual.

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  68. The Kanab, Utah area might just be perfect for you. We've got TWO grocery stores in town and a small hospital. Quality medical care 90 mins away in St George. 3.5 hours from the Vegas airport. Best of all...beautiful, wide open vistas. Red rocks! Oh, and close to the country's largest no-kill animal sanctuary- Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. It does have all the oddities of Utah but...it's worth it. And AZ is only a few miles away.

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  69. Late to the party as usual...I was away and had no internet access. I'm a transplant originally from PA, been in AZ for 15 years now. Have also lived in Indiana, Ohio, and Alabama. I long for the green hills and trees of the east, but every time I go back-I'm smacked by the humidity. We are also in your situation, hubby wanting to retire in two years. I thought we might head back east, but after returning from visiting relatives in SC, MD and PA...the answer is no. We have our equines too. We are looking at either northern AZ Such as Chino Valley, Prescott or Verde Valley because they are much cooler up there but no severe winters. Also considering southern Utah. Been on endurance rides and camping in the Kanab area and a bit north of there also near Zion NP. Beautiful area and lots of great little quirky places to shop and eat. Just not sure about health care availability up there...we know there's good care in AZ. Good luck searching! (I've also spent lots of time in ID and love it, but hubby says the winters are too cold) :)

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  70. Well...I'm in Eastern Washington, north of Spokane. Yes, it gets cold, yes, snow, yes pretty hot in summer, but low humidity. I require mountains and trees, which we have in abundance. Also rivers and lakes. I could not live on the hot rolling sagebrush hills of Yakima. Texas, either. We do have forest fires. No hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes. Metalline Falls is nice.

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  71. I came up with a short list based on your criteria myself (except for the rural part). However, the natural disasters played a big part of the search. Where did my search take me? Tennessee and Virginia. Where did I end up? Moved back home to Florida (from Northern Virginia) when I retired the end of February! After this summer's heat, I am seriously thinking about Tennessee again! Good luck with your search.

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  72. Wow Tennessee is winning in the suggestion list. I have to admit it was beautiful when I drove thru there this summer.
    I'm anxious to see where you end up. I don't know of anywhere that you can avoid at least one of the items listed in #2 criteria or #3. So I'm have no suggestions but I will be following your journey.

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  73. You have mentioned Truth or Consequences, New Mexico as a relocation possibility. If New Mexico continues to appeal to you, then consider looking just a few miles to the southwest at the Silver City area. The seasons are milder and you have relatively close access to Las Cruces, NM or Tucson, AZ.

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