|Start with maps and demographics: If
you’re looking for a weekend getaway, consider drawing a
circle on the map with your present location as the center and the
radius equal to the distance (or time) you’re willing to
travel. Explore communities within that travel circle.
For retirement or a move to a new location explore your
- Real estate search and community
information — start with these:
1. "US News & World Report"
site has a large city
and town database with information about cost of living, house prices,
jobs, climate, culture, health, and air quality. It is focused on
retirement locations but the advanced search can look at non-retirement
areas as well. Here's helpful
state information for jobs information: Wages,
unemployment & layoffs. You can use Wikipedia for history and demographic information on most towns and counties in the US.
—A site where you can compare towns by just typing in the city
and state. You can look at housing price trends of any US neighborhood
by zip code. This also has a similar
search feature as the Money site for finding the right climate, jobs,
schools or cost of living.
—Use this form to input a city or zip
code, the type of house and the price range you are interested in. In a
few moments the database will come back with listings, maps, and
pictures of the houses that match your criteria. There are amazing
differences in housing prices between locations. When you find a house
you like, copy and paste the address into Google Earth (below) and bore down to
street view to explore pictures of the neighborhood. You can also
search for just land and then zoom into Google Earth for a
- Map Links —
Nothing is changing faster:
— Google Maps
(one of the best) Once you find a location click the "satellite" and
"hybrid" buttons in the upper right to see the topography.
Earth - Take a tour of our favorite planet! In two years this
will be a fantastic video game/travel tool. Load this free download
onto your computer only if you have a broadband Internet connection and
a modern fast computer. Amazing and being updated all the time!
— Delorme Maps (look
at the atlas for your state)
— Try MapQuest
where you can put in an zip code or town name and
zoom up or down.
picture maps and other state information.
Maps for marking up with your plans. Also some good climate
USGS topographic map viewer (you can call: 1-800-USA-MAPS)
Interactive maps allow you to zoom in and print topo and
Forest Service maps
— Get a good paper road atlas for getting around and to mark up with
you own notes. Rand McNally
atlases are available everywhere.
Right brain ways of finding out what land is
best for you. Note: this may be a little "new age spacey" for
some. Skip this if you already know where you're headed. But remember,
the vitally important choices in life: career, spouse and where to
live, should never be trusted to just the logical mind.
- Research places where you can imagine yourself
living. Spend a day at the library and look for picture or travel books
on the area. Check the current weather.
Find out the length of the winter and when the first planting day of
spring is. What types of crops, trees and landscape plants grow there?
A good gardening book for the area will tell you much about climate,
weather and soil. Even if you won't be gardening this can tell you much
about a place.
- Do you have a particularly memorable fragrance?
Perhaps it was pinon pine, eucalyptus, or magnolia, or maybe the smell
of salt spray, turned soil or the damp woods. Each of these smells come
from a specific type of environment. Look in that environment.
- Mentally put yourself into the place you are
thinking of living. Go through each of the seasons and think about a
normal day’s activities. What are you doing? What do you see
when you look out the window? What does it feel like?
Those areas that still seem attractive after your
research should be on your short list of places to visit. Go there and
immerse yourself in the land and the people who live there. The right
place will feel right — you will be more alive, more clear
headed and perhaps feel lighter. Colors will be more vivid and
people will be more attractive. The place
will have a ring of authenticity. While there...
- Find out how the local native people lived. What did
they eat, what did they build for shelter, and what did they use for
medicine? Were they a high culture that spent much time on art and
rituals, or were they more engaged with day to day survival? This is
the baseline for living off the land.
- Consider what living there will mean in terms of
cost of living. Do you envision a simple life or are you expecting to
have a similar or more expensive lifestyle than you have now? What will
your money needs be and can they be met in this location? What will
your initial needs be? What do you need to get set up here (what
clothes, vehicles, tools, etc)?
- As you visit an area your vision of living there
will evolve — especially as you interact with the communities
in the area. Check these out with the Next