Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Economically depressed, but not depressing
All my life I've lived in Coos County New Hampshire. It's the largest county in the state geographically -bigger than the whole state of Rhode Island. It also has about 33,000 people. That's an extremely low population density for the Northeast.
I've watched my home town go from a population of over 20,000 to a population of less than 10,000. The economic experts do not expect things to get better. While the state of New Hampshire is doing well as a whole, all the growth has been in the south.
It's tough to make a living, but if you have any sort of regular income it's possible to get by. As you can imagine, house prices are quite low. So low that a lot of people are buying second homes and fixing them up. Quite a few of my friends and family have done so. In fact, I joke that I'm “second homeless.” Prices are so low that I overheard the busboy at a local restaurant say he just bought his second house.
Many of them rent out their second homes. Some are long term rentals, but others are taking advantage of the short term rental market from Airbnb. They generate money from people traveling through and from those who come north for the recreational opportunities.
A cousin of mine bought the house next door so he'd have room to put his pool table. No kidding.
One good thing about the economic downturn in the area is that the air and water is cleaner than it has ever been in lifetime. It's a beautiful place to live with a lot of recreational activities. Even in a locally depressed economy there are opportunities. A builder friend of mine recently built an ATV dealership and is putting in a 200 campsite campground.
People talk about bugging out and think you have to go out to remote communities in the Northwest or out in the dessert somewhere. Maybe too many people have that idea. There are other places, even east of the Mississippi that make sense too. It all depends what you are worried about. If what you really want is to get out of the city and someplace rural, check out the economically depressed areas.
Of course, there's Old Man Winter. A good friend of mine, who now lives in the souther part of the state, says he can't move north again because the winters here are longer and colder. He's right, even though he only lives about 140 miles south of me. Between him and I are the White Mountains and it divides the state into different climate zones.
I happen to love it here. It's possible for me to live on a lake with a small income. In recent years I've been meeting people who are taking advantage of the low cost of living. Some have earned money in other places and figured it would go a lot further here. Other people have jobs that then can do anywhere with a decent Internet connection.
It's the sort of place that people think of bugging out to. In my case all I have to do is stay home.