#22: Where Should We Build It?
These Appalachian towns aren’t collapsing due to mismanagement. They were built to extract natural resources that are no longer extractable, and they were too far from any other economic activity to pivot, so the inhabitants left behind their nice brick buildings and moved on, just like the abandoned gold-rush towns of Nevada and Arizona.
But unlike the gold rush towns of Nevada and Arizona, these ruins sit in gorgeous well-watered forests and hills. Appalachia and the Ozarks have been lightly settled for centuries because they’re rugged and resource-poor, so it hasn’t been worth the effort to string up railways.
For knowledge workers, the limiting factor has been fiber-optic cable and the latency of satellite internet: but Starlink is going to open up millions of acres of the most beautiful land in the United States.
The remote work revolution is still just beginning.
The cost of living and quality-of-life differential for a remote worker — particularly a “Red Tribe” remote worker — is overwhelming. The rent on a 2-bedroom San Francisco apartment could buy a literal planter estate in some of these areas; and its hard to put a price on the relief of not feeling oneself in enemy territory all the time.
People are going to move: but it takes a long time for people to pull the trigger on a decision like that when they don’t have to leave; when there isn’t a new job and a relocation package lined up on the other side. In most of these locations, the housing stock doesn’t exist yet anyway, and will have to be built. So you’ve got to travel to various lots, shop for builders, hassle with permits, etc.
But I’ve personally spoken to dozens of friends, in and out of EXIT, who are independently planning a move in this region within the next five years:
The process has already begun, and as with all frontiers, there is conflict.
Liberal carpetbaggers also like the views and the price-per-acre in Arkansas, if only something could be done to sexually liberate the elementary schools. And the locals are not as reliable as could be hoped, either: they’re getting the same internet with the same weird fetish boards and TikTok propaganda as everywhere else.
But at least in these jurisdictions you have inertia on your side, and some time in which to build.
Recently, we sent out a survey to the EXIT members to explore the possibility of building a neighborhood.
One of the most common problems that the guys (including myself) are up against is that their wives want to be around like-minded moms, and their kids need better friends.
I’ve actually been talking about this concept with various online friends of mine for the better part of a decade, but it’s hard to know how much common ground you really have: can we agree on a site? How much do we want to build independently, and how much will be “HOA”? Are we going to fight over the by-laws? What if your kid is mean to my kid?
But as our kids get older, and things get darker outside, many of us are feeling that we have to at least make the attempt.
So far, here’s how it looks:
The most popular locations are Texas, the Mountain West, and the mid-South (roughly western Appalachia and the Ozarks)
Most of the guys want to live “out in the county” — rural or exurban land, but within reach of a hospital and a Home Depot
Most (58%) have two or more kids — definitely enough for a homeschool co-op.
The guys want to live on a wooded site with a creek or a pond
The most desired common amenities: a gym (93%), a dining hall (79%), and a community garden/pasture (64%)
It looks like there’s enough theoretical overlap to accommodate at least two or three of these projects.
Obviously everyone will have to get comfortable on a personal level, but that’s the purpose of the group — to give like-minded guys a place to build exactly these kinds of relationships, so that they can embark together on these kinds of projects, so that we can all have grandchildren.
If you want to build something better for your family, and you need a community to build it with, check out exitgroup.us.