Coffee heat rising

Time to Move Along?

Lately, I’ve been thinking it’s time to move — and by that, I mean move a long way away. The news of where this country is headed has become that alarming.

The Arizona legislature is infested with crazies whose politics and thinking are so extreme, so far to the right (if “right” is the word to use: “wrong” is where they’re coming from) that these people can only be described as the new Taliban. Right now we have a nut case who proposes, apparently with a straight face, a bill requiring everyone in the state to attend church.

This red-blooded American scheme came up while our legislators were discussing a bill to allow everyone to carry concealed weapons into public buildings. They’ve already passed a measure requiring that the names of police officers involved in off-duty shootings be kept secret.

These are the kind of ignorant loons that get elected when money buys lawmakers. Lest you wonder whose pocket they’re in, here’s a clue: they’re changing the liquor laws to make it easier to bring booze sales right into your neighborhood — at Circle K’s behest.

Arizona’s legislators propose to ban cities from passing local ordinances barring paper bags. They have resisted allowing the state’s driver’s licenses to meet national guidelines for identification that will let you travel on airplanes — in the near future, Arizonans who want to fly will have to buy a U.S. passport! They signed a bill to make it difficult or impossible for home-buyers to sue a developer for shoddy construction (a standard amenity of new homes in this state). They’ve approved a bill making it illegal to sell health insurance policies that cover abortion.

Really, Arizona has always been the Wild West when it comes to politics. But it’s gone completely off the rails now. It really isn’t a place where educated people who have a brain would want to live.

I consider where I would go:

New Mexico is beautiful but the politicians there are just about as crazy, and you can’t afford to live in Santa Fe — which is the only town in NM where I’d want to live.

California is too expensive. Ditto Oregon. Ditto Washington State.

I dislike snow and don’t want to live someplace where the roads ice up in the winter. That lets out the entire upper Midwest. Florida is relatively affordable but too humid. Southern states in general are infested with the same kinds of crazies as have taken over Arizona’s “leadership.”

Nor is it evident that people of good will and common sense remain in office anywhere. In Ohio, they laugh at a woman recounting her experience of rape as she opposed a bill banning abortion at six weeks into a pregnancy. And, by the way, that bill passed. Ohio used to house people who were reasonably sane.

My associate editor and her soon-to-be husband are talking about decamping to Ecuador. That’s one of several Latin American countries that are said to be friendly to Americans and livable. Another friend  has talked about moving to Mexico.

Honestly: we’re talking about a reverse exodus: Mexicans and Guatemalans want to escape to the US; Americans want to escape to Latin America.

There’s the south of France. But I doubt if I can afford the cost of moving across the Atlantic Ocean. One can drive into Mexico, where the cost of housing and furniture is quite low. Plus I think all of Europe is way too vulnerable to attacks by Islamic crazies. The war in the Middle East is going to move into Europe sooner or later, and I don’t wanna be there when that happens. IMHO, it actually is happening right now, in slow motion.

Proceeds on the sale of my house would buy this in Guanajuato...
Proceeds on the sale of my house would buy this little gem in Guanajuato…

It’s not as unsafe in Mexico as we’re told, as long as you’re not living where the drug cartels are warring with each other. And there are some lovely places to live in Mexico. The Mexican people, by and large, are also lovely: polite and kindly, even when compressed in huge, dense urbs like Mexico City. Try to find a New Yorker or a Londoner who’s friendly to strangers! Most Mexicans are friendly and polite as a matter of course.

Throw in another 25 grand and you get this. Do NOT miss the realtor's pitch for this thing!! http://bit.ly/1Dam8hC
Throw in another 25 grand and you get this. Do NOT miss the realtor’s pitch for this thing!! http://bit.ly/1Dam8hC

But even if you have to dodge the occasional bullet and bribe the occasional local official: is that really any different from what’s happening here now? At least the weather’s decent and you can afford to live on the interest from your savings.

11 thoughts on “Time to Move Along?”

  1. I get it. I had a short conversation with someone in the hardware store the other day who mentioned that Arizona and Texas both had good weather and were cheaper to live than here. “Yeah, but the politicians are crazy there,” I said.

    A total immersion into Spanish may be the only way I can kick-start my brain to recall everything I learned 20+ years ago. Maybe I need to plan a trip to one of those language programs in Mexico so I can be ready for a move like this in another 20 years.

    • If you’ve had any exposure to Spanish at all, you can pick it up in about three months of full immersion in the culture. This means NOT living in an expat community but putting yourself right in the middle of the locals. It also means you have to make very nice to the locals…

      You’re in California now, right? Well. If you have cable or can access something like it, turn on the Spanish-language station and find the Mexican soaps. They’re called telenovelas and they are a true and genuine hoot.

      For one thing, Mexican soap operas are written at about the 10th-grade level, so if you have even a FEW words and the vaguest grasp of how a Spanish sentence is constructed, you can begin to pick out at least some of the meaning after you’ve been watching and listening for awhile. This factoid is abetted by the fact that Mexican soap actors mug and carry on with hilarious and delightful elan: you wouldn’t have to understand a word to figure out what’s going on!

      Also you can find Spanish-language news programs on radio as well as TV. These are even more dumbed-down than the soaps — probably written at about the sixth-grade level. It’s surprising how much of that stuff you can understand. Partly, I think, because if you’re following the news in English you have some idea what they’re talking about, and partly because their copywriters really work at making the news understandable.

      Also there are programs, for free or for pay, that purport to teach you various languages. Check out Duolingo, for example: https://www.duolingo.com/ And community colleges offer language courses — you undoubtedly could pick up an evening course in Spanish.

      • Heh! Also, check out this piece at the Huff Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/08/latin-american-soap-operas_n_5948832.html

        Didn’t think of YouTube: one Huff reader says YT has subtitled episodes. Wouldn’t take long to pick up the language by watching those things.

        I had a student who came here from the Dominican Republic, having married an American. She landed in New York City, unable to speak a word of English. She said she learned the language by watching English-language TV shows all day. Her husband turned out to be abusive; she divorced him and surfaced in Arizona fluent enough in English to embark on a bachelor’s degree and to start her own business.

  2. As a Canadian who has traveled the world (but never permanently lived anywhere else) I think the one truth is, there’s crazy everywhere. So you might find yourself well-served by simply living with the crazy you know rather than the crazy you don’t.

    Another truth I’ve found, is that you can get used to any kind of weather, and even learn to prefer your new home’s climate over your old one’s. So weather is rarely a reason to either avoid, or pursue, a change in zip code.

    In traveling the US, I found the brand of crazy I encountered in Florida and California to be fundamentally incompatible with my tastes and outlooks, so those two destinations are more or less off the list. If I had a short list it would be 1). Pittsburgh (don’t laugh – urban, beautiful, mild) 2). Salt Lake City (for the outdoor beauty and the friendliness) and 3). upstate New York and New England, for the relative civility and orderliness of the citizenry. Everywhere else seems to be a compromise.

    Other countries are either horribly insular (Scandinavia), too crowded (most of Europe and Asia), or too far of the North American norm of hygiene, health and comfort to be sustainable. I would accept a grand duchy in Belgium or Germany if a suitable vacancy came up. 🙂

    • True…the grass is always greener (etc.). If you like Salt Lake, you might also appreciate Boise, Idaho, which I understand has a similar sort of appeal. There are some very nice small cities and large towns in Oregon, too.

    • I’m delighted to see someone else who likes Pittsburgh. I moved here about eight years ago, and at the time I thought, “Ugh, Pittsburgh, this is going to be terrible.” And when I arrived, I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad.” My husband’s family is and always has been from around here, so I think we’re going to be here for the long haul.

      • I haven’t been in Pittsburgh but didn’t care much for Philadelphia, which was very smoggy during the week or ten days we spent there. Mastectomy Buddy lives up Pittsburgh way… She seems to be contented enough. Sounds like it was a rough winter, though — icy roads, snow…eek!

      • I’ve been to Pittsburgh and it’s a nice city. Nonetheless, it does get snow and ice and cold in the winter. Those of us who aren’t willing to deal with that anymore need to look elsewhere.

        Vinny now has me intrigued about hir “tastes and outlooks” as I find Florida and California VERY different in their respective “brand of crazy.” LOL!

      • Admittedly, my opinions of California and Florida are based on short encounters during business trips, but as a person who likes to walk places instead of drive, I encountered a flavor of, not car culture, but anti-pedestrian culture in both locations (LA, San Diego, Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami). I felt extremely unsafe in both situations (I’m a medium-sized white dude, hardly a shrinking violet) and felt lucky to return to my hotel in one piece, not due to violence but getting nailed by a vehicle. Contrast that with hours spent pleasantly walking almost everywhere else in the lower 48, including Manhattan and Chicago.

      • Actually, you’re relatively safe walking around town in California, because the state law requires motorists to stop if a pedestrian even SETS FOOT in the road. That law used to be strictly enforced — whether it is anymore, I dunno. There aren’t a lot of walkable cities, though…most of them are in the Bay Area. Carmel & Monterey are walkable, but mostly they’re tourist traps.

        Heh heh…Linda, you ain’t seen California Crazy till you’ve lived in Orange County. 😀

  3. I didn’t see the responses to this since somehow they ended up in my spam folder. Thanks, Vinny, for the clarification. I, too, found the LA-area to be not very appealing to me. Considering how spread out it is, car culture seems ingrained there, but I’m sure there are some walkable areas. I didn’t like the traffic there, though. I’m in the Bay Area and find where I’m living very walkable. Granted, the closest grocery store is a major hike so I tend to drive there, but that’s because the closer grocery store was red-tagged in the earthquake and hasn’t been repaired (and I guess will never be at this point).

    Orange County…never been there and see no reason to go! 😀

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