Wanting to move west

zeke1

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Oct 6, 2015
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47
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East TN
Wanted to ask the ppl that live out there for their advice and opinions. Little history and what were looking for, I am 44 with 16 years of L.E. experience, 7 years diesel mechanic and welding experience . I have about 20 years farming with beef cattle experience. My wife is 22 in school to be wildlife biologist, we want to live somewhere rural as we both love to hunt fish trap and live off the land. I figure if the good lord allows it I have about 20 years left to work, we would like to be as self sufficient as possible were not looking for million dollar home etc just simple. We were thinking norther Idaho, Montana, Wyoming but don't know enough about them to make a informed decision.
Thanks for any help
 

Pinecricker

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Dec 23, 2014
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North Idaho
From those three states it would depend on the level of isolation you are looking for.

I am in North Idaho (Panhandle), and we have good hunting and trapping opportunities, but its more like living in a semi-rural area (probably very similar to East TN in that regard, similar to some place like the areas outside Chattanooga or some of North Georgia). Its fairly densely populated compared to WY or MT. The hard part is that our economy completely sucks. Its more of a destination for people that are already retired, as there really isn't much industry here. It ranks dead last in average household income. The U of I has a fairly highly regarded wildlife biology program, though I've heard that work with Idaho Fish and Game is fairly competitive.

I grew up here, moved away for a career, then decided to come back. I took a pretty big pay cut to do it, and have had to do a lot of long distance commuting to maintain the lifestyle I want. As this place becomes more crowded, I have actually contemplated moving some place more rural. I would prefer a place with more elbow room, but I haven't found it yet.

If you want to farm, the areas around the Clearwater Valley in Idaho might have what you are looking for. Much North of there and there isn't much agriculture any more, and the climate is a lot colder and wetter. I don't know much about Wyoming, but its definitely way more sparsely populated than anything in Idaho.
 

Randy11

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Sounds like an excuse to go look on a roadtrip and look for yourself.
 

zeke1

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Oct 6, 2015
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East TN
Thanks pinecricker, we are wanting fairly rural we're not much on city lights and nightlife. Not wanting a full fledged farm but would probably raise a few head for milk and meat, hides etc.
Yes randy I suppose we could take a trip but I would like to gather as much info as possible to help narrow down areas 1st. And were not set in stone that we have to be in one of listed places there maybe somewhere better for us. I personally love snow and lots of it not so much rain, anyway keep em coming guys we appreciate the help greatly.
 

Hunting Wife

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Nov 18, 2014
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Almost North Dakota, not quite Canada
Two important considerations -
If your wife is hoping to work in wildlife, her ability to find a job will likely be a major deciding factor for you. Jobs are few and far between and extremely competitive.

I would also suggest, If you think you want to try a northern latitude, that you visit in winter. I've seen too many people make the move based on some idea of what they thought it would be like, become depressed and miserable because they couldn't handle the winter, and head back where they came from at the first opportunity. Liking snow is one thing, but 7 to 8 months of sleet/snow/bitter cold/short days can take more of a toll than folks realize. Will also make living off the land impractical for a good portion of the year.

Luckily, "The west" is a big place and has something for everyone!
 

1_pointer

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Dec 20, 2000
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Indiana
Two important considerations -
If your wife is hoping to work in wildlife, her ability to find a job will likely be a major deciding factor for you. Jobs are few and far between and extremely competitive.

I would also suggest, If you think you want to try a northern latitude, that you visit in winter. I've seen too many people make the move based on some idea of what they thought it would be like, become depressed and miserable because they couldn't handle the winter, and head back where they came from at the first opportunity. Liking snow is one thing, but 7 to 8 months of sleet/snow/bitter cold/short days can take more of a toll than folks realize. Will also make living off the land impractical for a good portion of the year.

Luckily, "The west" is a big place and has something for everyone!
The part I bolded cannot be understated. Job opportunities for that field will often times decide the location for you. One more bit of advice, if she's serious about working in that field, getting the first job is more important than where that job is. I would strongly suggest she take the job even if it's not the "perfect" location.
 

shootbrownelk

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Apr 2, 2015
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Wyoming
Job opportunities are far and few. And don't forget the wind, sounds silly but more folks who came to Wyoming for work in the oil and gas fields leave for just that very reason...the relentless wind. 30mph is a slight breeze. Combine that wind with below zero temps and snow. You have to give up a lot to live out here. Now of course with the bust in mineral/oil and gas prices,the good paying jobs are gone too. Colorado's economy seems OK, is that state on your list?
 

Gellar

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Jan 31, 2014
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The Driftless Area
Two important considerations -
If your wife is hoping to work in wildlife, her ability to find a job will likely be a major deciding factor for you. Jobs are few and far between and extremely competitive.

I am in Conservation as well and I have a lot of interns every year that cannot find a job after they graduate college because they are not open minded on a location. Many of the jobs in conservation are in very desirable places to live, one of the best perks of the field I believe, however lots of people are fighting for those few jobs and they will have more experience than your wife who is just graduating college. I tell all of my interns to be willing to locate for a few years to a less than desirable area with the end goal of finding a job in the area that you want to be. I had to do it, all of my colleagues in my office had to do it as well. My interns that are willing to do this are the ones that still have jobs in the conservation field!

Internships are important as well! I will not hire an intern more than 2 season even if they were the best one I have ever had. I want them to get different experiences working for different agencies.
 
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zeke1

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Oct 6, 2015
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East TN
Constant rain is no go and constant 30 mph wind is no go, we were just throwing names out of some western mountain states with snow if we could find affordable rural land in Colorado we would live there or anywhere cold with driving an hour or so one way is fine for work were not picky other than no rain forest or tropical heat lol that's why were asking to pick yalls brain about the areas because driving around wont tell us all this insider info. Low crime rate, affordable land/home prices an were not looking for 100's of acres maybe upwards of 15 to 20 unless just real cheap (pipe dream I'm sure) thanks for all the great info so far keep it coming please.
 

zeke1

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Oct 6, 2015
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East TN
Yeah that's what I figured, crappy land here 10,000 an acre good nice land upwards of 80 to 100k a acre. Guess be driving long distance to work lol
 

Jerky

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Jul 30, 2015
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Colorado
I moved to Colorado two years ago from Texas. My wife is also in the Biology world. As others have said, my advice would be to stay flexible and be willing to move if the grass is greener elsewhere.
 

mixedbag

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Nov 22, 2009
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I just got back from a trip outside of casper.I met a guy whos a mechanic there for a coal company making 6 figures.I think your background will be more valuable income wise and for finding work.Best outdoor states I've found are Montana and Wyoming.I would personally pick Wyoming due to more opportunity at some of the best hunting/fishing/trapping.You CAN find cheap 20 acre parcels there outside of towns for cheap to raise cattle on.Montana would be real tough to find land cheap.I would seriously look into casper,buffalo or Sheridan Wy.Your experience in the trades you have should find you work quite easily.
And Ben,I did notice the 22 yr old wife.Good luck with that
 

Rancho Loco

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Sep 2, 2010
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Bozeman, MT
#1 - You gotta visit. And you have to be realistic. If you're looking at Wyoming or Montana, winters are long. Spring is short. Be willing to accept it. And know that there are plane tickets to Las Vegas or Arizona when it's March or April and you've had enough.

#2 - Any job in the mining or oil business can only be considered as temporary. It's boom and bust at the highest order.

#3 - Network. These are big states with small populations. Everyone knows, or is related, to everyone else. Contact people for an interview.. If they're not hiring, ask if they know who is. You'll get leads, and icebreakers, guaranteed.

#4 - Strongly consider renting for the first year or two. Sometimes things just don't work out. This land has flushed plenty of people who dreamed of living here. Don't get tied down until you're sure.
 
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