One Family’s Relocation to The American Redoubt, by Recon

I’d like to share my experience in moving to the American Redoubt area.   This is our true, and inspiring story of how we came to move to Idaho. 
 I must confess.  I have no real prepper skills other than the ability to really connect with people on a personal level, being a nice guy, and I’ve mastered the skill of knowing I don’t know anything.  I couldn’t give anyone survival lessons on any topic.  The fact is, most of you would probably consider me a horrible prepper.  My family and I have no carpentry skills, mechanical ability, construction aptitude, electronic communications know-how, medical training, or military or law enforcement experience.  We really are a couple average people, but we are trying to prepare ourselves for an uncertain future.  I think perhaps there are more people like us out there than most realize.  Hopefully our story of relocating to the redoubt will inspire others like us and you can take courage from some of our experience.  Since I have no other real skills, our relocation was the only information I could relay with any credibility.  I probably won’t win any contests, but that’s ok.  I just want to share our story.

A  Little Background
 Since 1984 I had lived in Western Oregon.  I was six years old when my parents moved the family there.  My wife was from the central valley area of California.  After meeting during our college years we moved back to the Willamette Valley in Oregon where I grew up.  Our family currently is comprised of me, my wife, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, and a Beagle.  We are both approaching our mid-30’s and have been married over 11 years.   

Our Situation

I desperately wanted to move away from Oregon for many reasons.  Mainly, I grew weary of moral decay and an almost absolute guaranteed defeat at the ballot box of candidates I thought would be most truthful, honest and fight for less government.  I tired of Marijuana Awareness Week, pride festivals, cross-dressing mayors,  and big government in general.  I’m trying to keep this a-political, but for me, it was a huge reason why we left.  We also had family in Idaho.  That was also a huge draw. 
If you are thinking about moving to a redoubt state, you may have some feelings of self disappointment or self defeat.  You may think (like me) that by leaving, all you do is make things worse by leaving your city with one less solid American family.  You may ask yourself, “How can I make a difference and change hearts and minds, and make America better if I  abandon my station and cut ties?”  Believe me, I struggled with those same thoughts too.  In these situations, be on your knees and find out what the Lord  wants you to do, then do it.  If you never feel any answer either way, then make the decision, and then make it right.  We did, and our story follows.

Career Situation
From 2004 to 2008 I was selling real estate in Oregon before the bubble burst.  We were living high on the hog then with a brand new home, two late model SUVs, a boat, and lots of credit to make those purchases.  In 2008 we relocated further South along the I-5 corridor to take a new job as a pharmaceutical representative—which was a breath of fresh air after the start of the housing collapse—with a good salary, medical & dental benefits, and a company car.  Well, that job wasn’t nearly what it seemed to be on the outside.  It was a great way to provide, but spawned complete professional unhappiness inside me.   I was miserable.   I applied and took the Border Patrol tests, but in the end, my wife wasn’t on board with it.  Living on the Southern Boarder in the middle of nowhere and the perceived constant danger and perils of the job were too much for her.   So, I interviewed with the FBI for almost eight months, only to be turned down at the final stage of interviews.  It was a discouraging time.  About then, the pharma company I was working for another set of layoffs.   Many in the industry called these years  ”Pharma-geddon” .  The interesting part was that they offered sales reps a chance to volunteer to be laid off, so that those who really bought into the company line could stay and they’d have a more loyal sales force.  Offered by the company was a minimum severance pay that equated to five or six months of pay and continued health benefits for a few months time also.  I knew in my head and heart that I wanted to take the voluntary layoff.  I discussed it with my wife.  We also prayed about the decision.  In this particular instance, we never really felt divine intervention in getting an answer to prayer.  However, we did feel that perhaps this time, the Lord was just letting us make a decision on our own, based on our own sincere heart-felt desires.  He would make it right, whatever we chose.  To us, it was our ticket to ride away into the sunset.  A new dawn, in which we’d have about five months of income from the severance to secure other employment.  We also prepared ourselves mentally that this could be a horrible decision in the short term and could lead to a lot of financial pain. 

The Decision to Relocate
We made the decision to request the voluntary layoff.  I did, and it was granted.   Family members and friends thought we were insane, making a decision like that.  They saw my well paying job, benefits, and current 9.7% national unemployment as all the reason a person should stay put given such circumstances.   To a large extent, I agreed.   Logic and reasoning said don’t do it.  This is something  that many will have to face on the road to relocation…possible doubters, and self doubt.   We don’t all come from families or have friends who see things exactly as we do.  And even in this community of preppers, there are various degrees of readiness and enthusiasm for how far you take your preparations

Our plan since my wife was working  was for me to travel to Idaho and stay at my in-laws home for a few weeks at a time while my wife stayed back and tried to sell the home.  That way we wouldn’t have to give up her income stream at the gift store where she was working.  This would enable me to get my feet on the street at the desired location in Idaho where we wanted to live.  I would stay a week or two and start turning up stones, making contacts, and applying for jobs.  I believed that if I encountered something positive in the job market, it would look better for me if I were already “living” in the area of the job, versus having an employer looking at my resume and assuming I lived in Oregon, still had a house to sell, and therefore “probably not a great candidate” to consider, yada yada yada.  If necessary I was willing to take a near minimum wage job if I had to in a worst case scenario.

Our Housing Situation
“What about our house situation?” you might ask.  Like several other million persons around the country, we were also upside down in our home.  We purchased at $275,000, and we now had our poor home on the market for $249,900 just two years later.  Our down payment was completely obliterated and then some.  We would literally be penniless after the move and a possible sale on the home.   Surprisingly we got on offer on the home within 7 days, even before I left to seek work in Idaho.  However, coming to agreement with the buyers would mean bringing to the table at closing almost every penny we had in the bank.  We would essentially be moving with no reserve funds at all.  However, we considered ourselves extremely lucky to have even received an offer at all, yet alone in the first week.  As you can see, my wife and I were really motivated to see this through.  Again, some would say we were off our rockers.  To us though, things seemed to be falling right in place, as if it were a confirmation from the Lord that we were making the right choice.  A few days later I was in Idaho looking for employment and trying to follow up on any leads.  I had been there 3 or 4 days when I got a response call from a sales position I had applied for online.  It offered a pretty good salary, especially for the cost of living in this area.  I interviewed for the job, nailed it, negotiated up a few thousand dollars in the compensation and was hired and working in the Eastern Idaho territory during the first week of July, 2010. So you can understand the timeline here, formal notification of being laid off in Oregon was on June 15th.  So, in just over two week’s time, our house had an accepted offer, I had interviewed for and accepted a new position, and we had relocated to Idaho.  I had begun work the first week in July after Independence Day.  And I still had over 4 months of remaining pay coming to me from the previous job.   Truly we had made the correct decision and we were being blessed.

The little miracles were too much to overlook.  This was at a time when the average time on the market for homes was many months—if you sold at all—and those who were unemployed were now getting benefits for 99 weeks and the nation was setting records for average time spent unemployed by the jobless. 

Was there Pain?

Yes, there was pain involved.  We left my widowed mother behind.  Sometimes I felt as though I was abandoning my responsibility as a son to always care for her and be near enough to support her in her life.   She’s only in her 50’s and works full time, but it was still an issue we had to wrestle with.  It was difficult to do.  Many considering relocation have to ask themselves if you can leave those loved ones behind, either because they have no desire to come, or are not otherwise in a position to follow.  If you ask me, the last thing you should do is try convincing them to come by saying the world is coming to an end and they need to join your retreat group.  That is, unless they think exactly the same way you do.  Another small little miracle with the above pain I describe is that my brother and his family have since moved nearby also.  Not only that, but I am proud to say that my aforementioned mother has a job interview out here in Idaho this coming Monday. 

A big dose of painful medicine is that our house deal ended up falling apart after three months of trying to make things work out with the buyer.  Basically there were circumstances outside our control in the lending world because of the huge financial crisis.  This prevented the buyers from buying our home in the end, even though there wasn’t anything wrong with their credit worthiness.   We had been in Idaho nearly three months now.  It was a crushing blow.  Miraculously we were able to purchase a new home before our home in Oregon ended up slipping into foreclosure.   Thirty-five thousand dollars upside down in the home, no prospects of selling, and a decreasing job market actually led to a strategic default.  We weighed all options including renting it out.  The going rent rates wouldn’t have come close to making the monthly mortgage payment.   I’m not proud of it, but we followed the course many others had paved.  We tried doing it the right way and were willing to come to closing with our entire savings, but after that sale fell apart, we lost all motivation to continue the fight.  I am truly sorry for contributing to the housing/foreclosure problem across the country.  I am also in no way advocating this course of action to anyone.  Some states even have laws on the books and they can come after you for deficiency judgments.  This was just a tough decision we had to make. 

It’s been several months since the bank auctioned off the old house.   I have checked my credit about 3 or 4 months ago, and just as recently as early this month to see what the damage has done.  Before, our credit was in the 800s.  Three or 4 months ago it was up to 695, and this month it’s already up to 737 according to the credit report subscription online I signed up for to monitor our credit.  We really have bounced back, even from that huge black eye.  Our current mortgage, car payment, and student loans that we continued paying on brought our score back up rapidly.  We were taken by surprise by this.

Some may say that we carried out this entire move on an assumption that we could sell the home, and that we used the quick sale as partial confirmation from God that we were doing the right thing.  They may say that perhaps you made a mistake, because in fact, the house didn’t sell.  So this must not have been such an answer to prayer after all right?  To us, however it’s just the opposite.  The quick sale was an extra boost of confidence to get us out the door to Idaho.  As I said before, we were prepared for possible pain our decisions could bring that were unexpected.   That leads me to life in the redoubt since arriving.

Life in the Redoubt
We’ve been living in Idaho for 19 months now.   We don’t have a ranch entrenched on a well positioned hill with 50 acres that’s off the beaten path.  I only own four guns thusfar and not enough ammunition.  I’m not off the grid.  I could go on.   Like I said, you’d probably say I was a horrible prepper.  However, we do own a home on an acre in a smaller city of about 5,000.  We live in a subdivision of 1 acre properties.  Life over here is so much different in many ways in the general thought process of the public and your neighbors.  I’ll never forget going into a newly opened gun shop in town. (I bought a Remington 870 tactical.)  When I told the owner where I had moved from, he said “Welcome to the free world!”  In fact, I went in to get my concealed carry permit and all I had to do was sign a piece of paper and pay $60 at the local sheriff’s office.  It came in the mail about 3-4 weeks later.  It really did feel like I had entered the free world.   There was no requirement to take a class or anything.  Honestly, I don’t carry yet.  I’m waiting to take my defensive pistol class later this year before I tote a firearm.  Remember what I said about knowing that I don’t know anything?  I know my limitations, which is why I am going to take a class before carrying.

There is a much different feeling over here as to being self sufficient, relying on each other and being prepared.  It certainly feels like a more traditional American values part of the country.  Sure you can find misfits, stoners, and criminals everywhere, but here, it’s much less.  Neighbors seem generally eager to help one another in projects and being involved in a sense of community.  For fundraising, the Boy Scouts of America come out on every major patriotic holiday and post American Flags out front on your property.  Being in an agricultural area, there is also an abundance of people who have real skills from growing up on the farm, operating and fixing machinery, or operating their small business as some sort of contractor.  Lots of trucks and cars around here with the name of the owners business painted on the side.   Outdoorsmanship which you’ll find very common in the redoubt states also provides another great source of knowledge, skills, and resources to learn from.  I’ve taken up hunting since moving to Idaho.  I’ve shot, gutted, and eaten my first grouse.  It’s also very common to see big gardens over here in our 1 acre subdivision.   It is quite a big hobby around these parts.  They say when you move out here, you have to become a part time farmer. 

We planted a pretty good garden ourselves this year for the first time. We even attended a regular gardening meeting where we’d swap ideas, know-how, and visit the gardens of those who attended the meetings to learn different techniques and strategies for better yields, storage ideas, and ground prep ideas etc.   Boy was it a learning curve that first year.  We managed however to yield several bags of food for freezer storage.  We felt really good about that.  There is something extremely gratifying about putting a seed in the ground, harvesting and then eating what you have cultivated. 
The rest is just details really.  We’ve beefed up food storage through the LDS dry pack cannery locally, and we have many of the basic essentials of heat, clothing, shelter, and food.  We also put together our G.O.O.D. bags last year. 

Would we do it all again?
Absolutely.  We’ve never looked back.  One thing I didn’t tell you earlier is that back in Oregon, after I left  5 out of 7 sales reps ended up getting laid off in my territory.  So, statistically, the odds turned out heavily against me that I would keep my job anyway.   Plus, we took charge of our own destiny before someone could tell us what our destiny would be.  That was empowering.

Thanks for listening to me as I’ve told our story of relocating to the American Redoubt.  I know you must have read much of what I said and realized I’m somewhat of a convert to this growing movement.  Hopefully you’re not ashamed of my ignorance and lack of real prepping talent.   I believe however that my wife and I represent the crowd you are trying to attract and educate.  We are people of like mind, varying skills, a strong belief in God, salvation and serving our fellow men.  Thank you for letting us be a part of your community.  My only hope is that something I have written above will inspire or enlighten someone else in a similar situation.  Godspeed.