This week: Western North Carolina, and Part 2 of our introduction to New Zealand.
The first section was written by Ron Thompson, a real estate agent in Burnsville, North Carolina, in response to our request for some background on Yancey County, North Carolina.
Western North Carolina and Yancey County are unique in many ways:
We have a principally conservative population of self sufficient souls that live here year round.
1. Our location enjoys the benefits of 2,500 to 6,000 foot elevations. Among them are spectacular mountain scenery, abundant water supplies from rivers and streams, fertile river valleys, and moderate climate (It rarely exceeds 80 or goes below 0).
2. We have an influx of summer residents and tourists providing an excellent source of income for those wise enough to capitalize on them (crafts, home grown vegetables, honey, firewood, etc).
3. We have limited “big city” luxuries such as shopping malls. But, they are within reasonable driving distances. (Asheville is 37 miles [from Burnsville].)
4. We do have grocery stores, a movie theater and a Summer Playhouse and a fine public golf course.
5. We are comfortably out of reach of the more populated areas of North Carolina south and east of us such as Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh/Durham and Chapel Hill, yet close enough for a weekend visit should you need a reality check as to why you left the big city.
6. We do not have burdensome zoning.
Market conditions in our area have seen moderate price reductions due to the overall real estate market conditions. It should be noted that our prices are normally lower than other areas of the Southeast. Raw land starts as low as $10,000 an acre and increases based on features such as water frontage, amount of flat tillable land, etc. Prices are not as low as they used to be and all price trends are upward despite the recent price dip.
Self Sufficiency or Semi-Self-Sufficiency is possible here for a number of reasons. Among them are:
1. The locals are of Scotch /Irish heritage and maintain the customs of growing their own produce, repairing their own possessions and bartering for goods they need (weekend side-of-the-road Flea Markets and Produce Stands abound).
2. We have an abundance of natural resources:
Clear mountain water for drinking.
Streams for water power.
Abundant sun for gardens and solar power.
Mountain breezes for wind power.
Fertile soil for growing your own produce. (This was once a major apple producing area.)
Bear, Deer, Rabbits, Squirrel, Grouse and Turkey can be harvested.
During the American Civil War, General Sherman said of the mountains of Western North Carolina “Only a fool would lead an army into those mountains”. The heavily wooded mountains, the many caves, old woods roads and unmarked trails and coves (you may call them small valleys), offer concealment and protection.
The local residents of our area are by and large, a private people. Friendly, if their friendship is cultivated, they tend to stick together in small church community groups. You will be welcomed in their church and community but your privacy will be respected. They don’t care for trespassers and they generally don’t trespass. Chasing a bear in season may be an exception.
We are at least four hours or more away from the major population areas of the South such as Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina. With interstate gridlock during an emergency, it is unlikely that anyone seeking haven here would be able to reach us on one tank of gas.
We have many properties that will provide an ideal location for survival-minded people. These vary from small one family parcels to sizeable pieces that will provide suitable conditions for a group of like minded families.
We will be pleased to be your search agent for property in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Ron or Julia Thompson
June Jerome Realty
P.O. Box 221
Burnsville, NC 28714 Ph: 828-682-4900
New Zealand (Part 2)
A special thanks to those of you who wrote in concerning Part 1 of New Zealand. Obviously, there is a lot more to choosing this locale as a retreat area then meets the eye and I appreciate the feedback.
To recap the cons of immigrating to New Zealand: It is going to be a hard sell at best as the requirements to become a citizen are very strict. (The U.S. should take some lessons from New Zealand), as they should be, that’s most likely one of the main reasons the country has such a low crime rate, they screen their immigrants and are very selective on who they let in. Mostly, you’ll need to bring a ‘value’ with you, be it a business or a lot of money, preferably both, near as I can tell.
Self-defense is frowned upon, at least with a firearm. I spoke with a local realtor there who stated that you may only use the same force that an attacker uses to stop an attack. Meaning, if the perp  has a knife you cannot use a gun, you must use a similar level of force. Whether this is true or not I don’t know but it sounds about right given the information that Craig D. posted on the blog this week. Importation of your great firearms collection will be almost impossible if it consists of anything in the black rifle arena. A big no-no in my book. The overall picture now becomes clear, New Zealand firearms laws are a twisted mix of U.S. / British and U.N. scripts. This is a country where you can own a suppressed semi-auto AR-15 but you can never shoot it except at a certified range, never use it for self defense, never travel with it except in a secure box and unloaded (to the range only) and you must store it in a government approved ‘bunker safe’ in your home. I guess Craig D. was right, the great Nanny State is alive and well in New Zealand. The good news is you’ll probably never need your guns there if they keep a tight lid on the immigration flow.
Okay, rant over. Let’s try and see what positive things New Zealand has to offer.
New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere and the air masses from the southern hemisphere and the northern hemispheres don’t mix. That is a huge advantage in the event of a nuclear exchange. Nearly all of the envisioned targets are in the northern hemisphere.
It has a very low crime rate. Many of the other touted offshore retreat locales–particularly in Central and South America have high crime rates, and in some locales like Honduras, ex-pats are specifically targeted for home invasion robberies. The drug gangs have discovered that is where the good stuff is: The Gringo’s house. So, by comparison, the low crime rate in New Zealand is a big plus.
New Zealand is an English speaking country, so there is no language barrier. It also means that ex-pats blend in fairly well and can be more readily assimilated into the culture. Even then it would take at least a full generation to be considered a “local” but at least there isn’t the same inherent distrust that is prevalent isn many nations that speak other languages.
Overall, after feedback from several readers I must say that New Zealand get’s a 65 out of 100 as far as a retreat locale. The saving graces that brought the score up substantially, were the low crime rate, the variety of terrain/micro-climates between the islands, the immigration laws (allowing only productive folks to come) and the remote location of the country from the rest of the world.
We are looking for suggestions for next weeks update so if you have a favorite locale or region please e-mail  us and suggest one CONUS  area and one International area and we’ll get to work on it for next Friday! – T.S.