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Thu May 6, 2021, 07:57 AM

Back to rural life....advice anyone?

I grew up on a farm in Ohio and have been a country girl at heart my entire life. Most of my life has not been as rural as I would like and the last few years we've lived the outskirts of DC. I've always had a garden no matter where I lived but have not been able to live the more rural life I prefer. In the past year, my husband has passed away and I have retired, and the situation is that I can live anywhere I want now. I'm happy to be able to look for a place in the country. I've been looking for property in the Shenandoah Valley area since it's a place I've always loved to vacation, is so beautiful and is in relatively good proximity of family.

I just subscribed to this forum and hope to spend more time here getting advice on gardens, chickens, etc., etc. but my first question is going to be about politics. I'm a very liberal, crunchy, environmentalist type and frankly, I'm a little worried about fitting into a new rural neighborhood, which is bound to lean conservative. I've been trying to figure out which areas are solid red and which have a wee bit of purple but aside from voting maps, there's not a lot to go on unless the neighbors have big confederate flags in their yards, etc. So my questions are: Is there any way to get more insight into the political leanings of a rural "neighborhood"? I know it will lean conservative since most rural areas do, but I'd like to avoid places where the neighbors automatically hate me if they find out I'm a Democrat. Or is there such a place? My second, related question is: how do you get along with your conservative neighbors? Do you absolutely avoid politics? Do you avoid any bumper stickers on cars and try to hide your politics completely? It has been suggested to me on another forum that even a small, uncontentious sticker on my car, such as a peace sign, will prompt my new neighbors to shun me. Is that really true in most rural places? I don't need to flaunt my politics but I don't want to live in fear that my neighbors will hate me if they know which way I lean, either. I would never be unfriendly to a neighbor simply because they were Republicans. (If they had giant yard signs indicating they'd love to shoot all liberals, I may be a little stand-offish, though, ha ha.)

Please give me some advice and insight into living rural as a liberal if you have any. As always, I'm so glad to have this forum to come to and talk to like-minded people. Thanks in advance.

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Thu May 6, 2021, 08:11 AM

1. No advice, but here's a link to a tool to assess the political leanings of a neighborhood

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Response to intrepidity (Reply #1)

Thu May 6, 2021, 09:05 AM

8. Oh wow, that's fantastic!!

Iím a mapper by profession and subscribe to the Times. How did I miss this? This is just perfect. Thank you.

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Response to intrepidity (Reply #1)

Thu May 6, 2021, 01:28 PM

13. I finally saw this thread and was about to reply...

... with the same link!

Thanks!

Edit: I was surprised to see that my suburb is 62% Democrats! There's definitely some dangerous racist types around here who proudly display their Trump signs! The Democrats like me are obviously laying low in comparison!

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Thu May 6, 2021, 08:19 AM

2. Good luck in your search

I would be sure to keep all stickers off the car and never discuss politics with the neighbors. How you vote is your business not theirs.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #2)

Thu May 6, 2021, 08:50 AM

4. Thanks. I have no problem keeping the stickers off.

My daughter isn't going to like removing the Black Lives Matter sticker from her car and I hate to make her but our safety is important. So messed up that BLM should even be a contentious idea.

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Thu May 6, 2021, 08:43 AM

3. I agree with you about the joys of the Shenandoah valley but I don't know much about it...

I do, however know a lot about eastern Long Island, which takes you a couple hundred miles and some toll bridges further away.

Like the DC surroundings, much of the farmland is being developed, but what's left is serious, and the farmers are survivors. A lot of them Democrats, too. Vineyards are big, and saved a lot of land from development, but so are the organic farms, orchards and greenhouses. No cattle, but lots of horses, sheep, goats, and even ducks. And a dairy farm or two.

Acreage is expensive, but often doable and there is still some around with development rights sold to the county and going "cheap".

Politics is about 50/50, and getting more liberal as city folks move out. Not much chance of Trumpers slashing your tires.

Oh, and there's an ocean right there.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #3)

Thu May 6, 2021, 08:58 AM

6. I've had thoughts about New York but never thought there was anything rural in Long Island.

Iíve just finally recovered from undiagnosed Lyme disease that messed me up for several years so my first thought about Long Island is ticks! Also, Iím guessing my budget wouldnít get me much there. Iíve thought about moving to near Ithaca but the winters up there are intimidating. Anyway, thanks much for your input and how cool that you can live rurally in a somewhat liberal area.

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Thu May 6, 2021, 08:53 AM

5. visit the areas you may be interested in...

go to the local restaurant/diner, read the public boards outside the stores, go to the farmer's markets... it is pretty easy to get a feel for the locals... not all rural areas are necessarily conservative (more so in the Midwest where I grew up)...

I live in the most conservative part of Vermont but we have strong groups of left leaning people here... I have a honey stand out in front and post lots of more "leftist" sayings, posters, etc... some people love it and say so, the trump supporters just buy my stuff, love my baked goods and don't say anything...

you will be fine!

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Response to markie (Reply #5)

Thu May 6, 2021, 09:00 AM

7. Great ideas.

Iíve been thinking of renting somewhere for a month or so before buying.

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Thu May 6, 2021, 09:37 AM

9. I put out democratic yard signs and bumper stickers...

Most of my neighbors are conservatives they have trump signs and ďpritzker sucksĒ (illinois) and most annoyingly fire so many guns it sounds like a middle east warzone occasionally. I get along fine with all of them they dont talk politics to me and I dont to them. Ive lived here all my life though Im the guy who actually farms in the neighborhood with tractors on the road and such going back and forth to hayfields and feeding cattle so I think having seniority and being a farmer helps that nobody screws with you and they have to give respect even if they disagree with you on everything... moving to a new place you might want to play it cooler I suppose.

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Thu May 6, 2021, 11:51 AM

10. I have found my conservative neighbors to be some of the best people I have ever met

if you are real, they will be too. we are the crazy hippie ranchers and are one of only a couple others I know of. our "ranch community" consists of others that tend to think out of the box on lots of topics so we find places to totally agree and stay away from the danger zones of deep politics. if you work hard, and help others you will be fine. if you seek help and mentorship you will generate good will and long lasting friendships.

remember in rural areas even if you are identical to the locals in social and political ways you will be still seen as different and as a newcomer for at least 50 years

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Thu May 6, 2021, 12:34 PM

11. My suggestion is that you do a lot of serious

visiting to any area you are thinking of moving to. Rent for six months or a year, not just a month. It can take a longer time than you might think to figure out what a place is really like.

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Thu May 6, 2021, 01:26 PM

12. Hear hear!

On the above comments - coming from a similar experience!

I STRICTLY avoid talking politics with friends/ neighbors and even family who I know or am reasonably certain are trumpers. In the past, Republicans were at least in the same reality sphere, but no longer.

That said - while we don't have car stickers, I do put up yard signs every 4 years. Mine this year were set back from the road, and of the few others (and we all are buds!) who post Dem candidate signs near the road - some were taken or destroyed.

You could also connect with the local Dem party in the area you are looking at.

So, while I don't belabor my politics face to face, I don't run from them either! Refuse to!

We are now one of the longer term residents here - 31 years. We don't comment on the neighborhood FB. My husband is like some of the posters above as far as helping out with his equipment and knowledge on neighborhood projects. He is skilled at handling people and is respected.

So, our approach is just basic friendly but also keep our distance. As they say: good fences make good neighbors! It's a balance.

Excited for you - I lived out my dream as a teenager growing up in the New Jersey suburbs. Moved here to eastern Washington state in the 70s, bought our 13 rural acres bordering national forest in 1990. Chickens, horses, dogs and cats. Garden. Also - don't forget: lots of work and maintenance (and bucks!) go along with owning a rural property! You may need to invest in some larger equipment, like for snow removal and work around the place. You will want to have a measure of self-reliance. You will also want to make good connections for local plumbers, carpenters, and others - which will likely (best case) include neighbors!

Good luck on your adventure and keep us posted!!

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Response to OnionPatch (Original post)

Fri May 7, 2021, 12:14 AM

14. We're kind of loners anyway

And always so busy with farm stuff. We met enough of the neighbors when we moved here to know there would never be cookouts together. We weren't unfriendly--just wanted peace and quiet, and to be left alone. We had one guy that kept dropping by unannounced on a nearly daily basis. That got annoying real quick. I posted this in another thread about a different neighbor:
https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=15396063

I had an extremely bad neighbor experience when I had my farm in Calif. Nothing to do with politics, they were just vicious and vindictive from the get go. We spent 8 years in court over the boundary line. Lesson learned: Demand a complete survey before signing on the dotted line.

We do have some good friends here, and they are rethuglicans. We just don't talk politics. You're right--rural areas trend conservative. How much do you want to socialize?

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Response to Bayard (Reply #14)

Fri May 7, 2021, 08:20 AM

15. I'm kind of a loner too.

I like to feel privacy in my own property. But it would be nice to wave at the neighbor once in awhile and exchange a few words about the weather or what have you instead of getting the cold shoulder. As for actual visitors, our last place our whole property was fenced so people had to beep at the driveway gate. That works pretty well to keep away solicitors or drop-ins. 😁

We also had a non political issue with a neighbor once. Our neighborhood bordered a beautiful woodsy park. So when our next door neighbor decided to steal park property to make a parking lot for his trucks, right in the middle of our view, we turned him in. He threatened to kill us afterwards.

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Response to OnionPatch (Reply #15)

Fri May 7, 2021, 11:49 AM

16. Yikes!

Same here. I had to get a restraining order.

Our property is mostly fenced too. Our front gate and barn gate are locked. Keeps people out, and from letting out our dogs. Of course, 3 Great Pyrenees barking at you at the gate is pretty discouraging as well.

We still wave at people going past if we are out there, but there are no invitations.

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