Freedom's Phoenix – "Uncovering the Secrets and Exposing the Lies"


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What We Learned by Leaving New Hampshire

What We Learned by Leaving New Hampshire

By: Mike Vine

I first heard about the Free State Project in 2003 and signed the Statement of Intent in ’04. By 2007, I had graduated college and taken a job in Toronto. When my wife Vanessa and I needed our America “fix,” we started taking trips around Lake Ontario and across to New Hampshire. We wanted to see the place we might call home if the FSP hit 20K and the move were triggered. 

We found Portsmouth on our first trip and quickly became enamored with the small coastal city. I think we both had a sense from the very first visit that this was a place we could see ourselves settling down. But she was in college and I was just entering the working world, so we put that dream aside and focused on building our lives.
Canada did not agree with us. From healthcare to housing to groceries, protectionist and socialist policies have significantly hampered Canadian standards of living relative to the States. This is especially pronounced when compared to the freest of states, like New Hampshire " a fact of which we were reminded every time we paid a visit.

So, we left Toronto and moved back to our hometown of New York City. We had a loose plan: Vanessa would finish school. Then, we would tour the continent. If we still preferred Portsmouth to anywhere else, we would make the move.

Well, by the time Vanessa finished school, there were already close to 1K early movers in New Hampshire. We had been visiting Portsmouth regularly since ‘08, but with a little more free time, we were finally able to make it to Porcfest in 2011. We came home more excited than ever about the porcupine community and the potential of the project. Within two months, we made the move... becoming movers 932 and 933, if you’re counting.

Our first year was eventful. We made a ton of new friends, got involved in more activism than we could have imagined, set up a new business, and enjoyed everything the Seacoast had to offer. We explored Manch, Keene, the Lakes, the Upper Valley, Hanover (Dartmouth), Kittery ME, Portland ME, Newburyport MA, and many towns in between.

Still, we never had taken that big trip. So when our lease ran out, just before Porcfest 2012, we put our belongings in storage and hit the road. Porcfest was naturally our first stop, where we had a chance to say farewell. Our fellow porcupines were already dear friends, though we had only known many of them a short while, so leaving was bittersweet. But, knowing that the longer we stayed, the more roots we would put down, we were determined to see what else lay beyond the horizon.

The answer? Lots! 

Growing up in Manhattan, we’re taught that civilization ends at the Hudson River. Everything to the West is just McDonald’s and trailer parks until you hit California. Then it’s Jamba Juice and McMansions. 

The truth is that virtually any part of the continent has at least one attraction that is New York City quality. You just have to know how to look. Though Vanessa was already Yelp Elite for 5 years running before we left, she became a true virtuoso at scouring reviews as the trip went on. We had some of the best pizza of our lives in eastern Iowa (and I’ve been to Italy). We had an entire whiskey-marinated dinner in the mountains of Utah. We passed evenings at epic patio bars in Louisville, Portland, and San Antonio. We walked on sand as white as snow " as a stingray swam beside us " on the Florida Panhandle.

None of this is to brag. You can live vicariously through our travel blog here and save yourselves the drama of wondering where you’re going to sleep from night-to-night or how to locate a cell signal on the Olympic Peninsula. The point of the story is that we did it. We spent half a year of our lives seeing everything America has to offer. From the Smokies to the Rockies to the Texas Hills. And here’s what we learned: while most every place had something going for it, no other place had quite the same ingredients that we so cherish about New Hampshire " and no other place could offer a permanent community of 1K+ dedicated liberty activists to boot.

Because we’re telecommuters, our careers offered us the unusual opportunity to live on the road and support ourselves over a long period. I realize many do not have that luxury. So, you’ll have to take my word for it... New Hampshire is great " and the Free State Project is just icing on the cake.

Mike Vine is a lifelong liberty activist, committed skeptic, and caretaker of the Remnant. He is Director of the Arcadia Chapter of The Society of Libertarian Entrepreneurs. To learn more about life and liberty on the Seacoast of New Hampshire, visit

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