I joined a Facebook Group recently. It’s for people to share information about Deep Adaptation.
Basically, it’s full of people who have accepted that collapse is inevitable. Economic collapse. Climate collapse. Societal collapse. And they’re working toward learning how to live through it.
As you can imagine, it’s not the most cheerful Facebook Group I’ve ever belonged to.
But I realized, as I was perusing the posts, that my family has recently taken a massive step toward Deep Adaptation. Massive.
I am a Nevada girl. I love the desert. I love the heat and the sun. But we moved this winter to Northwestern Pennsylvania. And oh, my God, I’m homesick.
But I know, deep down, that the move was necessary for a couple of very big reasons.
Reason One: The cost of living in Reno has risen to the point where we could no longer afford to live there — right now, collapse or not.
Reason Two: The entire state of Nevada is completely unsustainable in the event of collapse caused by climate change.
The Cost of Living
Here’s what happened last September.
We got a 45 day notification that our rent would go up. Again. Two years prior it was $1400 and now it was about to go up from $2200 to $2600.
And within a week my husband was laid off of his job.
Something had to give and we decided, on the spur of the moment, to move to my husband’s hometown in rural northwestern Pennsylvania. He has family there. The cost of living felt ridiculously low.
We paid $2600 rent for a 1600 square foot house in Reno in October and $1000 rent for a 4000 (!) square foot house in PA in November. Crazy, right?
The low cost of living in PA means that we can work faster toward getting out of debt. Which means we’ll be able to get to a point, more quickly, where we’re building up our savings.
The low cost of living in PA also means that we have a far better chance of someday buying a house and maybe living mortgage-free than we did in Nevada.
Seriously. In PA we can buy a house for less than $50,000. Way less, if we really look. In Nevada, we were approved for a $200,000 home loan and could not find one (in any neighborhood, in any state of repair) to buy.
In Reno, we were treading water. We could pay all of our bills on time, but the cost of living rose so high, so fast, that we couldn’t get ahead. Every time we figured out how to increase our income or decrease our spending, our rent would go up and eat the surplus.
Moving from Nevada to Pennsylvania was like taking a big, giant step back from the edge of poverty. The state of the world right now makes that giant step feel even more necessary than ever.
I believe the scientists when they say that the global climate is changing.
Because I believe that, living in the desert has been a hard thing for me for a long time. I moved away from Las Vegas (where I grew up and where most of my family lives) almost ten years ago because Northern Nevada is more sustainable.
More sustainable than Las Vegas in the event of collapse of any kind, by the way, is not saying much. Las Vegas will be a ghost city should it ever become impossible to cool homes or truck in food or supply water.
It’s near the agricultural center of Northern California. It’s cooler (by quite a lot.) It has closer access to fresh water. One big test for me was to think about what was going on there 150 years ago.
Northern Nevada was booming. Virginia City was a mecca during the gold rush.
Southern Nevada was empty except for a few very hardy Naive Americans and Mormon Pioneers.
Northwestern PA, for what it’s worth, was pretty much exactly like it is now. Same buildings and everything.
It’s still the desert though. Still far too dry. Still very difficult to grow things there. There are very few farms, for instance. And it’s very close to where wild fires rage every fall.
Pennsylvania is a different story. It’s not hot here and warming would actually maybe make it more comfortable. There’s plenty of water. The stuff falls from the sky all the time. It’s very, very easy to grow things here (even without irrigation) and there are tons of farms and ranches already in place.
As homesick as I am, Northwestern PA is a far better place than anywhere in Nevada to weather whatever may be coming.
Adapting in Place
Adapting means figuring out how to live, now, with the realization that things are changing and that there are probably hard times ahead.
I don’t think it means panicking. Panic never helped anyone. Instead, I hope that making good, thoughtful, forward-thinking choices now will serve my family well later.
Adapting in Place refers to digging in where you are to make the best of things. Moving my family somewhere that won’t be unliveable ‘in place.’
It comforts me to know that if my family in Nevada can’t live there anymore, I’ll have already set up a home base here in PA. That thought helps me to live with my homesickness.
Working over the next couple of years to get out of debt, to build up a savings, to learn some skills that might be useful sometime in the future, to build community where I am — to put some distance between my family and poverty, on every level — feels like work that matters.
I would love to be wrong about the whole thing. Last year’s devastating wild fire season makes me think I’m probably not.
Envy Writer is a Nevada girl in Pennsylvania. She used to be poor. She’s not anymore. She wants to make sure she never is again. Let’s do this together.