Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Of Crowds and Cold

Today was the first really cold day of the season in Hanover. It's 6 degrees Farenheit outside, even at midday. I confess I carpooled with the rest of the Voxfamily for a short ride to work this morning. And the recent bout of freezing rain made the 45 minutes with the snowblower this week more challenging than usual. But I wouldn't want Hanover without the cold winters.

As much as the cold is uncomfortable, I've got a higher threshold for it than most people I've met. The cold keeps the place uncrowded. And it turns out that I've got a much lower threshold for crowds and congestion than most people I've met. So the rest of the world and I sort ourselves into communities where we each get relatively more of what we like and relatively less of what we don't like. And at important times, the fact that we were not in competition made us both better off. Consider, for example, what the prices we paid for our respective first homes might have been if we were all searching in the same market.

To tell the truth, I might even like it even ... colder.


Tom said...

But Andrew, the cold-haters have figured out a way around the up a bunch of year-round houses, and only come up for 2 weeks in the summer!

I used to say that it would never get crowded up here (Strafford, VT) because it was too cold, but try leaving Centerra at 5:30pm...starting to remind me of Long Island.

Andrew Samwick said...

Me too, and thus I wouldn't mind it a little bit ... colder.

But as long as the snowbirds pay their 52 weeks of property taxes for their 2 week stay, I'd say we're making out pretty well.

We've made some planning mistakes in the area, particularly in getting people from DHMC to Vermont without going through Hanover. I also thought that we endured a lot of traffic headaches on Wheelock Street and the Ledyard bridge a few years back for, essentially, no greater capacity. And that's why it's feeling like Long Island, I think.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

I agree with you both. Bring on the cold.

By the way, having flatlanders buy a summer home up here and pay property taxes is fine by me. Contrary to conventional wisdom, their driving up property values does not raise taxes. Taxes only go up when needed to cover expense increases... It is those who move from the outside and stay for more than a few weeks, and then demand all the services they came to expect in the places they are trying to leave, like Long Island, that raise our expenses/taxes and make us increasingly urban.

jamie hunt said...

Cold is an issue. So is snow. We bought our house in Grantham in August 2001. The woman we bought it from had put it on the market after the area was hit with a ton of snow in March '01. She'd had enough, and packed off to North Carolina.

Tom said...

Actually, Tim, in Vermont there is a major tax shift through the persistent rise of property values. The way we're structured, we pay an essentially flat fee per $1000 of valuation, which has doubled in 5 years. Then the state returns the "extra" (after siphoning off a bit) based on INCOME, not property value. So, I'm paying double, but my neighbor whose husband does not work, as seen about a 10% increase, for the same services. That's why we care more on this side of the river.

Tim Dreisbach '71 said...

Andrew: Sorry your riposte on the cold has digressed into taxes.

Tom: Damn... we just moved from Hanover across the river to VT.

My comment was based upon the general theory that if property values double, tax rates should be halved. Only expense increases drive ultimate tax increases. But you are right that there are other redistributionist factors on top, whether due to income-based considerations (making the property taxes more income that asset based) or donor versus receiver towns for education. I will not further this digression by weighing in on these issues, pro and con.

Let's return to "bring on the cold" and its effect on who lives here. Dartmouth deceased Professor Perin suggested rural immigation laws... you have a one year visa to demonstrate you can raise cattle or cut your own firewood. If you fail, you do not become a local citizen, but a immmigrant alien with a 2X tax rate. Do we need something similar for the entire Upper Valley area?

Amy said...

"the fact that we were not in competition made us both better off"

This is interesting. Reminds me of electrons in atoms. They tend to arrange themselves so they're the furthest possible from all other electrons in the same atom. I hate crowds too.

If you enjoy the cold, you may want to move up to Saskatchewan, Canada. I used to live there, around Regina. It sometimes fell to 60 Celsius below with windchill. You'd love it there...

Not too many people live there either.