Don’t cold call (cold contact?) me about moving to Montana.

Every so often I get anyone from total strangers to barely acquaintances asking me to recommend a place for them to move in Montana. One fellow, for example, had apparently been asking about Montana on a forum I last participated in before I moved to Montana, so 7-8 years ago, and someone there told him to look me up on Twitter. So on Twitter, from this total stranger, I got: “Hi, I’m planning to move to Montana. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for places to move to?”

Up until now, if someone did this to me, my answer was that I can’t help them. But now, after having had the idea to just write this down once, I can just point them here.

If you are one of those people: I can’t help you.

For one thing, I have no idea why you’re wanting to move to Montana or anything about you. I’m not going to help you move to Montana if I don’t think you’re the sort of person I would want as a neighbor. And just because you dabble in libertarian-ish circles does not make you a good neighbor.

Maybe you’re an asshole who likes to go around butting into other people’s business to aggressively video record them to stroke your own ego, and then pulls a gun on them after you’ve escalated the situation to them confronting you after you’ve antagonized them. You know the type.

Or maybe you want to come to what you see as relatively unspoiled Montana, but just fixed up a little bit to be more like the crappy place you want to leave behind. You’re all on board with this liberty thing — well, MOSTLY — but you want to start messing in Montana politics just a bit to make sure everyone has to abide by your personal libertarian-ish-but-not-really sensibilities about people’s personal relationships, what they do with their own bodies, border issues, and the property rights abomination strangely popular in the Big Tent (TM) known as KeystoneXL.

Also, it’s great that Montana has such a vast expanse of natural beauty. Nobody will mind if you just start shooting it up a bit, littering on the streets and sidewalks because you’re too lazy to find a garbage can, marking everything not privately owned with graffiti, or smoking whatever you like and whenever just because you can without regard to anyone else in the community. Hey, it’s public property—you should be able to do whatever you want!

Or maybe you’re the one who wants to move to Montana, but you want someone else to do all the work for you. Asking me to where you should move will just be your opener. Once you get here you’re going to want someone to let you live with them, you’re going to want a ride everywhere you go so that you can save on gas money and tool around on someone else’s nickel, and you’re going to be the first with your hand out when someone’s giving away free stuff but never share anything in return. Yep. We’ve had those here, too.

Those are just a few examples, but I think they make my point. Just because you say you’re libertarian doesn’t mean I want you to live near me. And if I don’t want you to live near me, I’m not going out of my way to help you move to Montana.

But even more basic than that is, how on the gods’ green Earth am I supposed to know where a stranger would want to live in Montana? Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? Do you want hippies or Tea Partiers as neighbors? Do you like to hide away in the woods, or do you need big sky and wide open spaces? Do you want to live more or less like you do now except in Montana, or are you planning to build your little Unabomber mother-in-law cabin in the back country? Do you ski, fish, hunt, climb, hike, swim, or what exactly? If I don’t know you, I can’t recommend a place here to you.

What I would suggest if you do want to move to Montana, or anywhere else for that matter, is to visit that place. More than once. In different seasons. Get to know some folks there. And once you’ve done all that, you can ask them some more specific questions that help you figure out for yourself where you might like to live.

That is what I did, and it worked out well for me.