Best Global Warming Real Estate?
January 28, 2008 1:07 PM   Subscribe

In the inevitability of global warming (bias disclosed) where should I move to? I'm a 20-something getting close to that home-owner stage, but from some of the stuff I'm reading a lot of great places to live won't be great much longer!

With the drying of the west, the sunbelt is looking less enticing. I live near the ocean now, but it seems the dream of staying nearby is fading. [Blast from the past] I figure to be alive into the last half of this century. With the world getting warmer where are the cool places gonna be in 50 years?
posted by 53B3L1U5 to Science & Nature (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Why worry now? Your next purchase has little to do with where you'll end up 50 years from now.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:10 PM on January 28, 2008

Buffalo, NY.
The housing is cheap, there's plenty of fresh water and it's about 600ft above sea level. Don't worry, you'll be dead before the glaciers scrape the city off the earth.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:10 PM on January 28, 2008

Chicago. Lake Michigan might as well be an ocean (complete with sandy beaches) and the city is great for 20-somethings. Things that are bad: the winters are too cold (problem solved!) and the summers are too hot (well, a few more degrees won't be too bad if it makes them longer).
posted by true at 1:19 PM on January 28, 2008

Well gee, if global warming leads to significant, unpredictable climate changes, isn't it kind of hard to say? Why not focus on where you want to live now, and make the best of it?
posted by Brian James at 1:24 PM on January 28, 2008

Before long you won't be limited to this planet.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:36 PM on January 28, 2008

I don't think any of the changes perceived by reputable sources will make much of a difference in your lifetime. Gore's claims about New York being flooded, etc are discredited.
posted by A189Nut at 1:39 PM on January 28, 2008

Aspen is nice, and will never go underwater. The skiing is great too. Really, any place that is at an elevation higher than about 60 feet above sea level is safe under all but the most dire predictions.
posted by caddis at 1:49 PM on January 28, 2008

If recent events here in the UK are anything to go by, check whether any prospective property is on a flood plain, particularly if the area is densely populated (which tends to reduce the amount of water the ground can absorb).

Generally though, it's factors like schools, shops, health and leisure facilities, green spaces and proximity to friends and family that really ought to be your key concerns.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:51 PM on January 28, 2008

Actually, the places that are nice now will likely just be even nicer, relatively speaking. For instance, San Diego might be wetter, but will be even better when compared to Phoenix.

Since you're a 20-something, unless you have a giant trust fund, you won't be able to afford anything 1 meter above sea level anyway. The nearest you'll get to the water will be something like "upstate."
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 2:01 PM on January 28, 2008

Why not think of the question from another angle? How can you live so as to reduce your contribution to global warming? Maybe that means an apartment/condo rather than a house, living in a city with good transit (so you don't need a car), a plot in a community garden, living somewhere that allows you to walk or bike to work, and so on.
posted by ssg at 2:08 PM on January 28, 2008

Well I remember the predictions about changes too, higher tides, odd and larger storms, more snowfall so...

"I don't think any of the changes perceived by reputable sources will make much of a difference in your lifetime. Gore's claims about New York being flooded, etc are discredited."

Better wing over to China today and nice chat with the folks stranded in the massive snow there and tell them all about what means in English. And why it didn't happen.

posted by Freedomboy at 2:33 PM on January 28, 2008

Response by poster: @ Tomorrowful: true enough, but this was meant to be a bit of a "what's the world of the future gonna look like w/ global warming coming into play?" kind of thing

@ caddis: but the drying up of the west kind of kills CO too. drier, less snow, more fires

@ ssg: this is the angle I generally look at this from, but I thought I'd try this tact for a change

Everyone, nice answers! Not to diminish the potential impact of global warming, or the efforts made to better understand the issue, but I wanted to take a more light-hearted approach to the issue.

Let's go global, anyone have an opinion on Patagonia? I know I won't buy in Tuvalu ... but I better get there while I can.
posted by 53B3L1U5 at 2:34 PM on January 28, 2008

I think in your lifetime the kind of changes you might see are simply greater flooding in areas that already flood. The world isn't going to wash away The Day After Tomorrow style anytime soon. If you move to live on a floodplain, well, you're already accepting that it'll flood sooner or later. Climate change just means it might happen more often.
posted by twirlypen at 2:37 PM on January 28, 2008

I'm looking at places with decent water rights, water on the property, outside of coastal flooding areas, with community spirit, with generous wind and/or solar exposure and relatively close to state and national borders. Plus some other things I forget right now. So far a number of states along the northern part of the US meet many of these criteria. I don't get the "in your lifetime" refrain. Seems shortsighted, but then I'm generally an ant, not a grasshopper.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:44 PM on January 28, 2008

53B3L1U5 - "@" is denigrated here on metafilter
posted by caddis at 3:29 PM on January 28, 2008

The obvious choice is the easy one for an American: Alaska, and somewhere close to the ocean. With a warming earth the weather will have to be spectacular at some point! And it's mountainous enough that you can be close to the ocean and still stay high and dry when seas rise.

Near Anchorage is a good choice for the not-too-adventurous but it's a big place. I specifically recommend near the ocean because parts of the interior like, say, Fairbanks already get pretty damn hot in the summer. Being near a large body of water mitigates that to a large degree, keeping summer cooler and winter warmer.

And no state income or sales tax? It'd be stupid not to!

Alaska, the last frontier!
posted by 6550 at 3:50 PM on January 28, 2008

At least avoid coastal areas that are currently below sea level, such as NOLA, Amsterdam, and the Sacramento River delta.
posted by neuron at 4:23 PM on January 28, 2008

Although I am currently desperate to leave it, I would say that when only considering future environmental changes Michigan would be a good bet. Water won't be a problem, if the average temperature goes up it will only be really hot for a about 1 month a year, and the cities are small enough that the surrounding farmers can support them.
posted by 517 at 4:33 PM on January 28, 2008

Don't be overly concerned about sea-level rise, focus instead on other factors. It will obviously suck in low elevation flood plains and very, very close to the coast, but in general even coastal cities are not predicted to see major changes to their coastlines in the next hundred years. I once made a little toy to show me the new coastlines for San Francisco based on a few predicted sea-level changes, and while the one for all of Antarctica melting is very, very bad, the actual prediction for the next century is barely visible.
posted by agentofselection at 4:40 PM on January 28, 2008

You could go somewhere that could flood, but build yourself a floating house.
posted by aetg at 4:44 PM on January 28, 2008

you don't want to move to New England or northwester Europe because of the possibility of the gulf stream shutting down, bringing temperatures down in those areas:
posted by spacefire at 6:30 PM on January 28, 2008

I'm guessing in the USA, Alaska would be a fairly safe bet, but anywhere with elevation - 50 metres or more above sea level would be realistic in our lifetimes.

[Having said that I'd worry a little about the tropical highlands, although the tropics will be slower affected by climate change than the more extreme lattitudes].
posted by singingfish at 6:36 PM on January 28, 2008

It looks like the entire northern midwest (Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin) is going to get wetter. If water issues are a concern for you, I'd head that way.
posted by salvia at 11:22 PM on January 28, 2008

You need Water, as many people have said. You also need to be in a community where all your necessities like a job, grocery stores, doctors, are ideally within walking or biking distance (if/when gas gets prohibitively expensive).

You also need to go where land is fertile, so if you have to, you can grow food in your yard.

I recommend Oregon/Washington for all of the above.

However, if you would rather stay on the East coast, go to the Appalachian mountains, but be prepared to install cisterns to catch rain water as a back-up to wells. Also, this area is good for living off-grid because you can rely on solar power year round.

In the Northwest, solar power isn't your best bet. But there is a helluva lot of wind.

Eventually, the southeast is going to be almost desert like, and the midwest to northern U.S. will get wetter. The Northeast isn't such a bad option because it already has a lot of infrastructure. Then again, there will be more competition for resources in this region because of the huge population.

Southern Megatropolises like Dallas-Ft.Worth and Atlanta are completely untenable. They are already running out water and the costs of transporting food into the city will become more and more expensive as energy costs rise. Not to mention the energy costs of cooling a house in these areas.

Therefore, Go West! Go North! Get thee to a wet, mild, northern region. The Willamette Valley is an excellent example of this. Probably part of the reason why the housing crisis in the U.S. hasn't really affected Portland much.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:48 AM on January 29, 2008

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