How does the offer of cash and free land sound to you? All that you have to do is live in a small town in North Dakota. Sounds good? Maybe not. Here's the story of Michael Tristani and his family:
Tired of crime, traffic, hurricanes and the high cost of living in Florida, the Tristanis moved four years ago to Hazelton, a dwindling town of about 240 that has attempted to attract young families to stay on the map.
Michael Tristani, 42, said at the time the 1,800-mile move was "an answer to our prayers."
"We don't have to look over our shoulder to see who's going to rob us, or jump out of the bushes to attack us," Tristani said. "Taxes are low, the cost of living is low and the kids enjoy school."
But the family also found a cliquey community that treated them like outsiders. "For my wife, it's been a culture shock," he said.
Rural communities across the Great Plains, fighting a decades-long population decline, are trying a variety of ways to attract outsiders. But the Tristanis show how the efforts can fail even at a time when many people are desperate.
"It's been quite an experience, 50-50 at best," Tristani said. "It hasn't been easy. No one really wants new people here."
May I hazard a completely non-PC question here? Do you think that the Tristanis' race (or nationality or ethnic background or whatever you want to call it, the Tristanis are Italian) is a factor?