Brian Depew at The Rural Populist drew my attention to this story about TAB Funkenwerks, an audio-electronics outfit.

They needed a new home for their business. A 30K sq. ft. space in Seattle would have run them, oh, probably $3 million or so. Instead, they bought an abandoned school in Gaylord, Kansas.

Off Ebay.

For $25,000.

Both Oliver and Gwen will tell you, buying the school was a fabulous business move. They have everything they need to for growth right there in Gaylord: high speed internet, daily UPS, a pool of eager potential employees, and, most importantly, a very low cost of doing business.

But personally, the move from Seattle (pop. 600,000) to Gaylord (pop. 145, give or take a few) was quite the lifestyle adjustment. But Oliver says it was all for the good.

"I never thought it would be this positive coming out here. I mean the people from Kansas told me, ‘You would love it." But others said, ‘Kansas? Are you insane? They have tornados there.’ But it was the best thing I even did in my life, moving out here. It was jumping to cold water and actually figuring out it was nice and warm."

Here’s another story about it. And here are some more schools on Ebay.

The midwest is basically being depopulated. And some clever folks are noticing the opportunity to live for incredibly cheap.

I’ve been pondering this for a while, in a vague way. What might the environmental or energy implications be of repopulating the Midwest? It would get people away from coasts, which is good in an age of rising sea levels. But it might spread them out farther. But they could re-use existing infrastructure instead of building it anew.

I don’t yet have a settled opinion on the issue, but I thought I’d raise it here. Any thoughts?