Slab City, California might be one of the most unique and oddest places one has ever heard of. Referred to as “the last free place” in the United States of America, the city is placed on an abandoned military base that was built in 1984 in the middle of the desert. Don’t be fooled by its tax-free, off-grid appeal though; here are 17 reasons not to move to Slab City, California.
If you want to know more about the reasons not to move to slab city, California, keep reading!
1. A Lawless Land
If you’ve heard of Slab City, you’d know that it is famous for being lawless. What this really means is that laws are not enforced within the city. To many people, this is what makes The Slabs attractive.
At a surface level, when you hear about Slab City, it may sound very free-loving and hippie-like. However, the fact that people can do pretty much whatever they want creates a compelling reason not to move to the city. Crime is relatively ungoverned, substance abuse is very prevalent, violence is frequent, and people are free to their own disciplinary morals and sense of ethics.
2. Dangerous Parameters
There are many factors that make Slab City a dangerous place to live. The allowance for everyone to govern themselves by their own ethics permits high crime rates and consequently many people get hurt. Additionally, fugitives sometimes come to Slab City to evade the law and sometimes cause further harm.
Drugs and alcohol are in heavy practice- accompanied by their correlating addictive behaviors. Separate from these issues, the city’s climate and living conditions themselves are foreboding and concerning. The lack of resources for physical and mental health is also dangerous for a person’s overall well-being.
3. No Utilities
This little city is completely off the grid- meaning that it is also without utilities. There is no running water, no electricity, and no plumbing. There is, however, one place called “The Internet Cafe”, run by a man named Robert Lane. This is the only spot where others can connect with the outside world, play video games, stream a movie, or even charge their phones if they have one. The cafe is operated by solar power.
As for water, residents have to find it for themselves. According to Rob, people commonly fill up a water tank that can hold about 270-300 gallons of water. This will last around three or four weeks. This water serves as a source for drinking, washing laundry, cooking, cleaning, and anything else you might need.
4. Poverty Stricken
Slab City doesn’t run on a type of currency like the rest of the United States. Instead, many people trade their skills or time for other services in order to get what they need. Some people who move to The Slabs go there with the intention of escaping poverty. This, however, is almost ironic because the city itself is extremely run down and poor.
For those who are not sleeping in the dirt, almost every home is a run-down trailer, RV, or shack. Furniture is weathered, ripped, and split. Buildings are almost completely covered in graffiti. The whole city is built upon salvages or abandoned material. It’s true that most are deliberate in their choice of residing in The Slabs, however, its conditions would certainly be considered below the poverty level.
Of those who live in this part of Southern California, most depend on savings or food stamps in order to pay for the low cost of living.
The weather conditions of Slab City are unforgiving and harsh. It is located in the middle of the desert, after all. Most who live in Slab City do not stay year-long because of the climate. Those who come for the winter and leave in the summer are referred to as “snowbirds” by residents. It is no surprise that residency is scarce. Temperatures are extremely hot come summertime and can get as high as 125°-130° Fahrenheit (50°-55° Celcius).
Not only can this be very dangerous and lead to heat stroke and even death for those who are unprepared, but it can also prevent productive lifestyles.
It would not be hard to get stuck in Slab City. It truly is off the grid. In order to get groceries, lots of people either carpool or even hitchhike in order to get to the closest town. There is a Walmart about 20 miles from the city where residents can go for groceries.
Because of the lack of money used within the community, one could easily find themselves in a predicament where it is hard to find a way of purchasing a vehicle or way out of The Slabs should a time come when they want to move and leave and re-enter society.
The Slabs are in the middle of nowhere. Should one wish to go somewhere, they would need a car. Otherwise, they are completely reliant on the help of others to leave and are also on that person’s timetable.
Not all residents of Slab City have showers. Rob visits his friend George, who has a hot water tank and shower head, to take a shower. George lets some of Slab City’s residents come to his home and lets them use his shower for a charge of $3.00 in order to pay for propane and other small costs that come with having operating water.
Without air conditioning, refrigeration, or other amenities, living in Slab City resembles a glorified version of camping. Flies can be found everywhere, and health care is harder to access than in other areas within the United States.
8. Addictive Impacts
It is not uncommon for visitors and residents to travel to Slab City in order to do as they please in the context of heavy drugs and for the usage of substances that would otherwise be illegal in other parts of the United States. Alcohol, cigarettes, and harmful substances are easy to spot within the boundaries of The Slabs.
Among the many squatters and free spirits in this unique place, there are those who residents call “tweakers”. Tweakers are mainly meth addicts. They have proven to be problematic and increased crime rates in the community. Tweakers have negative, addictive behaviors and disrupt the peace among residents. They often steal and can be violent, loud, and unwelcomed by residents.
Residents and visitors alike struggle with addictive substances, which leads to conflicts and negative health consequences.
This may come as a surprise, but there is not much to do in Slab City. As far as employment goes, there aren’t many job opportunities, and most people come to The Slabs with the objective of not doing anything intentionally. Even if someone wanted things to do, though, there aren’t many options. What few jobs are needed are already taken, and recreational activities are at the mercy of whether the climate permits them or not.
Most who enter as a resident of Slab City come alone. With the limited opportunities, excessive heat, and lots of time to kill, people have plenty of time to themselves. It’s true that this is a large appeal of why many come, however, human connection and community have been proven important for a person’s health.
George expressed his longing for companionship, and several residents spoke of the importance of their dogs. The attractions of The Slabs themselves are what attract people and make the place special. It almost seems like a paradox. Though they all live in the same community, residents seem to suffer from the same sentiment of feeling alone.
11. Without Opportunities
Slab City doesn’t have much to offer as far as futures go. The city itself doesn’t have a school, but education is offered a small commute away for the few children that live within the boundaries. As previously mentioned, employment is not something in abundance, and there is no particular resource that would help someone be self-sufficient outside of the city should they decide to leave.
“The Last Free Place” is unstable and inconsistent. While visitors and residents live ungoverned, so do futures, relationships, moralities, mentalities, and safety. The future of the city is unknown, and most residents are unsure of how long they will be staying- or even what they will do after they leave.
People come and go, making it hard to create connections within the community. This can be especially impactful on the young and the lonely. Many within the area suffer from addictions or have criminal histories, and everyone is left to govern their prospective dwellings as they choose. This can create instability within communities and even safety violations. Instability greatly affects the way one sees the world and can have lasting consequences.
Additionally, no one knows how long The Slabs will be around. This creates an internal instability in itself, as it could potentially mean that everyone who comes to live within the limits is a temporary resident by default and therefore does not have a permanent belonging anywhere- further adding to a sense of instability.
13. Loud Living
When the silence isn’t piercingly quiet, Slab City might be a bit too loud to get any peace at all. Near the abandoned slabs of concrete is a military base. Slab City is in proximity to Marine, Air Force, and Naval practicing grounds. Helicopters often fly overhead, and explosions can be both seen and heard from the small city.
Additionally, a place called “The Range” hosts musical gatherings every weekend. People gather, hook up their instruments to large speakers, drink booze, and party hard. On top of all these sounds, and aside from the many dogs that run around freely, yelling also occurs when fights break out among those living in Slab City.
Within such small living quarters, the area can get pretty noisy and neighbors can become sources of frustration rather quickly.
It might go without saying, but Slab City is odd. With heavy usage of drugs, extreme amounts of alcohol, lack of mental health resources, lack of medical care, exposure to heat, tragic pasts, separation from society, and clashing personalities, it is almost guaranteed that people will become alienated and perhaps become even less prepared for society than they were when they left it in the first place. Slab City does not offer healthy setups for self-sufficiency or security.
This is the place to go to break relationships. It is hard to stay in touch with loved ones here. Not only is this piece of concrete far away from everything going on in the world, but it is separated from everyone. To some, this might sound ideal, but once again, it has been proven that people need each other. Slab City is also isolated from resources that are needed for basic survival. It is not a place for realistic, sustainable living. Should there be a natural disaster, the city would not be in good shape to last.
In many ways, The Slabs are falling apart. Essentially composed of recyclables and unstable structures, the city is built as a temporary setup. People come and go, as its original users have already abandoned it. Its future is unknown, and it is not a destination that is secure to build a future in. While Slab City would make a great place to visit, it is not a good option to move there. If a person is looking to settle down, they should find somewhere where they can create a future away from Slab City.
17. Un-nurturing Environment
The community within Slab City is full of unstable relationships, physical structures, internet connection, sources of food and water, transportation, safety, access to healthcare, weather, and many other unknowns.
It is naive to say one could thrive building a future in moving to such an un-nurturing environment. Not to discredit the good people that live within the city- it is full of amazing art, creativity, fun, and other cool characteristics unique to The Slabs. However, as a place to live permanently, it is not an ideal location.
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