A project in rural Norway, Liberstad, aims to create a private, tax-free city for libertarians who respect the non-aggression principle and private property rights. Holding a presale now, the project’s organizers accept bitcoin for land and plan to make it the city’s primary currency. Bitcoin.com talked to John Holmesland, the general manager of the company that operates Liberstad, to learn more about how the project is progressing.
Also read: Liberland: Bitcoin ‘Is Truly the Base of Our Economy’
Finding & Developing Liberstad
Holmesland and his team started looking at properties for Liberstad in August 2015 and found Tjelland Farm with the appropriate “size, location, internet and electrical connection, water supply, good construction ground, and no permanent residents on the surrounding properties”, he told Bitcoin.com. An agreement was made to rent this property until May 19 to give them time to sell at least 15 hectares of plots, then buy the property for 5 million Norwegian kroner. For the presale, which started on August 15 last year, Holmesland said:
We only accept Norwegian kroner (NOK) and bitcoin (BTC) for land sold through the presale.
Each plot of 1000m2 costs 35,000 NOK (about 4,000 USD), and the reserve price is 7,000 NOK (approx. 800 USD). If the land sale target is reached, development will start on June 1. After rezoning and waiting for the government to approve the development plan, Holmesland estimates that full development could begin within 24 to 36 months. During that time, the team plans to build roads, campsites and concert areas for landowners to use free of charge.
Creating a Private City
Initially, the team aims to “create a completely private city where all land is privately owned, and all the public services are provided by private actors through voluntary means”, Holmesland shared, adding that:
Our long-term and overall goal is to one day make Liberstad an autonomous city-state with its own economy much like Hong Kong, Singapore or even Monaco, but without politics, taxes and politicians.
In Liberstad, basic city services such as kindergartens, schools, hospitals, retirement homes, private security service, garbage collection, arbitrary courts, and insurance companies will be provided “on the internal market or through voluntary organisations free from any tax, force or coercion”, he described.
There have been over 500 inquiries and at least 120 people have placed an order, Holmesland revealed. From this group, 63 people have paid the deposit so far. He further detailed:
There are now 63 people who have reserved a total of 10,5 hectares of land in Liberstad. These are people who have paid the security deposit and signed the purchasing agreement. This leaves 4,5 hectares left that we need to sell before we can proceed with the purchase of the main property.
Starting a Business in Liberstad
Liberstad residents can become members of the Liberstad ‘internal-market’ business registry (LIMBR) which is “a closed market exclusive for the residents”, Holmesland described. Residents can use “whatever medium of exchange they want, except for national currencies”, he elaborated, noting that:
Liberstads business registry is free to join for the residents, but one of the requirement is that they can not accept national-currencies. If you want to accept Norwegian kroner you will have to register a second business with the Norwegian government.
Businesses wanting to accept Norwegian kroner have to “follow the Norwegian law and regulations and pay tax and VAT”, Holmesland conveyed, adding that they may also have to register with the Norwegian business registry. One business can have two registrations; one with the Norwegian government to accept Norwegian kroner and the other with LIMBR to accept anything else.
The Liberstad team has established a Norwegian-registered nonprofit corporation called Liberstad Drift AS which is Liberstad’s operator, to provide and facilitate the city’s public services. Liberstad Drift AS can accept both NOK and bitcoin. VAT and other taxes that the state requires will be added for all kroner transactions.
“We use Bitpay for all our Bitcoin transactions. We will also advise all other businesses in Liberstad to do the same”, Holmesland said. In addition, Liberstad Drift AS plans to give discounts to customers paying with bitcoin for all of its services once Liberstad is up and running. This is to encourage people to start using bitcoin, he explained, adding that:
We are big supporters of any type of free-market money and we push Bitcoin as much as we can. We believe bitcoin is one of the best, if not the best, free-market currency at in the world the moment.
Liberstad’s future plans include educating and spreading information about economics and the benefits of the free markets and free-market money.
“We also plan to use blockchain technology as a registration system for contracts, property deeds, IDs and more”, he revealed. Moreover, the team contemplates establishing their own local currency for the internal market that is backed or tied to bitcoin, so that transactions are faster and cheaper.
Relationship with the Norwegian Government
The Marnardal Municipal government is responsible for rezoning, property tax and municipal services where Liberstad is located. “We started our dialog with local government before we signed the purchasing agreement and they were positive about our plans as the project will increase the population growth and activity in the municipality”, Holmesland claims. However, they have not opened a dialog with the national government about Liberstad.
According to Holmesland, “Marnardal Municipality does not currently have property tax” and “there are no taxes or fees for owning plots in Liberstad”. While there is no guarantee of success, the team plans to work with the local government to ensure that there will be no property taxes added in the future.
Other Libertarian Land Projects
Two more libertarian land projects also propose using bitcoin as their primary currency. The most famous is Liberland, a whole startup country being developed on a small plot of land between Croatia and the Czech Republic. Lesser known, but further along, is the Fort Galt project in Valdivia, Chile. The new development, which has already purchased their land, is much closer to Liberstad in concept. It offers workplaces, vacation homes, and permanent residences to liberty lovers. While Liberland is still having issues with local governments not yet recognizing their sovereignty, Liberstad and Fort Galt both are working within existing governments to create oases of freedom.
Would you want to move to Liberstad? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Liberstad
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