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In the films, both Anakin and Luke want to leave Tatooine, which indicates how harsh life was on the dusty ball.

Moisture farming takes place against a background of slavery, illegal smuggling, gangsterism, gambling and poverty. Their nearest neighbors are hostile aborigines and the climate is unpleasantly hot.

If the planet is as bad as it seems, why don't the moisture farmers simply leave Tatooine and go somewhere else?

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    Luke wanted to leave because he was bored, not because life was hard. – Daniel Roseman Feb 18 at 21:32
  • @DanielRoseman Yes, but what about farmers? Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru do not seem to be bored, but meanwhile, frequent droughts greatly harm the inhabitants. – Эш Уильямс Feb 18 at 21:38
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    @ЭшУильямс - The "Official Fact Files" indicate that the life of a farmer is hard drudging work but also a pretty comfortable way to make a living – Valorum Feb 18 at 21:43
  • @ЭшУильямс - I've edited this to focus on an element I believe is answerable, that of the lives (and motivations) of the moisture-farming community. – Valorum Feb 18 at 23:41
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    These moisture farmers have invested years and credits into their farms. While they might be able to afford to leave Tatooine, they could not bring their property with, becoming refugees on another world – Verdan Feb 19 at 3:51
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Firstly, the Moisture Farming was not just a self-sustaining activity. It was done for the entire population of Tatooine. The Lars family were just one farm in the system, not doing it for their own sustenance. Farming is hard work, but it's a living.

However, that is not the reason Tatooine was initially populated. People came to mine it's plentiful resources, though that turned out to eventually be a bit of a dead end. Even though this venture was a non-starter, as with any industry, there is always a need to set up support for the industry, which drew in other industries to provide support, food, and any other things required to maintain the industry, and thus, a population is born.

However, now that the mining industry is a bust and the mob is out in force, the only reason to stay is basically just because no one can really ever afford to leave. Tatooine is all but ignored by the Galactic Federation, so the law is not really enforced on this planet. The only reason the Galactic Federation came there at all is because they were chasing droids. So the only way off the planet is to buy your way off, and that isn't cheap*.

HAN: Well, that's the trick, isn't it? And it's going to cost you something extra. Ten thousand in advance.

LUKE: Ten thousand? We could almost buy our own ship for that!

I couldn't say much for the income of the lowly moisture farmers, but from context, they can't afford much outside of their own equipment to run the farm, and keep themselves fed.

* This does come on the coattails of the potential of avoiding the Feds, but even then, it does require a lot to fuel a spacecraft

  • Indeed, you can have access to a lot of this lore in kotor – nicolallias Feb 19 at 7:41

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