Yesterday, I started off evaluating the prepping methods mentioned in the New Yorker article "Doomsday Prep For The Super-Rich." After a discussion of a noteworthily-absent EMP attack, I moved to sheltering-in place or bugging in. This method is best for "ordinary" disasters that do not provoke the breakdown of law, in large part because such disasters are temporary.
There's an obvious exception to this advice: a natural disaster that renders your bug-in location uninhabitable. You can't shelter in your place if it's been pulverized by a tsunami, destroyed by an earthquake, or half-drowned by a flood.
Though I'm sure some intrepid folks have tried. :)
There are other disasters that make bugging-in infeasible, like a train derailment releasing a cloud of toxic gas after a chemical tank gets punctured. All of these disasters have something in common: because they do not entail a "Without Rule of Law" (WROL) environment, the government steps in - typically, with an evacuation order. There's usually some shelter or help provided for the evacuees, but there have been cases where (shall we say) the help provided could have been better.
It's this possibility, plus a full-scale TEOTWAWKI scenario, that opens the door to bugging out: leaving your home and hearth for a retreat where you're likely to be safe.
A bug-out location, despite me minimizing its need earlier, has two advantages that offset the added cost:
- It serves as a home away from home when you're ordered to evacuate your home, as would be the case in a disaster like Katrina or the Mississauga Train Disaster of 1979:
If you don't like the look of the shelter digs in the above clip, a bug-out location is appealing.
- It can be used as a vacation home until or unless the SHTF. In fact, using it as a vacation place is a good idea for two reasons: you'll get worth for your money in normal times; and, using the place before you need it to bug out will give you needed experience in how to live in a woodsy and/or low-pop area.
All of the four methods I'll be commenting on are variations of bugging out. The list starts at #2 because I discussed #1, bugging in, in Part 1.
Rich Prepper Methods: The Evaluation
2. Bugging Out to a rural location, self-bought
This method jibes with the familiar prepper dream of surviving alone in the woods, like Robinson Crusoe, or surviving with only your family like the Swiss Family Robinson.
Realistically though, except for very isolated locales, the bug-out spot will be ensconced in a rural community. Overall, that's a blessing. In a real WROL disaster, you'll need a lot of local help. Living in an environ where people know the ropes you don't, and who can keep an eye out for trouble (which they will if SHIT), will be vital.
But moving in to that kind of a locale means that you're the newbie and the rest are oldbies. Human being are tribal creatures, at least in part, so moving to your bug-out location means it's up to you to go along with the tribe. If the locals aren't fond of citified folks, this may present problems.
As a general rule, there are two customs in the rural necks of the woods:
Self-sufficiency. These people like money, 'tis true, but they respect people who can look after themselves - who have skills that you're prolly unfamiliar with. If you think that money will get you by, consider what will happen in a Without-Rule-Of-Law scenario to the value of legal tender.
Leaving things as they are, even if sub-optimal. It's best to assume that any helpful suggestions will not be taken as helpful, and that making a few too many of them will give you a reputation as one of "those" people.
Interestingly, showing up alone will cut you some breaks. As noted above, we humans are tribal creatures. When you show up alone, or with a single family unit, you're not showing up with a tribe. That'll make you look more "assimilable" than a whole group.
(Image above from here.)
3. Bugging Out With A Like-Minded Community
As I indicated just above, the downside is that the locals won't like it all that much. If you show up with a survival meetup group or a flock of friends, you'll be sized up as a new tribe. It'll be helpful if one of your group is a natural diplomat!
But the upsides are several. First of all, being part of a survival-minded group brings many set of eyes to the stark problem of survival. If you miss something vital when the SHTF, you're likely to be SOOL. ;) But in a group, another member will likely point out your lacunae.
More importantly, a group brings a diversity of skills that you'll all need for survival. One guy may be a butterfingers with a saw but good with electrical work. Another might be a doofus with a nail but good at transforming trees into burnable logs. A third might be good with a garden, and so on. With this in mind, taking a group vacation before any disaster is a good idea.
Finally, a group means group loyalty. You'll have lots of reasons to be glad of being looked out for by folks that are not just your neighbors but also friends and cohorts.
(Image above from here.)
4. Bugging Out To Another Country Like New Zealand
As the New Yorker article revealed, a nice chunk of land in New Zealand is a popular choice for rich folks who want to bug out of the United States entirely. In addition to likely being spared from a full-bore SHTF event like an EMP attack, NZ also provides a haven from a United States in turmoil. Like the regular bug-out locale, it can also be used as a vacation home.
But like the rural bug-out place, New Zealand has the disadvantage of the locals with their own customs not taking kindly to an 'intruder', particularly one with a lot of bread. Add to that the fact that the "locals" control the national government, and you've got a trouble vector.
The amount of trouble, even in an SHTF scenario, won't be that terrible, though. Commonwealth countries have a long-ingrained habit of expressing real hostility through the government, through politics. There's far less of this:
and far more of this:
Any resentment that's potent will likely result in a special tax or land restrictions, or ownership restrictions on folks who haven't bought a home yet. Expropriation is rare in Commonwealth countries, and all the victims I know of have been corporations - not individuals.
5. Bugging Out To A Specially-Built Locale Like the "Survival Condo Project"
Now, we're talking hardcore! The Survival Condo Project consists of full-sized condo units built in a decommissioned Atlas nuclear missile bay, specially built and hardened to stand a nuclear attack!
The units are priced at a few million each, but they come with a lot of amenities. The Project comes with armed guards, including a sniper. It can hold enough food for five years, and has facilities for growing more. Unit owners also have pick-up rights up to 400 miles away from the facility. There's an airfield for private planes thirty miles away. The units themselves are a lot like luxury ski chalets. There's also a medical wing, which includes dentistry equipment. Other shared amenities include a place for walking pets, and an arsenal.
Leaving aside the cost, it's hard to see a downside with these babies - even in a full-scale WROL environment. True, the publicity means that the place comes with a very large target: lots of folks know where it is and know that very rich folks own the units. But the way it's designed, it can hold up against anything below a professional military.
Interestingly there are only two (far-fetched) vulnerabilities:
- A partial breakdown of law and order, in which the government is crippled but not obliterated - and expropriates the folks in the Project.
- Foreign conquest: an EMP attack as a Blitzkrieg-type opener to a ground invasion of the United States.
If the latter, then bugging out to the woods would be a better choice - particularly if you have a taste for guerrilla warfare. :)
The Missing Link: Getting There
This concludes my look at at all five techniques of the super-rich. By necessity, I painted sketches with a broad brush; each of these could have easily taken up one (or more!) posts. Prepping is necessarily detail-oriented, as there are lots of devils in the details...
But before I leave this subject, I'll write a final post evaluating the Missing Link to bugging-out: getting to the bug-out location. Even the most well-equipped bug-out property doesn't do you any good if you can't get there. :)
Thanks for reading Part 2! The final part's coming soon.
(Image from here.)