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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Multiple Retreat Locations

I was reading through some of the archives over on Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest late last night, and came across a post on multiple income streams that got me thinking. We all agree that it's wise to have multiple sources of income--full time job, part-time gig, on the side work, at home businesses, investments, etc. There's Ragnar's Rule of Threes and the common preparedness saying "Two is one, one is none." But the typical survivalist focuses on setting up one well-stocked and well-outfitted retreat location, BOL, etc. Is this the wisest approach?

Sure, we all have limited resources. If we were infinitely wealth, we could have a dozen well-stocked retreats, hideaways and bug out locations (BOLs). My thoughts revolve more around whether it's wise to sink all of our resources into getting one location exceedingly well prepared, or whether we should diversify our stores amongst several locations. I'm leaning towards the latter.

Things happen and nothing goes according to plan. Your BOL or retreat may be destroyed or otherwise compromised. That mountain of preps and logistics will do you no good if they're burned up in a fire, lost in a flood, or looted by neighbors. If that "mountain" is all you've got? You're screwed.

Hedging your bets
So, to avoid placing all of our eggs in one basket, what can we do?

Well, in the case of bug out land, you may look to buy two (or more) properties--in different areas--instead of one. Spreading your budget across multiple locations will necessitate some compromises. This will generally mean a smaller plot of land and foregoing a number of creature comforts--a nice house or cabin, grid power, developed land, etc. If you've got $150K to work with, you'd be spreading that $150K over two locations ($75K a piece) or maybe 3 locations ($50K/each). Depending on your area, that may not get you a whole heck of a lot. One alternative would be to buy one nicer piece of land and then a cheaper plot of land as backup. There are plots of "junk land" available quite inexpensively via online auctions.

Multiple locations will also cause increased logistical headaches. It will mean that you will have to spread your stores out amongst multiple locations or that you will need to bring along more gear with you when you bug out. Since you may not have much in the way of permanent buildings on your multiple BOLs, you may need to look into caching and hiding supplies on the land in advance.

Goal for multiple Bug Out Locations
Your goal for each of these locations would be to have a fairly safe and defensible location where you could hunker down and survive for six months to a year--maybe more. If you have a cabin, house or trailer on the property, great. If it's undeveloped land, that's ok. Either way, you'll be looking to build a concealed hide site on the property. One of my favorite SurvivalBlog articles in recent memory discusses just this topic--see A Wilderness Hide Location for Planned Retreat and the cited FM 7-93, Long Range Surveillance sites.

With this approach, don't think self sufficient and well-defended farm. Think digging and camouflaging hiding spots and surveillance sites--trenches, foxholes and LP/OPs. Once you're "dug in," you stay out of sight and observe. It isn't about  long-term comfort and sustainability. This is about hiding in bunkers, keeping good noise, sound and smell discipline. It's about avoiding trouble and staying alive.

A plus? Hides and bunkers require inexpensive materials to construct--mainly, you just need the land to dig on! In a pinch, you could build such a hide site on public land, but private land is preferable. Requiring only undeveloped land, this style of retreat means that you can get multiple locations set up much more cheaply than buying multiple cabins, farms, etc.

These kinds of hides also have good built-in ballistics protection and camouflage--good luck replicating that a trailer or cabin. Some designs offer fallout/radiation protection as well.

If you're prepared, this kind of hide can get you through tough times. You'll need to cache supplies before hand or bring them with you WTSHTF. You'll also need to be mentally ready to lay low and camp out for a long while. But, this style of retreat shelter gives you an affordable and concealed place to ride out TEOTWAWKI. I also think that having a couple of these sites establish in various areas, complete with some adequate cached supplies does a much better job of hedging your survival bets than having one well-stocked farmhouse or cabin.

In Normal Times
It's important to have a use for your BOL in normal times--in this case, it would typically be a vacation/recreational property for camping, bushcrafting, fishing, hunting and the like. This style of BOL is most definitely not a full time retreat--it's a good piece of land, maybe a small permanent structure and your concealed hides, fortifications and supplies. Because the land is only minimally developed, you'll also have a lot less to lure potential thieves or vandals onto your property--I've heard horror stores about people having their weekend cabins ransacked while they were away. With minimally developed land, their is little to lure looters and other malefactors onto your property.

Cheaper Approaches
My family is not currently in the position to purchase one piece of undeveloped land, let alone multiples. I imagine that many of you are in similar circumstances. There are the aforementioned public lands--national forests, parks, etc. If you're forced out of your home with nowhere else to go, you can always head for the proverbial hills--deep into the hills--dig in and hide out.


However, the underlying principal here is to not place all your eggs in one basket. You don't know where you will be when TSHTF and you can't guarantee that you will be able to get home or to your bug out land--and, even if you can get there, they may not be standing when you arrive. You want to keep you options open, and that means having multiple bugout destinations and stashing preps in more than one location.

Those destinations can range from a well-outfitted bunker to your parents' house--but have those destinations planned out and preposition some supplies there. A few rubbermaid totes in the basement, a cache in the backyard, maybe a small storage unit at a nearby place could make the world of difference in a bad situation. Plan on arriving with little more than your EDC gear and the clothes on your back.

When TEOTWAWKI strikes, you don't want to be locked into one plan of action--three escape plans to different areas would be a wise place to start!