Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Efficacy of a Rural Retreat (Part 1)

The ideal retreat? (Source)
Having perused well worn copies of Life After Doomsday and Prepare Today--Survive Tomorrow when I was younger, I accepted without question that the best "shelter from the storm," so to speak, was a rural retreat or homestead. (To be fair, I was also heavily influenced by reading My Side of the Mountain in grade-school). The logic seemed impeccable: in a SHTF, apocalyptic disaster, economic collapse, nuclear war, or what-have-you, the cities would become uninhabitable, full of dangerous, hungry people, and so one would need to flee the city. 

    Living in the countryside would put physical distance between this "Golden Horde" and me and mine, resulting in physical security. Those few able to travel to my retreat location would be easily disposed of by my family, fellow preppers and rural neighbors, much as described in the article, "The Harsh Truth About Bugging Out of Cities," by Patrice Lewis. [1] There, I would raise my crops and livestock, by-and-large safe from the ravages of the mobs and criminal gangs, and raise my family in a wholesome environment.

    I suppose there is a certain romanticism in the whole idea--grabbing your BOB ("bug out bag"), jumping into your heavy-duty, all-terrain BOV ("bug-out vehicle"), fleeing sudden destruction to go live in the wilds or perhaps an old cabin or farmhouse you purchased as a survival retreat. Sort of a cross between Mad Max and the American pioneers. However, as I've studied the issue, it became increasingly clear that many of the assumptions underlying the rural retreat are questionable, if not outright unsupportable.

    This isn't to say that a rural retreat of some sort is not practicable or desirable, but that it may not be the most appropriate for the more likely disasters; and the traditional retreat of some property and a cabin or house in a rural location, may be out-of-reach financially to many preppers.

What Do We Mean By Bugging-Out?

    It is important that we define terms. In most cases where a person needs to bug-out, for instance to get out of the path of a hurricane or typhoon, flooding, range fires, chemical release, etc., he or she is typically only going to be absent from their home for a short time: a matter of hours or days. This is where the bug-out-bag or 72-hour kit comes to fore. Enough to sustain you for a few days and containing critical documents and cash.

    People in that situation may stay at a vacation home, stay with relatives, stay in a motel or hotel, sleep in their car, or, worst case, stay in a shelter. Absent their house being destroyed, they will return to their home and resume life. And even if their house is destroyed, providing they have homeowners or fire & casualty insurance, they will be put up on a hotel or apartment at the expense of their insurance company while their house is repaired or replaced. 

    But when most preppers or survivalists discuss bugging out, they generally are considering a scenario where they have to relocate for a long period or perhaps even permanently due to massive natural disasters, war, political upheaval, economic collapse, or other disasters/emergencies from which it will take years to recover. 

Bugging-Out Is For The Rich And Connected

    The first thing to consider is that preparing for bugging out can be expensive and/or warnings of impending doom may not be available to the general public. 

    Although this paragraph may initially not seem related, it will be, so, please, bear with me for a bit. I've been reading Edward Dutton's book, Making Sense of Race, and he discusses an interesting theory regarding the high average intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews. [2] That is, one of the factors that is believed to have led to the I.Q. disparity were intermittent pogroms committed against Jews. [3] "These can be regarded ... as 'selection events.' Intelligence would predict surviving pogroms, as those of higher intelligence and socioeconomic status would be more likely to see them coming, would be better able to execute plans to avoid them, would be more likely to posses the financial resources to avoid them, and would be more likely to have high-level Gentile contacts who would protect them." And, if fact, we did see this in the lead up to World War II with Jewish intellectuals and the very wealthy fleeing Germany (and other countries) to avoid persecution at the hands of the National Socialists. 

    We similarly see today the top 0.001% buying up large rural holdings in the United States and/or purchasing "retreat" properties in New Zealand or other remote locations; and a few billionaires making plans for the ultimate "bug-out" by developing the means of fleeing the Earth entirely. When COVID-19 began to become widely spread in the U.S. and lockdowns were on the horizon, reports came in of some of the wealthiest Hollywood elites suddenly taking advantage of vacation properties they owned in Greece or Switzerland. Those of lesser wealth or the professional class fled New York City to suburban or country enclaves in the Hamptons, Connecticut or Rhode Island, while similarly situated Californians fled to their second homes or vacation rentals in Tahoe or Aspen or Sun Valley.

    Conversely, it is harder for the middle-class and working class to bug out. Back in 2016, Peak Prosperity conducted an interview of Fernando "FerFAL" Aguirre about societal collapse, and the discussion wondered into the economic collapse occurring in Venezuela. Keeping in mind that the topic FerFal was discussing was an economic collapse, not just a crises, [4] he explained in the interview:

    Well as you mentioned, the people that actually left, those are the ones that have the right strategy. I mean there’s – for the average middle class person in Venezuela and talking about the middle class, even a little bit of an upper middle class, right, educated a good job? He needs two years of wages to buy a single plane ticket in their own economy, in their own currency. He needs to work for two full years to buy one single – I mean that average middle class person is stuck there. The problem is that he waited too long and he didn’t manage to leave. That is something that I write about often is know when you have to leave. In order to leave Venezuela was at least three or four years ago. Right now you’re getting to the point where you’re stuck there. Now you’re stuck in a country where no matter what it is that you do, you’re always going to be earning in bolivars, which is a currency that is completely fake. They have an exchange rate – official exchange rate of 1:10 dollars, but unofficially, which is the real one, it’s almost like 1:1,000 dollars. So they basically are starving you to death through the economy, completely devaluated currency which is what you’re getting paid for, you basically need to find ways of leaving the country.

    What I would do if I was in Venezuela right now, I would leave on foot. I would leave any way I could because it’s not safe, it’s definitely – I know people that have killed people to survive in Venezuela. I actually know guys that had to do that to live. And the only solution you have is you cannot stay there. If you had – and again folks that have a fridge with a couple bananas and an orange, how can you sustain life like that? ...

    In addition, the middle-class and working class are generally tied to an area. Their assets may be physically anchored to the area where they live: a house or other real property, a job or brick and mortar business, and so on. Their work experience may not translate to a job in a rural area; or, even if they find a job, it may well pay far less than they can comfortably live on. It is no solution to avoiding a disaster or crises to move from a good job in a city to become one of the rural poor eking out a living on food stamps and welfare.

    In other cases, the middle-class and working class may be tied to a particular state because that is where they are licensed to practice their trade or profession, and their license may not be recognized elsewhere. Worse, if you are having to flee internationally, language barriers and the expense and effort to become licensed may be more than you can handle. For instance, I know of several people that were doctors and nurses in their native Bosnia, but having fled to the United States, are stuck in low paying jobs because of the language barrier and the fact that they are not even eligible to take the professional exams necessary to practice in this country.

    Finally, even if you could bug out and retain the ability to maintain your income, you have to go somewhere. The wealthy have far more options in that regard; in fact, other countries may be more than happy to accept you if you are wealthy. For instance, in researching for this post, I came across an October 2020 Financial Times article about how the wealthy are dealing with the latest economic turmoil in Argentina by taking themselves and their money to Uruguay. The gist of the problem is that because Argentina was in dire financial straits, it had enacted a confiscatory tax. The wealthier residents weren't having any of it and, essentially, decided to take their ball and leave because Uruguay not only had much lower taxes, but it was offering incentives to the wealthy. From the article:

    By contrast [to Argentina's stance on taxing the rich], a presidential decree aimed at boosting spacious Uruguay’s 3.5m population approved by congress in August makes it easier for foreigners to settle in the country, by cutting the value of property required for individuals to qualify for residency to $380,000, and the minimum investment for businesses to $1.7m.

    The incentives also include a 10-year tax holiday and the requirement that newcomers spend just 60 days in Uruguay a year. About 20,000 Argentines have applied to relocate to Uruguay.

    Even if you are simply looking at some place rural to go to, there is the cost of the property and improvements. Can you afford having two mortgages? Can you afford to build a house, drill a well, connect up to utilities (if they are available)? What if, like one incident about which I read, you get a "good deal" on your property only to discover that the soil is too poor to support gardens or crops, or there is inadequate water? There are reasons, after all, that a particular location is isolated.

    Now, there are some exceptions to the foregoing, but it takes planning and certain sacrifices. For instance, one of the best prepping books out there is Locusts on the Horizon. Its authors' solution to the foregoing problems is to, in essence, always be bugging out. They advocate learning a trade (or perhaps developing some sort of online business) that allows you to live in an RV or van and move from city to city. That way, you are always in a position to pack up your stuff and move to better pastures if the local economy tanks or some major disaster strikes. 

(Continued in Part 2)

[1]  In her article, Lewis argues that the Golden Horde theory is overrated because, post-TEOTWAWKI, urbanites (a) will be unable to escape cities in significant numbers, (b) have insufficient resources to travel into rural areas, (c) will be unable to organize into efficient raiding parties, (c) will have to fight through the suburban areas to reach the rural areas, (d) will be unable to gather useful intelligence to conduct raids, and (e) will be outclassed in combat by those in rural areas. The latter issue is based on Lewis' conclusion that rural defenders will have greater familiarity with the terrain, greater experience with weapons, greater number of weapons, and be more cohesive socially.

[2] If you don't already know, the average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews in the West (the U.S. and Western Europe) is 112, compared to 99 for the Sephardi Jews, and 91 for Mizrahi Jews. That means that Ashkenazi Jews are almost a whole standard deviation above the average IQ of the U.S. and most Western countries. And, although the difference is not as great, even Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews have higher average IQs than is the average for the nations in which they live.

[3] Due to the role Jews filled in most societies in taxing and controlling the native population on behalf of the monarchs, some writers have noted that many "progroms" were actually populist uprisings against the royal bureaucracy and agents that oppressed the commoners. 

[4] FerFal explains in the interview that "Collapse, in my mind, means the president resigns and escapes in a chopper like we saw in 2001, right? The people start burning everything you know? And no one wants to even be president of the country; that’s what collapse is in my mind."


  1. In the countryside, no one can hear you scream.

    1. You're stealing my thunder--that was a topic for an upcoming installment.

  2. Bugging out is like buying toilet paper. Do it before everyone else does.

    1. That is the key: figuring out when it is time to leave. Obviously the best solution would be to relocate well before any disaster can strike, but I'm looking at the situation of someone in the city or suburbs planning on bugging out to a rural area at or around the time of a disaster, economic collapse, etc.


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