Letter Re: Advice on Retreat Locales–Former Microwave Sites?

Dear Mr. & Mrs Rawles,
I want to thank both of you for what you are doing and for SurvivalBlog.com. I’m a 55 year old US-born male currently living in Mexico. I came back here a little over a year ago thinking that I would be here ’til further notice. The last 12 months have changed that and for a number of reasons, the majority of which are how things are changing here, have me seriously considering either moving back to the US or much further south.
Survival and self sufficiency are qualities I admire and know a little about. I’ve crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific on my own and others’ boats, small to medium sized sailboats. At sea as in the wilderness, you d better prepare because help can be a long way off. For that matter you d better prepare anywhere you live, ocean, city or rural. Most people don’t.
Among my other hobbies, I’m an amateur radio operator. I also am a Christian and a conservative.
Back just after 2000 when AT&T sold off most of its surface microwave sites, there was an article in the ARRL magazine about buying one of these places for a perfect ham home. I probably looked at 100 of these sites at that time and ended up not buying any of them. I even looked at one of the underground cable sites in South Georgia but that one had too many environmental problems for me.
In any case due to a lot of things, most notably the inability to own a firearm here without a lot of complication, plus the complications of property ownership, I am again considering some of the AT&T microwave stations for a retreat and for that matter a permanent residence. The underground sites for the most part are too large to be practical. The smaller above ground sites generally range from around 1,000 to 3,000 square feet (the range I’m looking in) with of course some of the sites getting a whole lot bigger. I like these types of buildings and sites for a number of reasons….the structures are poured concrete walls and roofs around 1 foot thick. They did have a number of concrete block sites which I am not considering. The sites I’m interested in are in higher elevations (all are on higher than surrounding terrain which means they are more defensible) and have short towers, anywhere from 60 feet to 180 feet tall. Some of these sites have really large towers but I stay away from those due to the necessity of lighting any that are over 200′ AGL. The majority of the sites are designed to be blast resistant in varying degrees, operate under positive pressure which makes NBC filtering of air easier, have well constructed electrical systems that are semi hardened against NBC, diesel generators, and parcels of land of varying sizes attached. Another nice part of these locations is that they are structurally sound enough where with some tarpaper,tar, and a front end loader you could bury one of the sites without too much work. Additional radiation and blast protection. I also am aware that after the fuel runs out and it eventually will, if you have not made a serious move to change the internal systems to be more off the grid, that all you will have is an unusual cave with some interesting toys.
This letter is to ask what you think about this approach to a retreat, the idea of using one of these sites. Another thing that makes them attractive to me is they are for the most part cheap raging in price from $20,000 up, depending on location and size. I am by no means wealthy. I currently am learning to trade futures. Whether I do this before things fall apart remains to be seen. My education is in Electrical Engineering, electronics and computers.
Currently I’m considering sites in both North and South Texas, Northwestern Arkansas, Montana, Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, Mississippi (north and central), Kansas and Nebraska.
Any comments would be deeply appreciated. Anything I can tell you about where I live in Mexico or what the general feelings are in my community at least, please feel free to ask.
Again many thanks for your blog and your work. God Bless and a Blessed New Year to you and your family. – CMC

JWR Replies: Good luck with your move. I’d recommend being very selective and deliberate in choosing a retreat. The former microwave long haul sites have their merits. With these, you are certainly buying some very stout pre-existing infrastructure for very little money! However, many of them in the western states are in locations where it would be difficult to drill a well. (Since they are mainly on hilltops or ridges.) If you could find one that already had a well drilled and it was not right next to a highway, then it would definitely get my vote. Of the states that you listed, my preference would be Montana or Oregon, but of course I’m admittedly biased toward retreats in the western states. (I equate low population density with higher odds of survival when the Schumer hits the fan.) My full rationale on retreat locale selection, as well as my top picks in 19 western states are detailed in my recently released non-fiction book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.