Letter Re: Buying a Better Retreat Property Versus Buying More Survival Gear?

Mr. Rawles,
I live in northern New Hampshire and have been “prepping” for the last year. We will be staying in this area for various reasons that I have come to accept. However, my wife has agreed to consider a property in this same small town that would make a substantially better retreat. We currently own 16 acres but on a main state road. We are able to live off of this 16 acres, but my concern is from a defensive standpoint: It is too close to neighbors and the main road, and is just too accessible. We have almost no mortgage. We are considering a 50 acre piece with a small house at the end of a dead end private road, and which abuts an enormous woodlot. It can be heated 100% with wood, and has no close neighbors.
So here’s the big question: do we take on about $200,000 debt for the retreat, or stay here and add to our guns/ammo/food supplies?
We have currently put away: a CAR-15 and 6,000 rounds ammo, two Glocks and 2,000 rounds, one year’s freeze dried food supply for our family, and various other survival gear.
BTW, I have just recently found SurvivalBlog and also just received your novel “Patriots” in the mail. Thank you for organizing this and for the abundance of helpful information it provides. Thank You, – A.D.

JWR Replies: Unless you can move to a substantially safer locale, then in my opinion you are probably better off keeping your current property with minimal debt. You need to weigh the risks versus the benefits of buying the larger property. Ask yourself: How much more self sufficiency would 50 acres provide, versus the current 16 acres?. If you take on a new mortgage, what would the risk be that my bank will foreclose and my home away from me, in a slow-slide depression? (In circumstances where you cannot make your payments.) And, would the 50 acres under consideration offer true privacy? In a worst case societal collapse situation (as I describe in my novel), with hordes of displaced urbanite looters roaming the countryside, nowhere in New Hampshire will remain “hidden and overlooked” for too long. So an end-of the road 50 acre parcel may not be much of an improvement.

To make a viable retreat, you need to plan ahead to team up with other families to provide 24/7/365 (and 360 degree) security. As described in my novel, this will require substantial logistics. It will also mean buying some intrusion detection sensors and night vision gear. If you can’t get firm commitments with the requisite purchasing commitments from other families in advance, then you will have to store food, cots, linens, garden tools, cold/foul weather gear, and so forth for them. Thus, your current “one year” food supply for your family can be seen as just a four month food supply for three families. Buy a lot more storage food. And buy plenty of heirloom gardening seed, too. Another item is of crucial importance: At least one member of your family should attend training at a top flight firearms training school such as Front Sight. (They can then come home and share what they learned with others.) Your money would be better spent on these preparations rather than sinking it into a larger retreat property.

You might consider taking some steps to make your current property less visible. One approach that takes more time than it does money is planting a staggered triple screen of fast-growing trees to block the view of your house and out-buildings from the county road. To be ready for a true WTSHTF situation–again, where you’d team up with one or two other families to defend your property–you might also consider constructing a pair of concrete pillbox LP/OPs overlooking either side of your house. These could be camouflaged with cord wood, to look like jumbled wood piles.