Dear Mr. Rawles,
I recently became a fan of your blog and wanted to commend you for your work in educating the masses. While I don’t have a retreat, I’m using a different strategy and hope for your input. I live in western Maryland. Historically we are fairly disaster-proof from natural disasters enjoy all four seasons. My plan is to prepare (as best we can here) and after a disaster, claim a better vacant property.
Two other thoughts: I recently purchased David Blume’s book “Alcohol Can Be a Gas” and intend to fuel my own flex fuel vehicles and have a barter tool. Secondly, I’m trying to rig some way to attach a bicycle to a generator and store energy and provide exercise for my family – Thanks, Mark W.
JWR Replies: I regularly get e-mails like yours, mostly from preppers on tight budgets that have hopes of finding “abandoned” properties. It would take an incredible “worst case” situation with massive de-population before properties would be totally abandoned. A vacant property still has an owner–or at least has heirs of a deceased owner. And unless government totally disappears in some anarchic spasm (which is highly unlikely outside the Horn of Africa), there would still be due process and the normal legalities of properties being seized for property tax delinquency, and then being sold at auction to the highest bidder. Science fiction novelist Robert A. Heinlein said it best: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL ).
I recommend that you plan more realistically. You can prepare on a modest budget by teaming up with like-minded people in your area  and buying contiguous parcels in a covenant community to provide a local bartering base and mutual security. Abandoned properties are more the stuff of daydreams than reality. But given the continuing collapse of the United States real estate market, who knows? There may be some very inexpensive foreclosed or even tax delinquent parcels available at auction in rural areas in just a couple of years.
There are several brand of bike generator stands on the market, including the U-Gen .