Letter Re: Selecting Retreat Properties–Pros and Cons of Buying Remote and Off Grid


A note regarding my own experience with remote property ownership …I owned a wonderfully ideal 40-acre bug-out property in northern Minnesota for many years. It was very remote. Some of the closest neighbors did not even know there was a cabin back in those deep woods. It was backed up to a large, forested DNR property that was itself bounded by swamp. My other bordering neighbors were full-time residents who were kind of ornery (very protective of their property and thus unintentionally served as guardians of my property) and so that was a plus. We were a half-hour from the nearest towns. Several dirt roads eventually took us to our driveway which crossed over the land of a curmudgeonly Vietnam vet. The driveway was a mile long through his property and then on through the DNR land where in parts it traversed swamp. We had two locked gates on that drive, near and far.

I won’t go on reminiscing about the cabin, the off-grid electrical system, and all the rest of it here. (BTW, I bought this property shortly after first reading “Patriots” , so you certainly had a role in my thinking.) What I thought I could add to the current discussion is this:

1. If you are not a full-time resident of a property, even remote property–you will have uninvited visitors, “legitimate” and otherwise. We had several occasions of snowmobilers, ATV riders, and even a couple of burglary attempts. We were well fortified, so they were only attempted. (However, if they had been serious about getting some very valuable stuff on the premises, they could have done so with the proper preparation. We also discovered that we had a couple of visits while we were not there by the county tax assessor who hiked the one mile in when he could not get past the first gate with his vehicle.

2. Owning and maintaining a second comprehensive property, if you are not living there all the time, is an expensive and time-consuming proposition. In fact, it requires a demanding lifestyle commitment that, if you have other things going in your life, can get quite burdensome. Eventually, I made the decision to put all my time and preparedness money into my primary homestead (and in my preparedness business). I sold the property and all that went with it to a very lucky and appreciative buyer and used the proceeds to install an NBC shelter under a new addition on our home. We’re on the outskirts of suburbia and come hell or high water, we’ll make our stand here. It was really quite a relief to go this route, as I always worried about how and when we would be able to make the decision to head for the hills and whether it would be when everyone else was doing the same thing–making ourselves very vulnerable on the roads until we got to the property.
Furthermore, I had to admit that I’m not the young lion I once was, which had allowed me to think about dragging my family anywhere in a chaotic environment, unless there is simply NO option to stay put.

Bottom line–when someone asks me about bugging out vs. hunkering down–I advise that if at all possible, you live where your refuge is. There is an awful lot you can do to make your home your castle–wherever it is located. And you can do that for less money than buying, equipping, and stocking a second property. It also eliminates having to put you and yours at risk on the road between Points A and B (assuming you do have a secure Point B) at a time when there are going to be a lot of panicked and desperate people out there.
Blessings, – Vic at Safecastle