Letter Re: Viability of Central America Retreat Locales?

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I thank you sincerely for all of the great information that you have made available to us all, for all your years of experience and knowledge.
I have what I hope will be an interesting question for you. I am young, 25, and currently work for an NGO in Nicaragua and previously did the Peace Corps work here as well. I have been pondering over how reasonable Nicaragua would/could be as a retreat location, for numerous reasons, such as, in any given area:

  • Rich topsoil and annual rains
  • Extremely low population density (lowest in Central America)
  • Low real estate prices
  • Low real estate taxes
  • An abundance of excellent [self-sufficient retreat] locations

These reasons make it seem to me, at least, as someone with minimal financial resources, as the best option, since preparing a retreat would be so much cheaper than in the USA.

There are, however, many downsides, such as:

  • Lack of other prepared people
  • Long distance from where I will be living (the USA)
  • Lack of medical supplies, qualified doctors, etc.

These make me tend to believe that one would have to be of the lone ranger type…or at least accept that others that would accompany one would not bring any material resources to the table, only experience (especially in agriculture, animal husbandry, do it yourself repairs, etc.). Because a big plus in the Nicaraguan economy is that it is already very subsistence based – cooking is done with firewood outside of the cities, soap can be made, etc.).

However, I always ask myself this question: When TSHTF, if I am living in the USA, will I be able to make it to my retreat in Nicaragua in time? Since I love Nicaragua and speak Spanish, etc., for me it stands out as an ideal location, however, I want to ask your advice on this particular question: When TSHTF, would you leave yourself a long plane flight and [an additional] 100+ KM [by road] from your retreat location?

I hope this question warrants real interest on your part and that it is a legitimate concern that other readers of SurvivalBlog can learn from. – Daniel G.

JWR Replies: I only consider offshore retreats viable if you relocate semi-permanently, and don’t attempt to “time” your departure. That might work in a “slow slide” scenario, but unless you are an experienced blue water yachtsman and live within a few miles of where you keep a fully-stocked sailboat, it just won’t work in the event of a sudden-onset collapse. (Driving would probably be impossible, since borders will be closed, and flying won’t be an option since most international flights will presumably be grounded.)

Given the high crime rates in much of central and south America, it is important to find a farming community that is in a low-crime area. It is absolutely essential to learn Spanish muy rapido, and to develop close friendships with locals as soon as possible. Most of the Americans that I know that have made this transition successfully have either married into local families, or have set up companies that have employed a dozen or more local employees. (Thus, the employers have made themselves indispensable to the community.)

The financial crisis will becoming increasingly global, so don’t consider yourself insulted by merely living in a a rural community in Nicaragua. Arm yourself, get good firearms training, and if possible acquire a Starlight scope and a passive IR intrusion detection system, such as a Dakota Alert. (The latter are sold by Affordable Shortwaves–one of our advertisers.) Kalashnikov (AK) rifles are ubiquitous in Central America, so I recommend taking AK-centric classes, such as those taught by Gabe Suarez.