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Letter Re: Should I Rent, or Should I Buy Property?

Sir;
I have a question that I think would be of interest to a lot of your Blog readers:

“How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It [1]“. I really enjoyed the book. It helped coalesce all of the concepts I learned in “Patriots” [2], [the now out-of-print] SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog Volume 1, and “Rawles on Retreats and Relocation” [3].

One of your central precepts is that one should move to a “lightly populated rural area.” Okay. With some work, I can find and buy a suitable piece of property and/or house. But you repeatedly point out that the real estate recession is going to get much worse and that real estate prices are going to plummet. Presumably, land prices are also headed far South.

In the interest of getting prepared as quickly as possible, I am interested in finding a viable retreat with a home already constructed on the property.

So, if it’s a horrible time to buy real estate, should someone now making the move find a suitable rental property in the hinterboonies? Given the logistics of being a prepper (with literally thousands of pounds of Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids), is renting feasible?

While looking at properties, I have noticed that quite a few sellers are still hanging on to their ideas about their houses’ value based on 2006/2007 prices. There are, however, dozens of properties that are for rent at prices way below market rents because of their remoteness and lack of appeal to the typical suburban sheeple (the very attributes which make the property ideal for me).

It doesn’t make any sense to me to spend a significant chunk of money on a retreat and then watch as its value sinks over the next 5-10 years.

Should I sign a long term lease (two years or more) of a suitable retreat? And purchase a large sturdy trailer for each of my vehicles and be prepared to move from one rental location to another if required?

Your thoughts/opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all that you do to educate and prepare the rest of us.- M.M.

JWR Replies: We are definitely in a renter’s market. I recommend buying only if the seller will accept a deeply-discounted offer.

I must mention a third approach that I recommend to my consulting clients for times like these, with declining house and land prices and an uncertainty of a turn-around within 10 years: Find a place that you really would like to buy as a retreat, and lease it, with a contracted option to buy. (A “purchase option” contract, commonly called “buying an option.”.) That way, if the market tanks, you can walk away, and you will be just out the lease money. Alternatively, you could re-negotiate a purchase price. And if the market stays steady in rural areas (a possibility) or if you are still occupying the property when double digit inflation kicks in, then you can go ahead and exercise the purchase option, with all of the the lease money paid applied to the purchase price.