The Housing Bubble

I’m sure that you’ve read about the bubble in residential real estate prices, most noticeably on the coasts in the U.S.. (There are similar bubbles in Oz and England, both of which have already seen their peaks. Far too many people have over-extended their finances buying houses. In fact, up to 35% of the houses being sold in some markets are being bought purely on speculation, with the goal of “flipping” them within six months to take advantage of the rising market. This is making some speculators a lot of quick money, for now. But at some point the music …




G.O.O.D. Vehicle Advice

If you can afford it, buy yourself a Crew Cab 4WD pickup in an earth tone color. A crew cab is the best of both worlds–room for extra passengers like a Suburban, plus lots of cargo room in the cargo bed.) Buy a diesel if you can stand the smell. (I’ll discuss alternative fuels in upcoming blog posts.) You should plan on either buying a low mileage rig that 1 to 5 years old, or buy an older one and have it fully restored/modified. Either way, the total cost will be about the same when all is said and done. …




Letter from “Doug Carlton” Re: The Trouble With Caretakers

Jim: One thing that I wanted to mention about your caretaker/renter post: In many states, if you charge any form of rent, then that person is a renter and has all the legal rights of such under the law. For any of your readers that are considering such an arrangement, I’d recommend they check with a lawyer that knows the rental law of their retreat’s area before going such a route. Laws differ greatly from state to state. One possible route is to provide a separate residence for the caretaker (like a small cabin, whatever) with defined boundaries, then an …




Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the …




On Climate and Growing Season

“Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.” – Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love When starting your search for a retreat location, concentrate on “dry land farming” regions, and of those, the ones that specialize in truck farming. Dry land farming regions are where crops can be grown with seasonal rains and are not dependent on electrically pumped irrigation water. Remember that when grid down, the areas in the West that were originally desert will revert to desert, in a hurry! Even an area that might otherwise look good for a retreat at present may be uninhabitable …




From The Memsahib: The Doom and Gloom Rule

I have observed that my husband and his male friends like to spend quite a lot of time discussing what we call “Doom and Gloom.” They talk about the falling value of the U.S. dollar, the threat of dirty bombs, the immorality of popular culture, uncontrolled immigration, hyperinflation, and the like. They actually seem to be enjoying themselves as they discuss the collapse of western civilization and the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI). In fact, talking about it somehow seems to bond them. And I have even observed doom and gloom conversations lifting their spirits. Naturally, …




Letter: Regarding Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Hi Jim, Well, as requested, I’ll give a bit of a review of the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed – since it’s the one breed I’ve settled on. I’ve had two Ridgebacks so far, both females, and both were spayed. The first one was a first generation working Ridgeback – Red Mahogany color, 128# – exceptionally muscular dog. Muscular to the point of having a veterinarian that I took her to insist that she must have “undescended testicles” – otherwise there was no other explanation for the build. Well, she didn’t have those, but her sire and dam were big, tough …




From David: SurvivalBlog’s American Expatriate Correspondent in Israel (First Article in a Series)

The first topics that come to mind are European survival and poverty, and Arab/Jewish poverty survival. We must work down to the basics of the survival pyramid and forego the night vision goggle and satellite phone fantasies until we cover our basics… …like staying fed and housed! Not so romantic, but I don’t know how to to stir fry an image converter tube. I suppose I should first enlighten you to my personal survivalist philosophy. I started out as a survivalist while living in a rural area outside Portland, Oregon in high school spending summers and weekends either working at …




Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Something happens when an individual owns his home or business. He or she will always invest more sweat, longer hours and greater creativity to develop and care for something he owns than he will for any government-inspired project supposedly engineered for the greater social good… The desire to improve oneself and one’s family’s lot, to make life better for one’s children, to strive for a higher standard of living, is universal and God-given. It is honorable. It is not greed.” – Rush Limbaugh, The Limbaugh Letter, 1993




Note from Jim:

SurvivalBlog is now just one week old. We’ve already had 4,700+ unique blog accesses and more than 108,000 page hits. Therefore, I surmise that we must be doing something right. If you find this blog useful and informative, then please help spread the word! Please send a brief e-mail, BCCed to the folks on your personal e-mail list. This blog and the associated FAQs are available free of charge. But the only way that I can afford to keep up this level of effort is if we increase readership and thus attract some more advertisers. I greatly appreciate your help!




Safety in Numbers

If you are setting up a remote retreat you should definitely plan ahead to double up or even triple up with other capable families to provide security, as described in my novel Patriots. The manpower required for 24 hour, 7 day a week, 360 degree security should things go truly “worst case” with a complete breakdown of law and order is tremendous. One family with just two adults on its own cannot both provide security and handle the many chores required to operate a self-sufficient retreat–particularly in summer and fall with gardening and food storage tasks. The physical and emotional …




Living There–or 11th Hour Get Out of Dodge

One dilemma often faced by would-be retreat owners is that they are chained to the Big City because of work or family obligations. Ideally, you should live at your retreat year-round. It will give you crucial experience in gardening and animal husbandry. And of course you will be there to keep an eye on things. One crucial intangible benefit to living at your retreat year round is that you become a “neighbor.” If you don’t move in full-time you simply won’t be considered a neighbor. This can take years. Building neighborly relationships may be crucial WTSHTF. You do not want …




The Trouble With Caretakers

So are you “stuck” in the Big City? You make a great salary and can afford to buy a retreat, but you can’t telecommute. Finding a trustworthy caretaker for a retreat can be problematic. I have one close friend who has a large, very elaborately prepared retreat in the Inland Northwest: A big house, shop, springs, ponds, a year round creek with a micro-hydro generator, photovoltaics, diesel and gas storage, you name it. My friend found a man from the local church who agreed to be a renter/caretaker. He charged him just a nominal sum for rent, with the understanding …




Commercial Storage

One compromise approach is to leave you retreat house unoccupied and rent a commercial storage space in the town nearest your retreat. I have one friend who leaves his retreat cabin virtually empty. All that he keeps stored there is some second-hand furniture, four cords of firewood (in a locked shed) and a pair of underground gas and diesel tanks, which have their filler and dispenser necks camouflaged by a rusting clothes dryer and water heater–part of a junk pile. He rents a 12 foot x 25 foot commercial storage space that is crammed full of all of his gear. …




Letter Re: Retreat Plans on a Budget, and Finding Like-Minded Friends

I have a couple of questions 1.) I agree that the best possible course of action for TEOTWAWKI would be to have a retreat. Today you described how strategy’s like the “Batman in the Boondocks” approach, or “RVing” would probably fail. How does someone who does not have a retreat, (or the funds for one) plan? 2.) In your book “Patriots“, the main characters had formed a group years in advance. How does one find like-minded individuals to join groups such as theirs? Talking to your neighbors about things like this get you labeled as a kook pretty fast. JWR’s …