The Mythical Group Retreat: Survival Preparations are Not Like Car Detailing

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The mainstream media has recently featured many articles about multi-millionaires buying opulent shelter spaces marketed by companies like The Survival Condo Project and Terra Vivos Reportedly, these swank leased shelter spaces are being gobbled up by the rich and famous. (Important Caveat: Those are just two well-publicized examples among many similar ventures, and I’m not criticizing them, per se. I have serious doubts about the efficacy of all such leased retreat space ventures, if and when things fall apart.)

Survival preparations are not like buying a service, such as car detailing or house painting. You can’t just “have it done” by someone else and expect to actually survive a major disaster to see full restoration of normal day-to-day life. You need to learn these skills for yourself. You need to construct things for yourself, tailor them to your own family’s particular needs, and then maintain them yourself. The most crucial skills can’t be learned by just reading a book or by watching a video. You need to truly learn these tasks by performing them and, in some cases, developing the muscle memory to match. Unless you are willing to get your hands dirty and honestly learn by doing, then you are just fooling yourself. In essence: True preparedness is a do-it yourself (DIY) proposition. Again, you can’t just “have it done”.

Furthermore, you need to be the one who is in control of your own family’s retreat. If you enter into a service contract, then you are trusting someone else to complete the construction and then someday actually allow you access to your leased millionaire bunker space. After the Rule of Law evaporates, that might never happen. I suspect that many of these big ventures are catering to folks who are overly trusting or downright naïve.

What happens if you arrive at the 11th hour to a prepared shelter that is not under your own control? Just consider the hypotheticals of a true TEOTWAWKI event. Unless you arrive at that “secure bunker” quite early, then there is a distinct possibility that human nature will kick in and your “guaranteed pre-paid space” will be occupied by someone else. By whom? What if it’s occupied by someone more aggressive who shoves his way in or by someone who bribes their way in for their unexpectedly large entourage, or what if it’s even occupied by someone who is simply allowed in by a paid gatekeeper who caves in to the strong emotions of his familial bonds. If you end up as the proverbial “third guy in line”, then you might find the gate locked and the door firmly barred when you arrive. For a fictional example, see the plight of Yuri Karpov– the Russian trillionaire in the movie 2012. Those much-touted “layers of security” might work against anyone who arrives after the facility reaches its capacity (even a “full vested shareholder”). Never underestimate the corrupting influence of human nature, especially in times of utter chaos. To back up a bit, it is crucial that you understand the difference between sole ownership of a piece of property versus just renting or leasing it.

Understanding the essentials of genuine ownership of any property, whether it is something as small as a car or something as large as a ten section Texas cattle ranch, all comes down to four factors:

  1. Title
  2. Control
  3. Use
  4. The Ability and Right to Dispose or Convey

Without controlling all four of those factors, you don’t fully own anything. This was eloquently described in an old John Birch Society documentary film titled Overview of America, written and narrated by John F. McManus.

Let’s go through those factors as described by McManus, point by point:

Title

First, is the factor of title. If you don’t hold title to something, then you don’t fully own it. This is like leasing an automobile but not holding the “Pink Slip” in your own name. Sure, you may be allowed to drive it, but you don’t really own it. It belongs to someone else.

Control

Second is control. This factor harkens back to the old saying: “Possession is nine tenths of the law.” Let’s continue with the analogy of an automobile. Let’s say that you hold title to a car. But you lent it out, and it is currently being driven and garaged by your nephew, Freddie, who took it with him when he enrolled in college out of state, and he has both sets of keys to the car. So is that car yours? Legally, perhaps, but not unless you retain or regain control of it. Often, people have to resort to lengthy and expensive court battles to regain control of property.

Use

Thirdly is use, which is closely associated with control, but the two terms are not completely synonymous. In the analogy of the car that you loaned to Freddie, as long as that car is garaged out of state, then you have neither the control nor the use of it. Control is represented by the garage. Use is represented by the car keys.

The Ability and Rights to Dispose or Convey

The last factor is “the ability and right to dispose or convey”. Again, let’s use the analogy of a car. If you are making payments to a bank on a car, then it isn’t truly yours until after it is paid off. The right to sell or give away any piece of property is often tangled or “clouded” by debt obligations.

Think through those factors. Now consider the incongruity of the phrase: “Time Share Condo Ownership.” Ha! Parenthetically, I should mention that I once had a consulting client who mentioned his time share in Hot Springs, Arkansas and how he considered it his “back-up retreat location”. Talk about wishful thinking!

Without all four factors of ownership, you are not the true owner of anything. If, with those four factors in mind, you then evaluate a leased or shared shelter or retreat space and compare that to a privately-owned retreat property that you occupy year-round, there is a vast difference! Please give serious, prayerful, well-reasoned consideration before entering into any agreement with anyone for a “safe place” venture that your family’s safety depends on!

In my many years of retreat consulting to preppers and survivalists of all income levels, I’ve witnessed several group retreat ventures fall apart. My advice on this is: Beware of any retreat venture where there is “shared” or “common” property. At the very least, this can lead to the classic Tragedy of the Commons. At worst, it can end with ruined family fortunes and a lot of expensive lawyers involved. In my experience, it is best that each nuclear family hold separate title to contiguous parcels where each family builds their own residence on each parcel. This arrangement maximizes the advantages of mutual security but minimizes the risk of false expectations, failed promises to put in a share of work, and unfulfilled promises to pitch in on shared expenses.

If a retreat truly belongs to you, then you only have to worry about human nature in the confines of your own family. Beyond that, you have a situation with far too many variables and factors that can quickly get beyond your control when the Schumer Hits the Fan. – JWR

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15 Responses to The Mythical Group Retreat: Survival Preparations are Not Like Car Detailing

  1. grayfox114 says:

    Exactly what happened in the original EOTW thriller “Lucifers Hammer.” In it, the main character was “in cahoots” with his bestie! After the fall, human nature reared it’s ugly head and the friends were “not no more!” Best reason in the world or what’s left of it, to make your preps on your own, train alone preferably or with a group if necessary, but don’t trust everything to someone else, and keep your training and preps as low key as possible!

  2. L.O. says:

    Fees and taxes associated with ownership are also something to consider. Covenants and HOA’s can put the kabash on your plans to use your property the way you would like. so take that into consideration in your search. There isnt much any of us can do about property taxes, except maybe have a couple of yrs worth put away.

    • Hugh James Latimer says:

      @L.O., All good observations. Remember that things change too. I have a friend who purchased property in a semi-rural area. He had some nice amenities but no covenants/restrictions other than what the county does. However, after living there for 8 years, the community decided to incorporate. Everything he currently has is grandfathered in, but now he has “code enforcement” telling him what kind of fence he can put in, how high his grass can be and what sort of roofing he can re-roof his house with among other things. The lesson he says he learned? Property, lots of property where you can’t see your neighbors.

  3. beginneronce says:

    JWR,
    I am a law student preparing for an upcoming property law final exam, so your property themed article was of particular interest to me. To add to your points, those who believe they can purchase a retreat property and then forget about it until the need arises may find themselves having lost their ownership rights to the property through various legal doctrines, adverse possession in particular. Do you think Survivalblog readers would be interested in an article explaining how to avoid loss of land ownership to an adverse possessor? If so, I would have happy to write on the subject.
    Please let me know.
    B

  4. MAS says:

    One cannot buy loyalty and they will need not only others to prep for them but security. How long do you suppose that security will wait until they kick the rich nerds out to replace them with their own families in a full on disaster?

    • Dean says:

      Just thinking the same thing. I don’t see the staff calmly flipping pancakes for the well-heeled residents while outside their own families are fighting for survival.

      • Hugh James Latimer says:

        @Dean,
        I have images in my head of “servants” spitting in the drinks of those they serve. I’ve obviously been watching too much Galavant

  5. EasyPrepper says:

    You can’t own loyalty but you can rent it for a little while. As MAS and Dean pointed out the buy a bunker folks are likely to be simply shot in the head by their own security or the locals in a serious situation. Alternatively as JWR’s novels show “community” earned and invested in over time can provide security and a way to survive in extreme circumstances. Know your neighbors now and engage with them over time. Do they garden, do they hunt, do they feel strongly about self sufficiency, rights of the individual and do you have a church in common?

    • MAS says:

      These same folks buying their bug out condos build big walls around their mansions to keep the riff raff (like us) out. There will be no community (they would condescend to join) that are capable or willing to band together in a self sustaining group. Loyalty (like true friendship) is earned and the very folk they need to help them survive they disdain as they exploit (and spy on…Google/Facebook anyone?) to afford their artificial lifestyle.

  6. Michelle from Canada says:

    Dear James,

    Thank you for this information. this is exactly why I have a hard time to decide where I should buy a retreat. There are changing rules, zoning, water right, the list is long. I will print this page for my personnel information folder.

    I live in Quebec, James. I don’t want to move to kuujjuaq, if you see what I mean. It is a bit far north and not practical.
    I am not far from the American border. One hour.. Not right on it. I don’t know which region to choose. I favor the Canadian Shield area.
    I was looking at Idaho even if it is far. It seams like a very nice area. Thank you to the computer invention. I certainly would like to visit there for a few weeks. It is the only way to really see something. Nature seams to have been preserved. Is this simply an illusion on my part? If not I understand why you chose this state. There are some areas with very low density population. Just what you need, right. I was looking at Idaho county, which is famous for it’s potatoes, ,Nez Perce, Lewiston city, and Clear water. This area. I was trying to figure things out. And then I looked at the Province where I live. It is not simple. There are regulations we must know about. Special rights, zoning.
    Then it is nice to decide to buy a homestead or build one on empty land, but you have to know what you are doing. I realise I probably don’t know much about this.

    Then you have to live on the land and make a living. That is not obvious. Most rural areas are economically depressed. Right now living there full time is not an option for me. But I have to come up with a plan.

    You have accumulated all this knowledge, so it is easy for you to make decisions. The last people who operated a farm in my family were my great-grand parents, and they had employees. You get the picture. If what you describe becomes our reality, what you are teaching is the way to go.

    I have only one daughter in her twenties and I am preoccupied. I want to do the right thing for my family. I understand the problems we may face.

    If you have any suggestion, James, you can always decide to e-mail me if you prefer or write on this blog. I need guidance.

  7. arnprior says:

    There will be big business in this underground bunker business. We are told that in the future the rich will hide themselves in just this manner. Could it be that we’re getting ready for what Revelation 6:15-17 describes for us? —

    Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

    • Hugh James Latimer says:

      I would agree that it will be big business if the people are worried enough that something horrible is about to happen, and the majority of those that would spend that kind of money are used to paying others to take care of them. We at SurvivalBlog question whether that money is well spent. If, as you suspect, it is a fulfillment of Revelation 6, then it doesn’t matter. If it’s really needed to ensure survival of some great calamity, we question whether it would be available when you really needed it and your money would probably have been better spent learning and preparing yourself. If it’s never needed, you just kept someone in a job (and perhaps lined their pockets, depending on the arrangement.)

      All in all, we feel it’s better to be involved in your own survival preparations and relationships.

  8. Michelle from Canada says:

    James,

    Do you really think people need a bunker? The links in this text are leading to bunkers. Is it such a good idea? I was thinking more of homesteading and something simple underground. If you are located far enough from major cities your level of protection does not have to be the deep under rock style construction. It’s not my area. So let see what you have to say about this.

  9. Michelle from Canada says:

    I am talking to Hugh Latimer. and arnprior

    James does not often reply. He is busy elsewhere.

    calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

    I am analysing this. They are asking the mountain and rocks to fall on them and burry them , an action that would most certainly kill them. Why? Well they tell you why. They are afraid of the wrath of the Lamb. Why? Obviously because these people are guilty of something criminal, but not only criminal. Something so horrendous it defies imagination. In other words, they are responsible for the horrors created on the earth and they know the Lamb is returning to stop the destruction of the human kind, and the Lamp will give retribution to the destroyers. That fits the description.

    The level of responsibility of action always goes with the power you have into your own hands. If you have limited power and you can only take care of your family with very limited means and a lot of work with your own hands, do it. It will be good in the eyes of god. If you don’t ,you will be asked if you could do this at the time, yes? Whey didn’t you do it?
    If you can create knowledgeable survival groups where each member has a role to play. Do it.
    What you should avoid doing is inviting all your relatives to stay at your house without preparation. Relatives or not each should provide the basic for their family and they should have a pre-establish function and training. It could be cooking ,tour of duty , medical , farming, whatever you anticipate and consider the need at this future time.

    Knowledge and understanding has to be transmitted to help others make good decisions. I am trying to do my bit, on this. There is to much bullshit propagated to the point people are confused, and do not know what to do, or they transform into busy body into religious organizations.
    I have my own needs for knowledge as well.
    This is a good blog to answer many of your questions and mine.

    Good bye James, and Hugh for now.

    Friendly Michelle from Canada

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