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:
- 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:
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.
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.
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