Doing 'Retreat' Right

What to look for when assessing location
Friday, March 31, 2017, 1:08 PM

Executive Summary

  • Understanding the difference between Artificial and Economically-Viable Communities
  • What to look for in a retreat community
  • Why regional assets matter
  • The importance of "path dependence" in a retreat location

If you have not yet read Part 1: Having A 'Retreat' Property Comes With Real Challenges available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we considered the nature of security and independence, and found that the intuitively appealing remote cabin in the woods (RCITW) is actually highly insecure and does not reduce dependence on fragile global supply chains at all—it may well increase our dependence and vulnerability to disruptions.

Security is a function of an engaged community (eyes on the street, knowing one’s neighbors, reciprocity of caring) and occupancy. The remote cabin that’s rarely occupied is the acme of insecurity.

Here in Part 2, we’ll consider the qualities that create security and resilience in communities.

Artificial Communities vs. Economically Viable Communities

If we reckon a community is a collection of dwellings, we might be tempted to view all collections of dwellings as being roughly equal. This would be a great mistake, for communities divide very naturally into artificial communities and economically viable communities.

In artificial communities, security is poor and difficult/costly to improve.  In economically viable communities, the multiple layers of stakeholders provide self-reinforcing homegrown security.

Artificial communities are consumer communities—they produce essentially nothing. Economically viable communities produce goods and services as a function of their natural-resource advantages (good soil, adequate water, river ports, coastal harbors, advantageous weather, etc.) and concentrations of capital (rail lines, banks, universities, an entrepreneurial culture supported by local government, etc.).

History has not been particularly kind to defensive strategies, which is what most artificial communities are. This is why... » Read more


Having A 'Retreat' Property Comes With Real Challenges

About that bug-out plan...
Friday, March 31, 2017, 1:07 PM

A flurry of recent headlines has highlighted the financial elites’ interest in secure retreats (a.k.a. bug-out locations) should the trucks stop rolling. 

The intuitive solution to many, from the super-wealthy on down, is some version of a hideaway in the woods: a remote locale known only to the owner, where the owner can burrow safely away until the storm passes.

It turns out security and independence are tricky qualities, and surprising reversals are not just possible but likely: what appears to be secure at first glance might be highly insecure, and independence turns out to be highly relative. » Read more