Editor’s Note: In this week’s Briefing expert Joel Skousen hones in on the key issue facing those living in the North-Eastern part of the United States: Population Density. Whether your up in this part of the country or another area like the Southwest that’s just as densely populated, the following information from Strategic Relocation will be helpful when you’re trying to identify an appropriate retreat location for your family. As Skousen notes, what you’re faced with in this area and other metro areas is not only the massive numbers of people, but clogged up evacuation routes as well. In a catastrophic emergency people are going to try to evacuate. You need to know ahead of time which routes they are most likely to take so that you can plan accordingly as you set up your retreat. The insights shared by Skousen will be invaluable when the time comes and you’ll be thankful that you gave them consideration.
If you’re living in a major city, then you have likely contemplated what you might do in a worst case scenario and you’ve come to the conclusion that the best option is to get out. Like most people who have considered such potential circumstances, you may be tied down for various reasons, one of the primary ones being the funding required for a second home or retreat. In a follow-up to Joel Skousen’s analysis below, the team at Strategic Relocation Consulting may have a very feasible solution for how you can acquire a great retreat property at very little up front cost. You have options and if you’re serious about exploring them then keep reading.
There is a wealth of information and knowledge to be had in this and previous Briefings from Joel Skousen. You can review previous Strategic Relocation Briefings and related information by clicking here.
Perhaps the toughest job I have in recommending retreat locations is for people living in the heavily populated areas of the Northeast—particularly in New York and Boston areas. In a breakdown of the social order, it’s very difficult for these people to get to the less populated areas in the Midwest through the Appalachian Mountains because of the overall population density even in rural areas and the blocking effect of large urban areas like Philadelphia and Allentown, PA, Morristown NJ, Hartford, CT, and even Albany NY to the west. The mountains tend to channel refugee flows into these valley cities that are difficult to skirt, especially when refugees are flowing out of the big cities in all directions.
While New Hampshire and Vermont are the closest northern states that provide retreat potential, I worry about their close proximity to the Boston metro area—where many Bostonians already have second homes and would be prone to flee in that direction. Thus northern Maine offers a much higher potential respite from social unrest due to its distance from Boston, its low population density and its less hospitable climate and geography. People in the New York area would not only have to worry about getting out of NY, but getting around the Boston metro area on their way north. But there are no risk free options for New Yorkers anyway.
First, a general overview of the state: Maine has a humid coastal climate. Summers are moderately hot and humid with lots of insects. Winters on the coast are moderated by the ocean, but not so much inland. Overall, the climate compares to that in upstate New York, generally, where you have serious winter weather and deep snows inland.
Maine’s major attraction as a retreat location is its backwoods country seclusion (the most heavily forested state in the nation)—but you pay a price for that in insects during the summer and cold in the winter. Blackflies are a real problem as they come in thick swarms and their bites draw blood. So, plan on keeping a year or two’s supply of insect repellent in these northern climes. That said, Maine is one of the healthiest states in the union and one of the best states for surface water cleanliness. There is very little pollution except in southern ME when the wind blows north from Boston area.
On the downside, be aware that Maine has highly regulatory land use planning system in place. The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission plans, zones, and controls all developments large and small in the unorganized areas of the State. Maine has risen to have one of the highest state and local tax burdens—residents paying 10% of their income to the state alone
As a state government, Maine has an entrenched and controlling bureaucracy that is fairly hostile to free markets and business. With this and other environmental initiatives, Maine is destined to always be a down economy with few jobs.
Until the election of Maine’s libertarian-conservative governor, Paul LePage, budgets always increased each year; taxes stayed high, and the Democratic dominated legislature kept spending. A study by Fred McMahon of the Fraser Institute, Canada’s free-market think-tank, rates Maine as one of the worst places to do business in North America. Only Alaska is worse. The legislature, and the media continues to resist the scale-back policies of governor LePage, and with his outspoken penchant to make verbal gaffs that feed the opposition fire, I fear he may not survive long.
Politically, the population considers itself independent, but in practice they vote for many Left-liberal causes. Both previous Republican women, Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe were notorious for voting as liberals. Snowe has recently been replaced by former Governor Angus King, elected as an independent, but who caucuses with the Democrats—very telling.
In short, Maine is not a good destination for permanent relocation, but it has a lot of good retreat possibilities. Despite its faults it is the safest physical location in the Northeast USA given its significant distance from the population and big government problems of the Boston area. Except for property taxes, and the normal building permit and land use planning hoops, having a retreat in Maine doesn’t require that you have many dealings with Maine’s politicians or corrupt judges. As in all eastern states, you have to keep a low profile. Here are some specific recommendations:
Highway 2 coming out of Gorham NH represents the northern boundary of development in Maine. Above that highway, extended on toward Bangor, the state is riddled with lakes and rivers with very few roads. This makes for ideal retreat country, though it also adds the hazard of numerous trap zones that are difficult to get around should you have to maneuver for safety. Know the back roads and rivers better than others and it becomes an advantage. Best recommendations for retreats are above Hwy 2 and Bangor.
That said, the most available cabins are in the more populated sections south of Hwy 2, and they are fairly safe if you follow our specific guidelines about siting your home away from well travelled roads and behind the cover of trees and forest. The long-term danger is of people fanning out into the country side searching for food and shelter once the cities become unlivable through panic and crime.
Near Bangor: If you need to be near a city, Bangor is preferred over Portland and is the gateway to the Maine hinterland. You can safely locate near this city as long as you keep a 20-30 minute travel buffer and stay clear of the freeway. As always, the rural areas north of town are better than the south in case you have to maneuver.
No discussion of northern retreats for the NE area would be complete without discussing the Canadian Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Americans can own vacation property in Canada, and a couple of these provinces are even safer than Maine. Unless you have dual citizenship I don’t recommend moving to the Maritimes, however, which have been chronically depressed economically for years. 2/3rds of the youth leave the area in search of work. I don’t think this area will recover due to heavy handed business regulations. But there are actually less regulations in terms of buying land and homes than in northeastern states in the US, and prices are often cheaper.
Let me dispense with a couple of the provinces up front: Newfoundland is called “the Rock” for good reason—the land is rocky and not fertile, and is not recommended. It’s a long way from nowhere and would be very costly to import the self-sufficiency equipment you would need.
New Brunswick is just to the north of Maine and has three moderate sized cities (around 150K people), Moncton, St. John and Fredericton, the capital. Economically, they are mostly stagnant like the rest of the region. While there are fertile agricultural areas is some spots, it is mostly rocky and forested – no advantages over Maine, unless you want to get out of the States.
The two areas I can recommend that have fertile land with basement potential are Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. PEI has mostly flat, fertile and serene farm scapes. Winters are not overly cold, and the summers are not hot due to the maritime weather flows. However, PEI is the worst province in Canadafor economic freedom so don’t try to start a business there. For retreats, it’s fine, with the caveat that it is a large island with only one bridge accessing the mainland.
Nova Scotia, is another large island complex connected to New Brunswick, but much more fertile and suitable for retreats than Brunswick. Halifax is its major city and port, and has an international airport. It is definitely a livable city with its two universities and doesn’t come with the high price tag of cities typical in the eastern US.
An acquaintance of mine who has dual US and Canadian citizenship posted this excellent article with colored maps about the Maritimes. Here on some highlights on the two areas of Nova Scotia which I think merit your consideration:
“The very fertile Annapolis Valley north of Halifax (shown in red in the map in the link) has agricultural opportunities, reasonable land price. On the main body of Nova Scotia, the general region around the town of Truro, “The Hub of Nova Scotia,” on the Salmon River floodplain, with its population of 12,500, is worthy of consideration. If needed, the Halifax airport is about 65 km (45 minutes) from the town, yet one is a world away from the hubbub of the city of Halifax. Truro, or the land around it, could offer the best of both worlds – city access with rural/small town daily living.”
Survival Retreat Consulting: There are several nice retreats that will allow you to be self sufficient in Maine. The first will knock your socks off with several lakes and high ridges, but bring your friends, as it’ll take an army to defend this one! For those of you that are on a budget this Valley Road Retreat should fit the criteria to allow you to build a sustainable property for your bug out location.
Last but not least, if you’re a pilot and can get out of the Northeast and fly down to Missouri, this spectacular Ozark Retreat property evaluated by both SRC and Joel Skousen would make a spectacular destination, both now and during TEOTWAWKI.
It’s important to take stock of your own situation and perform a threat analysis for your family. What are the top two threats you think may affect you in your current locale? What are your contingency plans and can you execute them?
For Northeast CONUS: If you’re simply stuck in this high-density area due to job and family obligations, so be it, take care of your family, but get prepared. Having a well-stocked bug-out bag for each family or group member coupled with a well thought out and rehearsed route will be the game changer if you become one of these ‘refugees’. Acting quickly with advanced intelligence is key, even a few minutes or seconds may be the difference between life and death and success in making it to your pre-purchased and stocked cabin.
The biggest question you’ll have to tackle is “Do I have a place to go?” This is not rocket science and you don’t have to be rich to be prepped. I know of many properties that are owner carry in Maine, way out in the boondocks, where you can buy it for a minimal amount down and afford to build a small concrete safe room for supplies and put a cabin on top, so nobody is the wiser. Even if you can only afford the down payment and just enough to cache supplies, you well ahead of the rest of the ‘refugees’, so to speak. I have several clients that have done just that, purchased a property and buried supplies in a small underground storage area, and then covered it all up. What do I recommend you purchase and store? The list could be long but the top FIVE will cover these main areas;
WATER: Purification that is. Have ample ways to create clean water, be it LifeStraws, iodine, bleach or a complete Berkey water filter system, you’ll be glad you did.
ENERGY: Small backpack size Solar arrays packages are best for this. If you have the digs to pre-purchase a small Freedom Package, I would highly recommend it as you’ll need them to power the LED grow lights in your blacked out greenhouse in three feet of snow….I’m not kidding. Having this system ready to unpack and install would be a spectacular gift to you and your family when you arrive.
FOOD: On a budget? Buy some nitro-packed heirloom seeds, and of course a few rolls of greenhouse plastic sheeting. Have a few bucks? Buy a years worth of freeze dried food storage. Cash and Carry? Construct an ICF earth bermed Walipini greenhouse and have a caretaker watch over it.
MEDICAL: This is self-explanatory, buy the best you can afford and store it right. There are many kits out there, but having some higher end supplies like AMP-3 and a defibrillator, although pricey, can be a lifesaver. Even if you’re not a doctor, Paramedic or EMT, having those advanced supplies on-site will come in handy if one of these professionals wanders buy your retreat and comes aboard.
DEFENSE: Let’s be realistic. This is always on the top of the list, even for myself. But, think through this for a moment. If you don’t have some sort of shelter, abundant fresh clean water, alternative energy and sustainable year round food production capability, is your location worth defending? No. You can live in your greenhouse though!
I recommend purchasing your group standard firearms and ammunition as well as support gear such as encrypted communications gear and store them separately from the cache ‘bunker’. What to buy? Hang out on Gunbroker.com for a few hours and you’ll find deals, as prices have dropped to new lows on most firearms and ammunition at this time. For example, a buddy just picked up a new in box Colt LE 6920 Magpul edition FDE M4 (flat-top and forward pistol grip) for $829.00 plus shipping! We all remember these going for over 2k during the panic, if you could find them. You can buy a box of 100 new Magpul Gen 2 30 round mags for $999.00! These were over $50 each, right? So, BUY NOW if you can and cache!
If you are unsure of your possible locale to make a Strategic Relocation to, please contact Joel Skousen. If you have identified your locale and wish to have your property scouted and evaluated prior to purchase please drop us a line at SRC.
We are looking for several highly skilled Real Estate Brokers and Agents to bring aboard our new Survival Retreat FSBO and Broker website. If you know of, or are, one of these talented brokers, please drop us a line!
This article has been generously contributed by Joel Skousen and StrategicRelocation.com
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