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Saturday, December 17, 2011
Considering an Escape Cabin for Emergencies
It was many years ago now that I decided that I wanted to live in an intensely rural area and that I would structure our lives to adapt to the decided inconvenience of living much farther from normal conveniences than most people. My reasons were many. First, at that time, land and homes were much cheaper in rural areas than they are now. Now, telecommuting is possible for many people, and therefore they will pay more for the perfect rural home, whereas years ago, very few people were prepared to get a small car when a larger one was fashionable, and make a lengthy daily commute. Secondly, I truly believe that children are more creative, and that their intelligence and creativity are given more chances to develop when they have space, fewer restrictions and are able to raise animals and develop their own projects. This might not work for everyone, but our kids did really well with this. I also truly believe that in a national emergency, we will be handily ignored, just as we always are when the US census is done.
However, I accept that everyone, by virtue of their job, their nation, their circumstances, or their medical history can't seek an intensely rural neighborhood. Many people make their living in an urban area where they are quite happy, and that is fine. This means that there are many people living in urban environments who realize that in a national disaster or national emergency that they may need to evacuate their city long before an official order to do so comes. Whenever possible, we should avoid evacuating under an official order. By the time we have to evacuate officially from somewhere, everyone else will be doing the same thing. The roads will be clogged, hotels will be filled and you may be headed toward a shelter, which can be clearly suboptimal. Additionally, you are told to take your pets with you, yet shelters will not take pets. Whenever possible, have an evacuation plan well in advance of an official one, and make the decision to evacuate your urban area in advance. This means that you will evacuate a few times when it turns out to be unneeded, and my response to that is, that it is great practice.
In many areas, especially after the economy began to slip, small structures in good shape, in lake or recreational areas went up for sale for very reasonable amounts. Urban, and some suburbanites decided that their investments were not doing well anyway, and so they might as well invest in an emergency cabin or getaway. At first this seemed like an extreme idea, but as time goes on, it seems a very intelligent idea. An emergency cabin allows a family to continue to draw the higher salary they would in the city, while having a stable get away escape plan, including their own home. I now know people in Russia, Belgium, England, Scotland, Canada, Belize, the United States, France, and Spain, who have emergency getaway cabins. Many of these were basic vacation structures that did not cost much. Most of these people have someone local who watches the property and takes care of very basic things there. Many have electricity, but it is turned off at the breaker unless the owners are there. They pay a very small monthly rate to have electricity available but unused. Still others operate using a generator to charge marine batteries and then use an inverter for limited power needs. They have a plumber winterize the property and turn off the water, so that no pipes burst, as many of these structures are only heated when the family is visiting. A few have a shallow well and are able to obtain their water outside the structure. The owner does travel there periodically. Lately there has been quite an acceleration in terms of stocking these structures for emergency use.
Many of these properties have been refurbished, well cleaned, and are now stocked with some 30 year variety emergency freeze dried food, toiletries, toilet paper, a medical kit, reference books, clothing for each family member for each season, etc. A few of them have installed a safe with weapons. Some have been built with a hidden basement.
A getaway cabin is not for everyone, and a family can go as spartan or as elaborately as their finances permit. It IS an idea with merit however, as evidenced by the number of people who have chosen to do it. Some people have purchased these homes, and plan to retire to them permanently when possible.
The key to buying one successfully is to do plenty of research in your target area well in advance. Consider paying cash if you find something very inexpensive. Have a home inspection done, even if you have to pay a chunk to do it. You don't want an emergency structure with termites ! Look into homeowner's insurance too. It is no longer cheap in most areas. Think about how you would locate and pay a low use caretaker, perhaps a trusted friend or relative in the area of your cabin. Do all of the work involved and then don't hesitate to strike when the right thing comes along. Many people have found that the peace of mind coupled with a safe quiet place for weekend vacations was well worth the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there.