About eight years ago I really started thinking seriously about acquiring a BOL (Bug Out Location) for my wife and a small group of friends. I felt like the time was approaching that a BOL would be the smart thing to do. I had written about it back in 2009 – 2010 in the My Journal book series. Back then I wanted to have a BOL and there was a sense of urgency to it. Within a couple of years that changed…the sense of urgency went up. But, I had a dilemma…cost.
If you have ever bought, or shopped for, land you know it can get expensive quickly. As the saying goes, “I had Champagne taste on a beer budget.” Where did the Champagne taste come from? Reading too many articles by so-called experts on bugout locations. Even worse were the articles written for surviving serious TEOTWAWKI.
I digested all the advice from having three separate water supplies, to natural defensive position of a hilltop, to a specific minimum number of miles away from big cites and Interstates. Then there was advice on the particular demographics you wanted for the area as well as political make-up of the county. There was advice on elevation, location in proximity to nuclear facilities, and climate considerations. All of this advice went on and on and on. My search was on!
The first place I started was naturally online research. I began looking at different areas for available land. I had spent time in most western states as a wildland firefighter so I had somewhat of an idea of different areas. Yes, that means anything east of Texas was completely out of the question. I was pretty drawn to Idaho. Unfortunately Colorado was completely out of the question. Beautiful as it may be, it is overrun by whackjob liberals that were restricting guns and all sorts of other freedoms and rights. I wanted no part of that. Kalifornia was out of the question from the very beginning. It is, without any question or debate, a socialist state unto itself. I want no part of a totalitarian state run by socialist extremists.
I like Oregon quite a bit, but it falls just slightly short of Kalifornia. Yes, I know that eastern Oregon is pretty normal, but it is attached to western Oregon that is contaminated with liberals and enviro-nazis. Oregon, another non-starter from the very beginning. State of Washington…similar to Oregon but run by hippies that are liberal and environmental idiots. Finally, I had personally (wife excluded) ruled out New Mexico for a number of reasons; 1) overrun with illegals, 2) a long unprotected and very dangerous border with Mexico, 3) significant gang presence, 4) very large meth use and production presence, 5) very bad “vibe” to the state from a SHTF perspective.
So, I was doing my searching for properties and I was seeing wonderful properties for sale…about 90% of which were far, far outside of any budget capabilities on my part. So, I figured I better figure out what was important to me and what wasn’t. But, I screwed that up and wandered around for about a year before I figured that I better “get real” in what to look for. And, about that time my dear wife chimes in and talks about not wanting to be too far from home so we can use the place before retirement and before SHTF events. Now we were down to a very narrow selection of states and she was convinced that we could find something in New Mexico. Yeah, she didn’t get my memo on that option.
We started seeing a whole lot of land in Arizona available…and it was reasonably priced. Or so we thought. About three years ago we did a multi-day trip there to look around. We had lined up an agent and had about six properties on our short list. I doubt that we could have been more disappointed with the land options or our agent. It was pretty much a waste of time. However, it was an excellent eye-opening experience. Remember, that was three years ago.
Somewhere shortly after that I started thinking more realistic. It was while I was refining my “threats and risk” matrix where I rank all real threats and risks in terms of severity and probability that I really got serious. To make a long story short –
- We know we have a 100% chance of retirement and when it will likely happen.
- We know a grid-down event will happen but we have no idea on the timing.
- We don’t know for sure if we will ever have a SHTF Zombie Apocalypse event, let alone in our lifetime.
What all that means is we need to look at this more for retirement that SHTF BOL. And if we do it right, the SHTF requirements should be all, or mostly, covered as we buy for retirement.
Now let me explain just a little something for you…WE AIN’T YOUR AVERAGE RETIREMENT COUPLE.
We want to live out of town, way out of town. We don’t want a neighbor around us. For the right picture of that…I want to pee off the deck and not worry about anyone seeing me. We also want to be close enough to a…wait a second…maybe I better hold off on this and turn it into a list at the appropriate time.
Back to the debacle of a trip three years ago, I came back depressed. What I thought we were looking for turned out to be a complete bust on so many levels it just made me almost want to give up looking. Over the next couple of years my wife and I kept searching online and refining what we really wanted…what we really, really wanted. So let me outline that for you now –
- Away from town, no more than about a 30 – 45 minute drive.
- “Town” would be 20,000 people or less but had to have a decent hospital and sufficient stores, restaurants, etc.
- We wanted to be decently close to other members of our church. That life is important to us and we wanted to be close to a “fold” of religiously like-minded people.
- We wanted to be within 30 – 45 minutes of a golf course. Yes, we like playing golf. No, I didn’t say I was any good at it, I said I like playing it.
- We didn’t care about having any electric to the property. We want to go solar.
- We wanted water, meaning a well. But, that was running the price of land up by $10k – $20k per parcel. We figured out how to do rain catchment, but that would be a seriously tough way to go.
- We wanted enough trees and other greenery to make sure we knew we weren’t living in any desert.
- Some nice topography would bee cool, maybe some mountains.
- We didn’t want to have a mortgage on it after we retired.
Does that sound like some post-apocalyptic self-defense compound? Nope! At least not to us. It sounded exactly like the place we wanted to retire to, and maybe enjoy it a bunch until then. So the search continued with our new and improved list of “needs & wants.”
Let me digress for just a minute. Back when we went to Arizona several years ago we stayed in a town called Show Low. No special reason, it was the closest available hotel room. We didn’t get to look around Show Low much due to appointments to see land, etc. but it had a great “feel” to it.
As we looked online night after night for a year we realized that we kept gravitating towards the Show Low area. But, the land there is very expensive…like $50k for a ¼ acre building lot. That is nothing like what we were looking for or able to afford. However, the Show Low area had a certain draw to it. And, a great thing happened during this same time-frame…my dear wife came to the same conclusion about New Mexico that I had. New Mexico became a non-starter.
Finally about six months ago we narrowed it down to the Show Low area; and then we confirmed that with prayer. Now we just had to find the right piece of property in that basic surrounding location. No, that wasn’t an easy task at all. I am telling you we looked at hundreds and hundreds of reality listings online. Some we ruled out, some we considered, some we felt had some real merit to them. It was time for another road trip!
The dogs were going with us, we hit the road on a family trip. During our searching we hooked up with this realtor that seemed to be a decent guy, appeared to be knowledgeable of the area, and wasn’t an obnoxious car salesman kind of agent. We decided to work with him and he lined up about four properties that we expressed interest in or that he thought we might be interested in. That list grew to six by the time we showed up in Show Low in June.
We spent the first day very frustrated and disappointed. One property after another was crossed off the list. Too far out, too ugly, roads way to rough, etc. We were getting very, very disappointed again…and that was just the first day. Late the first afternoon we had a “come to Jesus meeting” with our agent and explained to him our revised-revised list of needs and wants. He promised to work on finding more properties that night. We went to the best BBQ place in the entire universe, plus toured Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside area for a couple hours. We knew this was where we wanted to be.
The following morning started real early, we were off to look at more properties. And, we suffered more disappointments. We finally gave the agent an even more refined list of “musts” that included no 4wd roads that took an hour to drive on while getting to the property. He was still positive and encouraging, “I have just the place for you!”
He described a 10a parcel, only about 30 minutes off a paved road, with a well, fenced, and trees. OK, trees in this area where we were looking, and can afford, are Pinon and Juniper trees, and maybe as tall as twenty feet or so. We headed off in that direction following his Chevy four-wheel drive pick-up. Yeah, he didn’t even have a Ford…go figure!
We drove into this junkyard of a property. The manufactured home that was bragged about in the listing was a condemned haven for every disease known to mankind. The numerous outbuildings turned out to be falling apart, barely standing cobbled together shacks. But, it did come with a car and an ambulance. Both of which where at least twenty-five years old and probably hadn’t had wheels on them for the last fifteen years. But, the well was there and the property had a view. The price was $30k which I thought was high but it had a well. And, I have to admit, the property had potential once the Bubonic Plague generator (manufactured home) was removed.
We were trying to talk ourselves into it and then we heard the banging. I thought to myself that someone might be imprisoned in one of the buildings and this was about to turn into some nightmare in the country horror flick. So what did I do? Of course…I went looking for the sound and found a neighbor’s metal building about 100 yards away with a guy trying to fix some kind of trailer.
I talked about it with my wife and the agent, the agent decided to go talk to him for a minute. And, that is when life started to change for the better and we didn’t even know it at the time.
About twenty minutes later our agent was back and he was excited about some additional information he found out about the parcel. Our agent shared that that the neighbor mentioned in passing that he thought that the same people selling this 10a parcel might be listing the adjoining 40a parcel sometime in the near future. My ears perked right up. According to the pricing on the 10a that means the 40a would be way expensive and I said as much. But our agent stopped me and told me they might be asking the same price for the 40a as they were for the 10a and the 40a also had a well on it. He said he would follow-up on it in the coming couple of weeks. We were encouraged but I would be lying if I told you we were excited.
We looked at one more property that day and then called it quits. We had to leave the next morning and we wanted to get a little exercise in with the dogs and get to bed early. We wanted to leave early the next morning. And, I gotta tell you…we were leaving having pretty much given up on the whole thing. I said “pretty much”, there was a little flicker inside of me that kept telling me to hang on. But nothing more than a faint flicker.
In the next article I will go into more about our BOL/RH buying experience. Yeah, I just coined a new acronym…BOL/RH (Bug Out Location & Retirement Home).
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