🏠 Home buying with preparedness in mind
Put yourself in my shoes. You’re currently renting, but eventually want to buy a home for the sake of financial and physical security? What traits do you look for in the home itself?
My general thinking is we’re heading towards some sort of climate apocalypse (and maybe with some broad state repression too). Not soon, but perhaps decades down the road, which is very pertinent to me as a twenty something.
Here’s some examples I can think of, but I’m very curious to hear what y’all have to recommend!
- Roof conducive to solar panels. Ideally South-facing and in a shape that’s easy to cover in panels.
- A basement, for passive insulation during heatwaves, among other reasons I’m sure.
- A location with multiple exit routes, so like not an island (like Mercer Island in Seattle) or the tip of a peninsula (like Alki in Seattle).
- I figure a standalone house is ideal, rather than a condo or townhouse.
- Perhaps some minimum distance between the home and property line on all sides.
- Elevation above sea level, and perhaps even relative elevation to avoid flooding.
Bob - July 15, 2021
Good morning Lowell,
This reply is a combination of mentioned specifics and functional specifics.
Financial security also means “saleability”. In our highly mobile society you could be offered a job that pays $$$ in eg Alabama. Can the dwelling be readily sold ?
Yes, a climate apocalypse – already here – has heavy real estate themes. The insurance websites tell of substantial rate increases for “coastal” areas. “Coastal” in quotes because it’s not a topographic matter but rather what the authorities deem it to be.
Ref solar paneled roof. This matter is in transition. Here, Dominion Energy will not be taking a loss. Before signing on the dotted line at a real estate closing, start reading the local newspaper and look for trends in residential housing. Getting to meeting … older folks attend … can give insight. The coffee break and listening to story about someone’s niece or nephew and their house situation – much insight available from story.
Residential area exit routes: This is a refined and rehearsed functional area. Already tested is post evacuation returns and authorization permits to return. Note that this subject is not topographic but rather what the authorities establish. Mercer Island is akin to Manhattan, NYC (the financial district). There are better and more exit routes by water than other places and their land routes. I hold the pulp issue of emergency evacuation from Washington, D.C. I love gallows humor.
My agreement re a standalone house.
Ref sea level elevations; relates to insurance costs. Some time on the web will get you focused.
On the third decade of life you could get a partner and have kids. The BIG item I’m governed by is schools: public, private and the related support programs eg 4-H clubs in local area? My 2 grandchildren are already studying conversational Chinese via a neighborhood support program. Later plans involve conversational Russian. My daughter knows what she’s doing.
Summary; Job w/ $ is key. One can live anywhere in relative safety.
“Where one can live, one can live well.” Anon.
Bob - July 17, 2021
For a good quality web site that talks of the discussed insurance such as flooding, etc. check out:
news @ insurance journal dot com (No spaces)
In Thursday’s 15 July 21 Washington Post is an article titled “Iranian agents planned to kidnap dissident N.Y. journalist, prosecurors say”. From the article, a brief excerpt:
“,,, from her apartment to a waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn. One agenct researched a service offering military-style speedboats for self-operated maritime evacuation out of Manhattan.”
In a 2017 article with picture, is an article titled “Emergency Evacuation from Manhattan”. A brief excerpt: “When mass transit is at a standstill, maritime evacuation is the only real alternative”. The picture shows a boat similiar to what the oil industry uses. Article tells of crew as part of contract. This crew originated a little south of here near Naval Station Norfolk.
Now, above is not directly applicable to preppers – but the principle is. Check all realistic evacuation routes.
RedneckContributor - July 16, 2021
I agree with Bob. #1 should always be can the property be readily sold? Then #2 for me the question would be rural or urban? IMO, for a prepper, rural is always preferred, but can come with some downsides regarding schools for the kids and certain services. Granted, one can live a rural life rather close in to big cities. It is a tradeoff between being close for ease of having services & being far for security if there is a crisis. I’m about an hour outside Memphis, which to me is the sweet spot. Very rural and far enough away to provide at least some hope of not being overrun in a crisis but close enough for services. My drive to work covers a lot of miles but there is little traffic, so my commute time is similar to folks living closer but dealing with lots of city traffic.
In choosing a homesite location or purchasing an existing home, my #1 thought is staying high & dry. I wouldn’t want any home that has even a slight chance of being flooded. Having a close in neighbor is not a deal breaker for me. I have 20 acres, but because of layout considerations, we built out house rather close to a neighbor. I like the added security of being in somewhat close to another home. I also live about a mile, down a narrow dead end lane. There is only one way in and out, which is good for security. Thieves like to have multiple exit routes. But once out on the highway, we have multiple exit routes going in all directions. Where I live, evacuation is not a concern.
Basements are not common in our part of the country but would be nice as long as they stay dry. House orientation should be considered regarding solar, as it is the future.
CR - July 16, 2021
Hi Lowell, Warning, long reply, as I’ve been in real estate for many years, so this is my thing!
Good ideas shared already, and I can think of some other suggestions in keeping with what you shared of your situation. If possible, a location where you already have family &/or solid friends that you can count on is huge. We all need support from time to time, in all life’s challenges. Second, as previously mentioned, a balance between a living wage vs. housing costs is vital. There are many websites that rate the affordability of states, etc. Third, it should be somewhere you actually want to live and raise a family. Keep in mind that if it’s too isolated or harsh the kids will leave someday to make a living (as I and my siblings did.)
A semi rural location that’s not too far from city services strikes a good balance on a lot of those issues. Nowhere will be perfect, and country land has gone up hugely in value especially since COVID woke up a lot of people to its various advantages. That’s not all bad, as it will lead to more smaller parcels (1-5+ acre hobby farms) being subdivided and available to more homebuyers. In my opinion and from extensive experience, this is a sweet spot for most preppers. Not too rural, but very sustainable for short and very long term, depending of course upon the climate and usability of the land for agriculture and small livestock. Smaller parcels can be managed to be very productive, and as you get older, are not so isolated and difficult to maintain. Also, values stay strong, they’re easy to sell, and are often on the edges of town so they can appreciate significantly as towns grow. Most people can’t start out buying the perfect set up. Start wherever you can, buying a single family starter home in a nice area without bad neighbors, in a good spot for you, and trade up as finances allow. Keep in mind you can change the house, not the location & neighbors! You’ll learn as you go.
Please feel free to ask me questions, I’ve advised many buyers regarding getting started in country property & it’s a very neglected specialty. (NOT a sales pitch, I don’t advertise, my business comes from personal referral) 😊
Lowell - July 16, 2021
Thank you all for your comments!
CR, are you able to recommend resources for more general home biyinng wisdom as well? For example, what are more basic things to look for, like whether it’s dirt or gravel against the foundation of the home?
Also, do you have resources to share that would convince me that “trading up” is a feasible thing to do? I feel like that gets thrown around a lot, and I’m hesitant to buy a house before my dream home instead of renting cheap places and growing my money in an index fund and eventually buying once the stars align.
CR - July 16, 2021
Lowell, specifics like dirt or gravel would be relevant to the type of soil and drainage in the location of the house. Generally speaking, if a builder has taken the trouble to backfill gravel against the foundation, it would tell me two things: that specific area and soil needs help draining water away from the house, and the builder was sufficiently qualified to address that requirement. A good home inspector is your friend in that situation. They’re qualified in their locality & what’s normal quality construction for that spot. A personal referral is always the best source for local qualified professionals.
As far as your larger question, the foundation of virtually all tangible wealth is real estate in its various forms. An index fund is a great tool, and should be PART of your financial planning if funds allow. However, no matter how secure, it’s blips in a computer and no one can live in it or eat it. There’s just no substitute for owning where you hang your hat, even if the bank has lent you money to buy it.
In my opinion much of the current run on real estate can be put down to renters’ realization of how insecure they really are in hard times. Yes, markets boom and bust, but if you stay in, houses in nice, livable areas that have solid infrastructure and pay a living wage always go up in value, sometimes shockingly well. If all else fails and you’re stuck upside down in value & need to move, rent it out for a few years until values recover. Rent almost never declines, and always goes up, unlike your house payment which is set upon purchase.
Two rules, never spend your equity (always roll it over into your next home), & buy in a good spot using qualified local professionals. Last notes in favor of trading up: you learn on every house, maintenance, what you like & hate, and your needs change over time. Today’s ideal dream house plan will change over time, that’s just life, after all. If you start early, you can buy your revised dream house over & over.
RedneckContributor - July 16, 2021
Really good stuff, CR.
CR - July 16, 2021
Lowell - July 16, 2021
Thank you so, so much for taking the time to write this CR ❤️
CR - July 16, 2021
You’re most welcome Lowell! Best wishes on your search, you’ll find it’s well worth it! Keep on learning & asking questions as you go.
Bob - July 16, 2021
Good morning CR,
Appreciated reading your points. Merci !
Although a tangent to initial question of thread, I still have a real estate knowledge gap from 50 years ago. The information was blocked.
Maybe you can say something as to what I was seeking. Otherwise, I understand not appropriate for thread.
When getting out of the Army had wanted to buy the largest size of land with the actual residence being a trailer or mobile home. Obviously enough to me, I did not care about the dwelling section; only the land.
Could never learn how much land with minimal dwelling could be financed by a VA or FHA mortgage.
Is this info available ?
Thanks in advance.
CR - July 17, 2021
Hi Bob, I’m not a lender, but in my experience VA & FHA used to only lend on stick built houses. I did a quick search and that appears to have been changed to include mobile homes in some cases. Generally those loans are stricter in their livability requirements and properties do have to be in pretty good shape with no major issues. As far as land goes, larger parcels can vary in how they are financed, with the best option usually a local direct bank lender or owner financing.
Bob - July 17, 2021
Thank you CR.
You answered my question.
Robert LarsonContributor - July 16, 2021
Lowell, you have some good points there that you are considering as well as everyone who has commented so far. Take their advice.
I’m also a twenty something and am in the same boat of trying to buy a home now as a form of investment into myself and to enhance my level of preparedness that I just can’t have while renting. Everyone’s situation and circumstances are going to be different, so pick and choose what you will, but I’ll share my recent home buying adventures and the decisions my family has been making.
First off was location. We wanted to stay in the same state to be near family and not have to change lots of things like medical insurance, drivers license, and registration. Just a few less things to worry about. We then looked within the state for a few weeks for houses within our price range and found the general areas we could afford. Then we narrowed those down more by proximity to stores, hospitals, and other services we would need. Currently we are about 45-60 minutes from most things and although we do it, it does get tiring over time and we tend to not go out as much as we would like because trips will take a minimum of 2 hours of driving. We’ve lived urban and rural and want to find a good middle ground for this time in our lives.
Then we used a mortgage calculator and tried to keep our mortgage under 25% of our take home pay. We are following the guidance of Dave Ramsey and his Baby Step program and this is one of the things he recommends. Sure we could buy a nicer and more expensive home, but then we would be ‘house poor’ and have a huge chunk of our income going towards that and not as much towards savings and retirement.
Then we hopped onto Realtor.com and Zillo.com and looked for houses in our price range and locations we wanted and we eliminated those that didn’t meet some of our prepping needs.
Storage is a huge prepping need for us. We are tired of having our food storage in an extra bathroom cupboard, and our bug out bags in the back of a closet inaccessible because there seriously isn’t anywhere else to put it. Oh the joys of renting! With more space we can organize and get to our stuff easier and build up supplies that were previously impossible.
We also want to get chickens in the future and many cities have ordinances preventing it. Do a Google search of “Are chickens legal in ______” or search on backyardchickens.com. And then it will link to your city’s ordinance and law.
Collecting rain water from our roof was also a prep that renters don’t have the luxury of that we now want to enjoy. Look up your local laws on it, sometimes it’s totally illegal, sometimes there are no restrictions, and with others there are certain amounts you can store. Going back to your roof choice where you can add solar panels, consider rain water as well. A metal roof will be nicer for rain catchment than asphalt which can potentially have more chemicals and toxins from the petroleum.
How close do you want to be to neighbors? Look on Google maps street view of the house before even going to look at it to see the neighborhood and if that is one where you and your home and preps will be safe.
How are things like cell and internet reception for emergency communications?
Do you want to go off grid or have the ability to? You may not be able to if connected to city power, water, and sewage.
Do you have enough room for a garden? Or do you want even more room where you can have livestock, a whole farm, and maybe a shooting range?
Look up which disasters have plagued that area before and what you will need to be preparing for.
These are just some of the many questions we had to ask when looking for a home. We had to order them in matter of importance for us, which are deal breakers and which would be nice perks.
To be honest with you Lowell and anyone else reading this in a similar situation in the future, this site helped us out a ton throughout this search. When we first started looking for a house we were only looking at rural off-grid locations where we could be totally independent. But those took us out of our price range and that was our strict rule not to cross. We got discouraged and thought of renting for a few more years to save up for it. But then I thought back to all of the articles on here about water storage, filtration, generators, and more. Sure 100% off-grid all the time would be a dream and it would be nice not to have that monthly utility bill, but that can be our longer term goal for our future homestead and dream home. We can get a smaller city tied house and then do things recommended by this site and still be prepared and live if those utilities were shut off. It’s not our ideal, but who gets their ideal home they will be in for the rest of their lives in their twenties? We see this home as a starter home to learn our mistakes with, to build up equity in, and plan for that future dream prepping homestead.
CR - July 16, 2021
Lots of good sense in your criteria, Robert, congratulations on your wise choices & it’s great to see some younger folks planning to succeed in a well balanced and sustainable way! Keep searching and asking questions of those who have proven they can be a reliable source of info. Dave Ramsey does have some good foundational financial advice.
To both of you, Lowell and Robert, try and try again is key in getting into housing now. Expect multiple offers & fierce competition for now in desirable areas, so the ugly duckling that has some relatively minor problems can really be your ticket for a start. Most buyers want and chase the newest, most beautifully presented listing, so the ones that are grubby, stink (that’s especially hated!), and are badly promoted can still be found to be a solid deal. Just do thorough inspections & know your limits of how much you want to spend and physically do for improvements. Elbow grease builds equity, and you learn valuable skills along the way. YouTube is awesome too, on fix it stuff.
Robert LarsonContributor - July 16, 2021
Thanks CR. We did find a bit of a fixer upper that is going to need some lovin and elbow grease and we are looking forward to get started on it. Luckily we have a 36 page guide on what needs to be done, our home inspection report 🙂
We lucked out and about 80% of the things on that home inspection report are all things covered cheaply and easily by the YouTube channel Everyday Home Repairs. Great guy and easy to follow.
CR - July 16, 2021
That’s great to hear! Congratulations & best wishes on your new journey into homeownership!
Lowell - July 16, 2021
Thank you so much Robert and CR, this was a real pleasure to read.
Alicia - July 16, 2021
Great that you are planning ahead, preparing criteria and seeking advice. You have garnered much great advice here so I don’t have much in addition to offer. I have found that storage both in the home and available outside for rain barrels and water storage have been key for even level 1 shelter in place prepping. In SoCal, basements are quite rare and many housing areas were built in the 30s and 40s with little closet or other storage space. That’s not to say modern construction is necessarily better. Staging of homes can wow you with their sparse furnishings and clean lines meant to make it seem large. You have to look past that for how it would function for you. One newly built listing I walked through with a friend had closets so shallow that a clothes hanger would prevent the door from closing, and a skylight in the upstairs hall was a great feature, but was exactly where a non-existent linen closet should have been. These were likely overlooked by whomever bought the place and learned as they started unpacking.
pnwsarahContributor - July 16, 2021
Hi Lowell — Thanks for starting a great discussion. The other responses have been really interesting and helpful for me and/or ring true to my experience.
My two cents is that if you’re in the west (even the PNW), take the CW on location with a grain of salt because of wildfire risk. Preppers understandably tend to like the idea of being in a location where they have access to a well and space to garden, and a little more distance from other people, but aren’t too far removed from city jobs and Level 1 trauma centers, but that’s the kind of thinking that can make the urban wildland-urban interface look really attractive, and I would never buy there due to wildfire risk. (And many of those fires start because people live in those locations— it’s people parking on dry grass, setting off fireworks, sparks off power lines, that sort of thing— so the very fact of those houses being there makes the the risks from terrain, climate, vegetation, etc. even worse.) I’m much more sanguine about the prospects of working with my many urban neighbors to take care of one another and find/make what we need post-disaster than I am about my ability to run from a fire.
There’s also the fact that insurers are cognizant of the implications of climate change for their business and are trying to reduce their exposure to wildfire, which could result in some homes becoming totally uninsurable against that type of loss. I know California is pushing back against this, but it’s really not clear how it’s all going to shake out (and arguably there should be stronger incentives against developing in vulnerable areas…). I’d really hate to end up in a home for which you can’t get insurance against wildfire, regardless whether or not you want it, because that’s going to be hard to sell.
If you do want an exurban homestead in the west (even the PNW, since we catch on fire now, too, evidently), I’d look for metal roofs, Trex decks, a driveway in which a firetruck can turn around, no shingles, multiple ways in and out of the neighborhood, no deadends… some of which specs of course contradict other prepping considerations that others have mentioned!
The book How to Prepare for Climate Change by David Pogue is super relevant to anyone looking to buy a house. I learn a lot about wind, hurricanes, and flooding that I hadn’t thought about at all given my location and primary prepping concerns. For example, the book talks about the roof shapes that are most resistant, and most vulnerable, to strong winds.
One last thing: When I look in the city/suburbs, I’m always attentive to the trees on the neighbors’ properties. It’s one thing to have a glorious mature shade tree that you can have an arborist evaluate and maybe prune or limb or even take down if necessary, but I wouldn’t want a widowmaker hanging over my house with the trunk in someone else’s yard. Then I have the risk but not the control, and wrangling over what needs to be done and who is going to do it could threaten my relationships with my neighbors. There was a really cute house that sold recently in a neighborhood my partner and I love. We looked at it, but the seriously enormous limb from the neighbor’s tree hanging precariously over the studio put a damper on my enthusiasm!
Seasons4 - July 18, 2021
I recently moved from a small, older condo outside town to a larger, older home in town with an attached garage. Wanting more storage space and fewer neighbors in close proximity were major drivers of the move. Also, I didn’t want to deal with HOA decision making any more (low monthly dues, inadequate reserves, dragging feet on repairs, different priorities for those who lived there year round and those who used the condo as a vacation get-away).
You’ve had great advice already. I’m retirement age, so concerns around aging play into my priorities. I like city water and sewer instead of a private well and septic system. Maybe the systems will be hacked or otherwise fail, but I think they will also come back online fairly quickly. I’m not interested in solar panels, relying on batteries and nearby family outside town in an emergency.
I like wide streets, no need for parallel parking or backing up. I live in a county with a very high percentage of older people. Not that we’re all bad drivers, but in an emergency, I don’t want to navigate streets with cars parked on each side of the street. I like a corner lot — easier to see, more privacy. I like a privacy fence and a small yard. I can let the yard largely become a place for pollinators, compost, brush piles, and things that the neighbors might not like if they could see them.
I like a house with versatility — rooms that can do double duty as bedroom and study (think bed and table, not just a desk). Get a place with either up to date electrical wiring or pay to have it installed.
Best wishes and good for you!
Robert LarsonContributor - July 18, 2021
Oh yes! Having no HOA was actually our top requirement before anything else. I’m already having to follow rules from the Federal Government, my State Government, County Government, and City Government. I’m not going to add another set of rules from a Home Owners Association where they tell me I have to live with my garage door open during the day. Seriously this was a thing, look up news articles of bad HOA decisions and you will see many more. The HOA’s thought process was to prevent people renting out their garage’s as rental units for people to live in, everyone had to have their doors open during the day or could be fined. People living there hated the rule because you literally are exposing a way for a burglar to see all you have in there and have free reign to steal whatever they want.
AT - July 19, 2021
A lot of what to look for is regional and depends on your preferences. We live in-town in Northern CA. I agree that 1-5 acres would be great, but we couldn’t afford that in a location where I could still ride my bike to work and walk down the street to get coffee which are things I value. Additionally, in Northern CA, if you aren’t in town you are frequently at risk of either flood or wildfire, so there are disadvantages to being out where land is cheaper. We are in a boring neighborhood with cookie cutter houses and small lots. In general, layout, space, and sun/shade are huge considerations if you can’t sprawl out. Some top thoughts from our situation:
- Fancy architectural things like nooks, dormers, and hipped roofs make things like rain water catchment and solar more difficult
- Where is your gas connection relative to your electrical panel? Having them nearby makes putting in a gas generator a lot simpler.
- Do you have several feet of wall space for batteries and a transfer switch near your service panel if you want to do that?
- Similar regarding space for water catchment barrels and how to get them elevated enough to get the water where you want it without having to pump or carry buckets.
- Do the house have two sources of heat if winters are an issue (ie central heat and fireplace)?
- How the sun passes by a house is important in many ways including keeping it cool in a summer power outage, harvesting solar, and gardening. I’m still experimenting with where to shade and where to plant, where we want trees etc.
- General energy efficiency will help you make the most of functioning off grid
Again, it all depends on where you are looking. Here fire is a huge concern and if we were even 20 feet lower in elevation flooding would also be a concern. Hurricanes and earthquakes not so much of a concern.
Lowell - July 19, 2021
Thank you so much for your thorough and structured response AT!
Re: energy efficiency, is the main (or only) factor here the insulation of the home? Perhaps also volume? I figure appliances are also a factor, but they’re much easier to change than the aforementioned factors.
AT - July 20, 2021
The main question for us is how to limit how much the house heats up on a summer day when the power is out. On the interior that means sealing air leaks and making sure our insulation is adequate. On the outside it means shading the south and west sides of the house and limiting heat transfer through windows. Sealing air leaks is also really helpful when our air quality is abysmal due to fires. There are a lot of details that really matter, like our house being on a slab that includes the back porch (southern side of the house) which is a giant heat conduit into the house. On the west side the path isn’t connected to the slab which is better.
I’m wondering if passive solar design will start to become more mainstream in our area with hotter temps and more frequent power outages. It wasn’t a design consideration in our house and in a sense we are doing it by hand with shade sails and deciduous trees that create shade against and around the house. We can put the shades up in summer and in the winter when we want the heat they come down along with the trees’ leaves and let the sun warm our house.
Matt Black - July 27, 2021
I agree with many of your requirements. You’ll also want to insure access to local fresh water resources, such as a stream, a well, or spring on the property. Having a property relatively close to hunting grounds can help insure a source of food, if necessary.
I’d suggest a half-buried standalone house, if you have the option to find it, or the funding to build it, do it. Visually, it’s less obtrusive. Having a partially buried place insures that most of the living space will remain modestly cool during heatwaves and, frankly, dropping the profile might the reduce the attack surface for wildfires. The materials the structure is comprised of will also be important.
Personally, I’d prefer a property with some space to sprawl a little. I’d require a LOS (Line of Sight) around the immediate perimeter of the house, with maybe enough room for veggie garden, all hidden from view from afar, yet viable and sustainable. I envision a fire road around the perimeter of the property for wildfires, forcing would-be intruders into the open, and ease of access by alternative vehicles (eg., ATV) for patrolling or egressing.
Consider designating meeting points and self-supply points scattered around the property, just in case you need to move out with little time to collect all the things.
Proximity to both back roads and highways, as well as hospitals, pharmacies, and medical supplies for everyday needs is also important.
If you can find one, get an old stone house, the kind made of quarried stone. The walls are usually around 2-3ft thick, which can be beneficial in a defensive posture if you’re expecting hostile and/or armed intrusion.
SeaBee - July 29, 2021
Great thread, we are in this same situation. This is from a homesteading perspective, so not applicable to urban/suburban goals.
We rent in NYC (ugh, I know) but recently purchased a home in a very rural part of NY state. The plan is to rehab the home and property (35+ acres, mix of pasture/forest/stream/wetland) for relocation within 3-5 years. Home is a butt-ugly single wide with lots of issues, but the parcel and location far outweigh those costs. We have neighbors on the town-plowed road, but are very private and yet 10 minutes to the ER (read: kids plus power tools). We completely lucked out getting this place because it is a fantastic set up for both short term homesteading and long term sustainability for our family.
CR is right, the market is utterly insane and stick built homes are going for ridiculous prices. However, there are real values to be had with manufactured homes, which most folks in the “oh my gosh we need to buy something” mindset shy away from.
My goals with the home purchase were, in order of importance:
1) Land: acreage, water and variety. You can do a lot to improve the soil and pasture on your land but you can’t plant old growth trees and you don’t want to be relying solely on rain capture for water.
2) Proximity to a town for medical needs.
3) A habitable structure that did not need a full teardown
4) Relatively private but not isolated (ie, we have neighbors; make friends with neighbors)
My mantra in making this happen was, ‘Put yourself in a position to be lucky’. I did not have money for a bidding war on a highly desirable property, so I knew I would need to find that half-crappy listing that folks wouldn’t immediately want. I also knew I would need to get the contract quickly, before people took a second look and thought, ‘Oh that’s actually not too bad…’ and then outbid me. Thus, I had all my preapprovals in order, letters from bank in hand, a local attorney ready to represent me, and a local inspector ready to jump in. I did not use an agent but I relentlessly contacted listing agents for properties. This worked in my favor because then the agent does not need to split the commission, which makes my offer more attractive. However, that also means I didn’t have an agent on my side advising me, so be prepared to go it alone.
My home listed on a Friday afternoon, I was on the phone with the agent 10 minutes later and I was the first person to see the home the next morning. I made an offer that evening at asking price and contracts were signed within 48 hours. It is not my dream home, but it is a great opportunity. If you can understand the difference between dreams and potential, you will have a big leg up on the rest of the folks looking to buy in this market.
Regarding the work involved once you close, it is hard to overstate the learning curve for this kind of project. If you do not enjoy failing over and over again while learning hard lessons, this is not a path for you. Pretty sure that doesn’t apply to most folks here, but a fair warning. I am simultaneously digging footers for foundation piers, tearing apart transmissions on a tractor, building creek bridges and reinsulating a leaking roof while trying to plan for the tree/perennial growth twenty years out. I let about thirty things off that list, but you get the idea.
That said, I am happier than I have ever been, knowing that I am creating a place for my family to be safe and self-sufficient in an increasingly unsteady future. It is also a fantastic opportunity to teach my kids how to actually learn and work in the world, rather than the stupid, mostly-pointless learning that occurs in school nowadays (I say that as a 20 year classroom teacher).
Good luck to anyone looking to make a similar move. Josh and Redneck’s posts have been invaluable for my learning, so be sure to follow them closely. They will teach you a lot.
Lindsey - August 1, 2021
Something I haven’t seen mentioned yet that I’m wondering about is caring for relatives. When considering where to buy or live, do you consider where your relatives live, especially those who may require extra assistance in a emergency? For example, my in-laws are now in their mid-60s and 70+. While they are currently still very active people, I know that my father-in-law has suffered several foot and ankle injuries over the last couple years that could make any kind of long distance walking or biking a difficult if not impossible proposition if that were required for an evacuation.
On the other side of the coin, do you consider living close to relatives for the skills or preps they would bring to the table? For example, my brother works as a maintenance tech in apartment complexes. He’s essentially a jack of all trades and would be an invaluable help in a emergency, even if he has absolutely no preps of his own.
Alisa Felix - August 2, 2021
Do this! If you have family that needs help, help them. One day you will regret it if you don’t. And one day you will be that family member that needs help.
pnwsarahContributor - August 25, 2021
Really good point. I’ve lived most of my life within a 60-90 minute drive from my now-elderly parents. The city in which my partner and I now live is a 12 hour drive from them (and from his parents, too). I think that by most people’s standards, we “live near [our] parents”: Everyone is within a half hour drive of a major airport with multiple daily flights between our cities, and we can reach each other by car in a (long, unpleasant) day. But I just don’t look at life with the assumption that planes and roads will always be available. Even before we moved up here, I’d find myself thinking, “How will I get to my parents on foot in an emergency?” I’m not such an extreme prepper that I insist upon living within, say, bicycling distance of everyone I love (especially since most of those people are firmly planted in one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the damn country), but the fact that I’ll be closer to my parents in the event of an emergency is one of a handful of things that markedly brightens the otherwise bleak prospect of our near-inevitable eventual return to their geographic vicinity. All other things being equal (and of course, in real life, they aren’t), I’d definitely pick living close to my parents over not. At the very least, it would make it much easier for me to maintain their preps for them— and in our case, returning to the parents also means returning to some very handy, self-sufficient, practical, and preparedness-minded close friends.
Sir Henry - August 9, 2021
You will never regret buying a south facing house if you live in a snow packed location. It greatly helps with snow removal and ice buildup.
Bill Masen - August 12, 2021
This is from a UK source, dont know if it helps or not
The Preppers House (v3)
As preppers we have a great need for our homes to be fitted out or uprated to help meet our enhanced needs.
Increased storage capacity across the board features highly in our plans as does extra water, food, fuel, clothing and equipment storage etc all are something we ideally need more of stored and cached. And just like our non-prepping neighbours we need as much energy efficiency, privacy and security as we can get from our homes.
Food, Clothing and Kit Storage
We need extra storage space that is preferably cool and dark to be able to store extra food supplies in for long periods of time without it spoiling. Ideally some of it should be concealed storage in places where the average person would not think to look.
I know of people who have fitted discrete hinged lids under the carpet on the stairways allowing them to hide extra food in the cavity under the stairs, people have kitchen units with false back panels fitted allow more concealed capacity. In houses with timber floors rather than concrete slabs some folks hide plastic tubs under the floorboards in the sub floor cavity. A false wall made from plasterboard (Drywall) in a garage gives an extra 1 foot deep storage space for one prepper I know, and false panelling in a bedroom provides extra storage for another.
At the very least we need extra larder space for our increased food stocks, very often this can be as simple as shelving units in the garage or utility room if you have them.
Some of us just keep extra food and kit in large plastic storage boxes under the bed and in the bottom of the wardrobes whilst others turn over the smallest bedroom into the prep store (the door that is always closed and locked when you get visitors)
Privacy and Security
Ensuring our privacy and security during a crisis is vital, so its very important that we control the approaches and access to our homes and reduce light pollution that advertises our independence from the national grid power supplies. Blackout blinds and curtains (or window shutters) are an absolute must for every window and door to stop light escaping thus advertising your self-reliant position.
Multi point locking on doors and windows is a must even in normal times, but after a crisis develops you may wish to add self-adhesive laminating security film to your windows which makes gaining entry to your home via a broken window far more difficult and noisy for the intruder. It is also essential that you keep some pre-cut marine grade ½ plywood boarding to secure any windows that do get broken.
In recent years a new design of door called the COMPOSITE door has gained massive popularity in the UK, it is made of colour resistant / fire resistant polycarbonate, over wood and foam and metal core, it utilises over engineered hinges (often three or four) and much more robust multi point locking than used in UPVC doors. The door frame is of aluminium cored UPVC or Composite material and again is much more substantial than the older UPVC systems. The best versions are the government / home office APPROVED BY DESIGN types that have passed vigorous testing. Metal clad doors are also gaining popularity in urban areas.
Some people have fitted security bars that pivot or swing over the doors to re-enforce the entry points. Apparently it is remarkably easy to kick in the bottom panel on most older UPVC doors made in the UK as they were designed this way to make access for firefighters easier. Equally the locks and hinges even on expensive double glazed doors do not stand up very well to police officers using a slide hammer to gain entry to execute a search warrant, so extra security devices, bars and hinges should be considered.
Note* Very often modern double glazed doors external frames are only secured to the building wall with a couple of mild steel screws in each side, this makes it very easy to simply to pry or bash the entire door and frame out, its well worth getting high tensile steel self-tapping bolts fitted which massively increase the doors security strength.
Sanctum - August 12, 2021
We have 6 Kw of solar panels on our roof, and a lithium – ion 10 kw battery backup. If the battery is full, we use what we generate during the day. At night, we draw from the battery until its drawn down 50%. The last 50% is saved if there is a power cut.
We have solar hot water with electric backup for the entire villa.
We have solar swimming pool heaters on the roof as well.
Being in Thailand, we would be crazy not to take advantage of the solar here.
MarcusAurelius - August 23, 2021
Granola Shotgun has a lot of interesting information about housing and preparedness (they’re linked in the author’s mind) to consider.
Couple of the author’s repeated pieces of advice:
- Buy some place walkable
- Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood that you can afford.
This forum is heavily moderated to keep things valuable to as many people as possible. Full community policies are here. The basics:
- 1. Be nice to each other.
- 2. Stay focused on prepping.
- 3. Avoid politics, religion, and other arguments.
- 4. No unfounded conspiracies, fake news, etc.
- 5. Debate ideas, not people.