By Ol’ Tennessee Ridgerunner
This is the seventh in a series about the vital “must-haves” for individuals with a preparedness mindset who are considering an off grid retreat lifestyle. These articles are good for would-be homesteaders contemplating their first rural property purchase, and serve as a reminder for retreat owners who, due to age-related or medical issues, are preparing documentation and inventories in order to showcase their off grid property for sale. This post covers an important, yet perplexing consideration: like-minded community.
It’s pretty clear now that even mainstream “sheeple” are recognizing we're moving toward a domestic conflict which can cause a social and/or financial breakdown. The risk of war with Russia and China, unsustainable national debt, intensifying government over reach, militarization of police, increasing political violence, homegrown terrorism, continued loss of individual liberties, the rise of blatant Marxism, the likelihood of cyber disruption and currency meltdown – all are potential triggers that can spark disastrous civil unrest in various regions.
There seem to be more reasons now than ever before for self-reliant people to consider locating a remote off grid retreat to provide security, shelter and sustenance for their family in times of major social and financial catastrophe. Of course, everyone understands that there is strength in numbers and that may be why many homesteaders seek that unique, exclusive community of like-minded folk or strive to create a sustainable community of similarly-disposed people to share common ownership of land and resources. However, let me say up front that although having a retreat located in or near a like-minded community is a worthy and ambitious pursuit, it is for all practical purposes a pipe dream for 99% of those seeking it. It can be done, but only be a select few. Here’s why.
Preparedness-minded people are very frugal, dogmatic in their preferences, traditional in their principles and Christian religion, and fiercely independent. This does not bode well for social or other interaction with those with whom they have any disagreements. Group leadership and governance can be a real bone of contention with a band of Type A personalities. Add into this equation the imperative of confidentiality and operational security, and what you get are conservative non-conformists who are not predisposed to compromise their principles or share in their provisions or retreat location.
So what works?
Instinctively, most homesteaders recognize that retreat defense requires 24/7/365 perimeter security in the aftermath of a collapse and that necessitates more than one family. Your best approach is always to start with your own family, immediate and extended, because there is a higher likelihood that they may already share your outlook and morality.
Starting a retreat community even with family has its share of challenges. Not all of your kin may share your preparedness persuasion, and some may be convinced you’re a tinfoil hat nut job. Using a soft approach to securing remote property may be an approach that will appeal to those who are not real homesteading material. This could involve purchasing land and building a cabin as a recreational property for family outings, hunting in winter and off road activities in the summer months. At the very least, your family members will know there is a place with facilities they can relocate to if a major catastrophe occurs. The real homesteaders in the family can make group preparations as needed and might hold title to the property granting access to the others as needed. The land could be jointly owned, old family property, or perhaps an individual has the title but allows the remainder of the group access to it.
Failing with a family collective, your next best bet may be to organize a collection of close trusted friends with whom you share a sustainability mindset and function informally as individuals. Work toward pulling together a diverse lineup of allies with practical traditional skills and strive for a minimum of eight reliable participants. Again recognize that a significant number of prepared-minded people have limited financial resources, and each added person in your group means another mouth to feed, so choose your friends wisely.
If you find, as do most homesteaders, that loosely banding together as a village of self-sufficiency-minded people is not a good successful for you, another alternative may be researching a conservative rural community in an unincorporated area. Gradually introduce yourselves to locals through churches and social gatherings and identify a few families that may share your values. These connections may be the start of a mutual support system, but these relationships can take some time to mature. Understand that locals know you’re “natfromaronhere” and could be “standoff-ish” around newcomers until they feel confident that they know your values and politics. You may remain always tagged as an “outsider,” but locals will gradually come to recognize the skills and ethics you bring to their midst.
Not entirely out yet
When the most likely outcomes are realized and you hit the wall attempting to find or build your own off grid enclave from scratch, don’t despair…yet. For a lucky few, there could be an interim step to toward building, at least at first, a small self-sufficient tribe. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement that may be developed with an existing retreat owner, particularly one that is recognizing inevitable age-related limitations. Retreat owners know that having a younger family to join them onsite, assuming they have adequate (separate) housing to offer, may be a feasible option to selling their retreat outright to strangers. Certainly mature retreat owners recognize that there is strength in numbers and having stable, skilled individuals to assist them with their retreat chores can be advantageous. This could be the beginning of your community.
Smart younger would-be homesteaders, seeking like-minded community but lacking financial wherewithal, should be willing to work for what they cannot now afford. Young families may also seek mentorship in the hard lessons that mature off-grid veterans have learned. A younger family might be offered free housing, and/or possible owner financing, in exchange for their labor. Owners may offer to pay a nominal wage for doing the many chores (like gardening, animal husbandry, laundry, harvesting, wood-cutting) and retreat maintenance while the “new hires” separately work part-time or shift work nearby with the promise of some acreage ownership for building your own off grid cabin after so many years service. There are lots of creative compensation arrangements to be considered. For more detail on this approach see my post titled, No jack? Here’s how to work your way into retreat living, on this site.
As noted earlier, the dream of starting or joining a tranquil handful of families at an off grid survival commune is just that – it’s a dream – not likely to materialize because it’s a unicorn. On the other hand, isolationism is not sustainable because a single family just can’t mount an effective defense of their retreat. Do your research into existing retreat communities; discuss the possibilities with your immediate and extended family, and investigate involving multiple families in a shared-land arrangement. There is a nominal chance for success. Just don’t get your heart set on the impossible dream. If you missed any of the previous articles in this series, you can find them all at www.basiclifetraining.com.