Here is a recent Reuters Foundation report on off-grid real estate:
Often called survivalists or “preppers”, many escapees twin an expectation of impending doom – or outright social collapse – with a deep disbelief in the government’s ability to cope.
Buying land — or “bugout” property, derived from military slang for a retreat — is a priority, with real estate networks compiling national lists of “prepper lands”.
Most survivalist land purchases are in the mountains of the U.S. northwest, primarily Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
In 2011, a blogger and former U.S. Army intelligence officer named James Wesley, Rawles – he includes the comma in his name – wrote a widely circulated post urging “freedom-loving Christians” to move to the region as a safe haven.
He dubbed the area the American Redoubt and urged followers to “buy land that will maximise your self-sufficiency.”
It is unclear how many heeded his call, but the Economist magazine estimated they numbered in the “thousands of families”.
Idaho in particular recorded a big influx, says Reuters Foundation.
The state had one of the top U.S. growth rates in 2015-16, driven in part by escapees from California and neighbouring Washington state, according to Boise State assistant professor Jeffrey Lyons.
Disaffected Californians make up a substantial number of clients for Black Rifle Real Estate, which says online that it helps people “Flee the City to the freedom and safety of Rural America and the famed American Redoubt.”
Broker Todd Savage said his business is at an all-time high, driven by frustration with how many U.S. cities are governed.
“Most of our clients are now looking to sell their postage-stamp size properties … and make what we call a ‘Strategic Relocation’ to a free state,” Savage said in an email.
Driven by new demand, the company is expanding outside of the so-called Redoubt — to Arizona, which Savage said enjoys lower taxes and far looser gun controls than liberal California.
“Arizona is the new Idaho for many seeking relief from the tyranny in California,” he said.
Conservatives are not alone in the new land rush.
Haynes said his clients in North Carolina are evenly split between survivalists and “homesteaders” — young, liberal, less affluent families seeking peace, quiet and a sustainable life.
“When I started out in 1973, the big thing then was the ‘back to the land’ movement,” said Neil Shelton with the Ozark Land Company, a developer active in Missouri and Arkansas.
What he is seeing now is a “new iteration” of that movement, he said, and one driven by innovation: the pre-built ‘tiny home’, typically 400-600 square feet.
Small structures have made home ownership more affordable, he said, for some accelerating the new mood of escapism.
“This tiny-house movement is the biggest thing I’ve seen since” the 1970s, Shelton said.
Kim Moore, 63, said she and her husband had bought nearly 60 acres in North Carolina after enjoying a holiday there.
“I’m not a survivalist, but as much as possible, I’d like to live on the land,” she said.
Moore and her husband plan to build a series of small homes and create a “co-housing” community of family, friends and others with similar values.
“I want it to be sustainable, something that isn’t going to ruin the land, and something that’s big enough that all of my friends can join in,” she said.
“It’s something that feeds my soul.”
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