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Where to site your retreat?

Outlined below are my initial thoughts on the factors to be considered when purchasing a property to be used as a retreat.

The factors are also predicated on your willingness to rejoin society as it emerges from a collapse and to place yourself in a good position to take advantage of emerging economies

I would like to throw them open to comment so as to gain differing points of view.

Before anyone asks my personal preference is to locate a property in the corridor west of the Nambour Gympie railroad inland about as far as Kenilworth/Imbil (on, in or near the Blackall Range) in Queensland.


My personal preference is for a property between 50 and 200 acres (22 – 88 hectares). However you can get away with quite small properties if you wish. You can produce enough to feed your family on extremely small areas using methods such as that outlined in the book ‘square foot gardening’.

It is only when you get to grazing animals that more land is required (eg horses require about 7 acres each to stop worms being a problem).

Smaller properties are obviously cheaper and need not be overlooked if well sited particularly if you can develop good relationships with your neighbours. If possible a property adjoining a State Forest, Reserve or National Park is a good idea as no-one will be able to protest you extending your boundaries in a collapse.


Terrain is one area where the perfect retreat can save you money. In my view apart from a cleared flat area for the home and veggie/crop area the remainder can be virgin bush and quite hilly. Sloped land offers significant opportunities strategically and for hiding your presence.


There are four major considerations related to climate. The first is you decision on what you want to grow (eg. want to grow sugar cane you will need to be in an appropriate climate OR build a big enough greenhouse OR choose a substitute such as honey or sugar beet). Second, any property should have a range of micro-climates that if carefully developed will enable you to grow a wide variety of produce. Three, an property should not be located in a drought or flood prone area. This relates to climate in that weather patterns are changing significantly, global warming, el nino, etc. What no-one seems to agree on is if things are warming up, getting colder, getting wetter, getting drier or simply becoming more variable. My own opinion is that an element of chaos has been introduced into the earths climate systems and this must be factored into any decision regarding a property. Four, the climate should be comfortable and not subject to extremes (cold or heat) and consideration should be given to sunshine hours (solar power), wind (win generators) and also water flows (micro-hydro) depending on your choices.


In many scenarios pure fresh drinking water will become more precious than gold. In my opinion any property should have, in order of preference, a spring, a fresh bore, a creek, or a river AND adequate means to store water in large underground tanks.

It should be noted that properties along rivers are usually more intensively farmed (more people) and more expensive.


Some might say ‘black soil is best’, however, what they don’t tell you is that there are very few areas in Australia that have such soils, these are intensively farmed, expensive and that black soils are terrible when wet (as I can personally attest to).

There is much you can do on any property to improve the soils in the areas in which you want to plant. In my case I want to grow a few grapes to make wine, grappa etc (alcohol along with tobacco being premium barter goods in any collapse). Grapes actually grow best in really crappy soil.

What must be checked for though is salt and erosion problems. If found find somewhere else. While both can be fixed the cost is considerable and there are no guarantees that the problems will not resurface at the worst possible time.


Obviously you would check the property is safe from as many natural hazards as possible; cyclones, bush fire, landslides etc. The best place I have found to check is the local SES office as they have maps and experience regarding where problems occur in their regions.

You should also check on the previous use of the property, particularly if there are any dip sites. It would also be better to avoid a property that has high voltage power lines (nasty things) and communication towers. Apart from being ugly access rights are granted to workers to your land to inspect or repair these structures.


Earthchanges relates in part to climate but also to the possible effects of melting polar icecaps, magnetic pole reversals, asteroid impact etc. Common consensus is that it is best to be away from the coasts and up at a reasonable altitude. Sound advice regardless whether you believe or not.


It is best to be away from any main roads or highways as these will quickly become corridors as people desert the cities. Any properties with entrances on these or visible from them will quickly be looted. I would be no closer than 20 kilometres to a national highway.


In the event of a complete economic collapse the first forms of commercial transportation to be revived will be rail and river. Petrol and Diesel will quickly be nationalised for military and agriculture uses and your own storage will be limited, however, steam trains are still in operation and would be quickly pressed into service. If possible your property should be located within 20 kilometres of a railroad and/or navigable river. It should also be considered that river transport on smaller rivers, not considered commercially viable now, will be after a collapse. So will Cobb & Co type enterprises if you want to plan ahead.


In my opinion any property should be located at least 60 kilometres (prefer 80) from any capital city and at least 30 kilometres from any major military base.


The last factor to consider is the local community. If you have to live there prior to a collapse is there adequate medical facilities, schools, transport and other services. These will also be a factor in any recovery. You don't want somewhere too big or too small. As a guide I am working on populations of 2000 to 4000 in the nearest town being the ideal.

In addition take a look at the towns water supply, sanitation entrances in and out etc and consider if these can be maintained and/or closed in an emergency to protect the inhabitants.

One closing thought, check your local tourism office for information on heritage towns/trails as these can be good pointers to areas to consider.


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Last Modified: April 15, 2008
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