Thursday, January 3, 2013

Survival in a Condominium?

Hi Ferfal,
I bought your book and then decided not to buy a home as a backup plan that was about 9 miles outside of Tehachapi, California, USA and 1 mile from the nearest neighbor.
I could consider a home in a gated community, in the town of Tehachapi.  The town has a hospital, about 13,000 people and is 40 miles from a town of 350,000 people.
But, I am starting to wonder how much different it would be from where I am now.  I live in Los Angeles now on the second floor of 3-story condominium building.  I thought about how you said order is restored first in the city and that's where the food and work are.  I would of course, get food, safes, gun, secure door, windows, security cam., etc.  Any thoughts?
Also, do you know how condominiums fared after the collapse?  I am worried about others not being able to pay their dues.
Thanks again,

Hi Tim, from a purely practical point of view, if you’re in a good condo on a somewhat safe neighborhood, and you add an alarm and a good security door, your home will be pretty safe. A condo can be safer and easier to secure than a place in the suburbs or an isolated home in the sticks. If you have security in your building even more so, it will be pretty safe in comparison to anything other than a closed gated community with good security. While you do want to avoid the big mayor cities like LA and New York, generally speaking, living outside a city isn’t that much about a practical choice, but more about quality of life regarding having more room and open green spaces, grass for the kids to play and such. 

As you correctly note, resources both during disasters and financial crisis are generally focused on mayor population areas where it benefits the most people. Granted, not the best place to be during a flu pandemic, war (where your location may be close to a strategic target, or be one itself!) or an earthquake, but in general the benefits are greater than the disadvantages from a purely practical perspective. Then again, most of us just don’t like living in big cities, and life’s just too short for not doing what we like. As said before, I find that living in the suburbs of a medium size town or small city presents the best compromise. 

For some time I found myself living in a condo in Buenos Aires. In spite of the huge crime problems in the city and the fact that I didn’t like living in it, I must admit it was the safest place I had been in while living in Argentina. There was a bank on the ground floor and a cop posted right in front of our door all day long. The windows that I had were secured with sturdy burglar bars, and I had the door replaced with a security armored one that locked on all 4 sides of the steel frame. Walls were brick and mortar construction. 

One of the biggest problems in a condo is the lack of space for storage and also the issue of waste disposal if the waste collection service stops or becomes inefficient. As you note, your neighbors can be a problem as well. While some can be an asset, others may be slackers or downright criminals. You just never know who’s moving into the building next. A nicer middle class or higher end type of building does help, but keep in mind that even those can deteriorate along with the rest of society.
 Your planning should also include a bug out location outside the city you already reside in, and its not a bad idea to pre-position some of your supplies there.
Other tan that, don’t beat yourself too much about it!



Anonymous said...

too bad you didnt make it to tehachapi. we need more like minded folks here. it is a great sleepy little town where you can know your heighbors. a mile out is a perfect distance for a neighbor. close enough if you need him far enough for early warning of problems.

Don Williams said...

1) Most people don't worry about nuclear war anymore now that Putin is friendly. But if things ever change, Vandenberg Air Force Base out near Lompoc (west of Santa Barbara) is one of the major bulleyes. It is where our Minuteman ICBM missiles are tested, hence it has several Minuteman silos (see Google maps, satellite view) hence it could have real ICBMs hence it will likely be hit with several ground bursts if push ever came to shove.

2) In that event, not even the cockroaches would survive the heavy fallout south of Eureka and north of Tijuana.

FEMA's 1990 map -- http://www.backwoodshome.com/columns/pix/benson0201-5.gif .

Greek Caste System said...

A home (not a condo) that YOU build (I mean not one that is bought, one that you told the engineer how to make the designs) is DEFINATELY your safest choice.
-One that has TWO doors to get into! One door (external, a cheap one), a corridor with a radar and then a second (safe) door. When someone breaks the outside door, you have ample time to get up, drink a coffee and then take your gun.
-Burglar bars embodied in the concrete, not screwed on it
-Windows that you can have a view 360 degrees all around the house
-A garage that you can get out of the car, close the garage door and then get into the house from an inside door (criminals cannot attack you when you get out of the car)
-Inbuild hideout for money, food, guns, gold etc
-At least two floors with the sleeping amd safety rooms on the 2nd floor. Living room on the 1st floor so visitors in home parties will never know how it is your entire house
-Floors should be independent with minimal alterations so you can rent the 1st floor and have an extra income
-Small, twisted (NOT straight)internal stair with a door
-Houses can have a garage to protect your car from looters, molotov throwers etc.
-"grey house" approach: No swimming pool, exterior design like the medium house of the neighborhood
-All these are smart design chioces, not expensive ones
-Suburb (NOT to an isolated place, very hard to sell it in case you want to emigrate) of a city of at least 500.000 inhabitants (with international airport and a port), close to a bus stop, close to a hospital (no matter how bad things get, the roads to hospitals are always repaired). If possible, close to international borders. NOT at an island
Cons: More heating expenses, more gasoline for getting to downtown
-No need for air-condition (most condos in Greece use air condition in the summer, but not houses)
-You can tell your engineer to use the best wall insulation available
-You can have a fire place and get warmed from woods you cut
-You can have solar panels or wide windows toward the sun to take advantage of the green house effect
-You can have a garden to produce food and to bury/burn waste in case drainage system fails (it is dependent on electric pumps) and in case of garbage collectors strikes
REMEMBER the biggest enemy is not burglars but white collar criminals, that is tax collectors of a corrupt state. So your house need to have the smallest possible size to avoid excessive property taxation (it will rise in the years to follow). So once more the "grey house" (like "grey man") approach.
Civil Engineer, designer of safe and enegry efficient houses

hsu said...

At a mile away, the first time you hear about trouble at a neighbor's house is when you see the murder on the 11pm news.

Seriously, Ferfal has linked a dozen stories like this that occurred in Argentina, and probably could link a hundred more, if he wanted too.

Crime in the country is an event. The criminals will loot the entire house, torture the residents for anything of value, kill all the witnesses, and get away scot-free because nobody finds out about it until days later.

Anonymous said...

wanna give it a try?

Steve said...

I have no idea how sound this project would be, but it sure looks intriging.
With a good 3d printer, a garden and some chickens independence is yours.


hsu said...

@Anonymous, sure thing. I'll bring landmines, rockets, mortar, rifles, a half dozen friends, and wait until you're asleep.

Anonymous said...

night time would be your worst choice in planing choices. i would appreciate the extra hardware donations. but i susspect if you really had access to half of that it would be used on a more valuable target than my humble collection.