Need a quick way to tell if you’re in the 1 percent? You can afford a luxury doomsday bunker. Oh no, living in a standard-issue underground bunker isn’t for you. Rather, your digs for the end of the world must feature amenities that most of the regular folk can’t afford in their real homes, let alone their hideouts for when times get beyond tough.
Luxury bunkers are becoming increasingly popular and offer a high-end escape for when the end of the world—or the lead up to it—draws near. In an interview with CNN, one of the luxury bunker construction companies claimed that sales have increased by 300 percent since President Trump took office, likely due to tensions between the leader of the free world and other countries.
Fortunately, all past predictions of doomsday have been wrong. Earth didn’t implode on Dec. 12, 2012, at the supposed end of the Mayan calendar like many thought it would. And time didn’t come to an end when the blood supermoon filled the sky on April 15, 2014, as some predicted. But if it had, celebrities and other rich doomsday preppers would’ve had it made in their million-dollar underground retreats.
Let’s take a look these luxury pads and find out why so many of the 1 percenters are preparing to spend their potential final days in them and if everyone else should, too.
What All That Money Gets You
When you think of bomb shelters and bunkers, you likely imagine gray, cold, uncomfortable, and ominous capsules that are stored underground. There, you’ll find canned food, canned milk, cots that are as hard as rocks, and décor that is less than stylish. But when you drop a cool million—at least—on a survival bunker, you’re definitely going to get so much more.
Swanky resort-style doomsday bunkers are popping up—or down—all over places like South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and Texas. And while they all feature the basics, like air filtration systems, energy sources, clean water access, and essentially all of the tools you need to survive, some come with more creature comforts than others.
The amenities that come with luxury bunks range from the immediately practical—gyms and indoor gardens and farms, including hydroponic growing stations—to the purely luxurious—swimming pools with waterfalls and slides and movie theaters capable of seating dozens of vault dwellers. Not to mention stylish, state-of-the-art furnishings and electronics.
But why be extra about it and go all out when it comes to surviving? The answer is rather simple.
“Those with money do it because they can,” says Kevin Reeve, who has taught wilderness and urban survival for over 25 years. “They can afford it, and it is an insurance policy. I buy insurance for my car not because I expect to be in an accident, but to protect me financially if I am in one. So building a bunker is, for them, an insurance policy.”
For others, along with lots of safety, bunkers also provide them with a chance to get away from it all.
“Our facility is a great second home that lets owners and their families get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a state-of-the-art bunker facility that the whole family loves,” says Larry Hall, project manager and owner of Survival Condo Projects. “We have owners that come here for a week to 10 days several times a year. They love the pool, arcade, exercise spa, movie theater, and the nearby small towns.”
And as it turns out, people are willing to spend lots of money on them.
“Believe it or not, our bunkers at $1.5 million up to over $5 million are still in the middle of the curve,” says Hall. “There are other bunker facilities that cost hundreds of millions of dollars.”
What are the chances?
It makes for a good movie, and it makes for an even better sales pitch, but does the average citizen need to worry about doomsday? Absolutely, says Gary Lynch, general manager of Rising S Company.
“People tend to have a hard time believing in things they have not seen before, but if you were to tell a WWII-era survivor what was going on in the world today, they would surely tell you to plan for the inevitable,” he says.
“North Korea and tensions all over the world are eventually going to bring the inevitable, which is a catastrophic war. Countries are ever expanding their militaries and building nuclear weapons for a reason.”
Terrorism and military action aren’t the only type of disaster bunkers offer protection from, however. They often provide a safe haven from natural disasters and their aftermath.
Just within the last few years, the country has been hit hard by natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, and wildfires in California. Rather than wait for their homes to perish, some seek shelter in these “luxy bunks.” But it’s not just the weather that the bunkers offer protection from—they also provide refuge from what often happens after a catastrophic weather event occurs: mayhem.
“Events such as Hurricane Katrina teach us what happens when the rule of law goes away,” says Reeve. “We have a saying in the prepper world: ‘We are nine meals away from anarchy.’ That may be melodramatic, but there is a kernel of truth there. When my neighbor has not been able to feed his young child for two or three days, he is going to be willing to do anything to get that food. Multiply that across millions of people and you have some problems.”
The luxury bunks have also provided a place for owners to stay while their homes are undergoing repairs or renovations due to natural disasters, says Hall.
“Rather than camp at home and not have running water, electricity, or safe water to drink, they came here and lived in luxury while their infrastructure back home was repaired,” he says.
But is a bunker your best defense against catastrophe? Not everyone thinks so. Although most experts agree that as long as a bunker is equipped with all of the essentials to sustain life, and those living in the bunkers are healthy, the chances of survival during an attack are highly likely. However, staying in one place during a doomsday event may not be ideal, says Reeve.
“If there is a failure of civility, bunkers will become tombs for those who hide in them,” says Reeve. Along with the threat of others wanting to enter your bunker and ultimately overrunning the bunker communities, staying in one place may put you in danger.
“Being mobile tends to provide a much better alternative,” Reeve says. “Having a remote location to retreat to when things start to get dicey is a much better solution. However, I think a rural community off the beaten path offers the best opportunity for long-term survival, especially if your community members are like-minded.”
Having a community not only offers you a sense of protection, but also helps you take care of the tools you need to survive, says Reeve.
“We have a motto: ‘Training Trumps Gear,’” he says. “Second part is ‘Community Trumps Training.’ A community will be necessary. I cannot milk the cows, weed the crops, chop the firewood, deliver the baby, guard the perimeter, hunt for meat, stitch up the wounded, etc., without help.”
What the Other 99 Percent Can Do
So, what will those who can’t afford to shell out a few million bucks do if and when disaster strikes? Are they doomed? Not exactly. You don’t always need the lap of luxury to survive. What you do need, however, is time to prepare.
“Most Americans have two days’ worth of food in their homes,” says Reeve. “Five hours into an event, the stores will be empty.” He suggests expanding now on what you already have in your cupboard, along with getting other survival essentials well before disaster hits.
“Store some water—a gallon a day—for a couple of weeks,” Reeve recommends. “Have extra prescription medication. Have a first-aid kit. Make sure you know how to defend your family and have the tools to do so.”
And if you can’t afford a bunker on your own, you may be able to with a little help from those around you.
“If you cannot afford a luxury bunker, put together a budget for what you can afford and make that budget go as far as possible,” says Hall. “Another option is to form a group and pool your resources. There is strength in numbers.”
So if you’re in the market for a place to call home during a zombie apocalypse, hurricane, tornado, or nuclear fallout, you definitely have some options. And although having a swanky bunker to hang out in while disaster strikes sounds appealing, you can still survive without having a gym or screening room to use at your disposal as long as you give yourself time to prepare.