Doomsday Prepping in the Southern Hemisphere

written by A. L. Hart Havens on May 1, 2021

Until very recently, the term prepper has carried with it a certain stigma among the population at large, evoking images of anti‑government militias, religious extremists, hermits, and social outcasts. And the notion of a doomsday prepper only amplifies these unflattering opinions.

Once mocked and dismissed as paranoid lunacy, however, the world of prepping quickly entered the mainstream with the onset of the coronavirus hysteria one year ago in the face of empty grocery store shelves and government‑imposed lockdown orders.

Many prepping enthusiasts are merely avid outdoorsmen who enjoy the nature, hunting, fishing, and camping aspects of boy‑scout survivalism and view prepping as more of a challenging and productive pastime than a necessity. Others, however, are genuinely concerned about an impending societal breakdown and have been preparing for years for the collapse of civilization itself and a return to the stone age.

Given the time, effort, and financial expenditures that serious prepping requires, it is rather bewildering how little attention is afforded by the prepping community to the idea of relocating to a different country in order to potentially place oneself outside of harm’s way.

In view of this neglected issue, this essay aims to demonstrate the importance of adding a valuable offshore wrinkle to a (doomsday) prepper’s preparedness repertoire via the acquisition of a second residency or citizenship.

Grid‑Downs and Bug‑Outs

The most common scenarios which have US and Canadian preppers worried involve a nuclear war, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, and a collapse of the financial and banking sectors, all of which could lead to massive food shortages, permanent power outages, civil insurrections, and widespread violence and chaos.

Preppers typically address these risks by stockpiling food, water, supplies, and weapons, sometimes with expensive underground bunkers, off‑grid power systems, and end‑of‑the‑world survival packs. Others purchase a piece of land in the countryside as a dedicated bug-out location that is ready for occupancy in the event of an emergency.

However, given that most grid‑down events are likely to affect the United States and Canada much more severely than most other countries, it is interesting that the bug‑outs selected by preppers seem to always be situated within the United States and Canada.

Race to the Bottom of the Earth

A number of Silicon Valley tech billionaires have purchased expensive underground shelters on New Zealand’s southern island in recent years as part of a sophisticated contingency plan. The underlying reason for this choice of location is that southern New Zealand is expected to remain largely unaffected by any of the aforementioned doomsday scenarios, particularly a major nuclear exchange, due to its low population, location in the middle of nowhere, and general lack of strategic geopolitical importance.

Although there have certainly been some dubious developments witnessed recently in New Zealand that would cause a libertarian‑minded individual to steer clear, placing a focus on locations south of the equator is a savvy idea.

Because the southern hemisphere has its own weather system separate from that of the northern hemisphere, radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion would have a less severe impact on the southern hemisphere’s atmosphere, as any nuclear conflict would most likely be fought exclusively in the northern hemisphere.

Despite the souring of relations between Australia and China and the occasional bellicose rhetoric between Argentina and the UK, the gravity of these geopolitical tensions dwarfs in comparison to the potential for nuclear conflict in the northern hemisphere. It is worth noting that Venezuela, Cuba, the Middle East, India, and China are located entirely within the northern hemisphere.

There are no nuclear‑armed countries in the southern hemisphere. Furthermore, there are a series of treaties in place spanning the entire southern hemisphere prohibiting the storage of nuclear weapons, and according to official statistics and reports there are zero nuclear weapons stationed south of the equator.

Home to merely 10% of the world’s total population, the southern hemisphere would arguably be a far more desirable destination in practically any conceivable major disaster or doomsday scenario.

The Tropic of Capricorn

To add an extra layer of protection against the adverse effects of any disaster afflicting the northern hemisphere, preppers could consider seeking out a location that is a fair distance below the equator, ideally south of the Tropic of Capricorn (23.5 degrees southern latitude).

Despite the temperate climate prevailing throughout much of this region, it amazingly accounts for merely 2% of the world’s population. By comparison, over 50% of the world’s population lives above 23.5 degrees northern latitude (the Tropic of Cancer).

Although New Zealand, South Africa, and the southern half of Australia are situated below the Tropic of Capricorn, these countries are unappealing destinations due to the high cost of living and the appalling state of personal and economic freedom prevailing there.

With this in mind, the most suitable candidates in this region would most likely be found in central and southern South America. Fortunately, these mostly off‑the‑radar countries tend to have a low cost of living and relatively hassle‑free residency and citizenship policies.

Offshore Planning as a Key Aspect of Emergency Preparedness

The above analysis raises the question of how a serious prepper could justify refraining from establishing a safe haven in a foreign country deemed considerably less likely to experience the effects of a major catastrophe. And although there are benefits of securing residency specifically in the southern hemisphere, it should be emphasized that holding a second residency or citizenship in any country at any latitude could prove to be very useful in an emergency situation.

After all, it would certainly seem preferable to have the option of living life normally in a foreign country far removed from the disaster and chaos than having to bunker down in a remote woodland camp in the United States or Canada sleeping with one eye open and eating canned ravioli.

It would also be a dire mistake to assume that the countries which have traditionally allowed visa‑free access to US, Canadian, and European passport holders would continue to do so in the face of a looming disaster. The travel restrictions imposed across the world over the past year have demonstrated this quite clearly, as many countries strictly prohibited entry to all but their own citizens and residency permit holders.

A dedicated prepper would thus be wise to waste no time in adding second residencies, citizenships, and passports to his emergency preparedness repertoire.