Black Swan Events

I have heard those RVs consume a lot of gas and have some pretty expensive repair bills too.

Seems like something that would be more fun to occasionally rent.

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The subject of base choice is certainly closely interwoven with black swans. For example:

If the Yellowstone caldera blows and you are based in Patagonia, chances are you will better off than your friends living in Indiana . . . or anywhere east of the caldera for that matter. It is a far more oceanic situation south of the equator than up here north of the equator where I live. Course you have to get far enough to the south so you don’t perish with the heat. Patagonia is good, southern Chile, Tasmania is nice.

I’ve been a land maven ever since I was young. Started off with a wonderful hunk of woods, with a stream, not quite eleven acres in size. It was all I could afford back then. Today I live on a much larger piece of land which is high up; no stream. However:

I’ve always envied rich people who live on the oceanfront. If you like that idea I’ll offer you a possible opening to do so on the cheap. I looked at this myself years ago, decided to stand pat, and no serious regrets. But looking forward, with black swans circling and only God knows what else awaits, and if oceanfront appeals to you:

Consider the south coast of Newfoundland. Oceanfront there might be affordable. Course roads are scarce. You probably would want to buy something with a preexisting home. And there is always the possibility of access via the ocean itself. But I looked at oceanfront property there and it was quite attractive and affordable. And there is not a lot of virus there, which is a plus. Food? Be prepared to shop six months at a time. Internet? Probably via satellite.

I acknowledge the entire concept is quite edgy. But where else you gonna be able to afford oceanfront land? I suppose you could consider Newfoundland’s north coast. There you would spend half the year watching the icebergs float by . . . not so bad when you think of it. But I’ve never investigated land there, so you’re on your own. :grinning:

Of course they do. But homes have utilities and expensive repair costs, too. It’s just one way to embrace the mobile lifestyle without being left entirely to the mercy of the “black swan”.

The biggest factor stopping me has been the fact the realistically, I won’t use the mobility; my behavior gravitates towards the concept of “land” like Shinobi, regardless of what intrigues my mind. I’ll almost always choose to hunker down, not “bug out”. So it’d just be a home - a really small home, with the same expenses, that will only depreciate in value. But if you value the ability to quickly get out of dodge, it’s worth considering.

You guys could be onto something. When the swan alights it might, at least in certain instances, be beneficial to be able to “get away”.

I had (he passed several years ago) a good friend who lived in New Brunswick . . nice home a bit north of St. John . . but also had a place on Florida’s southwest coast (not right on the coast, but nearby). That is a goodly amount of separation to where any black swan might be more impactful in one venue than the other.

Course that strategy is not as flexible as owning an RV you can drive anywhere you want. But if you prefer fixed locations, seems to me the more separation the better.


Vacant land can be cheap, both to buy and to hold. There’s no reason an RV couldn’t be combined with vacant plots of land across the country.


Sure, why not. An RV, well, and septic and you could hold out in relative comfort for a really long time. I like the concept!

Also, on the general topic of black swans and land:

There are black swans and then there are black swans. I mean, the pandemic is sort of a global black swan. But there can be personal, more local, black swans. And those can be equally as damaging as the global ones, just more localized.

When it comes to land ownership there are myriad considerations: weather and climate, terrain, taxes, geology . . . . oh God it goes on and on. But for me the most important black swan to avoid, when making your decision, is seismic instability. I would never own land in territory prone to seismic threat. I cannot think of a more disruptive potential black swan, albeit that it might be local and limited in scope. Land in New Zealand? Not for me. The entire ring of fire is just one giant black swan waiting to perch on my head if I owned land there. Thanks much but I’ll pass.

I mean, think about it. There are plenty of black swans around already with more waiting in the wings. I don’t need to put out bait and try to attract them to my place. Not when there are other, better, safer alternatives. :wink:

We have agriculture property, but the black swan effect also abounds.

Our property is located about 1-2 miles from a river. This makes for very nice sandy growing crops soil. But you must also be aware of flooding.

Happily, we are located on a 500 year flood area. However even then, 15 or more years ago we were watching as 2 or our main hiways, I-5 & 99, were shut down to traffic because of flooded roads.

If you don’t live right on a fault line, it’s not so bad. Also if you have a container home with everything properly bolted down, you’d be fine. Personally I can think of a more disruptive potential black swan. Actually I’d call it a grey swan or even a white swan, since everyone knows it’s coming – Florida! It’s gonna be under water soon enough.

My sister didn’t. She and hubbie bought a wonderful, large, old home on a broad street. The home had been there since the 1920’s when they bought in the 1960’s. No problems at all. They raised their kids in that home and everything they had was therein.

Then early in the 1990’s a fierce temblor struck. It separated their wonderful home from its foundation. It destroyed their classic old fireplace and chimney, in and out. It caused cracks in their plaster throughout their home. There was also other damage. The event was MASSIVELY disruptive to their happy lives up until that time.

And the temblor came out of nowhere without warning, a true personal black swan for my sister and her family after so many years of seismic calm and no past damage to the home at all.

It’s a personal decision, that could not be more obvious. My own personal decision is to avoid seismic instability. I live in a place where quakes are all but unknown. But I still carry earthquake insurance. It’s very inexpensive here. :wink:

I guess it’s known that earthquakes do not happen where you live. The price of earthquake insurance in CA is prohibited. I don’t know of anyone that has the insurance.

Where did you sister live?

The cost of the policy is not prohibitive, I’ve seen quotes from $600 to $900 per year (for 1500-2500 sq ft homes). I actually had it once and know people who have it now. But I did some math. The biggest problem with this insurance, which I think is underwritten by a state agency (CEA), is that it has ridiculously high deductibles. It’s like 25% of rebuilding cost. A home has to sustain very serious damage before you’ll see any payments. I estimated that it is very unlikely for my home to sustain that much damage, as it would require a really big earthquake and very close to me. So yes, many homeowners in California are taking a small risk by living here.

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First, you know it’s a risk, it’s a risk no matter how long it’s been without it happening. The lack of any past occurances indicates luck, not safety.

Second, you don’t know how many times it had been damaged and put back together. This may have been the worst time, but this time also could’ve uncovered the cumulative effect of previous quakes.

True, small risk by living in CA. :relaxed:

I’ve been close by to several pretty large earthquakes. It really shakes you apart, but you jump right back up & talk about it. I was a small kid when the Bakersfield earthquake hit. Not living real close, when it hit, my sister & I (in the same bed) early in the morning sit up & realized something bad just happened. I also was pretty close by when we had the big one in the Bay Area.

Yes, when it really hits hard you can feel it even if you are many miles away.

But what can I say. :roll_eyes:

Uhm… the 1906 one? :wink:


I appreciate all the temblor posts. This is the black swan thread on the finance board. A temblor, or any other black swan event, holds the potential for massive personal financial negative impact. It’s the sort of thing you are much better off avoiding . . . if you are able. And clearly where you live can strongly influence how readily you avoid the swan . . . . or do not.

I grew up in a rural region. My mother and dad’s home was at the very edge of a small town. Beyond lay only farmland. I played in the cornfields as a youngster, climbed trees . . . my best friend lived on a dairy farm and we would play in the hay lofts and mess around down by the creek. It was a wonderful life, and it had the advantage of teaching me how to live in a rural environment.

When I left home I bought a home and land even more rural than where my parents lived, but close enough to them so I could look after them when need arose.

But time was passing and things were changing and becoming less rural, as city people (refugees) began arriving. I recognized the threat, knew what needed to be done, and realized I would sadly have to leave the region where I grew up in order to remain OK. I did so.

Today the COVID-19 black swan has hit my former home region beyond anything I ever would have believed possible. That formerly wonderfully rural region is saturated with virus and people are dying in large numbers. I’d like to boast and say I saw it all coming. Truth is I saw nothing coming specifically. I can claim no special prescience. I got out when I did based primarily on gut instinct. Of course to say I now have no regrets would be a massive understatement.

Bottom line when the black swans swoop in and land, it becomes especially important where you previously have decided to set up shop. Choose your home base carefully and thoughtfully. And do not hesitate to reevaluate things over the years as circumstances change.

I think that is great advice for life (stocks, politics, general beliefs, etc.)… be confident enough to change your mind when the facts change.


In my city from what I have observed is that the suburbs have moved further and further out. As they move further out they build levees to protect the new housing and commercial developments. Cities also compete to build their levees higher than their neighbors. Farmers have even built unauthorized levees to protect their farmland.

After decades of doing this there is literally no place left for the water to go when there is a flood. Thus when floods happen they are much worse and it increase the likeliood of having a 100 or 500 year events.

I don’t think it is politically paletable to say “oops, we’ve screwed up by deciding to build too much so now your house is going to flood every 15 years instead of every 100”. So we have a situation where those types of year events don’t have any statistical value.

I haven’t thought about the levees, but focused more on the all of the concrete that’s replacing land. Development, especially unrestricted development almost guarantees that flood maps will have to be redrawn. Concrete, tar and other paving substances don’t absorb water nearly as well as dirt (even clay).

I don’t think we really have to worry about all the levees that you talk about being built in our area.

I believe the 500 year flood area is really a true evaluation here. Also other helpful things are the dams built nearby & far that have helped as far a flooding areas.

Of course we should “never say never”.

The swan has landed on the heads of a relatively small number of individuals. But for those persons it’s a sure fire black swan event, something they never imagined would happen or saw coming. And it is devastating:

“Kodak’s business and stock appeared dead in the water just a week ago, and the generic drug news is about as much of a black swan event as short sellers could probably ever imagine.”

It is too late for those woebegone people. Their money has evaporated. But there is a lesson here for all of us:

Kodak short sellers are getting obliterated

Never mess with the swan. NEVER!! :crazy_face:

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