Some of the richest people in the United States are spending tons of time and cash preparing for the apocalypse. At the first sign of trouble, they will be on their way to their doomsday shelters in New Zealand. Usually, these sorts of doomsday preppers are associated with wild-eyed survivalists who already live mostly off the grid. But now, a new group of preppers is getting ready for total social collapse and it might surprise you who it is. The titans of Silicon Valley are buying up land in New Zealand to build their own fortresses.
New Zealand is the target because it is a first world country, it is remote, it is able to be self-sufficient, and it isn't on any country's list of enemies or nuclear targets. Residents of New Zealand are none too happy about the potential American invasion and there was a big public outcry when it was revealed that Peter Thiel was issued a New Zealand passport after paying $10 million for a 477-acre estate on a lake in the isolated Southern Alps part of New Zealand. The laws of New Zealand stipulate that a person must live in the country for three years before being issued a passport. To be clear, Thiel does not live in New Zealand. He lives in San Francisco.
Thiel has been vocal about his "great pride" in his new citizenship, but he isn't the only one plotting an escape to New Zealand if the proverbial shit hits the fan. Thiel's friend, the venture capitalist Sam Altman, is also prepping to join Thiel at the first sign of global disaster. Other people in on this plan include director James Cameron and hedge fund mogul Julian Robertson.
In the first 10 months of 2016, foreigners – mainly Americans and Australians – bought roughly 1,400 square miles of land in New Zealand.
Some people in this new set of very wealthy preppers has prepared for everything. Reddit founder Steve Huffman had laser surgery to correct his eyesight after realizing that it might be hard to get new glasses when he's holed up in his doomsday bunker. Marvin Liao, a former Yahoo executive, has amassed an arsenal of non-firearm weapons and taken archery classes. He reasons that ammunition might be hard to come by after the collapse of society.
Naturally, those planning for the apocalypse want homes that are self-contained. They want to have electricity but be off the grid. The want bomb proof basements and tanks for raising tilapia to eat and a hydroponic garden to grow vegetables without the need for soil.
Eager property developers have jumped on this trend. The Survival Condo Project in Kansas is a former underground nuclear missile silo that has been converted into a 15-story luxury condo complex with a pool, gym, mini hospital, and classroom. It also has security cameras, electric fences, a sniper post, and a prison cell for intruders. The site can sustain 70 people indefinitely. The developers of the complex have sold all 14 of the homes for $3 million each.
With all of this panic among the super rich we have to ask: what do they know that the rest of us don't?
Some cite the U.S. Presidential election as the cause for the uptick in doomsday prep. More than 13,000 Americans registered to buy a home in New Zealand in the week after the election. That's 17 times higher than the usual rate!
Silicon Valley's billionaires seem to be most worried that when society collapses, it will become a battle of rich vs. poor and they will be the targets. Roughly 50% of Silicon Valley's billionaires have bought property outside of the continental U.S. as "apocalypse insurance."
What catastrophe will send these billionaires scurrying for their safe place is as yet unclear. It could be nuclear war, an enormous earthquake, civil war, a pandemic, or even the zombie apocalypse.