Here at Private Wealth magazine, the focus is on wealth—how to achieve it, manage it, use it and protect it. But as important as this topic is, it doesn’t stop us from occasionally veering into a subject that for many is even more crucial: protecting our families.

Now seems a good time to visit this topic. Public safety, after all, has been an overarching concern in the U.S. since 9/11, with terrorist attacks in Europe and other parts of the world since then almost acting as a contagion of a general feeling of insecurity.
Some would argue it is this feeling of vulnerability, along with economic instability since the 2008 financial crisis, that has been chiefly responsible for the wave of nationalistic populism that seems to be sweeping across the western world. If that’s not enough to give you the jitters, how about a return of some good old-fashioned Cold War tensions now that Russia is back to playing the part of belligerent superpower under Vladimir Putin, China is in the process of claiming the entire South China Sea and President Donald Trump is suggesting an expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal?

People are clearly worried—about their economic futures, their financial security and, at a most basic level, the physical safety of their loved ones. So while there is undoubted wisdom in Donne’s famous “no man is an island” line, it’s also hard to argue that a private island can’t come in handy with all the real and perceived threats in the world. Add fortified bunkers, electricity and a hefty supply of provisions to that island, and so much the better.

That leads us into this issue’s cover story by Tom Kostigen, which reveals that the ultra-rich are using some of their wealth to create, literally and figuratively, islands to hunker down in during the next apocalypse. These extravagances include underground bunkers, around-the-clock security services and arrangements to be whisked away by plane or helicopter whenever a disaster strikes. Some wealthy families, for example, have spent millions to reserve luxury condominiums that have been built in abandoned missile silos in Kansas. The underground resort has stockpiles of food and water, and its own power supply and security force. If something unthinkable happens, the developers of the condos say, these families can travel to the resort within hours and not have to leave the facility again for at least five years. That’s about as good an “island” as you’re going to get while remaining in the U.S. heartland. While the irony of seeking refuge in a hole that used to house nuclear missiles is obvious, so is the comfort that could come from living behind a nine-foot-thick concrete wall. 

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