Here's How Billionaires Are Preparing for the End of the World

Theoretically, a zombie apocalypse (or another, more likely doomsday event) could be a great equalizer. When the dead are walking in search of fresh brains, billionaires and burger-flippers alike will be boarding up windows and pushing heavy furniture against doors. After all, no matter how much money you have, it’s impossible to completely insulate yourself against true end-of-the-world scenarios.

However, that kind of thinking underestimates the paranoia — er, preparation — of the world’s wealthiest individuals. These multimillionaires and billionaires have enough money to buy themselves a kind of apocalypse insurance for when things go sideways. This means that whether the world ends in fire or in ice, billionaire preppers will be able to ride things out in comfort from one of these locations. (See also: The High Cost of Planning for the End of the World)

1. Panic rooms

These secluded rooms in wealthy homes are designed as a safe place to wait out any number of dangers, from burglars, stalkers, or other intruders, to natural disasters or nuclear fallout. Panic rooms are often disguised behind fake bookshelves or walls or are otherwise hidden, and they have security features like password or thumbprint authorization to make sure only recognized individuals can get in, as well as Kevlar lining, infrared surveillance, and an escape tunnel.

These rooms may have once been nothing more than secure places to wait out a siege or disaster, a la the bare-bones panic room where Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart hide in the 2002 film. But these days, one-percenters who would like to have a safe hiding place in case of an actual Purge expect more luxurious amenities, such as sleeping quarters and autonomous air-filtration systems, to help them stay put for some time.

While many high-end homes come already equipped with these safe spaces, there is a thriving panic room installation industry. It can cost up to half a million dollars to install such a room, although many who do so feel that the peace of mind is worth the money.

2. Island real estate

Depending on the type of doomsday scenario, getting the heck away from major metropolitan areas may be enough to protect a worried billionaire from nuclear radiation, natural disasters, global pandemics, and even pitchfork-wielding mobs. This is why many international billionaires have been purchasing homes and land in New Zealand, including Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, director James Cameron, and billionaire hedge-fund pioneer Julian Robertson.

Not only is this scenic (and remote) island nation unlikely to be hit by a nuclear attack, but it could potentially be self sufficient in the event of a global apocalypse, and it has a great deal of inaccessible land up for grabs to any billionaire who can afford it.

Though New Zealand has become a "nudge, wink" for apocalypse insurance in Silicon Valley according to LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, some American billionaires want an island paradise a little closer to home for bugging out. Oracle founder Larry Ellison now owns 98 percent of the Hawaiian island Lanai, while Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg purchased a 700-acre estate in Hawaii.

All of these purchases could simply be vacation homes, but since Hawaii also offers much of the same kind of protection via remoteness that New Zealand does, there is speculation that Ellison and Zuck (and the myriad billionaires who have purchased Kiwi property) may also plan on using these homes as bolt-holes in case of emergency.

3. The Oppidum complex

For the billionaire who wants to bring dozens of her closest friends and family (as well as quite a bit of staff) to the end of the world with her, the Oppidum complex in the mountains of the Czech Republic may be the perfect place to wait out the return to normalcy. This 323,000 square foot nuclear shelter has been described as the "largest billionaire bunker in the world," and it features amenities including a gym and spa, swimming pools, a movie theater, a library, offices and conference rooms, an underground garden with simulated natural light, and even a vault for your most prized possessions.

Construction of this bunker began back in 1984, as a joint project between the Soviets and the Czech Republic during the Cold War. Its geographical location, as well as its sturdy construction, make it the perfect place to wait out pretty much any kind of disaster that might kill off the rest of the planet. Nestled within the Oppidum, the bunker’s owner (and family, and friend, and staff) can survive a nuclear attack for up to 10 years without any external supplies. And in luxury, to boot.

The Oppidum is currently for sale, and the mind reels at the possible price tag — which is not listed. This is one of those situations where if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.

4. Atlas Survival Condo

This multistory condo in Kansas is built in an old Atlas missile silo, and offers 14 homes for well-off preppers who hope to ride out doomsday within a community of like-minded folks. These homes range in size from smaller "houses" to large apartments that take up an entire floor of the silo, and cost anywhere between $1.5 million and $3 million.

The Survival Condo can support up to 70 people indefinitely, and all 14 housing units have already been sold. This is also one of the few luxury bunkers that allows pets — provided they are under 70 pounds.

The communal areas include a swimming pool, a general store, and even classrooms. (Sorry Junior and Sis, the end of the world will not get you out of going to school). It is not clear who will be staffing either the store or the classrooms, however, so the quality of service and education may be spotty once you get there.

The Survival Condo takes the possibility of intruders seriously, and includes an electric fence, an armory, and even a sniper post — so zombies will certainly not be able to breach the perimeter, no matter how hard they shamble in the Condo’s direction.

5. Vivos

The Vivos Global Shelter Network has created luxury bunkers in multiple locations, including one in Indiana, one in South Dakota, and its flagship bunker, the Vivos Europa One in Rothenstein, Germany.

Billionaires hoping to avoid rubbing post-apocalyptic shoulders with the proletariat may want to avoid the American Vivos shelters, since space in those shelters costs as little as $7,500 for a shared bunker and $25,000 to $35,000 for private bunkers. The Europa One shelter is where the luxury is truly at — although buying an apartment there is by invitation only.

Vivos does not advertise the cost per apartment in the Rothenstein bunker, but the entire property is worth approximately $1.1 billion, and can house about 500 people. Residents will enjoy multiple swimming pools, movie theaters, gyms, and restaurants, and each 2,500 square foot apartment is built to the resident’s specifications. The common areas include a hospital, bakery, and even a detention center, although it is unclear who might need to be detained or who might do the detaining.

The shelter can withstand a nuclear blast, chemical agents, an earthquake, or a tsunami without ruining your day. It also offers a self-contained water system and a power generation system, as well as climate, ventilation, air filtration, and communication systems.

Billionaires bugging out

It’s unlikely that the billionaires preparing for the end of the world will get a chance to laugh all the way to the bunker. It’s far more probable that these luxury bunkers will go unused and become a symbol of this generation’s misspent wealth.

However, those of us who will never afford a luxury home (above or below ground) can take a lesson from these bunkers: It may be responsible to anticipate how things could go wrong, but it’s silly to plan for the worst as if it is inevitable.

That’s how you end up with an unused underground Versailles with multiple swimming pools.

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Here's How Billionaires Are Preparing for the End of the World

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