“People are buying not specifically for the coronavirus,” said Gary Lynch of the Rising S Company, which builds luxury bunkers. “People are buying the shelters for what the coronavirus can bring.”
“The United States is very vulnerable economically and if there were a collapse we would see civil and social unrest. What you are going to have is people going door-to-door trying to do harm, trying to steal, trying to take food and trying to take possessions. So what my clients want to do is go hide underground then they don't have to worry about what is going on outside as they are safe and secure inside their shelter.”
These lavish bunkers, which cost at least $50,000 and can run into the millions, feature many of the comforts of high living. They have everything – from gyms, spas, shooting ranges to other physical recreation spaces such as swimming pools; safe rooms that can house several years' worth of food; and gardens where you can replenish your own personal stores.
Some of these bunker complexes even have home theaters and state-of-the-art air filtration systems that can supposedly remove nuclear dust and screen out COVID-19 particles.
Lynch even sold a massive bunker complex that measured around 13,000 square feet for a mystery client.
Lynch is also proud of how his bunkers have strong security systems. One client of his, a billionaire, had to call Rising S because he couldn't figure out how to get into his survival bunker. (Related: Bill and Melinda Gates are preppers: Couple began storing food in their home years ago in case of a pandemic.)
Many budding entrepreneurs have capitalized on the global coronavirus pandemic to provide wealthy Americans with options for surviving doomsday scenarios with comfort. Along with Lynch's Rising S Company, there's also the Survival Condo Project and Vivos.
The Survival Condo Project is built out of an abandoned missile silo in Kansas and can house several dozen families. The units have a price tag of between $500,000 to $2.4 million. It has a pool, a movie theater and even a classroom and a small dog park. Every purchase of a unit comes with a guarantee of a five-year food supply per person, internet access and mandatory survival training.
Vivos, perhaps the largest of the three survival bunker companies, has a “global community of apocalypse bunkers.” It has “survival campuses” in South Dakota and Indiana in the United States, one somewhere in Europe and another in New Zealand. The American bunkers cost roughly $35,000, while the European bunkers cost upwards of $2 million and are marketed towards high net worth families.
XPoint, Vivos' South Dakota facility, has sold over 50 bunkers and still has 500 more for sale. However, its biggest market may be for bunkers in New Zealand.
Lynch revealed in an interview that New Zealand has become the top destination of choice for wealthy, preparedness-minded Americans. It features prominently in many doomsday survival plans.
It is at the edge of the world, more than 1,000 miles off the southern coast of Australia and is home to only 4.9 million people – around a fifth of the population of the New York metropolitan area.
“New Zealand is an enemy of no one. It's not a nuclear target. It's not a target for war. It's a place where people seek refuge,” Lynch said to Bloomberg.
One other thing that has made New Zealand very enticing for wealthy doomsday preppers is the country's fantastic response to the global coronavirus pandemic. The country, under the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, reacted quickly to the pandemic by enforcing a strict four-week lockdown in April. At the end of the month, Prime Minister Ardern said that this lockdown helped New Zealand avoid the worst of the pandemic, and that the country had won the battle against “widespread, undetected community transmission” of COVID-19.
This is why New Zealand, a country with only 1,148 cases and 21 deaths, has become such an appealing place for wealthy Americans to run off to – and why companies like Vivos and Rising S are making a killing off selling survival shelters.
Rising S Company has 10 private bunkers in New Zealand that cost an average of $3 million. Vivos has a bunker complex in New Zealand's South Island that can house 300 people. As the pandemic worsens at home, these bunkers are highly likely to fill up quickly.