2020 03 19 – Ugly vibes and tribalism – A second home might not be a refuge.

second homes are not necessarily a good place to take refuge in a crisis.

Unfortunately an event like the current pandemic brings out the good, bad and ugly in people. I’m seeing people at shore communities becoming dangerously hostile to ‘outsiders’. A second home always seemed to be a possible refuge if things ‘went bad’. Unfortunately this isn’t true. 

My mom has owned a shore home since the early 1950’s. My dad’s family was there in the 1940’s. My mom has difficulty walking. I thought it might be a good idea to take her down there to ride this out. Everything is on one floor and she could easily get outside with the ramp.  

However, I started to see some posts of Facebook that were disturbing. Some of the groups for the shore points were full of panicked posts demanding that outsiders stay off “their” island. 

I have a couple of friends who were either at the shore points or planning to visit their second home. Given the frightening hostility they experienced, they decided to return to their primary residences. 

second homes are not necessarily a good place to take refuge in a crisis.

The local authorities in some communities are considering banning everyone except full time residents. This means that people would NOT be allowed to visit their second homes.  For example:

Stay away from Cape May County, please.


Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton is urging visitors to stay home during this next two-week period. Many people have come down to use their second home or to stay with family at the shore while schools are closed throughout most of the Country.


Officials are telling people TO NOT COME TO THEIR SECOND HOMES. My parents and grandparents paid tens of thousands of dollars of taxes over six decades in return for very little in the way of services. They paid school taxes and no one in the family attended a single class in their schools. 

People are afraid and understandably so.  I had always thought of a second home as a possible refuge in times of trouble. After seeing how this is playing out, I’m re-thinking that. It might be time to sell and maybe look for a primary residence that is a little more ‘survivable’. 

Fallacies of banning second home owners.

I doubt that people owning second homes would be able to successfully sue successfully due to the immunity provided to public officials.

Risks of infection.

The xenophobia exhibited by local residents is fanned partially by a sensational, dishonest press. Yes, additional people will provide a slightly increased risk to the local population. However, there are other factors to consider

Deliveries and other workers.

The local stores are being restocked by delivery truck. Those trucks come from outside the community and are driven by drivers from outside the community. 

Some percentage of people in those communities are working outside the community. They interact with people and return. 

If the local officials were honest and truly concerned then they should also make sure that anyone who leaves cannot return. However, they won’t do that. 

Stress on the stores.

Most vacation communities are seasonal. The food stores are scaled to provide for the summer crowds. That capacity far exceeds the capacity of locals and second home owners.

Medical facilities

Again, summer communities have hospitals, urgent care centers and pharmacies that are scaled to the peak season crowds. It is true that additional people MIGHT put an additional burden on the system.

However, most vacation communities do not have specialized care facilities. The same people arguing for the banning of second home owners will travel to a nearby city for specialized treatment if they need it. That is a little hypocritical.

Locking second home owners out of their homes probably won’t do anything to significantly reduce the risk of a spread of the disease.

Second homes as a refuge.

These events have indicated that a second home might not be a good place to bug out or as a refuge. When you have a mob mentality held by a frightened mob, anything can happen.

Out of state plates.

If your second home is in another state, you have a major problem. You and your car will stick out . A trip to a food store could result in an unpleasant altercation, injury or damage to your vehicle. You could be targeted by police for tickets. You would never be able to defend a ticket given in those circumstances.

Parking the car at your residence if you can’t garage it, could also lead to physical threats or property damage against the vehicle or propery.

You can’t fight city hall

Many seasonal communities have limited access. A government can simply set up roadblocks to keep you out. 

Another possibility, which has been occurring throughout the country for other reasons, is death by a thousand violations.  If a local government want to drive second home owners away all they need to do is send a building inspector over: “Cracked sidewalk – $50/day,  Peeling paint – $50/day,  Railing not to specs 150/day”.  You get the picture. 

Other considerations

Even if you knew that you would be met with open arms, A second home might not be an ideal refuge. A primary residence can be stocked better than a vacation home for the most part. 

You may find that firearms and self defense laws at your primary residence are much better than those of your summer home. For example, possession of a single hollow point round in New Jersey will land you in jail. That is certainly not the case in Pennsylvania. 

You are already part of the community and not an ‘outsider’ at your primary residence. You and your neighbors are part of the same ‘tribe’. 


A second home in a seasonal community might not be worth anything as a refuge in times of crisis.

Upgrade your primary residence

If you own a second home or are planning to purchase one evaluate what it would take to harden your home. Also consider moving to a new location that might be more viable in a crisis. 

You won’t have a vacation home but you can take the money you would pay for taxes and upkeep and spend that on a couple of decent vacations each year. With taxes approaching 10,000 a year for some shore communities plus flood insurance, you could add a generator, security system and take other measures to make your home more viable in a crisis. 

Another consideration is that by focusing on one residence, you avoid the issue of leaving one home open to looting and vandalism while you are sheltering at your second home. 

Also, assuming there isn’t a total breakdown, you are near your regular doctors, dentist and hospital. 

A secluded second home

A home at a shore point is wonderful. However, the local communities tend to be tight knit. In the event of something like the coronavirus many of the residents will exhibit extreme xenophobia. 

An alternative might be a couple of acres with a small cabin or trailer. Picture something like a hunting camp in the mountains. You might still run into issues when going into town but, if you are self sufficient , you could hunker down until the crisis passes. 


The current Coronavirus situation has indicated to me that a second home is not a viable place of refuge in a crisis. It might be time to sell and use the proceeds to upgrade my primary residence.

What I thought might be a valuable asset has turned out to be almost worthless in terms of a refuge.

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