|More from TheStreet.com: |
• Top 10 Airline Anger Moments of 2010
10 Hot Cars You Can't Have
Every point on the globe is exposed to wind patterns, tectonic plate movements and various degrees of precipitation or lack thereof, but there are some far more favorable than others. Sure, companies such as H-P (NYSE: HP - News) claim they can make your business "disaster-proof", but can they move it away from fault lines, tornado alleys, flood plains, hurricane and typhoon regions and drought conditions? Oddly, that doesn't make their list of "disaster-tolerant capabilities."
The U.S. alone has declared 65 major disasters this year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That's on pace to break the record of 75 set in 1996 and matched in 2008. With no regard to their location, population density or proximity to bodies of water, deserts, high altitudes and other traits that normally send the risk-averse sprinting for their doomsday shelters, TheStreet has found the five least disaster-prone locations for either a business or your four-bedroom dream home.
Want to live tax-free, but don't want to deal with hurricanes? Welcome to Wyoming, where individual and corporate taxes are as non-existent as oceans and gulf currents. Residents may wonder how their state can be considered so safe when it was just declared a disaster area in July after a serious bout of flooding. Simple: With only eight major disasters declared since FEMA started keeping tabs back in 1953, the least-populous state (roughly 540,000, or smaller than Tucson, Ariz., alone) in the U.S. takes calamities including floods, tornadoes and winter storms in stride. With all that cash savings and little worry about impending doom, Wyoming newcomers should feel free to splurge on such homes as Sotheby's (NYSE: BID - News) $7 million, four-bedroom, seven-acre spread in Jackson Hole with a stone fireplace, infinity-edge outdoor hot tub, heated concrete floors, six-car garage, guesthouse and a 30-foot window wall with a view of the Tetons.
The Mormons may have been onto something, as Utah has only declared seven major disasters in 57 years and none within the past five. Of those, the overwhelming majority of Utah's disasters stem from severe storms and ensuing floods, so heading to the high country may be a disaster-conscious newcomer's best bet. Overstock.com (NasdaqGM: OSTK - News), Omniture (NasdaqGS: OMTR - News) and Nature's Sunshine Products (NasdaqCM: NATR - News) are just some of the companies safely nestled away in Utah, but in a state of less than 3 million people, there's always room for more. In Park City, which is 7,000 feet above sea level and home to three ski resorts and the Sundance Film Festival, a group of 11 luxury homes are going up for auction Friday. The Park City properties range from a three-bedroom, 7,500-square-foot home with vaulted ceilings, five fireplaces and 360-degree views of Herber valley (for a starting price of $1.5 million) to the 15,000-square-foot DeerField Estate with a private gondola for ski-in/ski-out access, indoor swimming pool and a private theater (starting at $15.9 million -- 54% less than its $29 million asking price last year).
3. Rhode Island
Disaster-proof? New England? Seriously. The only reason Rhode Island and its eight disasters since 1953 trump Utah's seven is its location -- which one would wrongly assume is as disaster-prone as those of neighboring Connecticut (14) or Massachusetts (eight). Granted, Rhode Island was just hit with severe flooding this year and twice in the past three years, but it's only declared five major disasters in the past quarter-century. In a region of blizzards, hurricanes and Nor'easters, Rhode Island hasn't been hit by a blizzard since 1996 or a hurricane since 1991. CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS - News) and Textron (NYSE: TXT - News) are among the companies who don't mind only using the storm shutters every half-decade or so. For a little bit of everything Rhode Island has to offer, why not settle into a waterfront winery in Little Compton. The $10.5 million, 165-acre property includes 102 acres of vineyard, a 25,000-square-foot winery building and hospitality center, a half-mile gravel driveway lined with sculptures and fountains and a 2,800-square-foot home.
2. Marshall Islands
The good news is that the Marshall Islands have declared fewer than 10 major disasters in the past five decades, most recently during a tropical storm in 2008. The bad news? The islands were a nuclear test site in the decade before that, and residual radioactivity remains on islands including the Bikini Atoll, where locals mark each March 2 as Nuclear Victims Day. That said, life on Majuro Atoll -- home of the nation's capital -- tends to be both disaster-free and hopping, though most expats tend to live near the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. Real estate can be hard to find without visiting first, so disaster dodgers should stay a few nights at the $135 to $239 Marshall Islands Resort in Majuro while house hunting.
Associated Press/Itsuo Inouye
Introduced to couch-ridden Americans by CBS (NYSE: CBS - News) when it filmed Survivor here in 2008, Palau logged exactly one major disaster -- Typhoon Mike in 1990 -- before leaving U.S. trusteeship in 1994. Since then, its position just beyond the Pacific typhoon zone has kept the island chain safe and, with the exception of its acceptance of a handful of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay last year, relatively quiet. Dwindling agriculture, rising seawater and worrisome waste removal efforts are bigger concerns than disasters, but real estate here is scarce and comes at a premium. If you want a taste of disaster-free life in Palau, "homestays" such as a $75-a-night lighthouse rental in Palau's largest city, Koror, provides a tempting, if temporary, taste.
-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.