Tom and Mary Soulsby of Georgia had planned to retire in a safe rural location following the riots and civil unrest in 2020, hoping to build their dream home in Tennessee.
The land had everything they desired: peace, dense forests, green pastures, and a duck pond. The home would have a cement basement. That way, they could rebuild on a solid foundation if the house got demolished or burned down.
While doing online research on basements, Tom Soulsby said he must have entered “bunker” in the Google search by accident.
A link popped to The Vivos Group, owner and developer of Vivos xPoint, a massive home conversion project involving 575 former military bunkers near the Black Hills area of South Dakota.
Soulsby was intrigued.
“I obsessed over it for about six months. When they had an open house, I made plans to come out and see the place,” he said.
He and his wife visited the site together in July 2021. The couple agreed there were huge advantages to living off-grid in a converted World War II bunker. All it needed was a decent interior makeover.
“The structure itself was a no-brainer,” Tom Soulsby told The Epoch Times.
The Soulsbys decided to sell their Tennessee property in Tennessee and begin a new life together at Vivos xPoint.
They’ve never looked back east since.
“With current events and trends, they just reinforce that we made the right decision coming out here,” said Tom Soulsby, who now works as site manager at Vivos xPoint.
Off-Grid Living No Easy Decision
Who would ever want to live in a concrete bunker in the middle of nowhere, where the nearest Walmart is about a two-hour drive away?
It’s not far-fetched given the social and political turmoil in the United States and worldwide, says Dante Vicino, executive director and director of operations at Vivos xPoint.
His father, Robert Vicino, founded The Vivos Group in 2008 and started the Vivos xPoint project eight years later.
In terms of size and scale, xPoint is a project like no other. It aims to grow into a community of like-minded people concerned about what’s happening in the world.
The development sits on the former Black Hills Army Base, built in 1942 by the Army Corps of Engineers to store munitions during World War II.
The Army retired the base in 1967 and sold the property and all 575 bunkers to the city of Edgemont, selling it to local cattle ranchers.
Dante Vicino said that past developers had tried but failed to find a new purpose for the base and its network of bunkers that worked.
Then, in 2016, a group of ranchers contacted The Vivos Group offering to form a partnership to repurpose the military base.
“When we realized the numbers made sense, and it was a lot better to own the land, we bought the whole thing out,” Dante Vicino said.
Vivos xPoint bills the project as “The Largest Survival Community on Earth,” located just south of Edgemont, within a 24-hour drive from virtually all points within the U.S. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Wyoming. Denver is about five hours away, and Nebraska lies just to the south.
Vicino said the base is in one of the safest areas of North America at an altitude of 3,800-plus feet. It’s situated well inland from all large bodies of water, about 100 miles from the nearest known military nuclear targets.
The bunkers stand like lonely sentinels in fields of golden grass in one of the quietest places you’ll ever find. Stop, and listen, and all you hear is the sound of silence.
Vicino said many of the residents of Vivos xPoint prefer that kind of solitude.
“Even if nothing bad happens, this place is so unique and valuable, just because you can be off-grid and be in touch with the land and nature and polite society–clean air. You don’t get too much of that in the lower 48 [states],” he said.
And inside each 2,200-square foot structure is a potential off-grid home with all the amenities of a modern house or condominium.
Comfort, and Security
“The whole point of Vivos, in general, is to make bunker living as normal as possible, as comfortable as possible, and as accessible as possible,” Vicino told The Epoch Times.
“You’re used to seeing multi-million dollar bunkers, but they’re not necessarily for people like us. We wanted to bring that [homey] feel to it–that quality to the mass market.”
He said each igloo-shaped bunker is about 80 feet long and made of reinforced concrete nearly two feet thick, with a steel bunker front door to gain entry.
They call them “Hobbit homes” built into the hillside, like the movie shires. But they were made to take internal and external blasts like that of a nuclear bomb.
“They’re amazingly safe,” Vicino said.
The company priced the bunkers to be affordable in the current housing market. It costs $45,000 to purchase a 99-year lease for each bunker and about $150,000 to $200,000 to convert it to living quarters.
“People are interested in this for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s out of concern for what may happen in the future–just all the unknowns in this world. It seems to get scarier and scarier in a way. This [development] provides a solution for that. A big solution is to have a solid shelter with a solid roof over your head.”