Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 20.
Nobody's feeling all that secure about the upcoming presidential election.
Maybe it's time to get away for a bit.
According to a new study by Bankrate.com, more than 60% of Americans think the upcoming presidential election is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy over the next six months. Terrorism rated a distant second at 12%, followed by struggling overseas economies at 9%, a decline in the stock market at 8% and an increase in interest rates at 5%.
Republicans (at 68%) are more likely than Democrats (60%) or Independents (61%) to consider the election outcome as the biggest economic risk. Older Millennials (age 26 to 35) and younger Baby Boomers (age 52 to 61) were most likely to name this as the biggest threat economically. This sentiment hasn't exactly improved during the last year, either.
Back in October, a survey by RBC Wealth Management found that one in three (32%) of Americans thought the economy would improve after the 2016 elections, while only 17% think the economy would worsen. That included 37% of Millennials (ages 18 to 34), but only 30% of those ages 35 to 54 (Gen X) and 29% of those ages 55 and older.
"The stock market typically rises during election years, regardless of which party wins," says John Taft, chief executive of RBC Wealth Management-U.S. "Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule."
By December, less than half (44%) of investors surveyed by Hartford Funds felt their overall financial situation would improve in 2016, though 54% were confident in their investments. Only 14% thought their financial situation would worsen in 2016. Even among the most worried, 13% thought the presidential election would have biggest impact on their finances this year.
"Nearly all major life events have financial implications," says Bill McManus, director of strategic markets at Hartford Funds. "It's easier to plan for and reach those financial goals when we can anticipate events, such as sending a child to college. However, it's just as important to plan for the unexpected."
By February, investors were far more worried. A survey conducted by UBS found that investors were shaken by market volatility created by the Chinese economy and other factors. While most (77%) expected it to be temporary, nearly a quarter (23%) thought it put the U.S. on the verge of a longer-term market decline.Though 85% of wealthy investors believed the volatility was driven by a hose of factors, 80% said they were worried about the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in particular, putting it a close second to global terrorism (81%).
After a spate of terrorist incidents, Brexit and the nominations of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a full 84% viewed the election's impact on the economy as the top issue, ahead of health care (79%), national security (78%), terrorism (70%) and immigration (57%). Roughly 68% think the country has lost its competitive edge, while more than half (57%) think it is more difficult to build wealth from humble beginnings, and only (33%) think future generations will have it better than we do today.
"Across party lines, investors see the economy as the biggest issue in the election, outranking concerns like healthcare, national security and foreign policy," says Paula Polito, client strategy officer of UBS Wealth Management Americas. "Where investors diverge among party lines is on what it will take to fix the economy."
UBS took its information from a poll of voters that had 27% identifying as Democrats, 34% identifying as Republicans and nearly one-third (31%) declaring themselves independents. However, across all affiliations, 77% of investors feel this is a "game-changing" election, with 74% nervous about what will happen regardless of which candidate wins.
Though 61% of all investors predict that if their chosen candidate wins, it will have a positive impact on the stock market. 64% think a win for the opposition would crush markets. As a result, 47% are considering reducing their allocations to stocks, while 9% have already reduced their holdings. A quarter of investors are considering pulling out of the stock market entirely, and 5% have done so. Across the board, investors have put 20% of their holdings into cash. Advisors are doing their best to calm everyone a bit, with minimal results.
"The market rises 75% of the time, yet every day, every year, every cycle, we are given many reasons to fear growth will not materialize or what we have saved is at risk," says Janelle Nelson, vice president and portfolio analyst at RBC Wealth Management-U.S. "In the absence of another market correction, investors should remain steady and know that a long-term, diversified approach is their best bet whether they are investing during an election year or not."
That said, many Americans would rather flee than stick around to see how this all works out. With the polls tightening up and tensions rising, maybe getting away from it all isn't such a bad idea. We spoke with the folks at TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals and came up with ten remote places that are perfect for escaping the election:
9. PurePod Stay
Price: From $358 a night
Want a 24/7 reminder that there's still beauty and wonder in this world? Stay in a glass box with all the amenities of home and get a 360-degree view of all that nature has to offer.
The PurePod's roof, floor and walls are all glass, which provides a gorgeous view of the Southern Cross and the constellations at night and the native brush by day. The sky, hills, sea, birds... they're all visible all day. However, if you're staying in a PurePod around Election Day, chances are it's going to be a bit warmer. That can turn a PurePod into a greenhouse, which makes it advisable to pull back the sliding doors on all three sides, close the ceiling blinds and get out into nature. If you were ever looking for a way to ensconce yourself within the world's natural treasures but not be exposed to the elements or drained of blood one bug bite at a time, this may be the solution.
8. Cedar Croft
Price: From $76 a night
O.K., so England's dealing with a bit of nationalist upheaval of its own right now, but it's not your nationalist upheaval.
For what it's worth, 61% of the Isle of Wight voted to leave the European Union and is now living with the consequences. However, you'll get to reap the benefits of weakened British sterling and cheap airfare and take advantage of the low rate on this tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere. The beach along the private bay is desolate, the fish and birds are your only neighbors, there's no television to remind you of the horrors awaiting in the U.S. and the whole property is run on solar electricity, propane heat and a log-burning stove. There's one bedroom with a double bed, one bathroom, a pullout sofa in the dining/living room and not a whole lot else. It's a good place to disconnect, hide and get some perspective on what real political turbulence looks like.
7. Watamatu Treehouse
Price: From $360 a night
It's where the idiot birthers said our sitting president was born, so why not go have a look for yourself?
When you figure out that no part of Kenya is in Hawaii, settle into this impressive multilevel home in the trees with its 360-degree views of the Indian Ocean coastline on one side and native forest on the other. Regardless of whether you include food in the price or not, a professional cook and house staff will be on hand to help you throughout your stay.
There are three bedrooms (each with its own bathroom), but beds for up to eight guests. Linens, mosquito-netting and towels are all provided, and those nets will come in handy considering that the house has no windows. You'll be away from the carping of U.S. voters, but the birds, insects, monkeys and reptiles al have as much access to the place as you do. If you're afraid of heights or have a notorious klutz among your party, please don't stay here. However, views and seclusion are prized above all else, this spot well away from the States is for you.
6. Fafarua Private Island
Price: From $1,100 a night
Given the outright nastiness and potentially far-reaching implications of this election, you might want in a place where no one can reach you once the results are in and the fallout begins.
That's when a private island in the South Pacific comes in handy. Situated on the Tuamotu Achipelago near Tahiti and Bora Bora, this tiny green "motu" islet with its white beaches and blue lagoons is all yours. It's a half-hour boat ride from the nearest village and is planted with a huge coconut grove, native plants and little else. There are sandy beaches on the lagoon side and a large wild reef on the outer side. The villa itself has electricity, cold and hot water, mobile coverage, Internet (though slow enough that you should likely just disconnect), three bedrooms with mosquito nets, a full kitchen, outdoor dining area, outhouse and house staff. Transfers from the airport are included, a full staff-cooked menu of French and Polynesian cuisine comes with the rental price, free tea, coffee and lemonade are provided and beer, wine and spirits come at an added cost. Give that last bit some thoughts, as their wine cave features white and red French wines and champagne.
Snorkel, kayak, paddle... make coconut milk. Spend your days here however you desire, with the realization that anything you do will be far less stressful that what's going on in the U.S.
5. Loch Ness Farmhouse
Price: From $199 a night
If anyone understands the desire to flee a tumultuous and politically divided nation, it's the Scots.
Appalled by the Brexit vote and feeling somewhat vindicated after the failure of its own recent independence vote, Scotland still wants a Brexit of its own and plans to make Britain a little less great through another referendum in the near future. That makes this secluded, three-bedroom, two-bath farmhouse an ideal place to escape our own political turbulence.
Sitting on 13 acres above Loch Ness and surrounded by trees on the three sides that don't face the loch, this house comes with an open fireplace, piano, Wi-Fi and two televisions with satellite connections. Feel free to unplug all that tech and explore the community-owned woodland of surrounding Abriachan or take a 15-minute drive from the city of Inverness, a 10-minute trip to Drumnadrochit and Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness or strike out to the Cairngorm National Park, the Whisky Trail in Moray or the West Coast or Dornoch with its golden beaches. If you don't feel like talking politics with the folks you meet along the way, don't worry: the Scots don't want to discuss it either.
4. Uma Stana Villa
Price: From $598 a night
You're already on a surfer's paradise of an island at the tip of Indonesia. It's a big tourist spot, sure, but it's also thousands of miles removed from the U.S. mainland, if not fully removed from U.S. influence.
With four bedrooms with king-sized beds, four bathrooms (including two spa-like baths with deep stone soaking tubs and sprawling territorial views), an infinity pool, outdoor dining space, HD television and views of the rice fields and mountains in the distance, this feels as remote as you can get from anything the U.S. offers. With a full staff catering to your every need, this villa is a fine place to put the U.S. in the rearview for a while.
3. Pocono Log Cabin
Price: From $199 a night
Really? The Poconos? The place where Englebert Humperdinck sang and where suburbanites from New Jersey and Long Island carved out a kitschier version of the Catskills' resorts?
Really. Though only separated from the New York metro area by the Delaware River and the few towns that haven't completely sold out to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut's retirees, the Poconos can still be fairly cut off when they want to be. Don't let the NASCAR raceway or the newly built resorts fool you; there's still some seclusion to be found out here.
Located on ten acres in the heart of middle-of-nowhere Pike County, this four-bedroom, two-bathroom lodge is completely isolated from the world at large. The four-sided stone fireplace, timber-and-log construction, vaulted ceilings, skylight, woodstove, full kitchen and vast great room make this a great house for you and nine of your friends to flee to. Unplug the 60-Inch flatscreen HDTV and home theater speakers, power down the Wi-Fi, and step out onto the deck to play cards at the picnic table, jump into the six-person hot tub, or get onto the porch swing and look at the view. What are you looking at, you ask? A huge fire pit situated in front of the 6,200 Acre Delaware State Forest. That's right, your neighbors are woods, wildlife and nothing else. Enjoy it, as the world beyond those trees is a scary place.
2. Annapolis Converted Church
Price: From $120 a night
To all of you folks threatening to move to Canada if the opposition wins this election, we'd suggest at least visiting first.
An increasingly diverse country with a liberal immigration policy and socialized health care seems to skew toward one side of the political spectrum, as does a place where the old St. Alban's church fell into such disuse that it became a vacation home.
Along a country road just a couple of minutes from Annapolis Royal, in the heart of Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley, this 2.5 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom home comes with a gourmet kitchen, spa-like bathroom and stunning decor. Its best feature may be proximity to Fort Anne, Canada's oldest national historic site, and the antique shops, historic walks and waterfront of Annapolis Royal. If you like what you see, get your paperwork and financial information in order: Canadian citizenship may be enticing after this election, but it comes neither free nor easy.
1. Casita Hillside
Price: From $145 a night
To get away, why not go about as far south as you can get without working on a field base in Antarctica?
Patagonia is just lovely country that just happens to have its own penguins. It's that far South, which is why this 750-square-foot cabin that looks as if it was airlifted from Northern Minnesota is right at home here. Built in 2014, this cozy one-bedroom, one-bathroom home claims to have room for four, but it's a far more comfortable retreat for two people, tops. The master bedroom's queen bed, Egyptian cotton sheets, down comforter and blackout curtains are great for keeping both the cold and outside world at bay, but the living room's wood burning stove and 11-foot-wide picture window with views of lake Nahuel Huapi are the prime sellers. The serviceable kitchen, huge deck, outdoor table and grill, flat-screen TV with DirecTV, stereo with smartphone or MP3 cable, alarm system and washer/dryer are all nice perks, but this location at one of the ends of the Earth provides a valuable buffer.