9 Essentials for Choosing the Perfect Bug Out Location

Comments: 18 Post Date: March 6, 2017

Many preppers agree that being in an urban area when society goes south is not ideal. For those who have the desire and resources to secure a bug out location, there are a lot of things to consider.

After all, the reason to have a bug out location is to get away from the chaos and potential danger a SHTF situation can generate. With that in mind, what follows is a list of critical must-haves you need to consider when choosing a bug out location.

Bug Out Location Must-Haves

The location of your getaway is one of the most critical factors to consider. Choosing it is also a great balancing act. The following are the most important considerations when it comes to choosing where to bug out. Remember, that each of the items on this list takes into account what you need to ensure you and your family are safe.

1) Distance

First off, you want it to be far enough away from the city that you don’t have to worry about dealing with the mass exodus that may eventually come. Yet, you want it to be close enough that you aren’t driving for many hours (or days) to get there. When it comes to distance, you will need to factor in your mode of transportation.

If you are on foot, then your bug out location should be no farther than 60 miles from your urban center. You also want to be sure you have a practical bug out bag for your journey.

If you are driving, then you shouldn’t have to travel more than the distance one full tank of gas will take you. If you have to drive farther than that, then you should have enough spare fuel with you to get where you are going. Don’t count on gas stations as a reliable means of refueling.

Ultimately, you need to choose your bug out location such that you can get there safely, while ensuring it is far enough away from a major center.

2) Seclusion

A single log cabin in the middle of a lush green forest with long skinny trees all surounding.

Choose a location that is secluded and not easily visible from travel routes.

You do not want your bug out location to be easy to find. You should be off the main roads and have good tree cover. There should be enough concealment that anyone walking along any roads, paths, or railway tracks in the vicinity would not be able to see your place in the day or night. This means your lights should not be visible.

They key is to be concealed from all the senses. You will need to take special care when it comes to having a fire. The smoke from a fire can be visible from a long way off, so it is best to do this at night. As for cooking smells, they can travel for up to half a mile, so do your best to conceal these by cooking at night, when there is less of a chance of people traveling and keeping the use of spices to a minimum.

3) How to Get there

I’m not talking about your wheels here, although I assume you have already considered your bug out vehicle. Here I am talking about your route to get to your bug out location. You need to plan at least three different routes that will ensure you arrive at your hideaway safely.

Your main route can include major roadways, which you can use if you get out quickly enough and these are still accessible, but you also need to have backup routes that take you off the main roads. Main roads are often closed down in an emergency situation, or patrolled by law enforcement. You want to avoid anyone who might want to turn you back and any route that will get clogged.

4) Shelter

What are you going to live in? If you can buy a remote property that has a house or cabin on it, that is great. However, to get something as remote as you would like, you might have to purchase the land and then build on it.

Will you live in a tent or trailer (if you can get one into your property) indefinitely, or until you build a permanent structure? These are important considerations, especially if you live in a climate that experiences winter.

Also keep in mind that you might take more than one day to get to your bug out property. You should be prepared for camping, regardless of the season. Ensure you have a shelter, warm clothes, and a sleeping bag if it’s cold.

5) Water


Make sure there is a year-round source of fresh water on your property.

While having availability of water might seem obvious, it is important enough to be mentioned here. There is no way of knowing how long you will need to stay put at your bug out location. You might be there for weeks or months and bottled water will only take you so far.

Be sure to choose a location that has a good source of water. That might be well water, a natural spring, or a clean lake or river. Make sure the water is easily accessible and that is has year-round availability.

Remember that you won’t just need this water for drinking. You will also need it for washing, cooking, cleaning, and watering crops and livestock (if you have them). Plus, if you have running water onsite, you can use it to generate electricity.

6) Self-Sufficiency

As I mentioned above, you might be at your bug out location for an indeterminate amount of time. You won’t be able to run to the store every time you need to restock your pantry and you won’t be relying on the electrical grid.

You must have everything on your property that you will need or be able to produce what you need. This means that aside from water, which we discussed above, you need to have:

  • A food garden
  • Plentiful fish and game
  • A source of electricity (solar, wind, and/or water)
  • A source of firewood
  • Space and resources for livestock

7) Security


Sentry Alarm Mines are a great security measure.

You must consider how easy your bug out location is to defend. If it is concealed as I discussed above, you are well on your way to having a secure place. However, you need to be sure it is not only concealed, but difficult to access.

No one should be able to approach your bug out location without you knowing about it. Be sure you know what roads or paths lead into your property and that they are watched at all times. Is there a waterway that will lead people past your place? This can be cause for concern so use caution.

Make sure you have an intimate understanding of all the strengths and weaknesses of your property. This way you can plan an offensive that will help you keep concealed and defend what’s yours if the need arises.

PRO TIP: Consider getting some Sentry Alarm Mines. You load them with .22 blank ammo and attach them to trip wire.

8) Natural Threats

When it comes to the location of your retreat, be sure you understand the potential natural threats you might be up against. Is the area prone to earthquakes, flooding, forest fires, tornadoes, or hurricanes? It is in your best interests to try to find a location that is as safe from natural disasters as possible. This includes avoiding the floodplain of a stream or river.

However, not all of us have access to regions that are free from threat, so you need to assess the threats in your area and prepare your property ahead of time. For instance, you should clear an area around your structures so that a forest fire cannot easily burn them down.

9) Red Tape

Finally, be sure you know what the requirements are in terms of government regulations. Is there any specific zoning for your property? If you want to build on or alter the property, what kinds of permits will you need? This might not be an issue after the SHTF, but to get prepared for that eventuality, you will have to deal with the red tape.

(BONUS #1) How to Find a Bug Out Location

Now that you know what you need to consider when choosing your bug out location, it is time to learn how to search for and find your property. There are a number of ways to do this. The first of which is to check out some rural land websites. You can choose the state and county in which you live and see what’s available. You can also check real estate listings and Craigslist.

Be sure that you always go and see any potential property personally. Take a real estate agent with you, someone you trust. You need to lay eyes on it and make sure it is what you expect. Plus, if someone is selling it for a good price, then you need to know why. There might be something about it that is a major negative.

And remember, there are real estate experts that deal specifically with bug out properties. They will know precisely what to look for and what to avoid. We have affiliations with some great real estate companies, so please contact us if you are in need of assistance.

Of course, being able to afford property is the major kink in most people’s dreams for their very own bug out location. It can be difficult to shell out $15,000 or more all at once. But if you have family members and friends you can trust or who are part of your survival group, and they can pitch in, it will make it more affordable.

You can also check out public land. National forests are a better choice than national parks. Get some topographical maps and search them for some great, secluded locations that have good access to water.

You can always plan a camping trip to check it out. Plus, this land is free. You will have to plan ahead to make sure you can cache food and supplies and put up some kind of shelter without drawing attention to yourself.

(BONUS #2) Best Bug Out Locations in the U.S

Before we wrap up, let’s take a look at some specific bug out locations that are ideal. These regions offer land that is remote, relatively affordable, and offer plentiful resources. Take a look:


The climate in the Appalachians is relatively temperate and the land is fairly cheap. There are plenty of resources, including game and water, and hunting is a way of life in these parts. There is also plenty of fertile ground for growing crops.


Mountainous areas make great bug out locations.

The key is to get to know the back roads prior to a SHTF event. There are plenty of major highways going through the Appalachians, which will get clogged in a hurry. You will need to be familiar with the back ways into your property.

Rocky Mountains

Very similar to the Appalachians, if a little more snowy and colder during the winter. In Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming offer affordable land, plenty of resources, a hunting culture, and easily obtainable building permits.

Pacific Northwest

It is a little more expensive to purchase property in Washington and Oregon states, but it’s worth it if you can. These states are full of fertile land, natural resources, a hunting culture, less populated areas, and an anti-government sentiment. You must be prepared for a lot of rain and potential volcanic and earthquake activity.

The Dakotas

North and South Dakota are great places for a bug out location. They have a less dense population than many other states, with a lot of unoccupied land and fewer major cities. They also have a solid hunting culture, lots of resources, and fertile land for growing food.

However, you need to be prepared to deal with a winter climate and the potential for tornadoes. It’s wise to choose a county that is less prone to tornado activity.

Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi

These southern states eliminate the concern about winter. They have plenty of secluded locations where you can set up, and lots of game, water and other resources. There are quite a few larger cities and a denser population that the Dakotas, so you will have a higher chance of having to defend your bug out location. However, with hot summers and temperate winters, you will be comfortable.

Austin Texas Hill Country

Finally, the hill country around Austin, Texas is ideal when choosing a bug out property. There are so many reasons for this, including:

  • Hilly area that’s less prone to tornadoes
  • It’s in Central TX so rising sea levels wouldn’t be of immediate concern
  • There is less of a chance of getting flooded by rain due to higher elevation
  • Rocky ground so not prone to mudslides
  • Far from major fault lines so less prone to earthquakes
  • Not as populated as other major metropolitan areas
  • Close water source with lots of rivers and lakes and very little risk of drought
  • Strong on 2nd amendment rights in case the change in climate leads to social instability, looting, rioting, etc.
  • Still a major hub for business with many different industries so you’ll be able to find work even in hard economic times
  • Strong culture of self-sufficiency
  • Many farms surrounding the region

I hope the above information has given you lots of food for thought. There is a lot that goes into choosing a bug out location, so start with where you currently live and the resources you have at hand. And enjoy your search for property. It’s an exciting experience!

Is there anything you think we missed when considering a bug out location? What are some locations you are considering? Let us know in the comment section below!

Comments (18)

  • Amanda Reply

    My biggest question is where should you bug out if you don’t own any rural property or your immediate family lives out of state? I know there are a lot of other factors to consider but I’m just trying to wrap my head around what the best course of action would be. I live in a larger city in Oregon while my Mom lives 40 minutes away in a smaller town but neither or us own any property. My Dad and Aunt live in Colorado and they live out more in the country. However, it takes about a two day drive to get to their location which just seems too far to travel given the uncertainty of the situation.

    March 27, 2021 at 13:54
  • Summer Whatley Reply

    Thanks for all the information especially about tx. Didn’t really consider that a prime location but reading everyone comments I will have to rethink that as an option.. I live in louisiana and the rising sea levels are a very fear here. Especially if the big earthquake on CA fault lines or Yellowstone goes.. I do have a small nest egg put away for a bug out location. However I have considered changing my plans and making it a permit homestead location.. However getting everything I need to the location itself is going to be a issue for me.. However a challenge never scare me away from a goal I want to achieve.. I really was considering the ozarks as the top of my list. However alot of locations are not homesteader friendly. Does anyone know any states that is the mountains and homesteader friendly.. I guess i just hoping for a pipe dream.. Thats alright though b/c I will figure it out one way or another.. This is a great site and has much needed info. for anyone looking to be perpared for the near future. (at least in my opinion anyway)
    Thanks Everyone

    January 24, 2021 at 15:29
  • Alex Remnick Reply

    I recommend people buy Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places, 3rd Edition. This book is awesome!

    November 18, 2019 at 14:02
  • Jess Neave Reply

    I was very excited to see you recommend the Hill Country as that’s where I’m planning to bug out, specifically the Canyon Lake area. I’m avoiding the southeast because of the potential for dam failure/flooding, but I’m having trouble deciding how far from the lake I should be to balance water access and seclusion. I’d appreciate any recommendations, thank you!

    October 28, 2019 at 13:02
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Jess. In my opinion, lake front property is fine so long as your living quarters are above the historical flood line. Only issue would be security, but there are many solutions that you can use, even without electricity, to warn you of intruders. Here’s a post we wrote on the subject: 7 Ninja Like DIY Home Security Tricks to Protect from Unwanted Guests

      Hope that helps!

      November 9, 2019 at 10:27
    • Lance M Reply

      I wouldn’t want to bug out to a lake. Lakes are generally bigger and are more popular. My personal goal is to get away from people. For that reason, I personally am looking for property on a pond or a stream that you can’t easily take a raft on. You’ve still got access to the fresh water, fish, and wildlife, but with less people.

      April 20, 2021 at 19:54
  • Les Davis Reply

    Arkansas would be a great place especially in the ozarks also missouri low population plenty of water and game

    July 21, 2019 at 17:58
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation, Les.

      July 23, 2019 at 10:57
      • Stefanie Richmond Reply

        Do you know of any group I could collaborate with to just get some idea of MAYBE bugging out with some like minded people. I have been buying seeds but I’m not an expert at gardening. Things like that. I just can’t stand the thought of being alone in what’s coming. I feel so overwhelmed that I may just sit here and wait for whomever. Geez, I have more than seeds of course.

        April 13, 2020 at 22:32
        • Jude Reply

          Hello Stephanie, I m reading your post on bug outs, & thought you were describing my fears exactly. Fear & alone. Very scary to me. I’m a female over 60. If by chance you would like to talk, let me know please. Thank you.

          March 4, 2021 at 22:40
        • Nikki Reply

          Hi i feel the same way!! I have family and friends but many are not preparing for- well, anything! Either they dont belive anything ia going to happen (or dont want to belive it) or belive but are just ignoring it hoping, i think that its gonna all be ok an things will get back to “normal” eventually. I feel more and more panic each day. Im scared but i refuse to just act like nothing is going on & i definetly refuse to just lay down an take it! No matter what it is or who is trying to give it!! If i gotta bug out alone so be it!! But your right, that is a horrible scary thought. An its one i think about daily..

          April 5, 2021 at 00:50
  • Bob Reply

    I dont know about locales near Austin. That place is an agenda 21 nightmare. I imagine the whole city would be the nerve center of FEMA operations.

    March 2, 2019 at 09:23
    • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

      Ehhh not in my experience. IMO, If there were any city that would be the nerve center of FEMA operations, it would be one with strict gun control measures. Armed people don’t play well when bunched together behind a fence 🙂

      March 3, 2019 at 14:11
      • Katie Reply

        Austin resident here. ATX itself would not be a good place to be in a SHTF scenario, but you don’t have to go far outside the city to be in a rural area. The population is growing rapidly, so a good bug out location would need to be far outside the city and surrounding suburbs. There are several wildlife preserves west of Austin with ample water supply which could make emergency bug out locations for short-term survival. If you’re looking to buy property for a bug out location, I would recommend looking east or west of Austin, as the urban sprawl is currently growing north and south along I-35.

        If you choose Austin, be aware of the quickest route away from the city center that avoids major highways (ESPECIALLY I-35) that will become congested in the event of an evacuation.

        FEMA would most likely set up in the center of Austin. I would guess the convention center, UT campus, and other major facilities. As long as you’re outside the city center and don’t voluntarily walk into a FEMA shelter, you should be okay.

        March 21, 2019 at 14:08
        • Roman Zrazhevskiy Reply

          Thank you for the insights Katie. I think I should have been more clear in this post, as central Austin is not a good bug out location. The suburbs and farming communities surrounding the city, however, are a viable option.

          March 22, 2019 at 11:04
  • Mike Lima Reply

    Great points you make here.
    A BOL is certainly something that should be a part of your prepping plans. You should always know where you’ll go when you have to bug out.
    Of course, the exact BOL will depend on where you live, but you’ve given great tips on some of the best options for people for the US.

    May 21, 2017 at 16:49
    • Barry Duncan Jr. Reply

      What’s BOL?

      November 12, 2020 at 08:04
      • Samantha Biggers Reply

        BOL stands for Bug Out Location. Thanks for reading!

        November 13, 2020 at 07:07

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