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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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:
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Finally, the hill country around Austin, Texas is ideal when choosing a bug out property. There are so many reasons for this, including:
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!
Roman is a notable figure in the sphere of emergency preparedness and has been featured in various news broadcasts, publications, and documentaries to weigh in on the subject. He has made multiple appearances on HBO, BBC, CBS, and other media outlets to provide insight on the critical importance of readiness under all circumstances. When he is not hard at work being the CEO of Ready To Go Survival and MIRA Safety, he enjoys riding his motorcycle, shooting, handball, and scaring his neighbors by taking out the trash in full MOPP gear.