Selecting Your Bug-Out Location

Bugging out is always a hot topic for preppers, survivalists and such, but little about how to select an actual location. I’ve read a great deal about people moving deep into the northwest such as Washington, Idaho, Montana and even Alaska due to the amount of open land and extreme isolation, but is this really ideal? There was even a show called ‘Homestead Rescue’ about those who attempted to go off-grid and failed. We may all have some sort of fantasy about moving to the middle of nowhere and living off the land, but how realistic is it really? When thinking about being able to hunker down for an extended period of time, one has to consider a lot of factors including:

  • Access
  • Water sources
  • Food sources
  • Security
  • Weather

Access. What good is a ‘bug-out’ location if you can’t get there? I wouldn’t recommend buying property in northern Wisconsin if you live in Detroit no more than I would recommend buying anything over 100 miles away unless you plan to eventually move there. Travel is often the first thing that becomes difficult during an event, so the further you have to travel the great the difficulty and the greater the danger.

Water sources. Water is our most basic need for survival and even a trained survivalist is likely toast after 3 days without water. Your bug-out location must have water access of some kind whether it be a fresh water lake, spring, creeks, streams of even the ability to drill a hand pumped well; water access must be a primary consideration.

Food sources. Many preppers/survivalist like to think they can survive off the land indefinitely by hunting and fishing, but this is probably misguided. Conversely many think they will be able to grow enough food of their own, but this takes years of working the land without the use of modern farming equipment. Soil quality and enough clear land and adequate growing seasons should be factors in your property selection. Enough cleared land to grow crops and enough wild land to hunt, fish and forage is ideal.

Security. Security is always a hot topic in the prepper community, but it tends to rely heavily on firearms and other means of self defense. An often overlooked element of security is the ability to defend against a group looking to relieve you of your preps. Controlling access to one way in, using a chain or gate across the drive, fencing, natural barriers such as blackberry and raspberry bushes, large rocks, downed trees and security cameras when possible – all can all serve to hinder those who might seek to do you harm. Try to make it as difficult as possible for a vehicle to access; this can make a big difference. If access looks difficult, the lazy will likely pass you by, if they don’t then a clear view of the access point will make it easier to neutralize the threat. The effectiveness of each layer of security is partially dependent on how desperate the individuals are.

Weather. If you are like most people, one of the first things you check everyday is the weather forecast. Extreme heat or extreme cold can kill! Why would you choose a bug-out location in an extreme weather area; whether it be Alaska or Nevada, the elements may end up being your greatest obstacle. Yes, areas such as this offer open land and isolation, but don’t fit many of the other criteria. Research the weather patterns for the area, what are the seasonal highs and lows (here), flood risk, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. (here) if you have to leave your bug-out location – then what?

The best plan is to select an area that you could vacation and eventually retire to, whether that is a fishing cottage, small farm, cabin in the woods, or something else that fits your taste. So if nothing happens, and it always does, you already have a big part of your retirement planning done!

I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject other than my wife and I went through this process a little over 12 years ago. We almost ended up in the Carolinas, but our research led us farther from the ocean into Tennessee. We selected a property with enough land to grow gardens, yet wooded enough to support deer, wild turkeys and other wildlife. We have 2 creeks on the property and are surrounded by rugged forest. The only rule we violated was the 100 mile rule as we intended to relocate here as soon as possible and finding any kind of isolation within a 100 miles of Chicago is nearly impossible.

Hope you find this helpful, and please feel free to share your bug-out plans!

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