A Green Beret’s Guide To Relocation and Sustainability: “It Will Take Some Serious Planning”

Jeremiah Johnson is a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne) and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).

Note: This article is dedicated to Earth Angel


My personal intent is to serve your needs by giving you my best; indirectly (and by my choice, wholeheartedly), I work for you…for us.  I’ll try to schedule and do as many requests as possible, so bear with me even if one topic doesn’t appear for a while.  I read your comments, and all of them are important to me: good, bad, or indifferent.  So let’s get started, shall we?

Earth Angel’s request was an article entailing options for those who wish to remain in the U.S., want to escape the cities, and where to relocate (a place where there is a modicum of freedom remaining).  E.A., this one’s for you!  It’s a tall order, both to detail and to fill, especially that last part as our freedom is eroding on a daily basis.  I’m going to explain the reasons my family and I relocated to Montana and list some basics that we used in consideration as such.  I’ll be “laser specific” in terms of steps taken and decisions to arrive at such a goal.  Let’s do it.

Midway through my military career, I visited a friend of mine, a retired Command Sergeant Major who had been a mentor to me (almost as a father) throughout my time in the service.  When I had some down time, I drove across country from Ft. Bragg to Libby, Montana to stay with him for three weeks.  It was then that I came to appreciate the remoteness of the state and the topographical features that made it such a rugged area off the beaten path.  For the next ten years (yeah, I’m that kind of weirdo that plans things that far out), I conducted an “area study,” if you will, of the state and the surrounding vicinity.

Many factors went into arriving at my final decision.  The goal was to find where to move our family so when the Fifth Mongolian Horde attacked or chaos (economic or other) ensued, we would have a good chance.  There were things I had to consider that were outside of my wife’s ability to give input regarding our location: the multiple missile silos in north-central Montana, the over flight patterns from Air Force bases (such as Malmstrom AFB), the proximity to the Canadian border, and threat-levels (domestic: totalitarian government, or civilian marauders; foreign: potential for attack by other countries and how it would affect our locale).

Please allow me to state for the record that for myself, becoming an expatriate is not an option.  I am an American, the United States is my country and my home, you are my countrymen, and I would rather die beside you, fighting for my home in America than sip margheritas in Belize.

That being said, practical matters still remain at the forefront of everything in addition to the tactical considerations.  Let’s list some of these out, along with questions you will need to ask yourself and discuss with your family regarding relocation per these matters.

  1. Sustainability: until there is a collapse, you have to put food on the table and have income coming in. Until “Yap” currency comes back into fashion, unfortunately the dollar is still used as the medium of exchange.
  2. What is your present budget and can you set aside funds for moving expenses?
  3. When you arrive, is there income potential for you in your new place? Are you self-employed?  Can you relocate with your present firm?  Do both you and your spouse work?
  4. Are you going to rent or buy? What are your financial goals to pay property taxes (if applicable) and either buy your property or take a mortgage?
  5. Demographics: this one is a big one that is critical to understand for long-term survivability in dealing with people.
  6. What is the population of the state? Where are the population centers concentrated?  What will be the direction of travel for most people when the SHTF, and they become “nomadic foragers?”  What are the populations of the cities?  How far is your property from the nearest city of more than 3,000-5,000 people?
  7. How many “friendly neighbors” live near your new property on Sesame Street? Who are these people?  Are they like-minded or do they pose a danger?  Are Homey-the-clown and his gang of thugs in the area?  Is the state a liberal state or conservative?  Your neighborhood?
  8. Survival Factors: for your basics of food, water, and shelter
  9. What is the growing season of the area you are considering?
  10. Soil test: you should test the soil of your property for pH and to learn how viable it is to grow crops there
  11. Water: well and surface sources. Rain catchment and laws pertaining to it locally.  How are the summers?  Can you test your well before you purchase?
  12. Do you have a place to run to immediately with food/water/shelter potential (when foraging, if your home becomes a burned-out ruin)?
  13. Are wild game and fish abundant in your area?
  14. What types of agriculture are predominant in the area?
  15. What are your seasons and the weather considerations? Does the temperature hit 30 degrees below zero, or is it warm all year round?  Hurricane seasons?  Earthquakes?
  16. Tactical Considerations: these have to do with the government becoming completely totalitarian, and also the potential for foreign attack or invasion
  17. Nuke threat: What cities in your state will probably be nuked if a nuclear war occurs? What are the wind drift patterns?  Do terrain features or weather anomalies that occur in your geographical vicinity break up the winds?
  18. What are the locations of Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard military bases and forces in your vicinity?
  19. Can you feasibly escape somewhere if your whole area is “clamped down” upon? Neighboring states?  National forests?  Vast open areas?
  20. Weapons: what is allowed, what is not, is there open or concealed carry, and limitations on ownership.
  21. Overall tactical considerations for your area: Is there industry that a foreign invader might want to seize? To nuke? Does your area hold any particular strategic importance, either for our government or a foreign power?
  22. If an EMP or a Nuke attack occurs, where are the local nuke reactors in your state? How far is your property from them?
  23. ***How defensible is your property, and how easily can you escape from it if it becomes indefensible?
  24. Personal Family Details: These entail the specifics about your family.  Do you have a family member with exceptional medical needs?  Do you have young children?  Are you taking care of a parent? THE MOST CRITICAL ISSUE OF ALL: YOU MUST TAKE A REAL ACCOUNT FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE FAMILY MEMBERS’ NEEDS IN A BIG MOVE.

There are many more variables to consider than have been listed here.  Lots of people would like to know a definite state and the reasons why.  I chose Montana because it has a perpetually good hydrological cycle, the area I’m in is safe in a nuclear war, there are plenty of personal freedoms (open carry state with Castle doctrine), and not a high population or high density.  There are places where we can run to if need be.  The bottom line: I took a lot of time to plan the move and it suits the needs of our family as best as can be for now.

The bad thing about Montana is (if you’ve read a few articles I wrote on the water compact problems we’ve been having here) an influx of flaming liberals has been steadily arriving here for years.  They leave their oppressive states to escape taxes (the same ones they voted for there), then they “emigrate” and continue their mindset and voting stance…and with time the state becomes undermined.  A whole bunch of liberals not born in Montana have managed to ensconce themselves in the Montana state senate and House of Representatives and carry on their progressive assault under the “color of law,” so to speak.

So, to answer your question E.A., the whole country is losing those last fragments of freedom.  The big consideration for you and your families cannot just be what state holds onto freedoms, as we’re too “long in the tooth” for them to viably stay sovereign and free.  The consideration needs to be twofold:

  1. Can I sustain myself and my family before a collapse/SHTF scenario?
  2. Can we sustain ourselves here after things go down the drain?

Before and after: these words mean “pre” and “post-societal” collapse, respectively.  It will take some serious planning and all of the resources you can muster: local sources in the community/area you intend to move to, comprehensive studies in the library and the bookstores, internet databases, friends and family (never discount the experiences from a credible source via word of mouth), and your own feet on the ground (visiting the area personally).  There are plenty of sites that offer such resources.  Sift them for nuggets of gold and take some of the advice you find to be worthwhile.

I welcome open discussion on this; ladies and gentlemen, please take it from here!  Everybody have a great day and remember: the best plan of all is a well-executed plan!


Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne).  Mr. Johnson is also a Gunsmith, a Certified Master Herbalist, a Montana Master Food Preserver, and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).  He lives in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with his wife and three cats. You can follow Jeremiah’s regular writings at SHTFplan.com.

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 21st, 2015
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  • Kula Farmer

    Good piece JJ,
    There is a lot to all of this, and as with life even the best plans can go out the window. I had been kicking around the idea of moving, mostly because Hawaii is a solid blue state, but from a sustainability standpoint i really cant ger it much better, could maybe move within my area to a more remote spot but again the issue of sustainability.
    So pretty much the focus has been on reality and what exactly are the must haves to be able to stay put and be able to keep on keepin on, water, that is the biggest issue, so assuring a large supply of water has been a primary concern,
    I have the space and the climate to grow everything we need food wise, if things start unravelling i wont be going anywhere so the focus on our own needs can increase, as well as possibly helping neighbors.
    But again, best laid plans can go out the window,
    Sustainability is the key and is what i have been working on,
    Solar and wind are the next big items that i am working on, just hope things drag on long enough to realize it.
    On a side note, that house in the pic looks like it could be over here somewhere, based on the plants anyway,

  • Gordon Shumway

    A [Print Article] or a [Save as PDF] would be nice.

  • Flybob

    Yup….Chose Wyoming for all the same reasons

  • justthefactsmam

    Who is to say that any military forces, whether active duty, reserve, or guard elements will blindly follow orders for martial law? Unless an NBC event takes place, I can’t see the military blindly following orders to impose martial law. Besides, the military is so small now that they would have trouble just imposing martial law on the top 5 major metro areas in the country. Those top 5 metro areas account for 56,833,147 people. 10% of those people are criminals/gang members, so that would be approximately 5.6 million verses a military of just over 2 million. So, there is more than a 2 to 1 advantage just by the criminal/gang elements. There is a good chance that if orders for martial law were given and it was not for an NBC event that the military would fragment as it did at the beginning of the War Between the States in 1860-61. Many County Sheriffs would oppose following martial law as would many police chiefs under those circumstances. So, chances are it would not happen. It might in the larger cities/metro areas but it would probably take the full military to just control those top 5 areas of the country. What would be of most concern is a lack of military/Law Enforcement to keep order as there could end up being numerous roving criminal gangs, outlaw bikers, and others that form together to survive. That could be what is of most concern, trying to survive against those sorts of elements without being part of a larger group. Regardless or whether you are in a metro area, semi-rural or rural area, that could be the biggest problem to deal with, roving bands of criminals taking whatever they can get.

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