Choosing and purchasing a bug out property is a daunting task. The cost can be prohibitive for families trying to keep up with everyday expenses and the list of considerations might turn most people off. However, if you are considering a survival retreat, here is a handy guide to help you find the best spot.
First you have to determine the feasibility for your situation. Let’s take a look at some of the important considerations to keep in mind while searching for property for your survival retreat.
What Should You Prepare For?
There are many threats to our way of life and the best survival retreat will withstand all but the most cataclysmic of these events. In all of these cases, you will also need supplies and resources to survive. Here is a short list of what many people are prepping for and some preps to consider for these events.
- EMP – you will need a Faraday cage to protect necessary electronic equipment. You won’t have a working car to bug out, so have a bicycle handy if you need to relocate.
- Nuclear fallout – Underground living quarters and access to clean water will be paramount. The farther it is to your BOL, the more radiation you will be exposed to on your bug out path. Again, a bicycle will help you get there faster, since electronics will be fried (including your auto).
- Terrorist attacks – This could take many different forms, including dirty bombs (see nuclear fallout). Extra arms and ammo will be extremely important. A secluded site is necessary.
- Pandemic – You’ll need to be in a remote location with access to clean water. Defenses against looters will also be important.
- Food and water shortages – Most likely this will be a long term condition. As resources become scarce, people will stop at nothing to obtain food and water. Several sources of water and the ability to raise your own food should take priority. Defense and seclusion are also primary concerns.
- Economic collapse –this could last indefinitely, with periods of apparent economic prosperity followed by crashes. Having a homestead in a secluded area with access to more than one source of water, and resources for raising livestock will be beneficial.
- Widespread natural disasters – This can take many forms, from an asteroid with worldwide implications to local events that will impact your region. There is always the potential in some areas for earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding, storms…the list goes on. Choosing a survival retreat in an area of low seismic and volcanic activity will increase your chances of survival. Also look for property that is located away from the coast and out of the reach of flood waters. An underground tornado shelter is also an important feature for your survival location.
Live On Location vs Bugging Out
Only you can determine if buying a survival retreat and moving there is feasible. Can you move to your survival retreat and make a living? Or would you need to live in an urban or suburban home and bug out in the case of TEOTWAWKI? For many people, it the best option is to Get Out Of Dodge in the event of a catastrophe. However, for the flexible individual who can think outside the ‘burbs, moving to a remote area just might be a possibility. You may be surprised at what you can live without if you are really committed to preparing for an uncertain future.
For those who really have to stay close to work and want to buy a bug out location, here are some issues you need to think about:
- Proximity to home – how long will it take to get there?
- Will you have a means of transportation?
- Can you build living quarters and storage space?
- Is it feasible to go there on the weekends to maintain, stock up, build, and plant your permaculture garden?
- Can you afford to purchase the land and materials for building?
- Will it be far enough away from ‘civilization?’
- Is it likely to be a target for vagrants and bored teenagers?
If you are able to move to your survival retreat, you will be able to invest much more attention into designing and building your survival home and garden. Living there full time will allow you to make adjustments and improvements to your property and home as you see fit.
Security Is Paramount
In the event of TEOTWAWKI, there will be legions of hungry people who want what you’ve got. They will stop at nothing to feed themselves and their children. Let’s hope you don’t have to turn away starving children, but if hungry mobs are out roaming the countryside, you’ll need to be prepared to defend your resources from being stripped bare like fields after a locust swarm. Some defensive considerations include:
- Seclusion – if your property is off the beaten track and looks like dense woods with no house, fewer people will come knocking on your door.
- Defensive position – look for natural land features that will prevent invasion. Mountainous terrain, cliffs, steep hills, rocky outcrops, etc will discourage most intruders.
- Look out location – having high ground for a look out spot will help you see intruders before they see you.
- Underground living quarters – does the soil composition and terrain allow for installation of an underground bunker? This will increase security and camouflage of your survival domicile.
The best security will not save your ass if you have no water. Stocking up on bottled water is great for short term survival, but a survival location needs a source of drinking water if you will be there for any length of time. Some important things to look for include:
- More than 1 source of water – Have multiple sources in case one source dries up.
- Spring – Deep natural springs that flow year round are usually one of the cleanest sources of drinking water. Test the water quality to make sure your spring isn’t contaminated.
- Pond, lake or stream – These natural bodies of water will make a good back up source and will allow you to water livestock more easily. Be aware that nuclear fallout will contaminate these sources.
- Rainwater collection – set up rainwater collection barrels to provide another source of fresh water. Again, be aware that nuclear radiation will make rainwater unsafe.
Your survival retreat should not only have storage areas for stocking up on non-perishables, but should also allow you to grow food for the future. Things that will make survival easier include:
- Permaculture plantings or food forests – fruit and nut trees, brambles and small fruits, firewood, and medicinal plants that are arranged in a natural setting will not look like a grocery store to looters. Establishing these plantings should be a priority. Make sure that there is enough soil, water, and space for food bearing plants.
- Garden space – hopefully you will have a sunny spot with good soil for growing some annual garden plants to provide fresh food for summer eating and winter storage. Some serious camouflage will be necessary to prevent detection.
- Food storage – a root cellar will allow you to store potatoes, beets, carrots, onions and the like for your winter meals. A cool underground storage space will keep them fresh for much of the winter.
Not every survival situation will allow for raising your own meat, eggs, milk, and fiber from livestock. It is also much more difficult to prep for livestock if you live in the city and only make it out to your survival retreat on the weekends. However, it is prudent to think ahead and allow for the addition of livestock later. If you live on location it would be best to get started ASAP so you know how to care for your animals, how to feed them without sacks of grain from the mill, and how much food you can expect from them.
- Secure housing – can you build a camouflaged barn that is secure enough to prevent predation or rustling?
- Grazing – will there be enough pasture or browse to support your livestock?
- Winter or drought shortages – will you be able to provide food for your livestock for the lean months? Research alternative food sources for the livestock you choose and plant forage sources to keep them fed and healthy.
- Seclusion – again, will passersby see your livestock out feeding and decide your dairy goat would make a great meal? The best survival retreat will allow you to keep your livestock out of sight.
Sustainable Sources of Energy
For long term survival situations you will want to prepare some alternative forms of energy to pump water, heat your bug out cabin, cook food, etc. Doing some research and planning ahead of time will save you money and time later.
- Southern exposure – if you intend to install some solar panels on the roof of your survival cabin, you better check to see if there is good southern exposure. If the property you choose is in the shade of a mountain, all the solar panels in the world won’t do you any good.
- Wind – a wind turbine can be used to pump water and provide energy…if you have wind. The turbine needs to be up above the tree tops to catch the breeze, and will be visible at a distance. That may not be the best option from a seclusion standpoint.
- Running Water – a stream may provide the hydro power to run machinery such as a mill for sawing lumber or grinding grain. With some ingenuity, you could devise many ways to power up with running water.
- Firewood – having plenty of firewood cut, seasoned, and stacked will make your life much easier right away. But if you can’t replenish that supply the next year, you’ll be SOL. Make sure your BOL has plenty of hardwood trees to harvest for the future. (Store the necessary equipment for felling trees, sawing logs, and splitting your firewood too!)
- Methane – Okay, this idea might stink (a little), but if you have livestock you might want to consider a methane digester to provide fuel for heating and cooking. Having a warm house and hot meals without having to split firewood just might make it worth the odor.
The Ultimate Survival Retreat
The perfect survival location is a very rare and wonderful thing. Depending on the hardships you will face and the area you live in, it’s likely that you’ll just have to make do with what you can find. Even the best laid plans can be derailed by circumstances beyond your control. Your property could be destroyed by wildfires, crushed by landslides, or looted by vandals before you can reach it. Don’t depend entirely on a remote retreat as your only survival plan. Have alternative locations where you can go in emergencies. Keep survival gear at home and in your survival bunker. Learn as many survival techniques as possible, from identifying wild edibles and medicinal herbs, to defense and hunting skills. Knowledge will be with you wherever you go. Having a survival property could very well be a lifesaver in desperate times, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security.
Photo source: Kjetil Bjørnsrud, Norwegian Folk Museum, Oslo