Do you ever feel like this is it? Did some world event (or a series of them) make you feel like time is running out for getting your preps in order? Have you decided that now is the time to pull up stakes and begin searching for the perfect prepper’s retreat?
Recently I’ve felt a renewed sense of urgency that has prompted me to make some big changes in order to get more prepared. So many world events lately have pointed toward a looming crisis, and the truly scary thing is, the crisis could be one of many scenarios. Lately it seems that every single month, we are on the sidelines of a dramatic event.
- The horror of the recent terror attacks happening in places like Paris, Brussels, and right here in San Bernardino
- The collapses of places like Greece and Venezuela
- The onslaught of refugees who seem intent on changing the very fabric of Europe through sheer numbers, a refusal to conform, and undermining the safety of European women
- The slim pickings for the presidential election (do you want a psychopath, a narcissist, or someone suffering from delusions to lead the country?)
- The looming nuclear threats from that chubby little lunatic running North Korea, not to mention hostile feelings from at least half a dozen other countries
- The race war going on in our own back yard, egged on by those with an agenda of divisiveness
Combine all of these things and if you aren’t just a little bit uneasy, then you should probably stop reading right now and tune in to the latest episode following the antics of that crazy Kardashian family. Go on, who knows what they’ll do next?
Are you ready for our world to change dramatically?
Any of the things mentioned above could suddenly change our lives in the blink of an eye, and if you aren’t ready, you darn well better get your bootie in gear. Have you given any serious thought to how well your home would work for you in a long-term scenario? Is it a place where you could dig in for the long haul? Could you raise food, defend it, stay warm in it, cook in it, and survive in it if the grid went down? If not, maybe you need to make some changes.
For some of us, getting down to business means improving the situation at our own homes, and for others it means seeking our version of the perfect prepper’s retreat. As I’ve written about before, planning to have a prepper’s homestead after disaster strikes is doomed to failure. It takes time to learn to raise your own food, and many people overestimate their abilities in this regard. It’s imperative to deal with the learning curve now, when the grocery store is accessible 24 hours a day.
After some eye-opening major issues with the house we moved to last summer, my family and I decided we couldn’t trust that location for the long haul. The week without a working septic system was enough to provide a reality check. The house was simply too run down, too close to a main thoroughfare, and too dry, despite the coveted well and the most wonderful barn that I’ve ever laid eyes on. Never have I been so happy to be a renter who could pick up and leave an undesirable situation. There were some red flags earlier, but the septic disaster was the last straw. Had it occurred post-disaster, we would have had no alternative but to leave our home and all of our careful preparations. Moving now was a pain, especially with preps and livestock, but moving later after working to build a homestead would have been even worse.
So, we did an intensive search to find a place that would serve as a retreat, but one that we will live in now. We moved deep into the mountains, down a road that is really more like a trail, to our long-term retreat.
What makes the perfect prepper’s retreat?
Everyone has a different idea in mind for their perfect retreat. Some folks like balmy weather, while others prefer a cold, forbidding winter. Some people feel better in wide open spaces, while others feel safer nestled in the trees.
Regardless of your personal preferences, there are several characteristics that are imperative if you’re looking for property – the lack of any of these things could doom you to failure in a long-term scenario:
There is nothing more important than water. Water is the difference between life and death, so start your search by looking for places with more than one source of water. Look for a place with a well, a body of water, and/or a spring. Don’t count on something “nearby.” What if you have to carry water on foot from that location? The supply you’ll need each day will get pretty darned heavy, and it’ll be even more work hauling enough to water a garden and care for livestock.
Another concern with “nearby” water is that the people who own the water rights just might not let you cross their property to fill up your vessels. Think about it: would you let people possibly befoul the most precious resource around?
Water is everything in a survival situation.
In the event of a long-term down-grid situation, municipal water will most likely stop flowing from the taps. Even if it does continue to flow, the water will not be treated and may not be safe to drink. Even more alarming is the threat that someone could easily taint a municipal water supply as an act of terror. Think about the accidental chemical spills that have occurred just over the past couple of years here in the US. Now, imagine that someone up to no good got access to our water supply.
Most of America is dependent on municipal water – you truly want your own sources and a way to purify the water to make it safe for drinking.
Is your location one of safety? Some things to look for are defensibility, distance from large population centers, privacy, and difficulty of accessibility.
Defensibility: Can you protect the perimeter of the property? Can you see someone before they get the chance to sneak up on you? Is your property well fenced? Is your driveway gated? Is your community one that will band together to protect one another?
Distance: Everyone knows that being as far away as possible from major thoroughfares and big cities is ideal. However, not everyone can move out to the boondocks right now. Many of us have jobs, families, schools, and responsibilities that keep us near population centers.
Of course, it’s ideal to be about a tank of gas away from the major cities. That will mean that if the fuel pumps are no longer working, anyone headed your way will most likely arrive on foot. In this age of obesity and poor fitness, that rules out a whole lot of folks who might want to eat your food. Most fuel tanks hold enough to get the passengers between 250-400 miles, assuming the driver starts out with a completely full tank.
If you do live near the city, try to find a place that keeps some distance between you and the major thoroughfares. If you happen to be right by the highway, where do you think people will go when their car runs out of gas? That’s right – they’ll head for the nearest home for help. You don’t want strangers showing up at your door.
Difficulty: If that type of distance is unattainable, another bonus is natural obstacles. If you are up a tall mountain, folks are less likely to hike up your way unless there is some kind of specific draw, like a large body of water.
On that note, while living on the banks of a river or lake might seem ideal, your home will be the target of every person from a nearby city who has ever visited your area. This means that creeks, streams, ponds, and natural springs are more desirable features. Avoid the tourist spots that draw the crowds. Those same crowds may remember your home as the Promised Land in the aftermath of a disaster.
- Other Resources
There are other resources to look for when searching for your ideal location. You will want a way to provide food, a way to cook food, and a way to maintain a livable temperature. The following can help:
- Fertile land
- Space for raising animals
- An area for hunting (only count on this if your location is fairly remote and you already hunt regularly. “Living off the land” is a prepper myth that will get you killed.)
- A strong local economy made of people who produce instead of people who consume
- Wood for fuel
- Sun for solar power
- Moderate temperatures in the absence of wood for fuel
- A long growing season
- A local government that supports self-sufficient endeavors, instead of one that charges fees and taxes for every single project
- A place that isn’t upwind from military targets in case of a nuclear attack
- An area not prone to natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, or tsunamis
Home Sweet Home
When searching for a home there are different schools of thought. If you have building skills and the wherewithal to purchase necessary supplies, you can purchase a home that requires some tweaking to be perfect. If you’re really talented, you can even build your home yourself and end up with a prepper dream home.
However, this isn’t realistic for some of us. Personally, my budget is limited and I’m a single mom with iffy building skills. Therefore, I looked for a home that checked most of the boxes already.
If the power was out (as it often is in the aftermath of a variety of disasters) would the home you want or already live in be functional without the grid? This should be a top priority when seeking a retreat property.
The things that I looked for were:
- The ability to use passive solar for heating
- A secondary, off-grid heat source (woodstove or fireplace)
- The ability to cook in the absence of electricity (If your stove is propane, you will be able to use it for quite some time if you reserve your propane for that purpose only)
- Windows placed in a way that allow breezes to help cool the house
- Tree cover in summer that is absent in the winter to adjust the home’s temperature naturally
- A well with an off-grid back-up like a manual or solar-powered pump
- A septic system so you can use the toilet indoors (We have a family of girls – while this isn’t an absolute necessity, it’s certainly a perk)
- Shelter for livestock
- Ample storage space for preps (I now have an entire room in which to store these food buckets.)
The home we found is nearly perfect, although unfortunately there was no barn for housing our livestock. In the grand scheme of stuff to add, that is fairly minimal, so we’re in the process of adding shelters.
The importance of the right neighbors
Very little is more important than the neighborhood you find yourself in. It’s best if you have a longstanding relationship with your neighbors, of course, but you can get to know people in your vicinity fairly quickly if you put in a bit of effort.
Obviously, you want to be incredibly careful not to disclose too much information about your preps. (Never forget OPSEC!) I like to bond by finding people who also enjoy firearms, for example. In the community where we relocated, you can often hear a few dozen rounds being fired as people send some lead down range. Finding other vegetable gardeners is another good way to meet folks who might be like-minded.
When house-hunting during an election year, pay attention to the political signs in the yards. You want to be surrounded by people who think like you do, and if you find that most of the signs support a political view that is diametrically opposite yours, you may not be very happy there.
I chose a house at the very end of a country road. There is only one way to drive into the neighborhood, which means the road could easily be blocked off in the event of a long-term disaster. In fact, I discovered that the neighbors have discussed doing just that, which points to the fact that they will be cognizant of safety in an emergency.
Not everyone is in a position to relocate to a retreat
Not everyone can undertake a major relocation. There are times during which we have to live in circumstances that are less than ideal from a prepper’s perspective. Never let anyone tell you that you’re doomed if you can’t move to 20 acres in the country. We all have to live within our means and within the confines of our personal situations:
While your current situation may be less than ideal, you have to remember that very few locations are actually perfect for prepping. Nearly anywhere you live will be subject to some type of extreme weather, be it crippling cold, blazing heat, drought, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Chemical spills can taint water supplies anywhere. Riots and civil unrest can occur outside of the big city.
The point is, to borrow an old saying, you just have to bloom where you’re planted.
There are many things you can do to create a viable preparedness plan wherever you happen to live. Apartment dwellers at the top of a city high rise, folks in the middle of the desert, those in a beachfront condo, and people in HOA-ruled suburban lots all have to examine their situations, figure out their pros and cons, and work towards resolving what they can. With some pre-planning, there is a lot you can overcome if you have the right mindset. I suspect there are just as many (and probably far more) preppers living in the ‘burbs than there are living in perfect rural locations, with a lake, 10 acres of cultivated farmland, and an off-grid house.
Stop waiting until you move to the perfect location. Make preparations for the situation you have, not the situation you want.
Is it time for you to search for the perfect prepper’s retreat for your family?
Sometimes, though, you just feel compelled to take the plunge. When you do, be sure to go about your search in an organized fashion. Figure out what your priorities are, have a clear picture of your budget, and find the retreat that fits your carefully chosen criteria.
Remember, it’s far easier to already be at a bug-out location than to go on a journey to get there after it all hits the fan. If you have to bug-out there are many things that can go wrong, such as an issue with your transportation, the inability to get enough gas to get there, impassable roads, and the horrifying reality that someone else may have already taken over your location.