Considerations when Finding the Ultimate Bug Out Property or Survival Retreat

Bugout Cabin in the woods

When things go bad, having a dedicated bug out location or survival shelter can really help put your mind at ease. Not only will you have a place to go, far from the chaos and dangers associated with urban survival, but you will also have a place where you can safely store backup supplies and equipment.

Bug Out Location Checklist

Here are some of the top considerations that you need to keep in mind when looking for the ultimate bug out property.

Distance should be a big Factor in Choosing a Bug Out Location

When it comes to buying a survival retreat or bug out location, location really is the key.

How far is the land from your current location, and are you able to safely make it there during a crisis?

If you’re purchasing a piece of property to serve as a bug out location, then you really need to consider how far that property is from your current home. Unless you have a good refueling plan, you need to really think about any piece of property that you can’t make it to on a single tank of gas.

While having a bug out location far from the danger zone is important, making sure you can safely get there during a time of crisis is essential.

How far is the land from high-density population areas?

If you’re looking for a full-time survival retreat, distance isn’t really a problem. In fact, I would think the farther you can get away from the major cities, the better off you’ll be during a major collapse or SHTF situation.

Population Density – During a crisis situation, areas with the highest population densities will experience the most crime, the most social unrest, the highest likelihood for epidemics, and the highest death tolls due to lack of resources and sanitation.  When choosing a bug out location or survival retreat, we suggest staying as far away from high-density population areas as possible.

Water Availability & Water Sources

water source

A good reliable water source is one of the most important considerations when choosing a bug out retreat. From fresh water springs and rivers to underground well water, the need for a clean and renewable water source is the number one factor to consider when looking for survival properties.

  • Is water available independent of any municipal supply or source?
  • What water sources are on the land, and what water rights will you own?
  • Are they renewable, and will they be there year round?
  • Is the property graded in a way that allows for a pond or cistern to catch rain water?

Hiding in Plain Sight: Keeping your Shelter Concealed

A hidden home

The ability to conceal your site may become necessary during a SHTF Bug Out situation. Having a place that provides adequate resources to conceal your living quarters might be another factor in choosing your location.

  • How easy would it be for someone to wander on to your land during a bug out situation?
  • Do the natural features of the land help conceal and shelter you, or are they an obstacle to using the land? This will be a difficult balancing act!
  • Can you easily secure and defend the land?

Self-sufficiency: The Ability to Live off your Land

Small Farm

Picking a location where you can sustain your lifestyle is another important consideration. From having enough sunlight to support a solar system, to picking a location that provides a good amount of firewood to heat your home, the ability to sustain your lifestyle needs to be one of the top concerns on your BOL checklist.

Natural Resource – Another important factor in choosing your property is the area’s natural resources.

  • How easy is it to grow food on your land?
  • Does the area support a decent size population of wild animals for hunting?
  • Can you easily raise livestock on the land?

Consider the Cost of Living and Threats from Government Bureaucrats

Private Property

Cost of Living Issues – Unfortunately, the country is set up in a way that guarantees you never really own your property. From the government seizing homes over zoning issues to having to pay taxes on a property that you already own free and clear, it seems our government always has its hands in our business.  When considering your location, the cost of living needs to be factored into your plan. Property taxes, cost of local goods and your ability to keep up with your payments are all things that must be considered.

Zoning Issues – As we mentioned above, the government at every level has a way of really screwing with your plans. Make sure you thoroughly investigate local zoning ordinances and find out exactly what you can and can’t build, what permits are needed and how much trouble local zoning officials have been to local residents.

Consider Location Based Threats & Natural Disaster Patterns

Natural Disasters

From tornadoes and hurricanes to earthquakes and droughts, natural weather patterns and environmental threats need to be thoroughly researched before deciding on a property. Make sure you know exactly what threats you will be facing, and how the local climate will affect your ability to grow food, hunt and obtain resources throughout the year.

  • Look at the areas historical data to better get an idea what the location might look like in the future.
  • Take into account things like droughts, flash floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes.
  • Look at crime statistics near your potential property and within a 50-mile radius of the property.
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  1. I live in a small country in the northern part of Europe, called Denmark, the entire country is only 5 million squaremeters, the entire population is 5.2 milllion people.
    And even though we are almost half the population of we have more than 20 different dialects.
    To the east of Denmark, lies Sweden. I have less than 20 miles to the Swedish border, og approximately 100 miles due south to the German border.
    The swedes I can understand, its almost the same language, give and take, but they would know instantly that I’m a Dane.
    The germans too, but this time its a completely different languages, the only goodside is that our languages originates from latin, and therefore, possible to make one another understand.
    Where I’m going with this, is that you guys, as Americans have a huge country, loads of space, different environments, and possibilities to stay, in your country, maybe not your county, but still…. the language barrier wouldn’t be a problem.
    Unless TSreallyHTF and you have to head north.
    Would you be able to change the American HUH, to the Canadian EH ???
    Just kidding ;-)
    I believe that if you stay clear, of the big cities, your survival chances are that much higher, and that moving to another country, to speak a different language , and try to fit in, will only help for so long.
    Because when all comes to all, we tend to care for our own. And if you’re not it, youare left worse than before you migrated.

    • But there are so many little villages seperated, which could help in buying some time. And I don’t believe, Scandinavian countries are on a high TSHTF list. I know my second home is in Sweden, however, being able to get there if or when TSHTF, here could be a major problem.

      I’d think for you, Sweden, would be the better option due to the language. German, to me is sooooo different. :)

      Yes, here we have much more land, but most live in highly dense areas, and getting away from those dense areas can sometimes take hours.

  2. Have a property in rural northern pennsylvania. Still have a mortgage and looking to partnership with someone to get mortgage down but share as a bug out location. Plenty of water and natural resources. Well hidden and nestled within a very respectable township community.

      • Jerome, I believe Ezekiel was the only one who got away from Earth. He may still be zooming around the Universe in that UFO? A pardner won’t help. You need to look into the eyes of a wolf…there you will see your own soul…hope you like what you see. Instead of scurring around like a bunch of mice knowing the cat is gonna get us..lets get right with God first. I don’t mean to preach just stating a fact. After all this is the bottom line isn’t it?

  3. I have 30 acres for sale in Hot Sprngs Arkansas National Park area. One road up the side of the mountain and maintain by the county. This property has an old building 40 by 240 feet long where they cut whetstones for sharping knives. It has the old pit mine that would make a great shelter for you and alot of your friends (include me). PS. The radiation is coming !

    • Evan, I’ll be in Hot Springs next week, can you email me directions so I can check out the property? JasonBellJr at gmail dot com

  4. 130 acres in central west Virginia. One hand dug well, tested good water, two natural springs, not close but are on the property. Just started the cabin. Working on solar energy, wind or something that takes me off the grid. heat is wood stove I built. Came a long way, but seems to be a long way to go.

    • Hi Tim! How are things developing in W Virginia? I had a similar interest in building a bug-out home in W Virginia. Any tips?

    • Not on market yet with Realtor. Best of both worlds. Ultimate WTSHTF survival retreat w/o being a 2-3 day drive from East Coast or so secluded that you’re bored out of your skull. Henderson County, North Carolina Mountain Retreat. 3 private acres with flat growing area for greenhouse or garden. 3 sources of water (including running stream and deep well on property), 3 sources of heat, 8KW Generac generator, 500lb. propane tank in ground, sited in to be nestled with a ridge protecting the North & West sides of the home (think Nuclear blast) and to maximize sunlight in home to the South & East. 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 3 fireplaces, over 5,000 square feet, oversized garage, 2 level custom home built in 2008 (all new) with great storage space. Within a 1 day drive from most cities but not too close. Highly defensible property. Gated to prevent vehicle access when you want or need this. Asking only $950,000 (will negotiate for a cash offer). Divorce causes sale or I’d keep the home forever. Call Anthony at: (828) 489-1940 for more info.

  5. 2000 sf. log home 3/1/2, 20 miles outside Fairbanks AK on 5 wooded acres with a well where you can still legally burn wood in a fireplace or stove without getting a ticket like on the rest of the west coast. You can buy/sell firearms without registration and carry open or concealed w/o a permit…welcome to freedom. $125K

  6. looking for remote area in pa. if anyone has any for sale or tips where to look please feel free to point me in right direction

  7. I have a 121 acres in southern Vermont on the side of a mountain. There is a stream that borders the property. It has a logging contract, but it can be bought out. I would like a 150,000.00 or best offer.

  8. highly defendable end of road property. outsider vantage point 7 miles away.560 acres+- 400 deeded 160blm lease.180-200 tillable acres. 3 good deep wells,1 with operating windmill and storage.3200 sq.ft.home 1600 living and 1600 heated garage, 800 attic easy convert to living. 3200 sq ft. steel building for storage. 10k propane generator, 800w wind turbine and battery bank w/6k inverters.plenty of wind for expansion. 2500 gal. propane storage. 4types heat, wood stoves, pellet stoves, propane, and heat pump. home 9 years old… perfect permanant bug out for larger fam. high desert se wyoming. 307-331-4496 serious only 800k.for info.

  9. Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine. Great gun laws in all four. Rugged terrain and great rivers in all four states no hurricanes, tornados, great soild for growing. Low population densities. Tough winters for the unprepared so most people will head south. During a disaster. In fact VT, NH, and Maine are far enough from urban areas but close enough for occasional visiting. Ocean and large lakes nearby. Lake Champlain in VT connects to the ocean in both directions. Plus numerous islands and same with NH and ME.

  10. I will try this again. Our family is stuck in Kissimmee Florida. We have no means to leave this place for a safe haven. We have started food cache.

    We can’t leave here because of my husband job, at times I get the attitude from him and he does not understand the dangers he is putting family in. When it happens, we have no firearms or nothing, no bug out place. I have to tell you, I am so darn scared of what is going to happen when one of these idiots pushes the wrong button and emp where we are then? No lights, water, protection. I refuse to go into a fema camp. That from what I have been reading would be a death sentence.

    What can I do to make it safer, where in Florida would be a safe place to go. I believe in what you are all doing and couldn’t agree more.

    Thanks for your time.


    Have you ever read anything about free unclaimed land?

    • Sorry about the grammar issues, it was hard putting my fears in print. I just don’t know where or what to do from here. It looks like all the things I am doing for my family will got to thugs on the prowl, who didn’t prepare. The out come scares me.

      • Hi Anne, Try not to worry. It only makes things worse. When you worry you can’t think straight. Are you worried you might die? That’s a worry we all have because we don’t know what is beyond death. I have died and got to come back because my work was yet not finished. You know it is really nice over there. Heaven was so peaceful I didn’t want to come back here to this reality as it really is hell to live this life. Know that we don’t die, only our body dies. Our spirit lives on. When we die, we just go home that is all there is to it.

      • Hi Anne, I’m in Florida too, but I also don’t think Florida will survive, there’s just not enough elevation anywhere. That’s why I’m looking for something in the mountains. I also think that you’ll have at least a couple of years to convince your husband. Good luck to you Anne.

    • i live in kissimmee also and looking for a bug out location. there has to be somewhere but i think we may have to get an airboat and head for some of the islands that are located between kiss and melbourne which are surranded by march land. gatters no problem as i have grown up around them and know how to kill them also they make a source of fresh meat. i have firepower and 40 years of shotting knowledge. i have 5 family members all ouer 23 one has medical knowledge and is also a chef. all we need to get is more food supplies and an air boat. i am working on both. and then we will have to build a building to live in. i have physical limitations so there needs to be some men with us to help. i am currently getting my funds out of my 401k before september of this year before i loss it all to big o.

      • We are currently in the same boat per se as we’re still living in Lake Wales. I hate being the bearer of bad news but there isn’t anywhere in Florida that you’ll be safe, your best bet is to get to higher ground as we’re trying to do. My husband is a combat veteran who was an environmental compliance officer both before and during his military career. I’m afraid the reason that there are so many incentives for veterans to move their families here right now is because they are trying to do the same thing that they did in the 1920’s in the Keys to the veterans. They were sent to the Keys as a plan by the government to gainfully employ a bunch of men they had amassed and taught the ways of war to after there was no longer a war to fight and they were no longer needed. This mass discharge from the military caused a social problem (like today’s PTSD). So they were sent to the Keys to start working on Hwy 1, thousands of men in canvas tents with no warning were left to face the storm of the century, against a storm surge that moved steam engines off of their tracks and made the highest points of the islands disappear underneath 15ft of ocean water. The History Channel did a great piece on it. After you’ve searched for the full story, then research the Florida budget geared towards getting as many vets to move to florida as they can today. Plus Florida is already home to the largest number of combat veterans both young and old. Now take your storm of the century and make it biblical; not poseidon little g godlike, but in fact 4 horsemen, apocalypse, Revelation, the one and only big G. That is your climate change; Florida is a giant sandbar, if you’ve travelled the coastal triangle you can see the depth of the water is roughly 10′ for miles and miles. Storm surges or rising sea levels from the melting ice caps move sandbars and wash them away. We’ve been pumping sand into South Beach for years to keep that sand bar. If this sounds a little jumbled up I’m sorry trying to type as fast as my husband is talking. He said that if anyone would like more information he’d be happy to email you. He’s been researching this stuff extensively for the better part of 4 years now and has no problems giving his references. If interested please contact address provided in place of website.

  11. Very defensible remote 80 acre former cattle farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Keweenaw). 100 yards from Lake Superior, 1/2 forested with pine, mixed hardwoods, sugar maples, birch. 1/2 cleared. Wild strawberries and blueberries everywhere – you might have to fight the bears over them! View of lake possible with selective tree trimming. Property is catty corner to large swath of state wilderness which has been basically untouched for 75-100yrs. Old farmhouse and out buildings on the parcel are not safe for entry but the possibilities for refurbishment are plentiful. Modern well (plus old well) in place might need attention. EXCELLENT hunting, fishing. Michigan has good gun laws. Tough winters, shorter summers but growing seasons can be plentiful if you know how and there’s always ice-fishing! Excellent area for wind turbines (US windmaps will confirm this). Asking $115,000, serious only. Look on for: 41036 Red Rock Rd, Lake Linden, MI 49945 for more info.

  12. Anne from kissimmee. No problem. Hurricans,need to store food and water for emergancies. Kids, join boyscouts,girl scouts or campfire girls. Need camping supplies for kids. Look up home made bows out of pvc for project for kids groups. Survival training for kids, haa. Don’t tell husband your plan. I live several hours from u. Hunting, fishing excellent in your area. Get copy of florida state parks. Its free. Use google earth to view large open areas to camp fish, ect.. Get whole family involved in the out doors. Camp eq can be found garage sales, thrift shops and cheap. U can prepare as a family and yo ho husband will not have a clue!!

  13. Great article. I live in Omaha, Nebraska. Based on this I am screwed. However it appears to be a pretty good list of things to consider for a BOS. On second thought, I can see how this is even useful for me. Hmm.

  14. Looking for peppers in the Vegas area. I am alone, disabled, 59 with a therapy/service pet. Looking for others who are like minded about bugging out, getting off the grid, hiding in plain sight….just getting into prepping…could use some help.

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