Prepper Relocation Tips: How to Strategically Look at Moving

Editors Note: The following article has been generously contributed to our community by Bobcat-Prepper. In this article, Bobcat shares his experiences with his own prepper relocation and offers advice to any other preppers who might be considering a move to a more advantageous location before SHTF.


One of the first books I read when I because interested in emergency preparedness was James Wesley, Rawles’s classic “How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It”. Rawles’s description of “The Golden Hordes” emanating from the major cities during TEOTWAWKI gave me the shivers, thinking of those needy souls who would do anything to feed their families, but do nothing now to prepare for trouble ahead.

I realized then that even small towns like ours, a university town of about 10,000 “townies” and 20,000 “gownies” were destined to collapse when the SHTF. All those college students with only rice, canned soup, and a couple of cases of beer in their pantries would be young, strong, and highly motivated to steal everything in sight when they start going hungry after a disaster.

We need to move our family soon, but where? Rawles recommends “The American Redoubt” for relocation out west, but we don’t have any friends, connections, or jobs out there. It just didn’t seem realistic. Then we decided that we don’t have to move across the country to parts unknown, just out of the line of fire. We are currently looking at houses and properties just 15 minutes away from our current address, in the country. That way, we can keep the same schools for our children, keep the same jobs for ourselves, and get together with our friends as we like. We can keep our current lives, but just live somewhere safer.

Such an approach is more appealing to most people than to overturn their lives for promised safety far away, and so is more likely to be implemented.

Here are some factors we are considering when touring houses and properties:

Location is probably the most important consideration for a new home.
Location is probably the most important consideration for a new home.


  1. Safety – Is it far enough off the beaten path that we are really safe? We don’t want to be near a highway, or any connector or road highly traveled or too close to densely populated areas. If none of your neighbors have heard of the road, that’s even better. However, if you have some prepper friends that live in the country, you could buy a property nearby and plan to work together post-SHTF. Finally, we also want to avoid areas prone to flooding, earthquakes, near nuclear power plants etc.
  2. Convenience – Will the kids still be allowed to go to the same schools through open enrollment? Do we still have easy access to work and shopping and “situation normal” points of interest?
  3. Taxes – Moving out-of-town would save us quite a bit on property, income and sales taxes, while still giving us access to all the good things a city can provide – cultural events, swimming pools and libraries, etc. This would allow us to afford a nicer house or bigger property.
An existing home could offer significant cost savings over building your perfect prepper castle.


Lot and House

1. Pre-Existing House vs. Building a House – While we would all like to live in a house fortified by thick steel doors and covered windows like in Patriots, we have to be realistic – most of us do not have the funds to build a house like that, while still paying the bills and buying the needed prepper supplies that would keep us alive. As a matter of fact, our realtor tells us that to build a house comparable to what we currently live in would cost 20-25% more than the sales price of a similar preexisting home. For us, building anything is out.

Plan early in your relocation process for the homestead you want to have.

2. Lot – The size of the lot and the usability are major considerations.

* Five acres of farm-able land is the bare minimum to comfortably provide everything our family would need, like a large vegetable garden (maybe 2 acres), a half-dozen nut trees (for protein and oil), and a half-dozen fruit trees. We also want a hay barn or other outbuilding for equipment and supply storage.

* Is there an existing garden/farming area, or will you have to clear the land, improve the soil etc in order to grow food for your family. You may miss the first growing season in your new home if there is no area ready, leaving you food-vulnerable if SHTF.

* Access to water – A spring is best, followed by a well, then a creek or pond. The first two are more reliable sources of water, while the last two have the advantage of supporting fish for food. If none of these exist, a good rainwater collection system can provide water security.

* A wooded area for harvesting firewood and hunting wildlife is valuable either on the lot or an adjacent public forest (only if the SHTF).

Planning for solar will reduce your dependency on the electric grid and could give you an edge in a SHTF situation.
Planning for solar will reduce your dependency on the electric grid and could give you an edge in a SHTF situation.

3. House Location on the Lot:

  • A house constructed on a hill will give you a tactical advantage over invaders, and give you a better view of your entire property when surveillance is needed.
  • A house not viewable from the street is a house less likely to be a target –thieves will be less likely to covet something they can’t see, and determined invaders will not be able to prepare for defenses they can’t see from the road.
  • A house further from the street will give you privacy, and more time to prepare if intruders come up your driveway.

4. House Construction:

There are many considerations for making your home more secure and The Secure Home is an excellent resource for anyone building or remodeling.
  • Log cabin houses have one of the sturdiest types of construction, but generally have poor insulation properties. Logs have an R-value of 1 per inch; i.e. if the house is constructed of 12” diameter logs, it would have a maximum R-value of 12. A log home we toured recently had insulation sandwiched between interior 1” x 4” timbers to keep the cold out, but you would have to see the house blueprints to verify the interior wall construction.
  • Brick houses are also sturdy, if the brick is really solid brick and not just a facing material over drywall. Solid brick construction has durability, and can have good insulating properties if a dead air space (and preferably insulation) is behind the interior dry wall.
  • Vinyl siding and dry wall construction is unfortunately the most common around here. Poor insulation ability and poor material for security – you could easily break through such a wall with a sledgehammer. Vinyl is so popular because it is light and easy to build with, and cheaper than other exteriors.
  • Think about what kind of construction you would have to do the house, to provide you with a comfortable security level. Does it need a fence on the property line? Does it already have strong steel exterior doors, or ancient wooden ones with rickety locks? Is a security system in place? The modification costs can add up!


Staging Your House

Like many people’s houses, ours gets cluttered. Add prepping supplies, and some areas look like an episode of Hoarders. To sell our current home, we plan to do major decluttering of all surfaces, and then put in a nearby storage facility (for about $50 a month) all furniture that makes the house comfortable, but overfull.

Although I hate to do it, when the time comes to show the house to prospective buyers, I will be moving most of our food stores to that same storage facility, and any equipment or supplies that send up a “red flag” to potential buyers. A half-dozen plastic tubs of stored food wouldn’t be looked at twice, but if you have dozens of five gallon pails, 20 cases of MREs, and cases of ammunition, many home buyers will high-tail it out of there with a case of the willies. Be the “Grey Man” home owner, and don’t stick out – it’s good for sales and good for OPSEC.

Because we can afford it, we are willing to wait to sell our current house until after we make an offer on our next house. This means our offer can be without contingency, and will be preferred by the seller over a contingency offer at the same price from another buyer. Making an offer without contingency also means we can minimize the length of time we are separated from our stored prep food, supplies and equipment. The cost of this plan will be two mortgage monthly payments for a little while, but it’s worth the increased security.

Now it’s your turn – what moving tips do you have for your fellow preppers? Is there some property feature that you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Awesome article Bobcat! Welcome to the author club! 🙂 Very good information. I particularly like your advice to avoid earthquake/flood/nuclear power plant areas. Not a lot of people consider those plants as a hazard, but they really are.

    I am currently constructing a map using Google Earth which marks every Level ! or Level II Trauma Center in the US, every state/federal prison, every nuclear power plant/military nuclear site/old nuclear disaster site (didn’t know we had some really nasty areas in our country, eh?), and every military base in the country. I’m using a second program called “Range Rings for Google Earth” to plot circles around these points so I can determine distances are are too far from good things or too close to bad things. When that map is finished (so busy with school and family) I will then plot preferable pieces of land my wife and I will consider for homesteading (found on sites like on the map and see where they fall within the good/bad markings on the map.

    When I’m finished I’ll write a Prepper Journal article if Pat will have it and submit the base layers as a downloadable tool for anyone to use. Believe me, having all these sorts of things laid out is a real eye opener and has heavily influenced my land choices already in ways I would never have thought possible.

      1. I have realized that it will be a huge boon to the prepping community.

        It started out just putting a 60 mile radius around major hospitals (a requirement my wife has stipulated for any move). But what I soon realized was that 60 miles “as the crow flies” really doesn’t mean much when there are no major roads near, or a mountain separating a plot of land.

        As the map grew, I started adding the prisons and nuclear plants, then I discovered we had some really nasty nuclear waste accidents in the 50’s and 60’s, and did more research to learn just how toxic the “cleaned”/”decommissioned” and active plants really are, particularly if you’re downwind or use the groundwater supply they inevitably contaminate. Bad stuff all around.

        What I wish I had though, was a specific program which would allow me to overlay annual average weather (temps, precipitation, etc). As it stands, that has to be separate research used in conjunction with just seeing if a piece of land is near good things and far enough away from bad things. Other things to also consider are the politics of the state (guns, hunting, gardening, basic utility requirements, zoning, etc).

        Another interesting note is that there is barely any of the lower 48, barring some of the utmost remote fly-over country, that isn’t within a 2 hour (120 miles) helicopter flight of a US military base. As a veteran that can be a good thing, but if there’s a SHTF / martial law type event, the military has a near-unfathomable ability to project large amounts of power quickly across the country. Ground troops could take a while to respond because they’re hindered by the same things you and I are (geography, road size/path, etc) but air power doesn’t play by those rules.

        I expect the map to be as functional as I intend for general 1st edition release before the next school semester hits. By leaving some information off I feel it allows for folks to customize it a bit more to their own liking. Stay tuned.

  2. Like many I am looking for land. I have been searching and am finding Georgia with the best opportunities. Land in SC is way over priced. However the police situation in Georgia is less than acceptable.

    1. I think the police situation will depend on the people more so than the location, but you can have a toxic leadership that would pollute a lot of otherwise good people. If I were searching for land I would be looking for as low a population (equals less law enforcement) as possible.

    2. ROFL…I’m looking in SC because property in the Peoples Commonwealth of PA is overpriced and our new overlord wants to raise taxes. Shocking I know.

      1. I’m looking at a place with 7.5 acres that pretty much meets my main criteria of having a BBQ in my new neighbors the Bigfoots.

  3. I believe the most overlooked aspect of moving to a ‘safer’ location is ‘who are your neighbors’? In rural areas good neighbors are a distinct asset. The concept of OpSec may work in towns and cities, but in the country you are the ‘new guy’.

    Everyone who already lives in a rural area knows who the ‘new guy’ is, what cars you drive, when you come and go, when your moving van showed up, how often UPS comes by, etc. Good neighbors watch out for each other, help each other out, and generally are an overlooked and underated survival asset.

    In any natural disaster, over 70% of all rescues are performed by friends and neighbors. So, good neighbors matter maybe even more than some of the physical aspects of any particular piece of property. Meet your neighbors BEFORE you buy.

    Another point is knowing how local hazards like fire and flood could impact your particular chosen property. A beautiful self-sufficient Prepper home overlooking a creek at the end of a long gravel road with overgrown vegetation all around may just mean that you have no escape route for fire and flood. TEOWAWKI won’t matter if you can’t survive common disasters at your new location.

    Just some thoughts on the subject of moving….

      1. I did knock on a couple doors on our sm town street b4 buying (b4 I became a prepper), & the neighbors told me a few things about the street that a newcomer like me would not have noticed or seen. Not sure what else I’d ask differently now, as a prepper. Maybe how reliable is the elect com service? Any farmers/ranchers I can get manure from, for our garden? Have u ever had ur well water tested? Any drug dealers or addicts in the neighborhood I need to watch out for? Is there much theft (or any shootings) around here? Or a more general question: What’s it like living around here?

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