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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
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).
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:
- 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.