Urban Prepper Basics for Catastrophe Survival in the City and Urban Areas

Even if you are fortunate enough to have a retreat out in the country getting to your safe-haven maybe impossible during an urban upheaval. Roads blocked by wrecked and fuel-less vehicles will stop most people who are bugging out in their tracks. Maybe you were born lucky and can make it out safely before the balloon bursts, then what?

People in rural areas will start shooting if threatened by mobs of refugees fleeing the city. Don’t expect to be welcomed with arms outstretched. Most country folks don’t trust outsiders; you will likely be greeted with a load of buckshot and not the cup of fresh coffee and meaningful conversation you had hoped for.

After the cities are in ruins, criminal gangs will start to migrate into surrounding rural areas (especially known farming areas) where they will continue their business of stealing, raping and terrorizing in more fruitful territory (when selecting a rural retreat location get as far away from urban areas and main roads as possible).

If you can’t or won’t get out of your urban location NOW at least start making plans to survive the best that you can where you are. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.

Food for urban preppersprepper food storage for city survival

You should store enough food to last at least six months – more than one year would be ideal, but probably impossible for most urbanites because of limited storage space. This means enough food to live on without leaving home. Food staples include rice, beans, honey, wheat, sugar, tea, coffee, salt, pepper, baking soda, cooking oil etc. Also canned soups, meats, fruits and vegetables should be included for verity. The food storage calculator is an excellent tool for approximating needed qualities of foods and is a great help here.

Also see my recent article – “How To Get a Family of Four Prepped for The Coming Collapse – In The Quickest and Easiest Way Possible” for a full list of supplies and gear.

Sprouting seeds for fresh greens is a very important urban survival skill that will keep you supplied with fresh greens even in the winter. Sprouts are germinated seeds of vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes. Sprouts are nutritious, inexpensive and high in protein. Sprouts should be included in your survival food plans. All that is needed is a couple of quart mason jars, a squire of nylon window screen, rubber bands and viable seed stock.

If you decide to include whole grains in your diet, you will need a grain mill. All chosen grain mills should have changeable heads so you can use both steel and stone heads for grinding depending on the product being milled. Some people suggest that steel burred grinders cause heat that could damage the nutrient content of the grain. Don’t buy into that. Hand grinding doesn’t cause enough heat to cause damage.

Next you will need something to cook on. I recommend one of the Coleman multi fuel camp stoves. I have a Coleman Exponent Multi-Fuel Stove which burns both unleaded gasoline or kerosene. These stoves are small, light weight and very energy-efficient.

Remember, when using stoves like the Coleman camp stoves indoors the fumes must be vented to the outside, if not carbon monoxide can build up and kill you, especially in a small or confined area. In most cases an open window near the cooking area will suffice for ventilation – read and follow the instructions in the provided owners manual.

My top recommendation for outdoor cooking (cooking outdoors my attract unwanted attention) is the EcoZoom rocket stove – click on the link to read my full review.

If you don’t have one already go by your local shopping center and pick up a Stanley Aladdin narrow-mouth thermos bottle. You will use the thermos as an energy-efficient appliance for cooking. Don’t get a wide-mouthed thermos; if you intend to use it for cooking, these are less efficient at holding heat.

It is best to use a different bottle for cooking then your everyday thermos. Coffee smell for instance, tends to leach into whatever you are cooking, even if the bottle has been cleaned.

Thermos cooking is in no way difficult or complicated, all you need is some simple directions.

Water for urban preppers

Without a source of clean drinking water most of us will die within three to seven days, depending on individual health, weather conditions and workload. The problem with water is it’s difficult to store enough to last through an extended emergency and living in an urban apartment makes it nearly impossible.

Collecting rain water on the roofs of buildings could be a solution in areas that receive an ample amount rainfall. Use plastic sheeting, tarps etc, to funnel water into clean trash cans, buckets, “kiddie pools” or other suitable containers.

When I lived in an apartment building years ago, I bought several “kiddie pools” just for this purpose. They can be stored neatly stacked one inside the other and slid under the bed out-of-the-way until needed.

Some urban areas have lakes or streams near by but these will be polluted and contaminated – a running water source is better but still no guarantee of cleanliness. Never drink directly from the source; there is no way of knowing if the water is contaminated (it mostly will be) without proper testing. Don’t take chances; invest in a good water filter to be sure. The best filters filter out Bacteria, Organic Chemicals and Protozoa (Giardia) Viruses.

Shelter for urban preppers

I hated living in an apartment. I felt like I had no privacy what-so-ever, I could hear every word, whimper, moan or scream through the walls, ceiling and floor. I am sure everyone in the building felt the same way. If you are stuck in a large city an apartment is likely the situation you will need to deal with despite its limitations.

There are a few things you can do to make your place more secure. The first thing I did was replace the front door with a steel security door with dead bolt and peephole (same color and look of the old door). I hid the old door in the closet and replaced it when I moved. I also replaced the door leading into the bedroom with the same type door, lock and peephole set up for an instant safe-room (safer) inside the apartment.

Don’t forget smoke and carbon monoxide. Keep at least two fully charged fire extinguishers on hand at all times. Also the magnetic break door and window alarms work well when used to guard the windows and doors leading into the apartment.

If you are above the second floor an escape ladder or rope should be put back in case of fire. A proper mask should also be considered.

When we pay rent we are always faced with the possibility of eviction. If possible keep the rent paid up at least six months. If you have no other way of paying in advance, borrowing the money from the bank will keep you sheltered during hard times. I hate debt but this is on area where it could be to your advantage depending on your personal circumstances and how you work the situation.

Going mobile could be an option for the city survivor, but fuel will likely become a problem post collapse. Like everything else in life we must weigh the good against the bad and make our choices based on that knowledge. If you’re interested in this, some great information can be found here.

Weapons for urban preppers

Defense in the city will likely be a short-range engagement. For urban areas, I recommend a good pump-action 12 gauge shotgun and a handgun. The Mossberg 500/590 or Remington 870 are both excellent choices. For versatility put back a verity of shot-shell loads as well as buckshot and rifled slugs.

Handguns should be at least .38 caliber or above. I like both revolvers and semi-automatic handguns, in skilled hands both can be effective. Stay with what you know and practice. If you have had little or no training in this area seek out a competent instructor and become qualified. If you are fortunate enough to live in a state that issues concealed carry permits, you should apply for yours as soon as possible.

My favorite foraging tool in urban areas is the Savage Model 42.

Wild Game for urban preppers

In urban area you’ll mostly have a choice of small game such as rabbit and squirrel but what most people fail to realize is that the outskirts of most urban areas harbor a good number of whitetail deer. The trouble is that everyone will be hunting, so the numbers of wild game my be depleted quickly and let’s not overlook the danger of going out to hunt in those area…

Small game can be taken with traps, air rifles, slingshots or ever killed with a club or rock. When I lived on a lot in a small city, I shoot squirrels that found their way into my back lot with a .22 caliber rifle loaded with CB caps, (down-loaded .22 rimfire ammo) the little rounds are very quiet and can take most small animals out to about ten yards.

Deer can easily be snared or shot.

Most cities have an abundant pigeon population. It is a simple matter to follow the flock to their roost at dusk. Shinning a light into their eyes they tend to set still where they can be caught or killed with little trouble. Air guns and sling shots work well.

Without a doubt the most abundant source of meat in any urban environment is the common rat. They have thrived under even the most challenging circumstances. It is almost a certainty if there are human survivors after any catastrophe rats will be in abundance but likely infested with parasites and other things that could make you sick, and therefore should be used only as a last resort to avoid death from starvation. Like most small animals they can be trapped in homemade box traps or shot.

Gardening for urban preppers

Don’t expect to support yourself entirely from a city garden, at least not at first. I have raised tomatoes in a window box and hanging baskets on the terrace. Perhaps in time large community gardens would spring up that could be worked by groups of urban survivors.

During the first months preceding a total collapse, gardens will need to be hidden and out of sight. A lot of vegetables (especially among most city dwellers who think vegetables come from the supermarket) are easily mistaken for weeds and are not all that difficult to keep hidden from passers-by.

The first rule of avoiding detection is to never plant your crops using the traditional roll method. The three sisters gardening method comes to mind, some North American Indian tribes used this technique to grow corn, beans and squash to great effect and it acts as a natural camouflage.

When it comes to survival gardening, obviously we must start with seed – it is a necessity to have a source of viable seed on hand. Look for non-hybrid (“heirloom”) varieties, you want to be sure the seed saved from year to year will breed true and continue to do so. Hybrid varieties for the most part are unpredictable and seem to only do well during the first year of planting.

Most garden varieties should be included in your stock. Include such vegetables as: artichoke, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chives, corn, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, gourds, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard green, onions, parsley, parsnips, peanuts, peas, peppers, pumpkin, radishes, soybeans, spinach, squash, sunflowers, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnip, watermelon, zucchini etc; In general put back seeds that grow well in your area and of foods you like to eat.


Even in the most populated areas after the rioting, burning and looting subsides there will be survivors. The most difficult part is surviving the first few months after the crash, and then the rebuilding can begin.

Please share your thoughts and urban survival tips for city preppers in the comments section below…

News from the Redoubt of the East – Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau

Some interesting developments in my state of Tennessee aka The Redoubt of the East – if you’re from Tennessee say hello in the comments below.

Lawmaker Seeks to Ease Gun Silencer laws in Tennessee: A state lawmaker is seeking an end to Tennessee’s firearm silencer ban in the name of “hearing protection.” About 582,000 Tennesseans currently hold handgun carry permits.

Please contact state representatives and let them know that you support this bill.

Six12 shotgun production to launch in Tennessee: Owners of the apparel company Crye Precision will set up shop to manufacture a novel shotgun design in the heart of Tennessee. Earlier this year, gun maker Beretta USA also officially opened its doors in the neighboring town of Gallatin. The company decided to relocate most of its operation from Maryland about two years ago.

In God We Trust” be added to Tennessee license plates: The bill should easily pass the ultra-conservative general assembly, but there’s no guarantee Governor Bill Haslam will sign it. Last year, Haslam vetoed a bill making the Bible the state’s official book.

Tennessee buck officially measured for world record status: According to the folks with the tape measure, it is official. Tennessee is now home to the world record, “hunter-taken” non-typical whitetail deer.

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader: Refugee resettlement lawsuit could be filed soon: Tennessee’s lawsuit will be the first of its kind in the nation, given that it will challenge the federal government for noncompliance of the Refugee Act of 1980 based on the 10th Amendment. The amendment says the federal government possesses only powers delegated to it by the U.S. Constitution and that all other powers are reserved for the states.

Strategic Relocation The Film FULL VERSION

And if you want the book – Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places.

Cities Of Refuge: Why Are People Creating Hundreds Of Places Of Refuge All Over America?

Contributed by Michael Snyder – Economic Collapse Blog

Place-Of-Refuge-Public-Domain-460x307All over the United States, cities of refuge are being created.  Now when I say “cities”, I don’t mean vast areas of land that can hold hundreds of thousands or millions of people.  Rather, I am talking about much smaller places of refuge that can accommodate dozens or hundreds of people.  In a few cases, I know of places of refuge that will be able to take in thousands of people, but that is about as big as they get.  There are individuals all across America that have specifically felt called to build communities where large numbers of people will be able to gather when society totally collapses.  So why is this happening?  Why do so many people feel such an urgency to create cities of refuge that would presumably never be used if we don’t ever see full-blown societal breakdown?

In the headline, I claimed that hundreds of these “cities of refuge” are being created, but the truth is that it could easily be thousands.  I have personally talked to countless numbers of people that are like my wife and I and are planning to be able to take in members of their own extended families when things get really crazy.  But there are others that are taking things to an entirely different level.

I was recently contacted by a man in New York state that plans to convert a hotel and surrounding facilities into a place of refuge that could potentially accommodate hundreds of people for an extended period of time.  I know of a ranch in southern Idaho where the staff has been feverishly preparing to take in thousands of people when society starts completely falling apart.  And I have corresponded with so many others both inside the United States and outside the country that are creating these types of communities.

It has been estimated that there are three million preppers in America today.  But those that are creating these places of refuge are not just “prepping” for themselves.  Instead, they feel called to prepare a place of safety where others will be able to gather when times get really crazy.

Due to the wide reach of my articles, I have had a lot of people involved in these communities reach out to me over time.  Some have graciously let my wife and I know that there is a place for us if needed during a major emergency, and others have wanted for us to become personally involved in what they are doing.  I wish that I could get involved in all of them, but there is a limit to what any one of us can do.  But I always encourage people to keep pressing forward with their preparations, because without a doubt they will be needed someday.

In addition to what is happening inside the United States, there are others that have already left this country and are creating places of refuge abroad.  There are people that are doing this in South America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East.

And of course every “place of refuge” looks different.  As I mentioned above, some plan on transforming existing hotels or ranches into places of refuge.  Others plan to use open land to host large numbers of RVs or to construct vast tent cities.

But there are five big things that all places of refuge need to be thinking about…

1. Food – It is going to take vast quantitites of food to even feed dozens of people.  When you are talking about hundreds or thousands of people, the amount of food required for a place of refuge will be off the charts.

2. Water – None of us can live without water, and it has been estimated that the average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water every single day.  Of course we would all use a lot less during an emergency situation, but if your “place of refuge” does not have easy access to water that could become a major problem very rapidly.

3. Shelter – It is nice to think that you are going to take in a lot of people, but where are all of them going to sleep?  Most people don’t think of mattresses or cots as “survival items”, but the truth is that they are going to be greatly in demand when things get crazy.

4. Power – If the electricity goes off and stays off for an extended period of time, what are you going to do?  How will people stay warm, how will you cook food, and how will your community function without any artificial light whatsoever?  Having an alternative source of power for your place of refuge is very important.

5. Security – If there was a full-blown collapse of society, any place that still has ample resources is automatically going to become a target.  So it is great if you have everything that your community will need, but if you have no way to protect it you can end up losing it all very quickly.

For even more tips on preparing for what is ahead, please see my recent article entitled “70 Tips That Will Help You Survive What Is Going To Happen To America“.

There are a lot of preppers out there that are only preparing for themselves and their immediate families, and anyone else that comes looking for assistance when things get really hard will end up looking down the barrel of a shotgun.

But there are so many others that feel called by God to prepare a place for large numbers of people to gather during the coming storm.  They are doing this by faith, because such places have never been needed before in modern American history.  Perhaps if you go all the way back to the Great Depression of the 1930s you could find large groups of people that needed somewhere to go, but since that time we have generally been regarded as the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on the entire planet.

Unfortunately, things are rapidly changing in this country.  Our economy is in the process of crumbling, there is evidence of social decay all around us, natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity, and World War 3 could erupt in the Middle East at any time.

If I am right, the time when these cities of refuge will be needed is not that far away.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans are not preparing for what is ahead, and so most of them will be absolutely devastated by the great trials that are directly ahead of us.

Homestead / Prepper Retreat Located Within the Eastern Redoubt

A ready made homestead / prepper retreat located within the “Eastern Redoubt“. It needs a little work on the inside of the house but at only $79,000 it’s a bargain. It looks like someone was setting it up with the goal of being self-sufficient but something happened (probably divorce)  and they are having to sell…

Check it out – note I am not affiliated with this property in anyway, and earn not money from the sell nor am I being paid to mention it here.

The Beginners Guide To Selecting, Stockpiling And Defending A Survival Retreat Part Two

by L Michael Rusin – read part one here

Once you have your retreat purchased you can begin the serious work of getting it ready to receive you and your hand-picked group. Everyone needs a place to live, sleep, eat and relax. All members of your group will need a place to be alone or completely by themselves for a period of time. I learned that lesson when I took off on my forty-one foot sailboat many years ago and headed for the South Pacific. Take my word for it, everyone needs to have a place where they can be completely alone.

You must have adequate sanitary services for everyone. It should not be very close to your main retreat drinking water supply and close enough if during your rainy season or the winter snows that getting there won’t be a chore. It needs to be well ventilated for obvious reasons. There should be a kerosene lamp located in there as well or at least a candle.

I have always maintained that when you are setting up your retreat initially all buildings should be camouflaged when looking down at them from the air. Ideally, if there is time, you should build an underground structure as your main living area and as a gathering/meeting area.

They are climate controlled naturally year around, and are difficult to see from above. You always want to draw the least amount of attention on your retreat and your group. I cannot overemphasize to anyone who is a serious survivalist your retreat is the last stop and it will be your ultimate safety if and when the free trade and commerce stops around you for any reason. How bad things will get in the event of a national disaster such as an economic collapse can only be imagined, but all anyone has to do is look back on history to get a good idea.

The Watts riots in California were tantamount to mass insurrection and anarchy. The police stood by and watched. The firemen were sniped at, when it was all done and over few if any went to jail for what they did. The fires raged consuming everything in its path. Shop and store owners who armed themselves survived the melee; those who walked away lost everything.

Entire neighborhoods were leveled to the ground and looting was unbelievably brisk and thorough. I know there are those who find that savagery on a scale not imagined in today’s time of relative order will argue that it won’t be that way, and I say remember the police in New Orleans when Katrina leveled the city; what did they do? They left town and people were on their own. Later, they wanted their jobs back.

Violence driven by mobs is a terrible thing to see and to experience firsthand. There are never any preconditions or avenues of safety to seek refuge. Once you are caught up in it its every person for themselves. People get trampled to death, they are beaten, knifed and shot and the vilest acts that can be perpetrated on human beings by other human beings is unimaginable. The cruelty and the savagery is totally beyond what the average person can conceive. Be warned, a safe and hidden retreat is your only safety net and how you put it together will be the telling of your story later on when the dust settles.

The less inviting you can make your retreat the better chances it will have of providing you and yours safe refuge. You will not survive several hundred people attacking you for your food, your water, medicine, weapons and your women. They will strip everything off the beaten paths several miles from main highways and waterways in every direction like Army Ants. You will be killed or maimed for your shoes and especially your arms and food. The better you can prepare your retreat and to hide it from those possibilities the better off you will be.

Every activity anyone in your group does once the collapse occurs will have to be monitored by another member of your group. If you toil the fields, someone will have to be armed and must be alert to any trouble. If you have to travel for water, someone will have to be on guard. All members of your group will be armed 24/7s if they hope to survive. If the occasion occurs that extreme violence must be perpetrated against a fellow human being, it must be done without hesitation by that member of your group guarding the rest of you or they will probably die.

Think about what it must have been like to the pioneer farmer on the frontier in the US who was constantly prepared for either an Indian attack on their farmstead or bad men just passing by and wanting whatever it is that the farmer had. His food stocks, animals, and women were easy pickings for several armed men going from here to there. Usually, the farmer didn’t have much of a chance unless he was close to the house when the attacks occurred. If he was out and away in the fields, the children and women were raped, killed or carried away.

Put it in perspective; you have struggled to stock up your retreat, you have done without to be better prepared. Stocking and putting together a retreat is a massive job that is usually done by people who are committed and dedicated to insuring they and theirs will survive. There are many who will live off the struggles of others and will take what you have because they are either too lazy or don’t have the imagination to do what you have done to get prepared. The jails and prisons are jammed pack with those kinds. Is allowing those ilk to come along, seeing what you have and later taking it from you is what you have sacrificed to put together just because you want to be a humanitarian? In the situations I am discussing here, nice guys finish dead.

Regards, L Michael Rusin Author of the Novels: Avalon The RetreatAvalon: Beyond the RetreatCalifornia’s Child, and available soon: Avalon: The Reconstruction, “Wormwood”

The Beginners Guide to Selecting, Stockpiling and Defending a Survival Retreat part one

by L Michael Rusin – read part 2 here

In order to survive a catastrophe of monumental proportions you will have to have a place to get to where you can ride out the storm in safety. If it is near a city, or a sizable town, or any closer than ten miles from a major well-traveled artery such as an Interstate highway, and a major waterway such as the Mississippi River the chances of it being taken over by someone other than yourself is likely.

It should be no more than three hours of driving to from where you live. It must be large enough to grow your own food, and steps should have been taken well before the disaster occurs as to what to do to get it livable and defensible. The first and most important thing to do is to make the purchase or at least be in the process of purchasing the land. A deed in hand is better regardless of what happens later than to be a squatter on land that belongs to someone else.

Put it in the name of a gun club or some such entity to account for the occasional gunfire that may be heard by a passerby. Choose your retreat carefully, you’ll need an adequate water supply on the land, and if it is a sizable stream or artesian water source that would be best of all worlds. You’ll also need an adequate wood supply if it looks like the stay there will be longer than a few months.

Clearing fields of fire is always a good idea. Modern day rifles can reach out and take out an “unfriendly” at a thousand yards with some practice, especially a rifle with a good scope. Put up a few towers where a sentry from your group can see in every direction. The “A” camps of Special Forces Troopers did it in Vietnam and it works to keep sappers and other intruders from penetrating and overpowering your retreat. The higher up the observer is the better the view.

You will need to plant fruit and nut trees in an area reserved for that important essential and plot out several areas where farm animals can graze and where wheat and vegetables can be grown. Fence it off if you can. Think in terms of “everything you do to your retreat could be permanent.” You may well be spending the rest of your life there, and field crop rotations are very important to maintain your land at peak performance.

If anyone in your group has the expertise, bring in a few hives of Italian honey bees and keep them out there under or near the trees. They are self-sufficient and provide a delicacy called honey which is not only good for eating but for putting on wounds. It will help any break in the skin to heal quickly. Honey is the only natural food that never spoils. Your little helpers can be bought through the mail and will be delivered to you by return mail.

You should have more than one water supply. One of those should be very close to the main structure of your retreat. Once you have your retreat purchased and or in your group’s ownership, the stocking should begin.

You will need:

Your group will need lots of dishes, utensils, knives and sharpening devises that will keep your knives and axes at peak cutting performance, and don’t forget the pots and pans. A hand wheat grinder.

Of course there are many more things but there are many books out there that will help you gather what you need.

If you don’t have a survival library start building one now.

A wood or coal burning stove would be an important addition. Store a ton of coal nearby.

If a steady supply of electricity is available or you have made provisions to have it available, you’re way ahead of the game.

If not, there are root cellars that can be dug and a food cooler can be made from a wood frame, with canvas and dripping water to cool things. The preservation of food will be a critical factor because you don’t want to get sick from spoiled foodstuffs and you won’t want to waste anything either.

If possible, the entry from any road to your property should be camouflaged. Put bushes at the turn off and hide your road. Place barriers such as brush piles and logs to hide access. Tire spikes are also good when placed strategically. Somewhere near the entry should be a hidden bunker that can be manned by a couple of people from the group that will have two way radios. It will be important for all members of your group to be in constant contact with one another once the need arises.

The preservation and safety of your retreat is the most important element you can concentrate on. The road leading to your property should have a devise that will collapse at your discretion through some means such as a collapsible bridge, leaving entry impassable from the road by ordinary vehicles if it was discovered by looters or marauding groups.

It might be very advisable to cut access off and you will want to do it quickly. This is done by putting hinges on supporting posts that have heavy duty pins inserted in each one and are removable, and then these posts are connected to a 3/8” wire cable that can be connected to a car or pickup. Once the pins are removed a tug is applied to the cable and down it comes.

If you understand how to do it, make a map marking where you have placed your anti-personnel deterrents. Do it as you are placing them. It is preferable you do this with a GPS to insure accuracy in the placement of each. Make sure all avenues giving anyone access to your main structures are secured. There are many ways to do this. I may tell you how to do this in another piece if there is an interest.

If anyone is sneaking up on your group at any time and they are uninvited, you have to believe they are up to no good and you will have to deal with them harshly. Not always, because there are no absolutes but compassion will take a back seat to preservation of your group. That will be a decision you will have to grapple with later. Personal decisions have no guide other than what you will do when that time is on you.

Protect your people, your cache’s, your main compound, your food and water and access to all of it. If someone happens along after society has collapsed, there will be no law, only you and your group against all others. Hard decisions will eventually have to be made. Make sure you have a leader who can make those types of decisions.

Don’t depend on some armchair warrior who spouts how tough he is at a tavern over a few beers to make those decisions. Know who that person is and what that person’s background is. Choose carefully, your life and the lives of your group may depend on it.

L Michael Rusin – author of Avalon the RetreatAvalon Beyond the Retrea and California’s Child.

Seeking Advice on Choosing a Retreat Location

Hi, MD. Thank you so much for your articles. They are quite informative. At this point, I’m trying to decide between buying land in the Cumberland Plateau towards Chattanooga or North Idaho near Sandpoint or Priest River. I’m currently in Nor Cal, but from the Midwest originally.

In a year or so, I’ll be finishing a Master’s in Oriental Medicine. Not only do I plan to homestead, but will be setting up a clinic, as well. The area would need to be open to alternative medicine and also have affordable land for being off grid. The crime, drugs and high unemployment in East TN does concern me. Also the violent storms the Plateau can get.

I read your blog re TN’s good, bad & the ugly, but based on my situation, do you have any further advice?

Thanks again for writing your blog. It’s been really helpful.

With gratitude, Natalie

M.D. Replies: It depends on what you need and want, ​because both have positive and negative factors to consider. I suggest that you buy Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places, it’s full of well researched information. A few of the factors for me choosing north-east TN was weather and growing conditions, plenty of water sources and rain fall, plenty of trees and cover where you can set up a hidden retreat – for example anyone passing by my place on the gravel road can not see anything that I’m doing, my garden, animals, buildings or anything even in winter.

Also read:

Local news report : Survivalists deem TN Plateau prime prepper property

Getting Out Of Dodge. One Couples Story.

Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest –Jay in Kansas

It was raining early that morning as the wife and I threw the last of our belongings into her trunk, and then herded the dogs into the back seat of my truck. We were approximately three hours ahead of what would become known as Superstorm Sandy skimming the coast of Virginia as it reserved its rage for the Northeast. I took a last look at the house we’d owned for the past eight years, and thought of the money we’d invested in the place. The hardwood floors, the crown molding, the flat screens mounted on the wall in every room, the stainless steel appliances, the three tiered deck with hot tub.

All of the trappings of consumerism and shiny things that a relatively affluent married couple in their late twenties are attracted to. The life that she’d so vigorously pursued since her days in College, that’d I dreamed of when I’d joined the Air Force at nineteen. We met through some mutual friends, and discovered similar backgrounds, both of us having “escaped” from similar circumstances, farm towns in the Midwest. Early morning chores, harsh winters and blistering summers. Harvest and canning weekends. Chickens and a few jersey cows. We both had to get out of where we came from. See the REAL world, the exciting world where things happened!

We were blessed. I exited the Air Force and used my benefits to complete a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration that secured me a job in a relatively recession proof line of work that paid well. This allowed the wife to complete her Masters in Education while still teaching. We worked hard and did what was expected of a young and fairly well off married couple. We purchased and upgraded a very nice home twenty minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. We bought flashy cars (I paid cash for a BMW 325i, in Pepsi Blue, we financed the wife’s Champagne BMW 745).

My wife had (has?) an impressive collection of Coach Handbags. The only practical items we had at the time came in the form of my firearm collection, a hobby carried over from what my wife lovingly referred to as my “redneck days”. We had debt, but other than the car, we were fortunate enough to keep it at fairly low levels (I’d say we maxed it out around $4,000.00 in credit card debt when what I refer to as our awakening happened).

We are basically libertarians. I don’t think I have a right to tell anyone how to live their personal lives. And if I don’t have that right, I’m pretty darn sure the Federal BeauracRATS in DC don’t either. We are also fiscal conservatives. QE and its various phases concerned me, as did the general response to the recession, specifically the notion that we would somehow successfully SPEND our way out of a problem exacerbated by spending completely flummoxed me. I found the economics of it all discouraging and began to feel that the situation was untenable.

What gradually became more and more unbearable, though, were the people in the area. It seemed more and more welfare squatters and members of what are dubbed the “Free S*it Army” were invading what had previously been middle and upper middle class neighborhoods. More and more buildings designed to “help” these “housing insecure” folks were coming up, with predictable results. The final straw came in early Spring of 2012. My wife, now working as an Assistant Principal at a Public Middle School, was ‘Suspended” pending an investigation into her judgment of an incident at her school.

A white sixth grade boy was jumped on the school basketball courts by three eighth grade black boys. He was robbed of his wallet and cell phone and roughed up. Not ambulance roughed up, but school nurse scraped and bruised roughed up, with a black eye for his trouble. The boy went to his teacher and reported the assault and its perpetrators. My wife interviewed the delinquents, had the chief ones locker searched, and lo and behold the cell phone and wallet were there. There were no prior disciplinary incidents with any of the parties, so my wife issued three day suspensions to the two who weren’t in possession of stolen property and five days to the thief. Open and shut, right? Wrong.

Two days later she received a call from the Superintendant. The mother of the thief, it turns out, was an officer in the local chapter of the NAACP, outraged that her baby was the victim of profiling and accusations by a white child, with no other witnesses, who clearly singled out her child and his friends based upon the color of their skins. The possession of stolen property was clearly a misunderstanding, and though regrettable, her Baby should never had had his locker searched (though case law is conflicted on this), and HOW DARE he be interrogated without her present??! The Superintendant caved rather than risk the NAACP picketing him and his “too young” twenty-nine year old Assistance Principal. The Suspensions were reversed and my wife was sent home with pay for 7 days. That night, we had a long conversation. We came to the conclusion. Between the social environment, and the direction our country was headed (if you couldn’t see that Obama was going to be re-elected a mile away, you were blind), this place, this life, just wasn’t for us anymore. It was time to Get Out Of Dodge.

I had become interested in the survival blogs back in 2011, mostly this one and JWR’s. We could both hearken back to our childhoods to remember the basics required to give this a shot. We began a program of accumulating storage food and ammunition (I previously only kept enough for what I was shooting that day on range trips). We began looking at alternative jobs for our skill sets. I spoke with my Boss, who was amenable to me telecommuting. I spent most of my days in my office alone with my computer anyway.

It was with the understanding that I would be providing my own internet and fax line, and would be required to fly back as needed to strat planning sessions (bi-annual meetings), which the company would expense. My wife began applying with many of the Online Universities for a professorship. She was hired in late August to one of the more reputable schools, and by teaching three online courses, ten weeks on and two weeks off, she would be taking only a fairly negligible paycut in exchange for mobility. I sold my BWM and bought a 2009 Silverado Crew Cab in 4WD. The wife traded in her 745 for a 4WD Honda Pilot. The pieces were falling into place, but the biggest problem still existed.

Where to go? We had sufficient savings, both in our regular savings and in our 401k’s, to allow for a significant down payment on a purchase of acreage in most areas commonly thought of as retreat areas, with the vast majority of it paid off with the sale of our current house, but where to go? The Cumberland Plateau, for various reasons, was unattractive to me, but my wife liked it. I preferred the American Redoubt area, but the temperatures were too low for my beach loving wife.

We were stumped, and seemingly at an impasse. And then, just like that, it fell into place. I was born and raised in rural Kansas. My family still owns 36 acres that my father raises cattle and horses on (the horses are more or less for fun). He farms it and makes a decent living on it for him and my Mom. My father called me on a Sunday afternoon in late August, and during the course of a normal conversation, he mentioned that a friend of a friend two counties over had lost his battle with cigarettes via lung cancer. He had lived on thirteen acres, with two wells, 1600 square foot home, barn, and shop, all well-maintained and ready.

His wife had no desire to maintain the farm without him, and the kids had no interest in returning. Rather than leave the house on the market for the foreseeable future, the widow had agreed to auction the house and land. Good ground. No high speed internet connections, but we could acquire satellite internet. We were on a plane five days later. There we discovered, well, everything we were looking for, with the exception of a creek or river on the property. But the benefits it provided of being within two hours of my family, and a state and area that I was familiar with from my youth, far outweighed that drawback. It was what we wanted. The auction would be in 4 weeks. We would return.

To make a long story short, we were able to win the bidding at the auction for the house and land, though not without committing almost ten thousand dollars more than we initially wanted to pay. Our house in Virginia stayed on the market for 4 very stressful months after we left before selling for five thousand below our asking price. We took it as a cost of doing business. If everything goes as planned, we’ll have our new home paid off in approximately five more years. That’s not too shabby.

So fast forward. We’ve now been here three years, we’re still employed, the economy has still managed to crawl along through smoke and mirrors. But our lives are completely different than what they were. So what have we learned? That’s the big thing right? What have our experiences taught us? I’ll try and enumerate them as best I can without rambling on any more than I already have

1. Work as hard as you can, so that your reputation precedes you. I do not believe for a moment that if I were an “average” worker at my job, an 8:02 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. (4:30 on Fridays) kinda guy that my employer would have had any interest whatsoever in my telecommuting. If my wife had not busted her rear end and become the youngest school administrator in the state to that point, the likelihood of the online college hiring her at the salary they did was virtually zero. Odds are, your chosen profession does not exist in the rural area you want to relocate to. Be so good at it that your company will follow you.

2. Talk is cheap. If you’re going to move, if you really believe that that is what is best for you and your family, if you see the writing on the wall that where you are is an unsalvageable position, don’t just talk about moving. Don’t just post on these comment boards about how one day soon you’re going to get out of Tallahassee or Atlanta or XYZ City of 150,000 people. Do It! As I write this, Baltimore is in flames with rioters and looters gone amuck and the National Guard on Standby. As my father is fond of saying, “Son, it’s time to {expletive} or get off the pot.” Folks, it’s not going to get better. Not for a very long time. If you’re going to do something, then get off your rear end and do it.

3. Ignore the excuses. There are always going to be a million reasons why you cannot make the move. Sick relatives, poor decisions, job situations (see number 1) etc etc etc. If you’re scared, just say you’re scared. Admit it. Own it. Then get over it. Everyone is scared. Everyone has liabilities where they live. Everyone fears something different. Excuses are justifications for those fears. But you have to ask yourself, “Am I as scared now as I will be when my full paycheck buys two days of groceries and the mob of looters just burned down the drugstore two blocks from me, and I think they’re headed down my street”. You’re afraid of the wrong things. Just do it.

4. When you get where you are going, remember, you did not relocate to heaven. I see so many people pretend the Cumberland Plateau, the Midwest, the Mountain Northwest is some kind of holy land, where everything is great, everyone loves everyone, the beer is always free, and skittles fall from rainbows in the sky. This is so wrong, at least in my own experience.

Folks, the plains are blistering hot in the summer and bitingly cold in the winter. The wind blows constantly, but only in the ways that are NOT helpful. Looking for a cool breeze on an August day? You’re far more likely to get a blast furnace opening in your face feeling. Rest assured that whatever direction you are walking in January, the snow will be blowing in OPPOSITE way. You’ll be on constant lookout for the thieving Meth Heads scrounging for copper or wiring or anything else not nailed down to steal in the middle of the night.

There will be the local political bickering with the county over assessments and appraisals and proposed tax hikes for the county seat 60 minutes away for a new High School that YOU get to help fund, while meanwhile they’re going to start charging higher prices to sell your wares at the farmers market. It’s not perfect out here folks. If you think it is, you’re in for a HUGE disappointment. Not perfect, but SO MUCH better than where you are.

5. Be a good neighbor. Don’t forget, YOU’RE the new guy! Shoot, I grew up here, but left for fifteen years. That makes me new now. Be as helpful as you can, even when it doesn’t seem like it would be returned. Rural communities, especially the kind down dirt roads where you can’t see your neighbors from your porch, rely on each other. Last month, as Spring time in Kansas is wont to do, a huge nasty storm ripped through the county. Took down some of my fence sections on my perimeter and knocked some limbs over. I cleaned up, and headed down the road to my neighbor Pete’s house. Pete and I have probably spoken five or six times in the last three years. But Pete is my neighbor, and as it turned out, Pete had an entire tree uprooted and land on the roof directly over his youngest daughter’s bedroom. Boy was he glad to see me pull up with another chainsaw. Helping out out here is part of living out here.

6. DON’T BE A BORROWER!! I can’t stress the importance of this enough at all. I’m not talking about debt (though one should avoid that), I’m talking about items. If you are going to make a go at Homesteading, you are going to need more tools than you ever thought necessary. I refuse to hire a contractor unless as an absolute last resort. It’s a pride thing, especially out here. Therefore, invest heavily in your tools. Hand tools, power tools, tractors, lawn tractors, everything you think you will need. Look for them and find them and buy them. Out here, borrowing a tool is a sign of incompetence and/or poverty. And since folks are a bit too polite here to overtly ask for it back from you, if you forget to return it, well, it sounds silly, but folks have long memories around here. Also, it makes it hard to complete number five if you don’t have the stuff to help out.

7. Fit in! Don’t forget that YOU moved to THEIR community, not vice versa. So you need to make the effort to integrate yourself into the community. Go to the farmers market and buy and sell. Find your Church and SHOW UP every Sunday. Volunteer for the local charity drives. Find the local watering hole and introduce yourself and buy everybody a round now and again (if you indulge). Support the local High School teams (you are liable to find that high school sports are HUGE where you are going). Speaking of sports, I’m going to give you a big hint here, especially for you guys. Abandon any previous sports loyalties you brought with you, you are now a rabid fan of the most local pro-team.

This is one of the fastest ways to spark up conversation and become part of the community. For example, this will be my third NFL season here. Whereas I previously was a New York Giants fan, I am, and have been for two years, a Kansas City Chief devotee, along with 3 of my buddies that I met through the farmers market. I know, I know, someone is going to chastise me for “wasting” time and money on professional sports. I don’t consider it to be so. My three B’s are squared away and I work and live on active farm. Relax. It’s about being part of a community. That same community that will exist when things really do come crashing down.

8. Last but not least, OPSEC became no less important when you crossed the Mississippi than it was before you did. Don’t be the local survivalist kook down the dirt road. People prep here as ways of life, but not in the same way preppers do. It is engrained in them, but as a matter of course with the seasons and weather, not because they believe the world is coming to an end. When you’re asked “Why did you move here”(and you will be), don’t reply with “Well, the lines of drift during a zombie apocalypse indicate that with the population density, Hazard County will be one of the safest areas in the country, combined with gravity fed water systems when the grid goes down because the Dollar has been supplanted as the Worlds Reserve Currency, and the rolling high ground my farmhouse sits on presents a commanding field of fire against the cannibal biker gangs sure to be bent on looting my retreat!” You’re not going to make any friends that way; you’ll only be labeled as the local loon. Just stick with a slower pace of life or better opportunities, both of which are true. OPSEC has been discussed at length on this blog. Enough said about this.

So there it is. One couples story about getting gone and just a few of the lessons learned in the experience. I recognize that my wife and I are blessed, and everyone’s situation is different. But I wanted to share our story and hopefully inspire some others to make the leap.

Prizes for this round (ends October 11 2015 ) in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive –  Two Just In Case… Essential Assortment Buckets courtesy of LPC Survival a $147 value, a  Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain Mill courtesy of FoodPrepper.com a $219 value, and a gift certificate for $150 off of  Rifle Ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo… Total first place prize value over $516 dollars.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – A case of Sopakco Sure-Pak MRE – 12 Meals and a Lifestraw Family Unit courtesy of Camping Survival.com, and a One Month Food Pack courtesy of Augason Farms.com
  3. Third place winner will receive –  $50 cash.

Strategic Relocation Briefing—Kentucky and the Daniel Boone National Forest

By Joel Skousen

Author,  Strategic Relocation and The Secure Home

Kentucky and Tennessee are a couple of my favorite states for relocation for those already in the East looking for safety.  They are both in or beyond the Appalachian chain of mountains which will channel refugee flows coming from the east into known highway corridors, which can be strategically avoided.  First, let me offer some general comments about Kentucky, which is a very diverse state, with 13 distinct geographic regions, each with their good points and bad.

Far western Kentucky includes alluvial plains and small hills with good basement potential but not as much forestation as the east.  But be careful, certain western counties surrounding Madisonville also have large coal deposits. The low lying areas south of the Ohio River , however are are nearly flat and thus poorly drained, thus leading to a lot of wetlands.  Where good drainage allows, the land is fertile and productive.  The cities of Louisville, Owensboro and Henderson along the river are highly industrialized, with pockets of poor crime prone areas.

The East/central Bluegrass region around Lexington is probably the most sought after area in Kentucky and is known for its horse farms. The land is expensive because of that but you can still find reasonable land away from the horse farms.  I’m partial to the south/central area around Bolling Green, Ky, This is a great small city that has friendly people and low crime.  It is surrounded with great country farms with lots of patches of forest and trees.

Kentucky has the advantage of having huge swaths of forested land out in the main farm areas of the state.  If you look on the satellite view at Google Maps you can see a very broad swath of forest land starting just south of Louisville and meandering back and forth, east and west of I-65 on its way south to Bowling Green.  When you find farm land backed up to these forested areas, you get both farm self-sufficiency and forested retreat privacy.

Your choices in Kentucky are broader than you think, but the important thing is to follow these general criteria:  1) find land with basement potential, 2) good water resources (well, spring, or creek), 3) a mix of forestation for shielding and open land for cultivation, and 4) the home site should not be visible from any main or secondary paved road.

For higher security farms and retreats a lot of preppers are attracted to the Daniel Boone National Forest which is located along the Cumberland Plateau in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky—the subject of this briefing.  It encompasses over 700,000 acres of very rugged terrain and characterized by steep forested ridges and deep ravines—less than 15% is in private hands.

This is also coal country, especially in the regions abutting the national forest, where the most private land is found.  Here, you do have to be careful of pollution from mining as well as the uncertainties of not owning the mineral rights under your property.   Be especially careful about buying land after it has been strip mined and then “reclaimed,” by bringing in fill dirt of unknown quality.

As a consequence of coal and difficult terrain, the region is highly depressed financially as coal has been strangled by environmental regulation and farming has never done well in small plots—though that’s what we want for retreat farming, if they otherwise meet the above criteria.  The eastern counties of Kentucky have hundreds of small, mostly dying towns.  The down side of all this is that newcomers to the area are looked upon with some suspicion.  Why would anyone want to come to a place where there are few jobs?

Another  negative is the political orientation of Eastern Kentucky–a Democratic stronghold due to the mining and welfare mentality that persists in this area.  Even though Kentucky is in the hands of two Republican Senators, Rand Paul is a positive, and future Senate Majority Leader McConnell is a problem—a compromising Republican leader who talks a good story but doesn’t follow through, except to support the Powers That Be.

Weather is often cloudy and rainy in the Appalachians, so you have to be prepared for that.  The rain provides abundant water resources but is not the best for livability.

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia – Click for Larger Image.

For a look at the various divisions of the national forest, open up this link to the official map. The long national forest extends almost to the Ohio border in the north down to Tennessee in the south.  It is divided into 3 districts, the Cumberland to the north, the London district in the center and the Stearns district to the south. But, notice that there is a large district to the East called the Redbird district that is rarely shown in green (designating national forest) on most maps.

That’s probably because it is riddled with private land, which is great for retreat farms.  And there’s a good sized town in the middle, Manchester, Ky.  In this district, you’re surrounded by national forest but there’s plenty of private land to choose from—unlike the West where most national forests are locked up tight and where “inholders” are few and far between (and treated with some hostility by the Forest Service).  By the time these large forested lands were turned into national forests in the Appalachians, there was already way too much private farming to buy them all out, so they remain as “inholders.”

Normally, in Western states, I discourage the buying of remote inholding lands because there are too few property owners to mount an effective legal battle against the federal government should they choose to arbitrarily close off your access (which they have done in the past).  I don’t think confiscation of inholding land is a danger in this area because there are so many private holdings, and the constitution requires compensation (money the feds don’t have).

Some of the best areas of the National Forest in which to find private land is in the Southern Stearns District, West of Williamsburg along highways 92 and 478.  You don’t want to locate along those particular highways, but there’s a lot of private land and smaller roads branching off from both where you can find secluded homes and forested land.  In the middle of the district are the tiny towns of Stearns and Pine Knot which become the tourist and service centers for those living inside the National forest.

I actually prefer the land outside the forest between the town of Montecello, Ky and the western border of the DB National forest, bounded by the meandering south fork of the Cumberland river.  This is where you find real retreat land, already carved out by small farmers, but no major tourist roads or traffic—and less coal mining.

The central London District goes from Lake Cumberland in the south to the Kentucky River farther north.  This district is between the two major towns of London to the east and Somerset to the West, which provide good commercial access to those who find retreat sites amid the forest in between.  I-75 also crosses through the forest from SE to NW so stay clear of that passageway.  Much of the good retreat property near Somerset is to the East before you get to the National Forest, so don’t think you have to get within the national forest to be safe.  This central district is one of the few places that has a river running north/south through it (most other rivers simply cross the plateau West-East).  There isn’t much private land along this Rockcastle river, but there is some.  Follow it on Google maps (satellite view) to find cultivated parcels.

The northern district (Cumberland) is East of Lexington, Ky, a major city so there is more pressure on this area for second homes for the wealthy of Lexington.  But still there are plenty of rural farms available. If you need to be near a big city like Lexington, locate east of I-75 so you don’t have any major obstruction blocking your access to the mountains to the east. The towns of Winchester and Mt. Sterling are ideal for being fairly close to Lexington but also very close to the mountains.

M.D. Adds : If you’re a prepper from this area of KY near the Daniel Boone National Forest, I would love to hear from you – please email me.