How to Secure your Rural Homestead on a budget

By Lukas Nicholson

Home invasion deterrent.

Home invasion deterrent.

While living out and away from the hustle and bustle has its definite advantages, it also has some drawbacks that you should consider if you want to maintain the peace and quiet that drew you away from town in the first place. Although most of the crime reports seem to originate from more populated areas, that doesn’t mean that you should assume it won’t happen to you simply because you live out of the way.

Keep in mind that should your rural property be broken into or your home invaded, it will likely take law enforcement some time before they can get to you. In addition, it is likely you will have law enforcement patrolling nearby. Therefore it is up to you to secure your property and make it as uninviting a target as possible.

Keep things cleaned up

This may sound like odd advice, but it is important to keep your homestead cleaned up. An unkempt place will make potential thieves think you don’t care about your property, don’t spend much time there, or that it is so disorganized anything they steal won’t be missed. Don’t just toss that box your new 60 inch TV came in out where it could advertise the nice things you have inside.

If you have equipment lying around then you should put it away and not leave it out in plain sight. Why allow someone the opportunity to look over your things from a distance. In addition, don’t leave tools or equipment around that could be used to break through a window or door. Why make their job easier? It’s a good idea to keep brush and other vegetation cleared away so it can’t be used for concealment.

If you have broken windows or doors get them fixed. A thief is looking for an easy score. If they see well-kept buildings that don’t offer easy access they are likely to go visit a neighbor down the road.

Fences and gates

Keep up your fences and have them well signed. Broken fence lines along your property are an invitation for people to wander in. Consider putting fences around your outbuildings as well. If a thief is denied easy access to your property with a vehicle, they will be less inclined to take anything they have to carry very far.

Keep your gates closed and locked. This way nobody you find wandering the property can claim it was an accident. Place a sign on gates that you have video surveillance, even though you may not. Remember, the more doubts you can put into a thief’s mind the more likely they will move on.

Doors and windows

Consider replacing the doors on your home and outbuildings with solid core exterior doors and dead bolt locks. Always keep your windows locked or install secondary locking devices which keep them from being opened past a certain point. This includes windows on the second floor. Use landscaping as a deterrent as well. Think about planting the areas in front of windows with sharp edged plants such as roses or hawthorn.


Make it a point to get to know your neighbors, even though they may be a mile away or more, and keep on friendly terms with them. Stay in touch with them on a regular basis. That way if either one of you gets wind of suspicious activity you can warn each other. Its beneficial to have an extra set of eyes and ears even if they don’t live right next door.


Keep your property lit up. Make sure the entrances to your outbuildings are lighted which will further deter thieves and allow you to see any suspicious activity from the house.

Security System

If feasible, consider installing a security system in your house and outbuildings. Someone attempting to break into your house will reconsider when they hear an alarm going off, even if they think no one is around. An outbuilding outfitted with an alarm system will let you know if someone attempts to break into it while you are in the house. With so many systems to choose from, it may help to find some useful home security system reviews. M.D. Adds : I have and recommend the SimplySafe system.

Personal protection

Have an escape plan. You should have a plan in case you notice some suspicious activity or have someone actively trying to get into the house with you inside. Keep in mind that it will take law enforcement some time to get to you, so you will need to have a safe place to go unless you plan to confront the intruder. Install a reinforced door and lock in one of your rooms and use it.

A dog will typically alert you to anything unusual before you take note of it. Again, just the presence of a dog on the premises will be a big deterrent, as a thief knows that even if it isn’t vicious a dog will draw unwanted attention. When it comes to personal protection, it’s not a question of if you own a gun; it’s a matter of if you’re prepared to use it. If you have any doubts an alternative may be as simple as a can of pepper spray. An even better solution is bear spray, which comes in a larger container. With bear spray aiming is not necessary. It can stop a charging grizzly, so imagine what it will do to an unwelcomed intruder.

Lukas Nicholson works in the home security field and often writes on the subject of home security.

If you have tips and advice on how to secure a remote homestead please share those with us in the comments below. Thank you.


  1. Nice article!~ I am a big believer in keeping things picked up, organized, and out of sight! Also in thinking about ways and means to chain up, bolt to, lock up anything that even resembles something easy to steal.

    I also like security cameras in birdhouses all over the property, keep out and trespass signs, outdoor motion and security lighting, blackberry thicket perimeter fencing.

  2. Good reminder.

    I like the sign “911? Why? I have 160 acres and a backhoe.”

    I understand that lethal force is not the answer for everyone. But you may want to seriously consider it an option.

    I remember that article not too long ago where the body builder (I believe) was attacked in his home. He sprayed the assailant, but it took his wife with a knife to stop him.

  3. For a lot of reasons the drug of choice in rural areas is Meth, and those addicted are less likely to be deterred by bear spray, if you are prepping you need to get comfortable with the concept of deadly force, it sucks but it is reality.
    Alarms are good, but you have to think outside the box, like having them turn on flashing strobes, using those “deer deterrent” motion activated sprinklers, anything you can think of to disrupt the invaders thinking. I have a friend in Florida that before he sold his home had one of those silly signs on a tree that read “trespassers will be eaten” with a pic of an alligator on it, but what really worked was the big, heavy chain with the broken harness at the base of the tree. He also had silhouette plywood targets set up near his gate with just the right amount of buck shot holes displayed. again, silly, but there are a lot of things that work to deter.

    • rjarena,

      “For a lot of reasons the drug of choice in rural areas is Meth, and those addicted are less likely to be deterred by bear spray, if you are prepping you need to get comfortable with the concept of deadly force, it sucks but it is reality.”

      I’m a strong believer in having several levels of force available to me because you may not need to shoot everyone, depending on the situation. I have bear spray, followed by a Taser then a firearms. This gives you more options for different situations.

      • I like to keep several cans of hornet spray stashed in strategic locations. Shoots a stream 25 feet, no permit, perfectly legal everywhere including your car and cheap. A shot in the face and he won’t care about anything except seeing and breathing.

  4. Many of these ideas are important for those of us who haven’t made it to a completely rural area. Keeping your things locked up and out of sight is always important. As is not putting boxes on the side of the road for trash pick up that advertise your new electronics, tools, etc. We are in a semi-rural neighborhood where it takes 45 minute for the sheriff’s dept to respond. Knowing your neighbors is also good. That way you recognize “strangers” who may hang around casing the homes.

    • Robert Hall says:

      Dear Susy,

      I recently heard a story about a man who called 911 and reported three men breaking into his outbuilding in the back yard. He was told that there were no police cars near his location and that it would be at least 15 minutes before an officer could get there. He called back a couple minutes later and told 911 that there was no rush because he had just shot the three men.

      Within two minutes his house was surrounded by police cars. the three men were arrested and the officiating officer told the man, “I thought you said you killed them”!

      He replied, “I thought you said it would be 15 minutes before you could get here!”

    • Robert Hall says:

      True story.

  5. On the mountain where my property is located theft is an everyday struggle. We hear of 4 wheelers, deer feeders and farm equipment going missing a LOT!

    Alarms don’t do much but annoy the thief who already knows it’ll take at least 45 minutes for cops to arrive, IF they are so inclined that day.

    Trash pickup is at a dumpster a mile or so away. Then, the only thing that goes there is what you can’t burn or reuse. The thieves ain’t locals or we would know who they were. There ain’t that many people up there. Typically, the thief is a crack whore and her current pimp from the large town several miles away looking to score for the next high.

    The best thing we’ve found to secure property is, like you indicated, locks, fences, dogs and getting to know the neighbors. I love worrisome’s suggestion about game camera’s in bird houses. They have the added luxury of IR so it can take quality pictures at night.

    The land owners reputation is also a biggie. We have a few folks up there we all know will cut your guts out with a dull, rusty knife if you’re caught on their property without permission. One treads lightly around them.

    I’ve seen folks place boards with nails turned up across their driveway. You don’t see the barbed wire gates anymore. Now it’s all metal gates with heavy duty locks.

    When I was a kid I never had an issue trespassing to hunt. I knew my neighbors and knew they wouldn’t mind me taking a couple of squirrels and rabbits. Now all you see is no trespassing/hunting/fishing signs. But I never destroyed another man’s propertyI met my new neighbor while he was patrolling his land – heavily armed!

    Some day one of these rural folks is gonna catch and kill a thief up there. They might just have to fire up that backhoe….

    • Hunker-Down says:

      A ‘good’ reputation keeps bad guys away. My BIL had a problem of teenagers routinely causing trouble near his farm.
      He started answering his door with a pistol in his hand. After the word got out, the kids went elsewhere.

      • We’re at the end of a road, prime location for parkers, be they teens looking to make out or to fire up a smoke of some kind. I just pull out the spotlight and light em up. They don’t stick around long. Now the DH sneaks up on them with Glock in hand… We also had a neighbor who decided our driveway into the pasture was a good dumping ground for some dirt. What most people don’t know is the entire “cul de sac” is actually on our property. Private property within our rights, Old right of way done before we aquired it. She finally went away after protesting that it was good dirt. I calmly took out my phone, and while dialing 911, asked her why she wasn’t keeping it on her property, if it was so good. She even came back and removed what had already been unloaded.
        But yes, living rurally does require longer response times for 911 calls. Let’s see, break in took deputy 2+ hours to show up. Sideswipe on ranch to market road, yes, I was stupid in my youth, by drunk driver, followed him home.. That was a 3 hour wait.
        Also have water available nearby (club pool) that serves as fire truck resupply in areas that don’t have things like water systems with those lovely fire hydrants attached.
        And ambulance is a good ten minutes away, but there are neighbors who are volunteer first response who can be here within 5 minutes.
        And that’s why you always are prepared!

        • And now we find out people nearby are building bombs with multiple POUNDS of military grade explosives? Groan…

  6. I disagree about the outside lights. If you have the outside of your
    House all lite up, all that does is advertise your location and that someone is likely to be living there. That means food and other things
    That a roving gang is looking for. Once the gangs have raped and pillidged all they can in town, guess what’s next. That would be those
    Who live outside the city. Yes that means us who live in the rural areas.
    If you keep a low profile with no lights on that can be seen a long way
    Off. If they don’t see you they might just pass right on by. Put black plastic on all the windows, this will keep all light from showing your location. It’s called a black out for a reason. Just like in world war 2.
    If they see you they aim for you. The rest of the article is good. Lock
    Up your property as tight as you can. Put up early warning devices and a few traps couldn’t hurt to. Anything to give an early warning. I’m to
    Old to be bugging out to some place in the hills to live off the land.

    That doesn’t mean I won’t put up a good fight if I have to but I would.
    Rather do it from my own property knowing I’m in the right.
    It doesn’t matter where you die as long as it’s for FREEDOM

    • Rick,

      “I disagree about the outside lights. If you have the outside of your House all lite up, all that does is advertise your location and that someone is likely to be living there. That means food and other things that a roving gang is looking for.”

      You are only looking at it from a total collapse point of view – the article is about things that you can do NOW to secure your home and not just post collapse.

      • My house is about 150 ft from the pump house where our 700 ft driveway loops. On the pump house, facing down the driveway, is a camera with IR, and a dual Microwave/IR motion detector. You cannot miss the night-time glow of the IR leds of the camera, or the motion detectors flashing detection lights as you loop the pump house. The DVR makes a note of the detector trip time for later analysis. If someone is casing the joint, I will know it! Dark skies!

  7. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Agree with the light up the area, as well as having several (not just one) watch dog. Standard practice out here in the rurals is a high pole mounted halide type light at corners of property that light up the fences for more warning.

    These two practices alone will encourage the thief to move along to other less protected areas. Home invasions by gangs (pseudo cop) is popular tactic, confusing home owner that the people are LEOs, learning too late. Its a problem. Also note if you are renting out there, these home invasions are often gangs targetting other ‘Bad Guys’ (who aren’t willing to bring in authorities) and if the former tenant was a Bad Guy, the honest mistake will not look on you with favor. So if you do rent, do some research to see if any activity took place there before you arrived.

    Rural LEO response is measured in hours, not minutes. Unless they are nearby and aren’t on another call, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!

  8. Hunker-Down says:

    Lighting? You don’t need much light. Just tell them to look at the little green (or red) dot on their chest. A laser pointer can look like a cannon in the right circumstances.

    • We don’t have too many lights either. One security light at the driveway gate (so I don’t have to get out in the dark to unlock/relock the gate) driveway is 1/3 mile long,, we live in very rural area and meth is the problem,,,at least once a week there is a news story about local law busting up a meth lab.we don’t just worry about the hordes when SHTF,,,we are armed/secured for druggies from nearby small town.

    • As someone who has had a gun pulled on me by a bad guy before: A .22 looks like a Howitzer when it’s pointed at your face.

  9. Locking stuff up: Some time back I realized that the three ladders I had in the carport were both visible from the street and useful for breaking in to the house through a window. I couldn’t put them anywhere but the carport, but I did move them to a much less visible spot.

    Then I took a very heavy duty bicycle cable I got at the swap meet, ran it through the steps, and cabled the three ladders together with a big Master lock.

    Now it would be almost impossible to get them out of their storage spot, either to steal them or to use them.

    After seeing YouTube videos of gun safes opened up with the homeowner’s own pry bars, I also removed the pry bars from the carport tool cabinet and brought them inside.

    Little stuff like that adds up. Why help the bad guys if you don’t have to?

  10. We have a 1/4 mile long driveway. We recently added a Dakota in-the-ground driveway alarm. It rings a doorbell sound in the house whenever someone comes up our driveway. Man, we love this thing! We are completely ready by the time whoever gets to the house. The dogs are already barking up a storm too.

    • i have a lot of bolt cutters that are locked up as well as the firearms.

    • I have a question about the driveway sensors. Do they pick up bicycles or kids in general being kids? If it is light outside my kids are usually outside roaming and if the sensors picked them up I would go crazy or turn it off making it worthless.

  11. MD, when I write a post on this site, I usually click the “Replies to My Comments”, but I rec emails notifying me of ALL the comments that come after my post. At first I thot it was maybe an issue w/ computer or browser, but it happens with my office & home computers & different browsers.
    Is that the way it’s supposed to work, or is this site supposed to send me just the replies to MY comments?
    Do other posters here have the same issue?

    • RedC,

      I’m not sure – I’ve never subscribed to the comments before. I read them in the “dashboard” of the blog software. I’ll look at it.

    • Yes, the one time I hit that my email was flooded w/replies by everyone who responded to the subject,, not just replies to me.
      I learned to never do that again.
      Now I just recheck the blog to see answers/replies!

      • Ditto. I think it was a WDYDTPTW, at that. Scores of notifications before I got it turned off.

        Not a big deal, but I don’t use it anymore!

  12. mom of three says:

    Who knows what they will take. We just had our knock off brand of scooter, stolen. My daughter put it by the house, It was beat up, did not have the hand grips any longer but someone wanted cheap transportation to get around. Thank goodness the scooter costs us $1.00 and we had it for four year’s. ( I was going to get new grips for it.)

  13. KR Prepper says:

    Man. When I was in MN. I heard of meth heads coming out of the local state forest doing crazy stuff to people.. I love that MN is open carry.. and I thank God that the container cabin hasn’t been broken into.

  14. I live in rural VA. One of the best defenses during the day is good neighbors. Lots of retired people who got nothing better to do than be nosey. One is an ex cop and carries a gun. Another is a cop and parks his car where it is visible to my road entrance. I keep an extra car around as a spare and it makes it look like someone is home even when they are not. I have a small dog in the house at all times that barks when he hears anything unusual. I have hidden firearms (stuck on magnets over closet doors and in small quick open safes)at every entrance and carry a pocket gun on me, even in the house. We have no city police only county and state and it takes them a while to show up but they are usually not self defense friendly. I shoot often and put signs up that warn that this is private property. Most people know that I am not shy about my desire to protect my family and property. With that said I am thinking of getting a security system but most people I know with them are plagued with false alarms. Might just get a sign and some fake cameras instead.

    • My DW’s DIL (I don’t claim the b*&^h) broke into our house regularly with a key she stole from my stepson. When we found out we installed a fake camera. She came over one night to confront the stepson about some trivial issue and started to scratch her neck so she could call the cops and have him arrested. She’s done that before. He smiled at her and pointed to the camera. She hasn’t been back since.

    • After we got burgled several years ago, the responding cops told us that the two best ways to keep the burglars away were a dog and a car in the driveway. They said they knew cops who bought junkers just to keep in the driveway to make the place look occupied when it wasn’t.

  15. I hate lights at night but I do use motion detector lights as they shut off after a while. Had a problem with trespassers, guys that thought that because they used to hunt here they still could, after first buying this place but I solved that problem quickly. Now I’m the guy with the “carve your guts with a rusty knife” reputation. After the anvil shoots and homemade cannon incidents even the Sheriff’s deputies wait at the gate….lol.

  16. Texanadian says:

    I have a sign in my driveway that states:

    If you can read this you’re in range

    Seems to work. 🙂

  17. Reading some of the comments here reminded me of something that happened many years ago. My sil who lives next door had left to go somewhere and realized that they had forgotten something at home. They came back home to find a strange car in the drive and a strange man coming out of their front door. A friend who was with the sil came running to our house screaming. My DH and I went running and the first thing that I see is my sil standing on the hood of this man’s car kicking in his windshield. She had already punched him and knocked him on the ground. When the windshield was kicked in she got down and hit him some more. I called 911 and asked for them to send someone out right away. About 20 minutes later I called back and advised them that if they did not get someone out there right away that they were going to have a dead man on their hands. She broke his nose, cracked a couple of his ribs, I don’t remember what else was broken. He spent a few days in the hospital. The leos laughed at him when they got there and let him know that they would have done worse to him if it had been their home.
    The man had only stolen things like sunglasses, lotion and other small items. The glass to the front door was broken out. The refrigerator door was standing open and he had obviously been eating. Needless to say no one has bothered them since then.

  18. well, i fixed my back fence and installed a flood light back behind my shop. I found some ungodly bright LED,s at chinamart and now they come on at dusk and off at daylight. I hope to sell some property soon (across the street from my house) and when i do, i will take some of that money and buy a very nice camera system with night vision capabilities.

  19. This is great advice- It’s hard to think of rural properties being targets but in these days you can never be too sure.

  20. In regards to “willingness” to use a gun on a intruder. If you’re not willing to do a fatal blow, you can now buy rubber bullets for your 12g with ease these days. So not only to you have the threatening presence of a shotgun in your hand, but the non lethal rounds needed to subdue the enemy. Not to mention, they won’t know they’re rubber bullets.

    Also, with my law enforcement background we have noted that Motion lights are GREAT! WIll alert you to movement in your yard, lights up the area, and scares the ever living crap out of a thief. With the added advantage they are only one when they notice something and you can even pick up inexpensive solar powered ones now at most hardware stores.

  21. Most of the houses where I live were built with car ports, not garages. Many have enclosed the car ports and we would like to do so as well, but would rather not invest any more money in this house. In the meantime, we keep several items locked and chained. We do what we can but it’s far from perfect.

    Good article. Thanks for the information and reminders.

  22. Interesting take on the “clean yard” issue…I’ve been under the impression a lot of our rural neighbors and/or would-be survival types are deliberately cultivating the “nothing here but us poor welfare folks” look, as camouflage to make people think there is nothing there worth stealing. You know the look…the junk cars in the yard, piles of junk on the porch and all around the property, house that looks like it was cobbled together from plywood, tar paper & corrugated tin…
    Me personally, I would tend to assume there would be a shotgun trained on me if I walked up to knock on the front door. But, you think some criminals might actually be more attracted, than to a house that is neat and well kept and appears to be the sort where an assortment of home electronics are kept? Hmm, will have to give that one some thought…

  23. The Wiseman says:

    Consider replacing all your windows with “burglar-resistant” glass. About $1,500 per slider window; more if casement. My six-pane front window (the weakest point of my ground-level house) Cost me $10,000 and took six men to lift and install, but you can’t break it! Breaking a standard window during SHTF is a simple thing when one is starving. Keep them out.

    IN YOUR BASEMENT, place bars over all your below-ground windows. Make them out of two-inch water pipe; put a six-foot length of rebar inside each long pipe; this way – if they try to hacksaw the bars after they kick in the windows and frames – the rebar will roll and roll and they will never cut through, and they will never get in!

    Back-up batteries on all your outside lights! Once TSHTF the grid will be forever gone. Consider solar cells to recharge.

    DON’T OPEN THE DOOR to argue with a starving man to tell him that you have no food! HE KNOWS YOU HAVE FOOD! He will send his eight-year old through the crack in the open door so as to wrestle with your legs while he pushes all the way in. Then – as our Austrailan cousins say, “Bob’s your uncle!”

    DON’T plan on giving him a sack lunch under the honorable condition that he go away and not return. He will return after he has eaten. Have you never dealt with a used-car dealer? You know that people exist with more verbal skills than you; his wife begs your wife to use your bathroom, she pleads with your wife for the opportunity to bathe. She displays wounds that they received on the three-day hike from the destroyed City and begs for mercy!

    She displays her sick, sick child. Your wife softens; she thinks she has a new friend. Think about it! As soon as you go to sleep, they will cut your throat and take all that you have prepared.


    Because once you see his misery and that of his family, you will soften and take him in. He will then wait for you to go to sleep and then he will kill you. He will let other in who will rape your wife and kids and either sell them, or kill them.


  24. Robert Hall says:

    Look up “spontaneous human combustion”.

  25. Just displaying my ignorance with this question, but I am curious.
    What are “sll”, “DW”, “H’, and “DIL”?
    Comment, i enjoyed all of the comments. We live in a very rural area in the western Virginia mountains. We live on top of one with very good sight line. The county sheriff is our neighbor, about a mile away. He has an alarm system. It showed there was an intruder one day while he was in his office at the county seat. He called another neighbor of ours to check the situation. Told him to be armed just in case. He couldn’t get a deputy there within 40 minutes if he tried. The roads are all mountainous and many turns, no flashing lights or siren will change that. Turned out to be the UPS guy accidentally tripped the alarm, but could have been anyone.

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