South Texas as a Survival Retreat Option

This guest post is by KNB  and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

I’ve read all the available blog/book info on retreat locations. I’ve reviewed everything on JWR’s Survival Blog, including his directive that everybody go live in the “American Redoubt”. I get it. However, I’m from Texas, and I’m probably not leaving anytime soon. If the flag goes up one day, I’ll make my stand here. I’ve lived in all areas of the state, from Houston to San Antonio to Lubbock to Corpus Christi and many small towns in between. I’ve also lived in Maryland and Oklahoma and Maine at various times.

I currently reside in an area on the border of Atascosa and Live Oak County. After being there for a few weeks I’m here to put it forward as an alternative retreat location. My living condition came about after a move from Oklahoma. I am an attorney who has decided to move my practice from OK to TX (I’m licensed in both states) and while I’m waiting for my building to be completed down in the Eagle Ford area of the state. I live in a house with my brother, his girlfriend, my law partner and his wife. It’s a lot like practice for a bug-in because four of us are working from the house. We live about 30 minutes from anything and have to store food and water as necessary.

Here are the benefits that I have found in South Texas:

1. Remoteness: You can still find acreage south of San Antonio for a reasonable price that isn’t near or on the way to anything. If the masses from Corpus Christi and San Antonio all travelled down the major interstates and state highways in search of food, there are a lot of out of the way locations that would require a member of the golden horde to wander a long way before he found you. Our current house is off a county maintained dirt road and could be easily blocked off to filter foot traffic. In addition there is no one around. We have one neighbor within a 3 mile radius. There are some folks who work cattle or farmland during the day in the area, but they don’t live nearby. Just because of this remoteness, any area with more houses and population would be a better and easier target for those looking.

2. Small towns in the area: For any time prior to societal breakdown and hope for mercantile activity post societal breakdown, there are small towns in the vicinity that wouldn’t attract much attention or bring many people our way, but make grocery shopping and general business possible today.

3. Defensibility: As I said we live off a dirt road and the area surrounding us is not hospitable. It would be very difficult for a large group of people to approach without some serious effort, if they ever found you in the first place.

Here are the detriments as I see them:

1. WATER WATER WATER: If you want to live here you have to secure water. It could be a spring fed pond, or a well, but it won’t be regular rain, so figure something out. If it is a well you need to make sure you have a pump that will work by wind power or hand power if the grid goes down. I repeat that you will not get regular rain. My family has a river on its property and would protect it to death.

2. Agriculture: See above about water issues. They make feeding either livestock or crops difficult, but it is possible. The people who colonized Texas had to deal with similar situations and worked it out, but it sure wasn’t easy.

3. Current residents: South Texas is in the middle of a massive natural gas and oil boom associated with the Eagle Ford Shale. This has brought a number of people into the area on a temporary basis. They would all know about our house because it sits between two natural gas wells. While they couldn’t get out to see us without some effort, they know we exist (whereas the hordes travelling down the highway probably don’t). As time goes on they also get more and more unsavory. You see more prison tattoos today than you did a year ago.

All in all I see South Texas as a viable, if imperfect, retreat location. I’ve been somewhat surprised with my observations of it as an option. The biggest issue really is water and water alone. Everything else can be worked out. The lack of population density itself is due to the water and anyone wanting to spend any of their resources of locating here needs to lock down the water issue ASAP. With this in mind I encourage people to consider the fringes (as in away from interstate 37 and state highways 181 and 59 among others) of Live Oak, Karnes, Goliad, Bee and San Patricio counties. Each has its own benefits and detriments, but I believe you could find an affordable, workable retreat location in each.

This contest will end on February 16 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first… Yes

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Looking at the information you provide also helps me determine what I will be looking for. You have natural warmth where I don’t. But you get much more sever weather that we don’t up here. Water we have. I have about 50 gallons stored, frozen, in my front yard right now. Just need to dress up well to go out. According the the weather forecast, we will go another week without getting about 32 degrees! Everything is a trade off.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Warmongerel says:

      A week? We probably have at least 2 months before we go back above freezing! LOL. I always figured MT was at least as cold as us here in MN.

      And I like how you worded that: water “stored” in your front yard. I have a bunch, too.

      • Warmongrel:

        That was only what the Weather Channel was saying. We occasionally get warmer days, and I have a car that needs a little TLC in the electrical system and 41 w/no wind would work.

      • Hunker-Down says:

        We live in Central Wisconsin. Good to see a few Blue Hat Wolf Pack folks. Water stored in the yard?; I just relocated 11 inches of the fluffy stuff off the driveway.

        Still jealous of those boiled peanut eaters that have blooms on their tomato plants while our frost line continues to get deeper.:-)

        • Tactical G-Ma says:

          Knew there was something I liked about you, Uffda!
          My youngest and family are near Winnebago and I spent much time fishing and canoeing the Wolf and about a dozen or so lakes in my earlier years. The only thing wrong with it is the water stored in your yard! HaHa. (don’t miss those deer flies either.)

          • Warmongerel says:

            Uffda? Norwegians… Sheesh!

            Yeah, we have it all in this neck of the woods, Tactical G-ma. -40f temps in the winter and tropical temperatures and bugs in the winter.

            Used to keep the riff-raff out until the welfare benefits in Minneapolis became easy money.

          • Warmongerel says:


          • Hunker-Down says:

            Tactical G-Ma,

            Our grandsons often fish the Wolf. Their dad crosses it every day to get to work. We live 1.5 hours west of there.

          • Tactical G-Ma says:

            I learned to canoe and fly fish near White Lake just north of a place called Herb’s on the Wolf.. Had some friends that lived up there. sit by the water in the morning and watch the mink come out to play. Even crossed paths with a bear or two. Haven’t been there in years but it was pristine back then. Brings back some great memories.

        • Warmongerel says:


        • n.w. ill preety darn cold tonite too. trees lines still have snow and ice. Merry Christmas all. pray for sandy hook babies/newtown. sorry, having a hard time with it.

      • Warmonger:

        Actually I think we have it a bit warmer than you guys. The “Canadian Low” usually dips over the Dakotas and moved East. We are usually on the end of it. -20’s and below are really pretty unusual in the Western part of the state. Eastern Montana, now there’s cold and blowing!

        • Tactical G-Ma says:

          I ski’d Red Lodge years ago and DH would almost kill to live in MT but he can’t shovel snow or much else. Sure is nice out that way. Really beautiful.

  2. I had to move from this exact area due to my job, so I am extremely familiar with KNB’s comments and precautions. If anything, I believe the comments about water are not strong enough.

    KNB is blessed that he has access to surface water (which BTW is legislatively “owned” by the state of Texas – no one can own a river privately.) The vast majority of residents do not have such access, and have to pump it. That means a well, which are also extremely regulated and taxed. There are no guarantees that you will be allowed to drill for all the water you like. Secondly, the water may be hundreds of feet down, requiring deep well pumps and absolutely impossible to pump by hand or windmills. You could consider a Solar-powered DC pump, possibly.

    Also, he glossed over that it is HOT in South Texas – 90 – 100 degree days are not unusual in March, and there are many years where there is no respite from 100 degree days for months on end. 6 months without rain is not unheard of for a majority of the summer growing season.

    So be aware of what you are getting in to – maybe try to lease a while before you commit whole hog.

    • ive spent the majority of my trucking years as one of those prison tattooed unsavory types working in and out of that exact area. i would consider the problem of water access to be so insurmountable that i wouldn’t even consider that area unless there were no other options. the last 4 years the deep south of texas has seen the worst drought in recent history. the pecos was a trickle as were the llano and several other small,normally running rivers. people sold cattle way before it was time from lack of water and grass. i would be absolutely certain i had guaranteed access to year round water before i would ever consider that area.harumphhh,,, unsavory types indeed.

      • Just for the record, I”m not implying that everyone with a tattoo or a beard is a criminal, as many of my cousins would then be so judged. However, the issues with the temporary locals are a real thing. When it started, everyone they brought it was an experience professional. It gets less and less so as time goes on.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        Served in the military, as an LEO and a martial artist and yet avoided (chickened out) of getting a tat. Now in my dotage I have decided to get a couple with my Japanese family crest.
        And so I join the ‘unsavory’ types. 😉

        Nice informative article KNB.
        Been on my mind if I don’t stay in the PI and return to the States.
        Where to settle……..?

  3. Make absolutely sure you have the water rights to any land you live on in Texas. Companies were buying up water rights like crazy when I left there a few years ago. Years back, Bee county used to have a lot of sulfur in it’s water, strong enough that it would make you gag in a hot shower. Don’t know if it still does but I’d check local tap water supplies first.

    Make friends with the granjeno, agarita, prickly pear and mesquite. The first two have berries that make good jelly or can be eaten raw. The prickly pear can provide it’s fruit for jelly and syrup, it’s pads for food and even water in a pinch, it’s flowers and spines are useful as blow darts and needles and lastly you can obtain protein in the form of snakes and varmints and game that make their homes in or meals out of the prickly pear. Deer, javelina and hog all eat the prickly pear at times. Ranchers even burn the spines off so cattle can eat it.

    The mesquite bean pod can provide jelly, flour and even coffee. Recipes can found on the internet easily. The leaves can be brewed into an eyewash. The mesquite flower makes great honey if you keep bees. Mesquite wood can cook your food, make fence posts and furniture. It also eats saw blades like crazy…it’s not nicknamed Texas ironwood for nothing. A mesquite thorn can go through most any boot but also has many useful applications for survival.

  4. interesting article- since i live in atascosa in the northern quadrant- wish we could meet up…..i agree with all your points which is why we live here now

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

    You nailed it on the water issue – not many natural water courses in the south Texas area. Some springs in the Hill Country but in south area, often saline. Having a water distillation unit would be very important.

    Pretty much everything in the south Texas brushland has thorns. Many stinging insects too – pretty inhospitable if you aren’t used to living here. And the summer heat – Wow! Future planet Mercury inhabitants are bred here. Pretty nice winters though – if it gets cold, it doesn’t last very long, a week about it.

    Proximity to Mexico – that might be good or bad. Right now, its downright dangerous, south Texas is a hub for drug trafficing.

    Personally, i kind of like the looks of Victoria, though a bit too close to Houston (U.S. 8th largest city iirc). The Gulf Coast is not very far away, and some trading could be done. Victoria is (was?) home to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, so that gives you the mentality of the area.

    Good article – and welcome to Texas.

    • Cross border smuggling/ drug/ cartel violence was the first issue that came to mind for me. I am down by the border right now also. However I wouldn’t want to homestead down here given the deteriorating situation which may well get worse.

  6. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Thanks for your article. I lived in San Antonio 30 years ago and it was like living in the desert. But closer to Brownsville was a huge agricultural area. My concern after water is that Texas is and will be the major artery to more southern areas. I just think it will be tough to secure a homestead in Southern Texas.

  7. I lived in E.Texas and La for a while. I would never go back. Tornadoes, hurricanes; people, chickens and cows dropping like flies from the heat; the well water was bad flamable sulfer; bugs carrying lethal diseases for human and pets; water moccasins climbing in my boat; and the people threatening me with gun fire and death threats all the time. Haven’t been to S texas, but I would think sparse vegatation, finding water, and weather would be a problem for many when shtf senario. I would think that Solar and wind power would be the best there. But I see problems if the border patrol left their posts.

    I am in Northern Minnesota where I believe if shtf, is a good place for me for more reasons of plentiful food resources, less tornadoes than the lower 48, and clean bountiful water.

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      Used to have a summer place on the chain of lakes outside Bemidji. Beautiful and bountiful with great people. I just can’t stand the cold and snow. Northern WI is nice too.

    • Warmongerel says:


      All of my relatives are from the iron range. My dad grew up on Lake Vermillion outside of Cook, MN.

      And, as I was reading KNB’s post, I kept thinking that the cold alone in northern MN would a) keep out the riff-raff and, b) force many/most people south. If you can find a way to survive the cold in a SHTF situation up there, you’d pretty much be left alone, I would think. not many people are going to try to stay and brave -40F temps.

      If I’m ever forced to bug out of my house in the Cities, I’m planning on heading north for those very reasons.

      • very good point. i totally agree. ive lived in florida and ill. i loved fl. but youre probably right . no one would want to deal much with the cold. ill all my life pretty much. as long as theres wood, theres fire. have a fireplace and inground pool so i have fire And ice….

  8. Texas is a lot closer for me .

  9. Sister and BIL live west of the DFW metroplex and for me it would be just to damn HOT w/o power and air conditioning. It gets almost as hot where I am in the midwest and has way more humidity but it only gets that hot for 4-6 weeks in the summer and the rest of the year you can live with the windows open for 6-7 months of the year. You say your water source is a surface river , is it also dependent on rain for it’s flow or is it spring fed? Also even spring fed water sources are dependent on rainfall just a longer cycle but extended drought over years will lower and sometimes interup spring flow.

  10. extexanwannabe says:

    Mr. Guerra nails it. I live the RGV myself, and can’t wait to get out of Texas altogether.

  11. lisa profetto says:

    I would rather die than return to south texas. It’s definitely not for everyone!

  12. Uncle Charlie says:

    Nobody has mentioned so far, so I will. South Texas, wouldn’t that be susceptible to large numbers crossing the boarder from overpopulated Mexico, not to mention narcoterrorists? There’s barely a border today, but after the teotwawki it would be non-existent.

    Even without that, the heat and lack of water would keep me away. I’m partial to thick woodlands with with flowing streams and small plots for growing crops.

    PS: be careful, there is some anecdotal evidence that fracking may cause earthquakes, destroy your water table, kill your livestock etc., it the two gas wells you are between come from fracking shale.

    • Warmongerel says:

      That’s not anecdotal evidence – that’s propaganda from the Luddites who want to return to the Utopia that they believe once existed before oil was used as an energy source.

      There is no real evidence of those things, whatsoever.

      • nothing wrong with utopia. just sayin….

        • Warmongerel says:

          There is when those seeking it kill 200 million people.

          • think you took that wrong. what im talkin about is…. this world…even tho everything wasnt CONVENIENT AND EASY was a better place when we didnt have so much pollution, oil wars etc etc etc. i just wish that this world was back a few where times were a bit better. again, just sayin. had a feeling it would be taken differently.

          • Ms susy,
            I think they are pointing out the obvious. There is and never has been a Utopia.

          • Tactical G-Ma says:

            Susy b,
            Kind of taking your remarks out of context. But, there has never been a better time for mankind than today. Proof is life expectancy, population, technology, and mankind’s position on the food chain. It has been the curse of every human, once realizing ones own mortality, to romanticize times past. It’s a genetically programmed response; selective and skewed, even false memories.

          • well put. i do realize theres never been a utopia. just seems as if there was a time when things possibly felt that way. i think im gonna remove myself from this one now. thanks everyone. love ya’ll. s 🙂

    • Our land is covered with fracing wells. No earthquakes or water table destruction. Don’t believe what you see on TV.

      I stand by my statements. My property is on the way to no where for people coming out of Mexico just the same. I’d be more worried about people from San Antonio running for the coast.

      • Why would we run for the coast? I know how to keep water. Water is the key. The scavengers will be in every populated city. Worry about Texans heading North to more hospitable climes. Living in 100+ temps for six months out of the year is not for most. Housing changes will need to be made that are more common sense to Texas climates. We’re not budging unless we can no longer get water.

      • angel garcia says:

        very well said…I live in Karnes county and, would not trade it for anything or anywhere..8 miles out from “town” own 68 acres,very defendable for sure.. ..have stock tamk fish and grow vegs..south texas is a supermarket for wild food foraging and meat…as well as medecinal plants…

    • Uncle Charlie,

      The “undocumented immigrants” have been coming through for quite a few years. They follow the fence lines north and will deviate only when there is something that they want to steal, even when it means killing someone to get it. Here you want a good dog or two, and stay alert.

      Sounds bad, but it is home.

      • Agreed the the illegal scavengers are going to be the biggest issue. As they find the American guberment can no longer maintain the border they may try a mass land grab. If Finestein has her way we will only be able to fight them off with sling shots and arrows.

  13. MountainSurvivor says:

    Sometimes the hardest places in the world are the best places to be. Thanks for the recommendations about getting water asap and locations to avoid.

  14. Excellent article KNB,
    South Texas is not for everybody. But I want to set the record straight about a few things. There are few problems with illegals once you get 20 -30 miles away from the border. Look at a map. Few roads that go anywhere and It’s too far and too inhospitable to walk and still be in the middle of no where. The goal is to get further north as quickly as possible.

    There are a few areas out west that might make great Retreats. There are natural springs and little population. Look for old Calvary Posts.

  15. How south are we talking here? Deep south like Mcallen/Brownsville? Because even though the area is beautiful and the people are great, I’d worry about living so close to the border. It’s not a problem now, but if SHTF the Rio Grande Valley would be like the wild west. And it’s not the Individuals who cross the border illegally that would be a threat to your safety, it would be the cartels you would have to worry about.

    Oh but the Mexican food? It’s like you’ve died and gone to tamale heaven.

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      It really depends on what type of disaster occurs as to the desirability of any region. IMHO.
      If the polar caps melt then southern Texas will be under water, If we enter a mini ice age, rain will probably increase in the region making it better for farming crops grown 1000 miles north of there now. If Yellowstone goes then there will be mass exodus of the northern hemisphere right thru Texas heading south. If there is plague, border areas may become buffer zones (no one in, no one out). If a gamma burst hits and penetrates the ozone, won”t matter where we live. No matter where you hope will be safe you must be open to the possibility of having to relocate if you wish to survive. Because of our health, DH, DS, me, and a lot of our old friends will not be going anywhere.
      It’s easy to say what you are going to do but during storm is wiser to be a willow than an oak, grasshopper.

  16. HoarseWhisper says:

    I went to, and using Victoria as a starting point and expanding the search for a 20 mile radius, the first thing I noticed was a 15 acre lot for $5,000 (!!) in Seadrift, TX. I don’t know anything about it, but, man that is a bunch of property!

  17. Anyone have any ideas about Missouri?

  18. we are about 100 miles from the border- we are several hours from the valley- as we call it- brownsville area-yes some of this country is covered with thorns but our land is cleared with fields and large oaks-it doesnt have to be thorny- NB s probably is more thorny that ours- the ground is very good to grow a garden- you need need a well- we have several- one only 70 ft deep- we had a small garden last spring and i canned over 100 jars of food- that is not including what we ate and gave away
    yes it is hot- but we dont get snow and we can grow things year round- you only have to cut firewood to cook with nto heat- and you can use a sun oven very easily-you can dehydrate your food in a car- i have done that too! you can have enough ground to have livestock and the wooded areas have some big game
    obviously there are some of you that like the northern areas and that is fine but i think this is a good article on alternative areas- i have lived in Canada before and i dont like the cold- east texas and other southern states are out because of the mosquitoes

  19. @ Donna.
    I’ve been to Minnesota before, I’d never go back. People weren’t meant to live in such inhospitable climates…stop moving and you’ll freeze, taxes through the roof, mosquitoes so abundant they look like clouds approaching, government regulation enough to choke even the most aggressive entrepreneur. I live in South-Central Texas (just southwest of Austin) on 2,452 acres with 17 wells of clean cool water, 179 head of Angus, more goats than I can count, White Tail deer, and hogs in abundance. Dense wooded patches and open high grass acreage of beautiful rolling hill country. Some of the most beautiful land on God’s green earth. I can’t imagine a better place to live and make a stand. And by the way, I seriously doubt “people threatening me (you) with gun fire and death threats all the time” is remotely close to a truthful statement. That type of northern stereotyping of people in TX needs to be shut down in it’s tracks….and no, I’m not threatening you. Just calling BS on your obviously false statement about Texans. Been in TX my entire life and have never been threatened with gun fire or given death threats….nor do I know anyone who has. I don’t mind you having a strong opinion about Texas, it’s a tough land where the rugged individual excels (not those accustomed to northern government cradle to grave hand-holding). That said, please don’t spread false statements and perpetuate stereotypes about Texas. Just live where you want and be happy with your choice.

    • God bless texas…. can i come down and mow your lawn???? :):)

      • Thanks, Suzy B. God did truly bless Texas. Hard to not see and appreciate that truth everyday. You’d be welcome, no mowing required. Besides, good (un-mowed) grass feeds many tasty animals!

    • i have lived in texas most of my life- except for a brief year in
      canada- dont ask- and i too have never been threatened with gunfire or immigrants either
      i envy you your amount of land tex

      God Bless Texas

      and susy b i wish you could mow our lawn but it is fun of stickers right now….lol

    • Hunker-Down says:


      Your statement;”northern stereotyping of people in TX” defines you.

      • Hunker-Down,
        It’s often said, your actions define you. But, some believe your words are more a reflection of who you are. For what it’s worth, I hardly believe any one statement can define a man. But, if that”s your standard, you have set your bar high. Fortunately for me, that’s your bag of bricks to carry around, not mine. Probably better said, I’ve grown weary of comments like Donna’s that feed the media and the left in this country with tales of the wild west and being shot at and/or threatened by gun wielding Texans (or Southerners). Especially in a time where increased gun control is on the horizon. It’s simply not helpful. Tall tales such as her’s help solidify the media’s and democrats narrative about people in this part of the country. I found her statement(s) incredulous and generally inaccurate with respect to Texas.
        Thanks for jumping-in, I appreciate your thought, even if I disagree with the premise.
        All the best to you, Hunker-Down.

  20. been to rockport. love it there. but not feasable for that.

  21. I still say, stay where you are, or go home. By all means, if where you are living doesn’t feel like home, you should probably move somewhere that does as soon as possible. But don’t go someplace new based on someone else’s recommendation. When TSHTF knowing your locale intimately is going to be far more important than any factor that can be on someone else’s checklist.

  22. KNB,
    You are accurate about the water. That doesn’t include the past attempts by San Antonio to take ours.

    You left something out: feral hogs. There is an estimate of 2.5 million hogs in the state. They can be taken without a firearm so it can be a quiet kill. The smaller ones are good eating, the bigger ones – well each to his/her own.

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