Choosing the safest places to live in an emergency requires you to think strategically about a variety of scenarios. “Safe” doesn’t just mean protected from violence. It means safe from government over reach, brutal weather, panic-stricken non-preppers, and a lack of resources.
All of these factors are important for off-grid living, prepping, and bug outs. In this guide, we hope to help you understand why these are the safest states and why you should make a plan to get to one of them.
Reasons We Chose These States
Picking a state and calling it the “best for preppers or the best for bugging out” is subjective. Everyone should have a firm idea of where they’d like to be when SHTF and how they plan to get there. The survivalist in all of us thinks we know best but in our opinion, the five states in this guide are the safest places to live in a crisis. Here’s why.
Population density will always be the most important factor for a few reasons. First, you don’t have to worry about hostile invaders. When all hell breaks loose, if you’re the one who prepared the best, gathered the most materials, and put together the best firearm stock; you’ve now become the biggest target.
Living in a place with a high population density will lead to a stampede of people desperately leaving the city to move into the country. Most of these people will not know the first thing about prepping and they will look to those who do for help. At that point, you’ll make a decision to either help them or leave them to die.
The general rule is to stay at least 60 miles away from a city and be sure you don’t live near any major highways or interstates. A lot of people will use these highways to flee and will end up abandoning their vehicles. Be sure to have precautions just in case you do live near a highway. Have a way of protecting yourself on that side of your property.
The state’s climate will impact a few things. It will determine how difficult it is for you to grow crops, how harsh the changes in season will be, and what natural disasters you’ll have to prepare for. You ideally want to minimize the threat of all things you can control and believe it or not, you can control natural disasters by bugging out somewhere that doesn’t have too many of them.
Rainfall is a crucial component of climate; it will make or break you. You need ample rainfall to ensure that you have enough ground water to grow crops. You may also need to collect some of that rainwater to turn into drinking water. States throughout the Midwest and Southwest portions of the country are popular prepper destinations but they lack the necessary rainfall for growing crops.
The Northwest with the exception of Washington and Oregon is a great location because of the ample rainfall, sparse population, and lack of natural disasters. States like Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas are solid choices.
That said, snow is another threat that many preppers will have to deal with. When searching for the best states when SHTF you need to factor in snow but you don’t need to dwell on it. Pay attention to your growing seasons and the average snowfall per year. The Dakotas and Montana might be great destinations during the summer months but the winter might make you change your mind really quick.
All preppers know the importance of favorable government regulation when it comes to strategic off-grid living and planning. Many of the states through the Northeast portion of the country have strict regulations, zoning, and permit requirements that will not only make your prepping more tedious but also more costly.
There are some diamonds in the rough though. Maine is considered one of the best states for prepping and New Hampshire has also been getting attention as well. You’ll want to stay away from states like Pennsylvania and New York. Even though the Appalachian Mountains stroll nicely through these areas and some of the less populated areas of Pennsylvania would work, the government red tape and nosy attitude will hold you back.
Cost of Land
If you’re not into haggling, negotiating, and bartering, you better start learning now. This means of trading goods and services will become pivotal to your success in a major crisis and it’ll start with the acquisition of your first piece of land. Whether you’re sitting right now on 50 acres or a ¼ acre, you’ll likely need to purchase some more land at some point.
Going for the cheapest piece of land you can find is a terrible idea. Chances are, this land will not possess any resources such as flat land, wooded areas, rich soil, and fresh water for fishing and drinking. You should take a look at comparable sales to help determine the fair value of the land and be sure to stay away from the major land purchasing sites. Try and find deals that fly under the radar and be patient. Many of us think we need to jump right into something to make sure we’re ready. While that is true to some extent, you need the right piece of land to be successful. If you get into the wrong deal, it could end in disaster.
Culture of Prepping/Homesteading
We cannot stress the importance of this. There are reasons why off-grid living primarily takes place in a few states and it’s because of the culture. Some states support a culture of off-grid living and the state helps these folks make their dreams possible. States like Maine, Montana, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Alaska have areas known for off-grid living. The population here traps their own food, hunts, fishes, and builds their own structures free from permit requirements and any government red tape. You just need to know where to go to find these communities.
But, this is a double edged sword. You want to be in these communities, if you’re ready for it. You need to understand this culture. If you’ve lived your whole life in the suburbs you might not understand the importance of privacy, minding your own business, and helping out someone in need. Take the right steps and you could earn your way into a community rich with firepower and resources.
There’s a reason why we didn’t say “natural disaster” and it’s because many of the disasters that could lead to a collapse won’t be natural. But, let’s talk about natural ones first. Of course, you want to live in a place where tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes aren’t probable. The Appalachians, Smoky Mountains, and Rocky Mountains are ideal. Avoid the Great Plains and anything along the coast.
Even more important than natural disasters are man-made disasters. Nuclear events are a serious probability. Nearly ¾ of the states in the United States of America have nuclear power plants. States like Illinois and Pennsylvania are known for their nuclear power generation. Avoid them and any neighboring states.
Best States to Live in When SHTF
Here’s the top five states to live in the event of a major national disaster. If you relocate here you’ll be able to raise livestock, grow your own food, collect rainwater, and homeschool your kids in a relatively safe environment. Keep in mind, these are still subjective and are open for debate and discussion.
- Population: 1.06 million
- Density: 6.86 people per square mile
- Annual Rainfall: 15.2 in. (US average 38.1 in.)
- Annual Snowfall: 48.8 in. (US average 27.8 in.)
- Regulations: Relaxed
It was extremely tough to pick a state as the top choice but we had to settle on Montana. It has one of the lowest population densities, loose regulations, and an off-grid living friendly environment. People here are used to this way of living and they embrace it. The cost of living is low, crime is nearly non-existent, and gun laws dramatically favor those who have them.
What are you sacrificing for these luxuries? Weather. Your growing season is short, rainfall is low, and snowfall is high so you’ll need to put together a plan for indoor growing. Wind energy is also popular here which could serve as a great long-term solution for your energy needs.
- Population: 1.34 million
- Density: 43.1 people per square mile
- Annual Rainfall: 40 in. (US average 38.1 in.)
- Annual Snowfall: 50-100 in. (US average 27.8 in.)
- Regulations: Moderate
The first thing we need to understand about Maine is that it is dramatically different based on where you go. If you go to the south or southeast, you’ll find urban areas and a more mild climate. Take a trip to the Northern areas of Maine and you’ll find a preppers paradise of off-grid living and wide open spaces. That’s where you want to be. Most of the population density applies to the lower portion of the state and Maine still has the lowest density on the East Coast. This will be critically important in a survival situation.
The cost of living in this state is low, there are a ton of natural resources including great fishing and timber but again, you’ll need to battle the harsh winter with indoor growing.
- Population: 29 million
- Density: 109.9 people per square mile
- Annual Rainfall: 27.25 in. (US average 38.1 in.)
- Annual Snowfall: 0.1 in. (US average 27.8 in.)
- Regulations: Relaxed-Moderate
The Lone Star State is known for its incredibly affordable land, rural areas, and gun-friendly laws. This state is known for preppers and those who prefer the government stay out of their business so as long as you mind yours and respect the privacy of others, you’ll have a community by your side when you need it most.
Texas also offers a great growing season, no snow, and plenty of materials for building. Food resources are plentiful here too with plenty of great Texas fishing and hunting opportunities.
4. North Carolina
- Population: 10.49 million
- Density: 213.6 people per square mile
- Annual Rainfall: 48 in. (US average 38.1 in.)
- Annual Snowfall: 5 in. (US average 27.8 in.)
- Regulations: Relaxed
North Carolina has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country, it has great weather, mountainous regions in the West, and a ton of prepper networking groups throughout the state. In addition to all those positives you also have great regions for hunting, growing, timber, and a low cost of living. North Carolina appears to be a preppers dream.
The main reason North Carolina is so low on the list is because of its proximity to major cities and other states that people will flee. Everyone living in states such as South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and Georgia will flee to North Carolina for it’s “open-road” attitude and that’s too much of a risk for us to take. The population density is very high and while the prepping community here is serious, it’s becoming a bit crowded here.
5. North Dakota
- Population: 762,062
- Density: 9.7 people per square mile
- Annual Rainfall: 16 in. (US average 38.1 in.)
- Annual Snowfall: 30 in. (US average 27.8 in.)
- Regulations: Relaxed
Contrary to popular belief, the weather isn’t as brutal in North Dakota as you would think. Of course, the cold could send you packing but it doesn’t rain much and it doesn’t snow as much as you’d think either. The main reason the Dakotas in general are a great destination is due to their proximity from any major city or power plant.
This distance from epicenters will also decrease the impact of an EMP attack because you’re far enough away from the population centers. The state has low taxes, low regulations, relaxed gun laws, and tons of natural resources including great fishing and hunting.
Here are a few states that didn’t quite make the cut but could work if you’re in a pinch:
- Michigan (Upper Peninsula)
Remember that preparedness is key and choosing the ideal bug out location right now is crucial to your success. The USA has a lot of great places for off the grid living, you just need to know where to look. Get away from the large cities and look towards small towns and rural areas so you’re ready for a cataclysmic event. Good luck and be smart.
Be Prepared For Anything
One thing worth noting is that all of these states have healthy self-storage markets where one can store emergency supplies and vehicles. You can still live in a smaller city or town, and have room for your bug out kits with the use of a secure self-storage facility.