5 Dangerous Places You Should Avoid When the SHTF

Dealing with the collapse of society is no joke. Some folks might think they know what to expect considering all the rioting and general lawlessness that we have seen in the past couple of years, but a true societal collapse is something altogether different.

burning tires in riot aftermath
burning tires in riot aftermath

The rule of law will be absent entirely or highly sporadic if it is present.

Commerce will grind to a halt and many places that are totally dependent upon the vast and interconnected threads of modern logistics for the supply of food, water, electricity and more will descend into chaos in very short order.

You’ll be dealing with lawless opportunists and throngs of desperate survivors, people who are trying to hold on just like you are.

Trying to hold on in the wrong place could very well mean death, and it is in your best interest to reside elsewhere or at least know what you are up against when the time comes to get out of Dodge.

In this article we will be talking about several such places so you can take stock of the area where you live and plan accordingly.

Disqualifying Factors for Your SHTF Retreat

Most of the time when discussing the ideal prepper retreat, people naturally talk about the positives. After all, we are all looking for that mythical “greener grass,” and it makes sense to learn what it looks like so we will know it when we see it.

This is definitely a valid approach, and you know me, I always like to look on the bright side myself, but in this case we can take an anywhere but here approach to our efforts.

There are some locations, even entire regions, that are disproportionately likely to brew up in a big way once society starts to fray at the edges, and heaven help you if you are near one of these places when it starts to come apart properly.

It is probably more informative, for that reason, to look at the disqualifying factors for your SHTF retreat.

If you live in one of the regions described below, or even just a city that falls into one of these categories, it is time to start thinking about moving now before it is too late.

Trust me, most of the places on our top five list will likely not take too well to strangers trying to put their bags down nearby after the main event has started.

It is far better to get in good while you can and be an actual member of the community before that time.

Fair warning.

Any City or Area with Lots of Political/Cultural Clashes

You probably don’t need me to tell you that America is experiencing cultural and political divides that are breathtaking and genuinely frightening in scope, and as the months take by it is looking more and more like we will not be able to truly heal and close that divide.

I have heard it said that any principle is a pretext to kill, and before you scoff that off as hyperbole just look around and see what has happened throughout America as a result of a massive, manufactured crisis.

Neighbors narcing on neighbors, rewards for turning people in who don’t follow arbitrary and meaningless rules and a class of political partisans that are entirely happy to see the other side burn so long as they get their pat on the head.

Do you think that will be better or worse off once things start getting really, truly bad throughout the nation?

Spoiler warning, it is only going to get worse, much worse, and when you amplify stress levels, paranoia and anxiety by more or less constant fear of physical danger and substantial lack you’re going to have a whole lot of people running around on a hair trigger and looking to vent their frustrations and misery on those that they even tangentially perceive as responsible.

If you live in a city or region that has something of a reputation for political or cultural clashes between citizens, or even between government agencies, the writing is well and truly on the wall. Get the hell out while you still can.

Regions that Don’t Produce Their Own Food or Water

There are two kinds of settlements in America. Those that eat the food that others produce, and those that produce the food that everyone eats.

There are no two ways about it, most places throughout America rely entirely, virtually 100%, on modern commercial transit to bring their food in and stock it so it is available for purchase by hungry, hungry consumers.

If you don’t know by now, you will soon realize that these systems of commerce that make this possible are immensely, terrifyingly fragile, and you had better believe they will break down quickly once society does.

When that happens, shelves will be barren in no time, and just a couple of short, precious days after that, no more food at all in these places.

When that happens, apocalyptic violence and predation will result.

Neighbor against neighbor, all that jazz, because real survival necessities, like hunger, are the ultimate monkey on your back.

You might say that you have your little hobby survival garden that barely produces a jar or two of veggies or berries, and maybe a couple of backyard chickens, and think yourself prepared but don’t kid yourself.

You need to move to a place where the food actually comes from and people actually know how to do it, day in and day out, year after year. I’m talking about farm country, and not just one specialized farm on the edge of town.

That is the only way that you’ll have any assurance that food may yet remain plentiful throughout the crisis.

And the same goes for water. You won’t be able to depend on water just coming out of a tap after society starts to come apart.

Public water works are intricate, complicated systems that depend on constant maintenance and input from human operators to function reliably and safely.

Reliably will be anything but when people start to abandon their posts and the system starts to fail during an SHTF event.

Regions with Extreme Climates

People are remarkably adaptable. And quite literally the most inhospitable environments on the planet you’ll still find people living and seemingly thriving.

That’s a great thing when you think about it; however, this is only truly possible for the long term because the connectivity of society allows these folks even then a sort of safety net.

Communications, regular delivery of supplies, things like that. Or at least, that is how it is in America for all but a tiny fraction of folks with very specialized skills.

Accordingly, you don’t want to live anywhere, or retreat to any place when the time comes that has a particularly extreme climate, either very hot or very cold.

Out of all the survival challenges that people face during genuine crises, it is still exposure that is most likely to kill.

Cold weather in particular can kill you in as little as a couple of hours in the right conditions, and exposure to extreme heat and humidity can do the same thing if you are forced to remain active and in direct sunlight.

You need to reduce these burdens, and the attendant logistical factors required to heat or cool your shelter in kind.

Pretty much every place worth living still has seasons of some kind, and the extremes of a given season might prove to be challenging, but still far removed from the kind of climate you’ll endure in deserts, tundra or polar regions.

Heading to a place with a mild temperate or subtropical climate is probably your best bet.

Huge, Dense Populations

Whatever your view of humanity is, I can promise you that in the middle of a survival situation more people will only mean more trouble and more work for you, and nowhere is this maximum more on constant, vivid and shocking display than major metropolitan areas.

A huge morass of humanity all crammed into comparatively just a few square miles with limited resources and one that is completely dependent upon actual goods from elsewhere to sustain itself is a recipe for bedlam in an SHTF situation.

Never mind there was only enough water and food to go around because of perpetual, round the clock deliveries, this crushing morass of people will turn into a panicked, paranoid stampede when things go bad.

Not for nothing, criminal elements are always present in these places and enforce, and are usually better organized and far more experienced than they are in more rural or remote regions.

If you want to be dealing with packs of hardened predators and mobs of other desperate survivors on top of all your other survival worries, then by all means stay in a city.

For the rest of us who value our lives it is time to head towards smaller, remote settlements.

Military Bases and Important Military or Civic Targets

Lastly, in an ideal world you won’t be settling anywhere near a place that could be considered an important military or civic target, and very especially near a military base.

In times of extreme duress, when the very foundations of a nation are cracking and groaning under the strain, both that nation’s governments and external enemies will be making moves.

With a population running amok and potentially tearing itself along with much of the country to pieces, the government will move to secure its interests, and these interests are things that it can use to project power and move resources.

Military bases, certain military installations, government headquarters, transportation, commercial and industrial hubs and so forth will all be guarded pretty much around the clock.

Not for nothing, it is far from out of the question that the government might try to solve its problems through military action elsewhere that might potentially invoke retaliation.

Else, the wolves lurking in the woods might see that the great beast they have long despised is wounded and ripe for a killing strike.

This means that the same assets and installations above could be targeted by other nations, with disastrous and deadly results for the citizens.

Stay well clear of such places if you have any choice in the matter, and if you do have to live near larger, major targets of importance, put as much distance between you and them as practical.


One of the more insidious and subtle places that you should avoid during a societal collapse are so-called stopover towns and cities, waypoints that lie along major transit routes connecting two or more larger urban areas.

It should come as no surprise that people are generally lazy and uninspired when it comes to travel, preferring the easiest and the most direct route above all others when going from place to place.

This means that refugees, survivors and raiders alike will most likely travel along the typical routes that have long been in use between metropolitan areas.

Looking for more loot, more handouts or just shelter, they’ll have to get there one way or another and chances are they’ll use the highways and interstates as normal.

A town or city that lies along this route is an obvious and natural layover location that may well have resources of its own for the gaining.

You can help yourself and your loved ones by staying out of such places in the event of a societal collapse.

The more out of the way and secluded your home is the better off you’ll be.


It should go without saying that every prepper must avoid any seat of government power, great or small, during a societal collapse.

Assuming the government holds together, or even a significant fraction of the government, you had better believe they will do everything in their power to secure their holdings against rapacious citizens that might very well want to see them dragged out and strung up from the nearest lamppost.

Additionally, many more people will be drawn to such places with the desperate hope of finding a place that is still under the rule of law or that potentially has supplies or aid to give them.

How the government feels about these people at the time is anyone’s guess, and it is far from out of the question to assume that lethal force will be authorized against trespassers or unruly mobs.

You definitely don’t want to get swept up in that, so stay clear of state capitals and any other place that is considered a seat of government power.

Stay Away From These Places!

The collapse of society will prove to be so bad that it is hard for most people to genuinely imagine.

But it can be so much worse on you and yours if you are in an area that will have endemic disadvantages alongside the bigger picture problem.

You can set yourself up for success by avoiding such places from the outset.

places to avoid shtf pinterest

20 survival items ebook cover
Like what you read?

Then you're gonna love my free PDF, 20 common survival items, 20 uncommon survival uses for each. That's 400 total uses for these dirt-cheap little items!

We will not spam you.

4 thoughts on “5 Dangerous Places You Should Avoid When the SHTF”

  1. Problem is all that lush green farmland in the perfect climate is also the most expensive and long since occupied.

  2. When SHTF ,there will be no place to run.plan to shelter at home or nearby .BE PREPARED ,be gray.Hunkerdown Live life now as best you can.after all,you may be dead befor it happens anyway.

  3. When has there been an event(within the last 50 years) in America that could actually be considered a SHTF situation?

  4. while I agree with most of what you say there are a few things that I might add. If you are looking to move to a more rural area IE where they grow food they grow the food that move needs to be done now so you can integrate with the locals and become one now. I live in a small mountain town and I can assure you that expecting to just show up and be welcome because SHTF happened is not going to happen.

    The second thing is your comment on being as far away from everyone else as you can may have some merit right up until you need help for something you didn’t or couldn’t plan for such as fire, medical emergency, planting or harvesting crops where you will need other people. Also while being remote means less of a chance of being discovered and attacked if you are found it’s pretty much a guarentee that you will be.


Leave a Comment