First off there is no such thing as perfection, but there is the best available property for your needs.
Finding the best Bug Out Location (BOL) depends on your requirements and personality – yes personality. Some people thrive on their own just with their immediate family while others need the support system of like-minded people.
Why do you need a BOL?
There are various scenarios from the possibility of natural disasters to post-apocalyptic chaos that prompt people to find secret locations where they can exist off the grid (OTG). When there’s a natural disaster that covers quite a large area – like a hurricane, the necessity arises of moving elsewhere where you have food, water and a place to stay until things are back to normal. If you are thinking of terrorist attacks or some other kind of meltdown in the system when cities are just not going to be able to cope, then you may be in your BOL for an extended period of time. Maybe your BOL is just your place to get comfortable with nature over weekend and holidays – so you are going to need to make it more “livable” rather than an emergency escape.
Best or cheapest land?
Let’s face it the cheapest land is the land no one else wants. If you can see potential that others can’t see then go for it but you have to consider a number of factors. Often farmland that has been abandoned goes cheap – the result of too many chemicals or bad farming practices. Nature however has a way of restoring itself, look at how wildlife has re-established itself in the Chernobyl area – but OK we are not thinking that extreme!
People who buy impoverished farmland and let it return to a wooded state – with some judicious help by planting indigenous trees and shrubs will soon have wildlife re-establishing itself within a few years.
The best land has the amenities you want – water, decent soil, seclusion, safety – but the price will be higher.
How often will you use your BOL?
If only to be used in the event of an emergency then a BOL with no accommodation but enough supplies to last a couple of months and tents stashed underground in rot proof containers may be all you need. If you are thinking of it as a weekend retreat then you can consider making it more permanent. Of course a permanent construction is easier to find – but what are you really hiding from – the riotous hordes will be in the cities searching for food and supplies – not in the mountains. And the chances are they won’t have the tracking skills to find your place if you have hidden it carefully. If it is not going to be visited often then perhaps the option of a trailer instead of a permanent place may be an idea – But when I say trailer I mean one like this, light and easy to tow behind a vehicle that can pop up with everything you need and even a tent on top!
What do you need to establish?
You BOL should be carefully chosen to provide you with water, food, and shelter and be reasonably accessible year round. Yes, it may be great to have a cabin in the mountains but how do you get there in winter? How do you stash enough fuel to keep warm? You will need water, shelter, food and medical supplies – more or less in that order unless you have chosen Alaska where shelter will be first priority, followed by fire to melt the ice so you can at least get something to drink!
To keep your family going in the woods if you are cut off from supplies, you will need to have a well, spring, or rainwater tanks on your property. Properties next to a lake or river are easy to find, unless it is near a very small stream. The best may be to rely on rainwater tanks –it is an expense to get them in there in the first place, but entirely doable if you can get a vehicle to the site – check access roads – they should not be too accessible but on the other hand not totally impassable.
In rural Missouri, Arkansas and SE Kansas there are lots of suitable places with wooded streams. If you look at NE Arizona, NE Nevada, NE North Dakota and NW Minnesota you can find cheap land but you will need to check the climate, the availability of water and possibility of growing food or hunting for food. Having a patch of desert without any water doesn’t help. I got excited a few minutes ago about a piece of land in the Sierra Blanco area of Texas I saw advertised online – $20 000 for 20 acres – until I saw the pictures – flat, arid, stony with a bunch of cactus. Unless you built underground any shelter would be seen from miles away.
New Mexico is a possibility as there is quite pleasant weather down that way and buying rural property there is reasonable.
Consider your neighbors
Yes, you are going off grid but humans are a co-operative species and we depend on each other for survival – in your tribe you want like-minded people. So if you are considering buying a large property together make sure you camp out with these people and put yourself into situations where you have to depend on each other – you will soon work out who you want in your tribe. If purchasing on your own in a new location make sure you can get help from neighbors if necessary.
When you buy a property near a small village check out the townsfolk first – go to the local hang outs and have a drink – tongues get loose and you will soon hear about undesirables in the area – you don’t want to make the mistake of buying into an area where illegal activities are going on – criminals also favor out of the way places where no one is likely to come snooping around!
What do you want to spend?
Generally people are spending around $1000 per acre but there are some bargains around at around $500. Of course if you want everything already there – underground storage, rainwater harvesting, vegetable garden established and fruit trees plus a livable structure you will pay more.
The problem with a lot of rural properties is that although the price per square acre is relatively low the properties are huge so you could end up paying quite a lot. This is where it may be better for a few families with similar ideas to buy the land together and then each establish their own BOL on the property – independent of each other.
Bear in mind that you are going to pay more for flat land, as it is easier to build on and to farm. If you buy something cheaper that is virtually on the side of a cliff you will be able to control access better but it also may also make escape more difficult. Rocky land is cheaper and may provide hidey-holes if you need them or the opportunity to construct something between the rocks that blends in.
Do your homework thoroughly
Study the prices paid for properties sold recently in the area you are thinking of buying so you are not over-paying for land.
Check how far the property is from your current home. How far are you prepared to travel to reach it? In worst-case scenarios where the roads are blown up or blocked you may not be able to get there with a vehicle. Have mountain bikes ready as transport or off-road motorbikes (remember they need fuel so fuel should have been stashed at your BOL and the tank should always be kept full in case of emergency). Check your route from your current home to the BOL – if a bridge is unserviceable can you cross somewhere else safely – will you need a blow up raft to get across? Can you access the property in summer and winter? If it is too difficult to access it is not worth buying.
Find out about climate conditions over the past 50 years – old timers in the town will be able to give you the details of floods, hurricanes, mud-slides and so on or you can do an internet search on the natural disasters that have befallen the area you are planning to buy into. Constructing your home or positioning your camp will also need to take cognizance of the possibility of wildfire, flooding, prevailing winds as well as access to water.
A BOL will need trees for various reasons – they provide shade, firewood and cover from overhead – so try to build your shelter under the tree canopy to minimize detection form the air. A property that has fruit or nut trees already established on it is a bonus and one that has suitable materials for making fires adds to that bonus.
Check the various access points to the land – no one wants to be trapped without a “backdoor” – foxes normally have around 3 to 4 exits from their dens.
Test the soil and identify the grasses growing on the land. The soil needs to be reasonably loamy if you want to grow vegetables and the grass should provide suitable grazing for the animals you plan to keep. Of course if you are looking for something simply to escape to for a short period of time then you don’t have to consider the soil.
What wildlife is already living on your land?
If you are keen on hunting and there are lots of deer and rabbits on your property you probably will be able to get something to eat, but their relatives are going to eat whatever crops you plant, unless you can fence the vegetable garden properly. If you have lots of flowering plants you will be able to keep bees and enjoy the honey – but so do bears. Are there bears in the area?
If you are think of an area like Nevada, Texas or Arizona is the land you are looking at full of snakes and venomous insects? If so you will need to know how to deal with a bite correctly. Otherwise choose a location with more amenable reptiles.
How to go about finding properties for sale
The wider your network the more likely you are to find a suitable property. Register for sites where properties are put up for auction, check EBay (but be aware that putting in a winning bid doesn’t guarantee a sale), get estate agents in the areas you have pin-pointed doing their homework. Try land4less.us for cheap properties. As with anything do check out whether properties are legit and never buy anything unseen. You will also need to check whether you have the mining rights, laws pertaining to construction, restrictions with regard to hunting and so forth.
Put the word out among locals in the nearby village or town – they are bound to get news first and if you offer an incentive you could pick up a bargain before the real estate agents get in on the act.
Lastly don’t forget friends and family – for each person you know they know at least 100 others – it works exponentially. Let your dentist, doctor, barber, even the pizza delivery guy know you want a property in a certain area – you don’t have to tell them why – and you will be surprised at what may come up. The pizza delivery guy may have a granny in Arkansas whose friend’s daughter’s boyfriend has some land…
The ideas outlined above probably aren’t going to appeal to survivalists who want their location to be totally secret because hundreds of people are going to know the general area of where to find you. You have to make up your mind about how far off the system you are planning to go. But if you are buying or renting the property records will be kept and you can be tracked down.
Of course you can do something crazy like hide out in a state park but the park rangers are likely to take dim view of your presence, and taking off for a foreign country and hiding out in one of their national parks could have equally serious consequences. Having said that certain South American countries are welcoming of immigrants – Puerto Rico and Colombia for instance are relatively easy to get into if you really want to go that far.
You never know where things are going to go wrong so it is advisable to have multiple locations for BOL’s, but that is expensive – so again a cooperative approach may be best. Buy into a number of larger tracts of land with other preppers – so you have at least 2 to 3 options. This enables you to keep an eye on each others land and buildings during routine visits, to develop and share resources, pool labor for bigger projects and to work together in defending yourselves.
If you want to meet up with other similar minded people check out this website: Landbuddy. They have an interactive map so you can see where other preppers are looking at land and can meet up and work out deals on parcels of land that may be too big or expensive for one person to buy. And before you buy here are more tips on BOL’s
Here are a few suggestions of places to get you started in your search for a reasonably priced property:
Red Oak, Latimer County – Oklahoma
Sierra Blanco, Texas
Hettinger, North Dakota
Pennsboro West Virginia
Ozark Mountains – Arkansas
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