Top 12 Best Small Towns for Preppers to Live in

small town

by Megan

When SHTF most experienced preppers know it’s important to prepare to hunker down in place or get the jump on the masses and head for their bug out retreat that has been well prepared in advance. But for anyone still in the planning stages of strategic relocation, how do you decide where to relocate or where to buy your bug out retreat? In this article we’ll talk about the criteria that are key to a good prepper location as well as how to ferret out the best small towns for preppers to live in.

Recommended Must Have Criteria for a Good Property Location

Everyone has their own idea of what their little piece of heaven should look like. For most preppers there are some recommended must have criteria. The more of these criteria your property has, the better you will be able to build a sustainable life before, during, and after SHTF.

  • Plenty of fresh water sources available on property and nearby areas
  • Good soil and accessibility to water for growing food and raising livestock
  • A moderate climate or one that you are fully prepared to live in without power.
  • Several hundred miles away from potential targets, nuclear power plants, and military installations
  • Property or at least a region where livestock can graze naturally
  • Land that is free of restrictions that might prevent you from living off-grid prior to or following SHTF such as state and local zoning, easements, HOA rules, etc.

What Makes the Best Small Town for Preppers?

Okay, we all know that most people cannot live in a vacuum and the lone wolf prepper mentality isn’t going to cut it for most of us. This means we are going to need our neighbors during and after a SHTF event if we’re going to survive long-term. It makes sense to include those people living in the small town around your ideal prepper property in your network. So, in addition to the above criteria for your property, what kinds of qualities make the best small towns for preppers to live in?

  • A town where you can live a relative normal life until SHTF
  • Relative proximity to conveniences such as medical treatment, employment, and other amenities.
  • Away from large cities and urban centers (the average person can travel up to 25-30 miles in 3 days)
  • Reasonably close enough if you need to commute
  • Look for a community of like-minded people
  • Values that are aligned or at least tolerant of your own values, morals, behaviors
  • Free of mining, drilling, commercial farms, factories, or other types of industries that could pollute the air, water, or ground.

Choosing the Best Town

Okay, so now that we know what we’re looking for in a property and in the best small towns for preppers, below are some recommendations. Keep in mind that choosing a strategic location is a very personal decision and often times means prioritizing between desirable factors based on what your own needs are at the time.

This means someone with health problems that require continued maintenance may need to live closer to town than is suggested simply to have easier access to medical treatment prior to a SHTF event. If you aren’t able to get further away from cities and urban centers or must stay close for one reason or another, you may need to ramp up security and defensive measures to balance things out.

For those who are more experienced and skilled with living off-grid, you can risk being further isolated. If your skills are still limited, you’ll need to depend more on neighbors and small-town amenities before and after SHTF, so you’ll want to stay closer.

The list of top 12 best small towns for preppers to live in given below is simply intended as a guideline to get you thinking about the areas and towns you may want to consider. It is definitely not a definitive list of best small towns for preppers to live in, nor is does it come close to including all the small towns you should consider for your strategic relocation. Your personal situation may lead you to remove or add other small towns from our list.

How to Narrow Down Your List of Small Towns

The first thing to do when you start your strategic relocation research is to narrow your search to the areas or regions that are the best for preppers to consider and suit your own lifestyle needs. To do this, you may want to ponder over several factors in addition to the ones mentioned above including:

  • Water Rights and Laws
  • Crime Rates
  • Climate and Weather
  • Population Density
  • Government Level of Intrusion
  • Gun Laws
  • Home Schooling Laws
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Alternative Energy Regulations
  • Political Climate
  • Business License Regulations
  • Health Code Laws (septic/sewer)
  • Disposal of Hazardous Materials and Untreated Waste Laws

Some of the issues above may be more important to you than others. Several of the issues will matter more in the months and years leading up to a SHTF and not as much after a SHTF event.

Top 12 Best Small Towns for Preppers to Live In

Pikeville Tennessee

#1. Pikeville, Tennessee

Pros

  • Approximately 2,000 residents
  • Low taxes, low property costs
  • Rainwater collection permitted
  • Longer growing season (260 days)
  • Great natural resources for off-grid living
  • Tennessee River area
  • Plenty of seclusion
  • Located in Sequatchie Valley-bonus

Cons

  • Less than 40 miles from Sequoyah Nuclear plant

 

Cedar City Utah

#2. Cedar City, Utah

  • Population 25-30,000 people
  • Great mountain views
  • Independent attitude

 

Thayer or Alton Missouri

#3. Thayer or Alton Missouri

Pros

  • About 2,000 residents
  • Southern Missouri location
  • Good fishing and hunting areas
  • Very gun friendly state
  • Most counties allow you to live in any type of home you wish outside city
  • Missouri encourages off-grid living; one of the best for off-grid living

Cons

  • Rocky soil may necessitate raised bed or alternative gardening methods

 

Sierra Blanca Texas

#4. Sierra Blanca, Texas

Pros

  • Land at less than $1K per acre
  • Abundant solar exposure
  • Away from large cities
  • No building codes or DIY project restrictions

 

Corvallis Oregon

#5. Corvallis, Oregon

Pros

  • Oregon names one of the safest places to avoid natural disasters
  • One of better states for off grid living
  • Home to several off-grid communities (see below)

Cons

  • Tougher building and zoning codes in some counties (Osage is building friendly)
  • Recent reports indicate some Oregon counties fine residents for using rain barrels
  • May be too “yuppie” for some preppers
  • Gun laws can be restrictive

 

Hettinger North Dakota

#6. Hettinger, North Dakota

Pros

  • Only home to around 1,000 people
  • Southwest part of the state
  • Reasonably priced land

Cons

  • Colder winters; more snow

 

Carlin Nevada

#7. Carlin, Nevada

Pros

  • Around 2,000 people
  • Cheap land

Cons

  • Hot high desert

 

Pennsboro West Virginia

#8. Pennsboro, West Virginia

Pros

  • Less than 1,200 residents
  • Railroad history and 100-year-old tunnels
  • Friendly townsfolk
  • Good area for trapping and hunting
  • Land as low as 1K per acre

Cons

  • Zoning restrictions can vary significantly by town-do your research

 

West Liberty Kentucky

#9. West Liberty, Kentucky

Pros

  • Population about 3,000 residents
  • Eastern part of state
  • Some large tracts of land as low as $500/acre

 

Mountain Home Arkansas

#10. Mountain Home, Arkansas

  • About 13,000 residents
  • In the Ozark Mountains

 

Red Oak Oklahoma

#11. Red Oak, Oklahoma

  • Around 500 people
  • Southeastern part of state
  • Land at less than 1K per acre

 

Olympic Peninsula Washington State

#12. Olympic Peninsula in Washington State

Pros

  • Gets cold in winter but survivable
  • Lots of fishing and wild game for food
  • Edible mushrooms and vegetation

Cons

  • Washington State has stricter building codes and laws.
  • Not as gun friendly as other states
  • Crime rates and drug activity high in some areas of state

Best Regions or General Areas to Consider

If you don’t care for any of the best small towns for preppers to live in list we’ve chosen, below are some wider areas and regions you can consider.

The Appalachian Area

Near the mountains in Tennessee, Kentucky or West Virginia

Pros

  • Good opportunity for growing crops
  • Moderate weather climate all year
  • Good water availability
  • Stay west of the mountains to protect against the masses who may migrate from the east coast. (Roughly ⅔ of the population of the United States is in the eastern half of the country)

Cons

  • This is a popular area for preppers, so it may get more populated in coming years

The Ozarks Region

Oklahoma, Missouri, and Northwest Arkansas

Pros

  • Good water availability (freshwater springs in Southern Missouri)
  • Agricultural area
  • Popular area for preppers

Cons

  • Risk of drought
  • Summers can be very hot

Low Population Areas of Florida

Pros

  • Endless small lakes
  • year round growing
  • no winter weather worries
  • large elderly population won’t be able to flee
  • The Gulf coast north of Tampa is less populated

Cons

  • Stay away from Orlando and right along the east coast, also South of Tampa to Everglades is densely populated.
  • Population density from south Florida will flee north so choose out of the path of looters and members of the golden horde
  • Building an underground shelter is unlikely due to high water table
  • Bugs and Insects are prevalent
  • In recent cases courts have ruled living off grid even with solar power and rainwater catchments violates the International Property Maintenance Code.

Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia

  • Balance of affordable, defendable, self-sustainable properties
  • Reasonable commute to D.C., far enough to not be targeted
  • Government of West Virginia is very hands off
  • Less oppressive regulatory government
  • Slightly higher taxes
  • Likeminded neighbors (freedom, individualism, self-sustaining lifestyles)
  • Friendly firearm state

Southern States from Eastern Texas to Georgia

Pros

  • Moderate weather and decent growing season
  • Most areas friendlier regarding firearms laws
  • East side of North Georgia mountains low taxes and few restrictions

Cons

  • May have stricter laws in some areas regarding septic and water line hookups

South Louisiana

Pros

  • Bountiful water supply with high groundwater
  • Year-round crops
  • Swamp provides access to food

Wisconsin along Lake Michigan

Pros

  • Resources are abundant
  • Short growing season
  • Clean well water
  • Inland lakes
  • Hunting
  • Kettle Moraine Forest has plentiful herbs (wild berries, asparagus, etc.)
  • Organic dairy farmers for cheese, milk, etc.
  • Excellent spring water

Cons

  • Land isn’t cheap

Consider Established Off-Grid Communities

Intentional Living Communities are not well-suited for everyone and most politically conservative preppers will want to steer clear of these areas simply due to the fact that residents are generally more left-leaning politically and some may even prohibit use of guns.

Keep in mind these communities are often “ruled” by a committee of residents so there may be rules or regulations you must agree to abide by in order to move in. But if are looking for a likeminded community in exchange for giving up control over your own property, then one of these may be a consideration for you.

Earthaven

  • North Carolina Mountains, outside of Asheville
  • sustainable focused planned community
  • solar and hydro power
  • 320 acres with more than 60 residents

Three Rivers Recreation Area in Central Oregon

  • more than 600 off grid homeowners
  • 4,000-acre community
  • solar power electric, satellite TV, high speed internet
  • variety of price ranges for homes

Breitenbush

  • more than 50 permanent residents
  • off grid community
  • heated by geothermal wells

Taos, New Mexico

  • Greater World Community
  • 1st Earthship division
  • solar powered
  • eco-friendly buildings of adobe or recycled tires
  • 634 acres of green space

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

  • Northeast Missouri
  • More than 40 residents
  • sustainable living focus
  • simple living, renewable energy, homes from reclaimed materials

So, the best way to choose the best small towns for preppers to live in is to make a list of all the issues and criteria that are important for your family and the lifestyle you want to create and then narrow your list down to three or four areas or regions.

Once you have that shortlist, explore the areas to find the best small towns for preppers in those areas. Be sure to consider state and local zoning regulations and building codes to avoid buying property in an area with restrictions that will keep you from living as you wish prior to a SHTF event.


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23 Comments

  1. James Wesley Rawls (Survivalblog) suggests you find a small town with land and water at least 50 miles from any known nuclear target and away from the Golden Horde. Some of your places, like Corvallis, are just 10 miles from a known nuke target.

    • Who, who suggested that????
      One of the good things about this article was the fact that it did not mention any place in the wanna be kingdom called the “American Reboubt”.

  2. I am a native Texan and have been looking for a place to buy. I have put a lot of work into this but Sierra Blanco, Texas would not even be on the list – Unless there is a border wall anytime soon – you will be at a major disadvantage just from the proximity to the border alone. There are some pockets in the east texas area that are heavily wooded. FYI – There is a large and entitled AFAM population there. But the best place that I can find that is far enough away from civilization with common interest people that is far away (at least 90 miles) from the border and has abundant wildlife is in the Utopia, Vanderpool, Leakey area. Maybe as far south as Uvalde and as far north as Junction or Bandera. There are some others that are north of I-10 but you have to be aware that Austin and San Antonio are full of entitled liberals. San Angelo is a minor and Abiline and Fort Hood are major nuke magnets. But you are insane if you choose Sierra Blanca at the intersection of the Mexican Border and I-10 and a days walk to El Paso/Juarez! There is a very limited water supply and it is mostly desert.

    • Agreed, Sierra Blanco lacks water and is to close to the Mexican boarder. I would say its at least a three day walk from El Paso, but most will not walk out into the desert. That would be a pro thought and a con at the same time.

    • I have a great place on the Cumberland Plateau which includes a natural gas well, water well, septic system, plentiful rain, decent soil and low taxes. We’ve been working it for almost 8 years now. Therefore, I disagree with you BUT I’d just as soon not have hordes of flatlanders invading us so yeah “nothing to see in Tennessee! Keep moving.”

  3. Thanks all for taking the time to read and provide your feedback on this article. As I mentioned early on in the article, my list is meant only as a guideline and is certainly not a definitive list. It’s meant to get you thinking about what criteria are important to you and your family. Yes, Corvallis should have its proximity to a nuclear target listed under cons–my mistake there. It does have many other desirable qualities which matter more to some people which is why it made the list. Sierra Blanco is a toss up–it’s not my personal cup of tea but more experienced preppers have made desert locations work because the harsh environment means less prepared people won’t stay long in that area. Use this as a guideline to what you do want and go from there. Strategic relocation is an extremely personal decision for many reasons and the right choice will be different for everyone. Thanks again for reading.

  4. I wonder what the author or authors have been smoking. Las Vegas. Are you serious? Sierra Blanca Texas. You must mean if all the illegals are left out. Anywhere in Oregon or Washington who have now imposed some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation close on Kalifornias heals. Just about anywhere you go in Montana has water, few restrictions on guns, property etc. and why were part of Arizona left out as this State is number 1 on the pro gun list, a number of small cities with plenty of water and the crime rates are next to nothing.

  5. Corvallis is a stoner college town that most people blink and ignore as passing along I-5. I really wish articles like these would consider the employability of the area. I wish for a list that says where people with modern technology skills should consider. As a person from Oregon, I think areas like Grants Pass and Bend are wonderful, but they are the trapped in a majority of deep blue population centers and folks with high education in young to mid-life can’t seriously consider most places on these lists because they have their whole lives ahead of them to earn money to get that property in the ideal places.

  6. #2. Cedar City, Utah

    Population 25-30,000 people
    Great mountain views
    Independent attitude

    Though this is the high desert and if you need anything other than municipal water, getting water rights is a bitch.

  7. This article lost all credibility by even suggesting Oregon and Washington states which are completely socialist. And not one reference ti Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona.

    • Socialist? What exactly do you think a community of preppers intent on ensuring survival for everyone would be? And what, exactly, do you think a socialist society would be like in a disaster situation? We would all have to work for the good of everyone in a community, and put the community ahead of yourself! How many of the old hippie communes that required everyone to put out the effort they were able to for the good of the community? Most are memories, a few still exist. Why? Because of the human failing of greed and laziness, where some would try to take advantage of the rest for their own profit! One has to think realistically about this of survival is the goal.

  8. I read some of the comments and while some have points on the states of OR and WA, as well as CA….two of those states are not a complete lost cause. How do I know? I live in North CA (State of Jefferson) land.
    Anything above the city of Sacramento (21 counties in CA to be exact) as well as parts of East and South OR (7 counties to be exact) are all part of SOJ51.
    While yes we are fighting stupid liberal state laws, at the same time many portions of this state are in a political earthquake/upheaval. Things are changing here.
    I moved North in 2001 and have just over 5 acres on a year round creek, with AG water rights, septic and well. Along with 3 phase power & solar.
    I am outside of Redding where its “very” conservative, filled with cattle ranches and 85% of the people have land with a minimum of 5-20 acre parcels. …and while yes Redding may have liberals from SF they are mostly retired older folk. But the outlying areas are an enigma. I have been here for awhile now and VERY little has changed. I used to dislike it, in the begining. Now? Now I am thrilled they are not trying to “keep up with the joneses'” LOL

    Lets put it this way, when the march for our lives happened? 98% of the school’s kids stayed SEATED. Many even booed others for walking out.
    Redding is a town of about 85k? or so….but the County it sits in has many outlying areas that are unincorporated (I only have a post office and volunteer firehouse)….Most of my neighbors have chickens, goats, cattle etc…they and others (us too) target shoot in our backyards. They also have really taken to the solar items as you see 80% of the household/homesteads with arrays.
    This town also LOVES its older cars (Kool April Nights/Hot Rods) it’s annual Rodeos and community pancake breakfasts. It may not be really small, but it has that mindset. And I like it.

    That being said while I cant be sure they are of a prepper mindset, many (very many) are small homesteaders who believe in self sustainability, 2nd amendment, church and family.

    Many times I have thought to leave and move, because of the states issues…but I have an awesome piece of heaven with easy access to water, land to grow, access to firewood, ability for livestock, a local gov that listens to us and good people around me.
    So to others I say, don’t judge a state by its cover, or the leaders many many miles away. 🙂

  9. Personally, I would avoid the coasts of WA and OR; they are woefully underprepared for any Cascadia event as the last “drill” in 2016 showed. Steps are being taken, but they are slow to take effect. This includes #12 Olympic Peninsula, and #5 Corvallis, OR. Once the CZD unzips, there could be much harbor, coastal, and interstate damage, which will greatly impact all trucking/shipping in that area. The infrastructure isn’t there, and won’t be for some time. This will eventually affect the inland areas of those states, that aren’t reliant on truck from Seattle, Portland, etc.

  10. I honestly don’t think people realize just what the impending disaster situation really will mean. The worst case scenario will be the population divided into those with guns that will kill to get what they want, and those with guns that will help each other in any way they can. This is because it is the Human, and American way. Gangs of roving bandits and killers, and collections of people trying to survive by working for each other. Which one will win, and which one should win? Great question, huh?

  11. I’m looking for a place because the state police in NJ have gone off their rockers. Molesting young women, harassing the disabled. It’s gotten bad. Makes me wonder if the CIA is using MK-Ultra on them. I want to get away from the police state.

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