My family and I live in a suburb of Houston — one of the largest, most congested cities in the United States — and it’s the last place we want to be if the SHTF. We’d like to have a homestead in a close-knit community of friends and family set up before anything goes horribly wrong, but that reality is still in the dream stage. If the grid goes down tomorrow, we’ll be in really bad shape. We don’t have a place to go, a way to get there, or any tools or supplies to help us along the way. So we feel a serious need to start constructing a bug-out plan.
Searching For a Homestead Location
First, and most important, we need to have a place to go when we leave Houston. Right now we’ve got nothing. There’s been some talk about teaming up with family in an adjoining state, but staying with them would need to be a short-term temporary fix until we could recover, regroup, and find a place of our own. Resources will be limited, even if they’re prepped, and they won’t need a family of five living with them for long, whether we’re blood relations or not.
We don’t want to be a burden to family or friends. We want to be prepared. So, the first task on our list is to find and purchase a place to go in time of emergency. Having a predetermined destination — our own land — with shelter and supplies already in place will make the difference between an effective bug-out and a panicked escape attempt. So, we’re shopping for land. We’re starting from scratch, and can move to anywhere we choose. For simplicity’s sake we’re limiting our search to the United States, because the travel and paperwork involved in setting up in another country would be too cumbersome and expensive. So we’re asking ourselves: where (in the U.S.) is the best location for our prepper homestead? What state has the most resources, best climate, hospitable environment, and potential for cohesive, like-minded community?
These are a really broad questions, and the U.S. is a big place. So we started by eliminating the states that we already know we do NOT want to live in. That didn’t take long. We don’t want to be anywhere near big cities or congested areas. We don’t want desert or swamp. We don’t want areas with a population known to be too far left of center. And no sweltering summers. The map with orange overlays shows those states where we do NOT want to live.
I have a child who is interested in astronomy, and she showed me a Dark Sky map, asking that we pick a place with dark skies where she can see the stars well. The whole prepper thing makes her uneasy, so I didn’t mention that I don’t think deep-sky observing will be difficult anywhere after the SHTF, when most of the populace it without electricity. Once the grid goes down, the whole country will have great conditions for stargazing. But her Dark Skies map was an interesting resource, and it confirmed that we’re on the right track in cutting certain areas out of consideration when looking for our bug-out home. There is a direct correlation between areas of high light and overpopulation. All those bright lights have lots of people under them. Those people are going to get hungry, and thirsty, and grumpy really quickly. It won’t be long before they make an effort to come take what we have. And that just makes for an ugly situation. We actively want to avoid relocating near a crowded area. This Dark Sky map shows the high light, congested areas in the United States.
An issue we keep running up against is our desire to be much farther north than we are now, but we’re required to remain in the Houston area for another 3+ years, minimum. If we find our perfect place to be in Wyoming, or Idaho, or Montana, that’s a long, long way from Houston. That distance will make preparing the homestead more difficult — all the way from Houston — and if we find ourselves in a SHTF scenario before we move, that long distance will increase the likelihood of us running into trouble on our bug-out journey to the homestead. With that in mind, do we compromise on our “wants” list and search for property much closer to Houston, just in case? Because what good is a perfect prepper homestead if it’s so far away we can’t get to it when we need it most? We have family and friends in three states adjoining Texas. Some of them already live in wooded areas near rivers. Being near to family would provide instant community. There is a lot to be said for searching the areas near where family and friends live for land that we can afford and that meets our requirements. Family and friends and community are very strong pulls. And, even though they can all be oppressively hot in the summer, those locations would be easier to get to quickly in time of emergency.
There is so much to think about, but we’re finally on our way to finding a location for our homestead. We’ve eliminated certain states based on climate, population density, and politics. Now we’re looking for locations that meet our “dream specifics” of milder summers, wooded acreage with a natural spring, bordering a national forest, and river (or large creek) access. Yeah, we know it’s a lot to ask for. I said they’re our “dream specifics.” But why not go for everything we want?
I will post updates in future posts as we continue to narrow our selection, explore location possibilities, and finally buy some land.