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How to Select the
Optimal Retreat Location

Copyright November 2, 2009 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.

If you are thinking about moving to a more lightly populated area, then what type of area would maximize your chances for long-term survival during a serious hard times tragedy event?

In my opinion, all of the following factors should be carefully considered.

Avoid the Following Areas

  1. Avoid an area that is controlled by a corrupt government that tramples upon the rights of ordinary citizens.
    There are at least three layers of government that must be taken into consideration for a retreat area:
    1. The national government should be relatively stable and it should not be totally corrupt.
    2. The regional government should compare favorably to other regional governments. In the United States of America the state governments are the regional governments. Some states are safer to live in than other states because those states still treat their citizens as responsible law-abiding adults. But the citizens in other states have lost many of their original constitutional rights and they are now very easy victims for any criminal that wants to take advantage of them. In those states the government is always happy to take pictures of the dead bodies of its defenseless citizens and then attach those pictures to very detailed reports and then file those reports in a safe place where they can be kept for a very, very long time. (Note: These states have living conditions that are quickly becoming very similar to the unacceptable living conditions that now exist in England.)
    3. The local government should not be corrupt. Some small communities are controlled by totally corrupt local law enforcement officials. These areas should be avoided.

  2. Avoid an area that is dominated by a religion that advocates "believe as I do or die."
    For thousands of years mankind has been periodically devastated by a variety of different religions that have claimed to be the "only true way to worship God" and that "the true worship of God demands that you kill anyone who does not share your faith." The major problem with all of these religions is that there have always been divisions within the religion itself that disagreed with one another. Therefore the "believers" not only killed outsiders but they also killed anyone who didn't agree with their beliefs on specific issues. Any area that is dominated by one of these religious groups is a very unsafe place to live. It doesn't matter if you belong to none of the religious groups, or to the most popular religious group. There will always be other people who don't share your beliefs and their only mission in life will be to kill you and your family. Therefore your chances for long-term survival will be very small. In my opinion you would be well advised to avoid living in any area that contains one of these "believe or die" religious groups.

    (Note: Even the Christian religion has frequently been "redefined" into one of these deadly religions. That is the reason many honest God-fearing people migrated to the "New World" and eventually helped to create the "United States of America." Our founding forefathers tried to prevent this type of religious persecution with our "Bill of Rights." But very soon your constitutional religious rights in the United States may be "redefined" and you will be required to accept a government sponsored religion for your own benefit or you will be declared to be an "enemy of the state" and you will be hunted down and executed.)

    If you live in an area with a "believe or die religion" then you will be outnumbered by at least three to one.
    For example, you could quickly and unexpectedly find yourself in the hands of:
    1. a corrupt government, or
    2. a killer religion, or
    3. a criminal who obeys no laws and respects no religion.

Look For an Area That Has All the Following Characteristics

  1. Its residents still have the right to own firearms to protect themselves.
    There are several levels of firearm freedom as follows:
    • Any law abiding resident may own and possess firearms. There are no forms to fill out and no fees that must be paid in order to own and carry a firearm. In my opinion, this is a correct interpretation and application of the second amendment in the Bill of Rights.
    • A law abiding resident must file a simple form requesting permission to carry a firearm, pay a small fee, and pass a simple background check.
    • The laws and regulations for firearm ownership are extensive and very few law abiding citizens are granted the right to carry a firearm.
    • Only government officials and their police force and law-breaking criminals carry firearms. Honest law abiding citizens are prohibited from having firearms for any reason. In other words, an honest person does not have the right to protect his family from criminals.

    In my opinion, either of the first two areas above would be a reasonable place to live.

    However, anyone living in either one of the last two areas above would have a very small chance of surviving. During a serious long-term hard times tragedy event all the honest hard-working people will either be killed or they will flee for their lives at the first opportunity. They will simply abandon the area to the corrupt individuals who wish to control it (government officials, the police, and the criminals). Without any honest people to do the real work these areas will quickly self-destruct for an overwhelming multitude of reasons, such as no doctors, no utility maintenance repairmen, no farmers, etc.

  2. It is a lightly populated area.
    There is no single correct way to adequately define how many people constitute a "lightly populated area." The reason is because the answer is a function of how many people the area could successfully support for an extended period of time.

    Let's look at several possibilities:

    1. A big city: A big city does not have its own water supply, or its own agricultural land, or its own power generation stations. In other words, the people who live in a big city are dependant on resources that are brought into the city from the outside. If there is any significant disruption in the delivery of those resources, then a big city would quickly become a huge graveyard.

    2. An area with less than one person per square mile: This type of area is almost always unsuitable for long-term human habitation. In some cases it is also inappropriate for short-term survival. The reason nobody lives there is because nobody can live there. Examples would be the middle of a frozen wasteland, or the middle of a scorching desert, or a small rock covered island, or the top of an extremely high mountain, or a relatively low area that floods every time that it rains.

    3. An area with an unusually low population density: There is always at least one very good reason, or several very good reasons, why an area does not have a lot of people living in it. Some of the more common reasons are:
      • the area lacks critical natural resources, such as a dependable year-round supply of fresh drinking water,
      • the area is unsuitable for the growing of crops or the raising of farm livestock,
      • the area is subject to unpredictable flooding, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions,
      • the growing season is too short to grow enough food to last at least two years (to avoid famine conditions during a bad crop year),
      • the winters are severe and they take a terrible toll every year on the health and life-expectancy of everyone who lives there,
      • the distance between farms and ranches is so great that a small gang of ten or twenty criminals could easily subdue and destroy any ranch they wanted to without worrying about the neighbors finding out until it was too late to assist the family being attacked.

    4. A lightly populated area: Each farm or ranch consists of somewhere between five acres up to about two-hundred acres. The soil and weather conditions in these areas have proven over a long period of time that homesteads of this size can adequately support the people who live on that homestead. The homesteads are relatively close to one another and they are not isolated. If one homestead is attacked then the neighboring homesteads will hear the gunfire and they can immediately come to the aid of the homestead under attack. Because of the small but reasonable number of people in the area there will also be a surplus labor pool that can work in nearby factories. Therefore this type of area would have the potential to be self-sufficient over a long period of time because it has an agricultural base, and it supports farm livestock, and it has small factories that make a variety of useful items for sale to the residents within the immediate area and which permit economic trade for other necessary commodities from more distant communities. This type of area will also usually contain several small towns that are twenty or thirty-miles apart where there are doctors, dentists, repair shops, and a variety of small stores. In my opinion, this type of area has the best chance for survival during a serious long-term hard times tragedy event.

  3. It is at least several hundred feet above sea level.
    Hurricanes have destroyed many coastal areas. Heavy rains have caused flooding in areas that have no previous history of flooding for the past 100 years. Therefore, if you want to relocate to a safe area then that area should be at least 300 or 400 feet above sea level. In addition, your home or retreat area should be on high ground compared to the area around you.

  4. It has short mild winters.
    A short winter means a long growing season. A long growing season usually means you can harvest two crops. When the first crop matures, you can harvest it, plow the ground, plant again, and harvest a second crop before the arrival of winter. This is a significant advantage during hard times for two reasons: (1) you are able to eat the first harvest sooner which may save you and your family from starvation, and (2) you double your food production from the same exact piece of land. However, for this to be successful you must understand proper crop rotation strategies to prevent the depletion of specific minerals from your soil.

    On the other hand, a long winter means that you have to devote more of your time during good weather getting ready to survive the long winter. In other words, you will be extremely busy cutting and stacking huge amounts of firewood so your family doesn't freeze to death during the winter. This is not the best way to utilize your time during a serious hard times tragedy event. Although cutting firewood is a necessity, it is work that could have been significantly minimized if you had just selected an area with a short mild winter.

    A long hard winter also means more time trapped inside your home waiting for spring to arrive.

  5. It has a history of good average rainfall (not too much rain or too little rain).
    Fresh drinking water is an absolute necessity for long term survival. Rain is also necessary to provide good crop yields and to support any type of livestock. Therefore, any area that does not constantly replenish its water is not an area that is conducive to long-term hard times survival.

  6. It is surrounded by farm land, dairy cows, and other typical farm livestock such as horses, pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens.
    Regardless of your primary occupation, your family will need to eat. If you have a marketable skill (mechanic, repairman, doctor, nurse, etc.) then you may be able to trade your skills for the necessities your family needs to survive. But if those necessities do not exist in close proximity to where you live, then your family may starve to death.

  7. It has a reasonable supply of trees and forest timber land.
    Lumber can be used to build a multitude of things. With a reasonable supply of trees a sawmill could produce lumber and a variety of things could be built. This provides jobs and facilitates normal commerce. And lumber is a renewable resource. Just plant new trees after you cut down the mature trees.

  8. It has a few nearby manufacturing facilities of any size.
    During a serious hard times tragedy event manufacturing facilities can be the lifeblood of a community. They permit the division of labor which improves productivity and achieves economies of scale.

  9. It is not on a major freeway or interstate.
    During good times being close to a good interstate highway can be a significant advantage. However, during a serious hard times tragedy event the reverse is true. An interstate highway will be the shortest easiest path for everyone to travel who is trying to escape from a dying big city. You need to think about the ramifications of this issue on your own.


Your survival during a serious long-term hard times tragedy event will be directly related to:
  1. How prepared you were before the hard times tragedy event begins.
  2. Where you are living when the hard times tragedy event begins.
  3. Whether or not you believe in prayer.
After you select an appropriate retreat location you will also need to learn how to become more self-sufficient. Please click on the "Hard Times Suvival" button at the top of this page if you wish to read more about this topic.

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Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com