We don’t all get to choose where we live; at least, not the state we live in. For most of us, that’s determined by our work; we live where our jobs are. But what about when our jobs no longer determine where we live? Can that happen? It usually does when we reach retirement.
Granted, most people don’t move once they retire, but you’d be surprised how many people actually do. The area where I live has tens of thousands of retired winter residents who come down here to escape the cold weather “up north.” Some of those people come for the winter and just end up staying on, becoming permanent residents in the area. So if they can, you and I can too.
That raises the question of where we would go to retire, if we could go anywhere we want. As preppers, there’s more to that question for us, than there is for our friends and neighbors (unless they are preppers too). We obviously would want to go somewhere where we can live comfortably, even should a TEOTWAWKI scale disaster strike.
This is actually a fairly complex question, with a lot of factors involved. So let me see if I can thin it out a bit for you. I’m not going to tell you where you should go; but let me offer you a glimpse of states that you should avoid going to. I’m basing my decisions on the following criteria:
- Population Density – The higher the population density of an area, the more of a fight for resources. This fight will probably hurt the poor, the aging and single mothers more than anyone, as they will not have the ability to fight. Survival of the fittest will take over, as people literally fight for the available resources. That’s enough to make many areas unattractive.
- Average Annual Rainfall – We all know that water is going to be a problem in a post-disaster world. Areas with little rainfall and few rivers will be hard to live in. For most of us, the best way of harvesting water is probably going to be rainfall capture, so we’re going to need a lot of rainfall.
- Political Leaning – While we all assume that government services and interference in our lives is going to be severely curtailed during a post-disaster situation, we have to think about the here and now as well. Many of the bluest states in the country are also the ones which are working the hardest to take away our Second Amendment rights. That alone is enough to say that those states aren’t a good place to move to.
- Federally Owned Land – A lot of people talk about bugging out to the wild. That’s great; I have my own plans for that as well. But in most cases, the only practical place to bug out into the wild is federally owned land; national parks, national forests and other land under the control of the federal government. So states with little federal land ownership aren’t all that attractive for preppers to retire to.
- Forestation – The most practical means of heating a home in a post-disaster world, especially one in which there is no electricity, is with wood. That means having a lot of forests available, where you can cut that wood. This leaves out huge swaths of the nation, such as the entire breadbasket, which is farmland, nor forests.
There may be other criteria which are important to consider; but I limited myself to those five. To me, those seem like the major ones which will affect a prepper’s ability to survive, both in a pre-disaster and a post-disaster world.
The Worst States
Based on that, here are my picks for the worst states to retire in, if you’re a prepper:
- New York – I lived in upstate New York for a number of years and it is absolutely beautiful. There are miles and miles of hardwood forests, lakes and rivers. But even so, the state is one of the most heavily populated in the country. It is also one of the most left-leaning states, politically speaking, with some of the harshest anti-gun laws around. It would be a very difficult state to survive in.
- California – In many ways, California and New York are copies of each other. Both have a high population and both are strongly blue. While California has a lot going for it, in the area of natural resources, it has the highest population of any state in the Union. We can expect many people to expand outwards from the major population centers, gobbling up everything in their path. I sure wouldn’t want to be in their path.
- Florida – At first glance, Florida looks like a great place to go and a lot of people retire there. But much of the state is covered up by the Everglades. Unless you are going to learn how to survive in that harsh environment, it might not be a great place to be. The lack of forestation really isn’t much of an issue, as you aren’t really going to have to heat your home. But you are going to have to worry about hurricanes, which seem to have an affinity for the state.
- Arizona – Another popular retirement state that’s going to be a mess in a post-disaster world. Arizona is extremely hot, even hotter than South Texas and the Florida peninsula. But there is very little water to be found. That alone is enough to put this state on our worst list. I seriously doubt there will be many people surviving in the heat of Arizona, without access to water.
- Minnesota – Minnesota is known as “the land of 1,000 lakes” so there’s no shortage of water there. They’re pretty good in the forestation department too. So there’s actually a lot going for this state. But it and its neighbor Wisconsin have very high populations. Unless you could get way out in the boonies, it might be hard to avoid the crowds. Of course, way out in the boonies means the coldest parts of the state, so you have the problem of cold to contend with. That not only affects how much wood you need for your fire, but the very short growing season will make it hard to grow enough food to eat.
Granted, there are a lot of other states which we can rule out, based upon the same criteria. Pretty much all of both the eastern and western seaboards would be bad places to go, for the same reasons I’ve already mentioned. The trick is finding someplace that is good to move to.
My Picks for Best States
Everyone has their own opinion, but here are my top picks for the best states or regions for retiring in as a prepper. These choices were made based on the same criteria that I used for picking the worst states.
- Eastern Texas – While Texas isn’t a perfect survival location, there are a lot of good areas in the Hill Country and eastern Texas where there is good forestation and water.
- Idaho, Western Montana and Western Wyoming – This whole area is excellent; providing a lot of forestation, water, federally owned land, rainfall and good hunting. Although far enough north that cold would be a bit of a problem, I would call this the best area of the country to have a retirement home and/or survival retreat.
- The Appalachian Mountains – This mountain range, passing through several states and changing names a number of times, is a great place to live. While there are some high population areas to avoid, there’s still a lot of back country, which would be ideal for our purposes. I’d avoid the Virginias though, for their political leaning.
- The Gulf Coast – There’s a lot of good land in the gulf states, along with people who like to hunt and fish. While there really isn’t much government land to bug out to, there are lots of forests, lots of water and lots of game to hunt.