Be Your Own Best Defense Before Society Collapses: Look Out For The 5 Best Places In America to ‘Bug Out’ Before Society Collapses


Many people wonder where the safest place to retreat is should a major disaster hit, an economic collapse occur, or the power grid go down for an extended period of time.

In truth, there is no singular “safe place” where you are guaranteed to survive no matter what, but there are certain factors that make some regions safer than others.

In general, the bet regions to survive in the United States should meet as many of the following criteria as possible:

  • Low population density (arguably the most important factor)
  • Away from the coastlines
  • Little risk of natural disaster (tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.)
  • Plenty of fresh, running water
  • An abundance of wild game and edible plants that you can hunt or forage
  • Fertile land for growing crops
  • Long growing seasons
  • A current strong local or statewide economy
  • The ability to re-build an economy after a disaster (examples: farmer’s markets, mines, logging, oil sites, etc.)
  • Protected gun rights
  • A low crime rate
  • Lower cost of living/housing
  • Low property taxes
  • Away from nuclear/chemical power plants and military bases
  • Away from major cities that could be potential enemy targets

We’ve attempted to include regions throughout the US on our list. Let’s get started:

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1. Idaho panhandle/western Montana

We’ll start out with what we feel might be the safest region in the entire United States: the Idaho panhandle/western Montana. The majestic mountains of northern Idaho and western Montana are rich in wildlife, edible plants, rivers and lakes. If you ever needed to find a retreat location in the wilderness, it’s perfectly possible to sustain yourself on natural resources here.

The population density is thin, gun rights are strongly protected, and taxes are low due to strong conservative/libertarian politics. And, the ground is perfectly fertile for you to grow a field of your own crops and/or livestock if necessary. In comparison to other states and regions, the crime rate is also low and in the event of a long-term disaster, the economy could rebuild due to a thriving logging industry, silver mines in the mountains, and a great quantity of successful farmer’s markets.

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The area may be a little too close to the West Coast than some may like, and northern Idaho in particular is close to the large Washington city of Spokane, which some feel could be a potential terrorist/nuclear target. But all in all, the Idaho panhandle/western Montana region meets almost all of our criteria, and at the very least it’s our highest recommended retreat area in the Northwest region.

2. Western Dakotas

Both North and South Dakota apply here, but we recommend the western halves of both states rather than the eastern sides (we’ll get to why in a bit).

The 5 Best Places In America To ‘Bug Out’ During The Apocalypse

In general, this area offers a lot of benefits for outlasting the apocalypse. Most notably, it’s as far as possible as you can get from both coastlines, which many disaster experts feel are dangerous hotspots due to their thick population densities, risks of hurricanes, and major cities that could be nuclear targets.

It also offers excellent fertile land for growing crops (though admittedly, some areas have shorter growing seasons), and boasts sparse populations and strong Second Amendment rights. But there is still one negative factor that makes this general area a slight concern, and you’ve probably guessed it: tornados. Fortunately, the Dakotas, especially North Dakota, are at the lowest risk for tornadoes in the Midwest. (Oklahoma, for your information, is the worst).

But a slightly lesser risk of tornadoes isn’t the only reason why the western Dakotas are the most recommended area in the Midwest to outlast a disaster. Home/real estate prices in both states are extremely low, and North Dakota has actually de-populated in recent years. In order to encourage resettlement, some lots in North Dakota are even nearly free! In addition, there’s very low crime and low car insurance rates in both states, and the oil fields of North Dakota offer an attractive opportunity for rebuilding an economy in the aftermath of an apocalyptic-type scenario.

One big negative to living in the Dakotas is that the winters here are brutal, and we don’t mean that lightly. But if you dress warmly and prepare your home and family well for it, you can get through it.

All in all, the Midwest is definitely a region to consider for outlasting a disaster, and the western Dakotas are arguably the best retreat area in the region to accomplish that.

3. Northern Arizona

Many people say that there is not one Arizona but two: northern and southern. Southern Arizona is noted for its vast and arid desert that is among the hottest and driest locations in the US.  Water is a huge concern in any disaster situation, and it’s simply difficult to find enough of it in southern Arizona (or any desert region in the US for that matter). And as gun friendly as the state of Arizona is, many disaster experts do not recommend that you live so close to the unstable border even if you do decide you can tough out the desert.

Fortunately, it’s a completely different story in the northern part of Arizona that is marked by sprawling pine forests and tall mountains that sometimes look like they should belong in the Northwest. The temperatures here are much more moderate and forgiving than in the southern half, the population is much less dense (there’s no Phoenix in the northern half), and there are plenty of good ranch and farming sites for you to raise your own livestock and crops in addition to suitable retreat areas.

When it comes to negatives, certain towns and cities in northern Arizona are expensive to live in. But keep in mind we’re trying to choose regions throughout the US. If you live in or near the Southwest, northern Arizona is the safest bet.

4. Northern New Hampshire/western Maine

The 5 Best Places In America To ‘Bug Out’ During The Apocalypse

There are, unfortunately, fewer safe place in the eastern US than in the west. But, thankfully, there still some retreat areas to consider. Northern New Hampshire and western Maine are to the northeastern US what the Idaho panhandle and western Montana are to the west. Yes, the East Coast in general is a hotspot for nuclear threats and natural disasters. But northern New Hampshire and western Maine are safer.

This area is very rich in natural resources, sprawls of wilderness and wildlife. There are already strong hunting and fishing communities here, so you can self-sustain yourself on food if necessary. The population density is slightly thicker in New Hampshire, but it thins out in Maine.  In fact, the population density of western Maine is less than that of Colorado. The only natural disaster that really threatens you would be winter storms; the effect of hurricanes will hit the coasts rather than farther north. More government regulations exist in Maine than New Hampshire, which is more economically free.

The biggest concern that disaster experts have with the area is its proximity to urban hubs like New York and Boston.

Just remember that no retreat area in the United States is perfect. But some places are better than others, and if you have no choice but to live in the Northeast in a disaster, northern New Hampshire/western Maine will be your safest bet.

5. Eastern Kentucky (specifically around the Appalachians)

Most survival and disaster experts strongly recommend that you live west of the Mississippi River if you want to live somewhere that’s safer from a natural disaster. But since many people do live east of the river, it’s not fair that New Hampshire/Maine be our only eastern location.

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kentucky appalachia

Perhaps your safest place east of the Mississippi will be eastern Kentucky, and specifically around the Appalachian Mountains. Western Kentucky is a hotspot for earthquakes and is much further away from the Appalachians.

Eastern Tennessee is another retreat options, but there are some nuclear sites there that you would be wise stay away from. Eastern Kentucky is far enough away from those sites.

Eastern Kentucky and the Appalachian Mountains offer prime retreat locations for you to get away from a disaster. In the early days of American history, the Appalachian Mountains were a barrier that prevented our ancestors from moving westward for many years. Today, many disaster experts consider the Appalachian Mountains to be among the best locations to ride out a disaster, and there aren’t any active volcanoes in those mountains, either. People have been living off the Appalachian Mountains for years, so you could easily sustain yourself and your family.

The valleys of eastern Kentucky also offer very fertile land, as well as running water in the form of rivers. You’re also far enough from the eastern coastline to be safe.

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Having researched this subject since back in the 1980s, I can assure the readers, based on the requirements of this article, you are all doomed. Sorry for the news, but all it takes is a little logic in terms of the stated threats and the basic needs of a human to survive, and what one is left with. Better off heading to South America, maybe Argentina or Uruguay.

Western Montana is all the things you mentioned except that it is an extremely brutal place to live. 6-8 month winters with sub zero temps for weeks,5 feet of snow all winter, 90 day growing seasons (almost impossible to grow enough food ), And without the upmost survival skills you will not make it.

Not even close to the truth unless you are above 6000 ft elevation-Flathead Valley, Hot Springs and Plains areas all relative ‘Banana Belts”…

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1. Idaho panhandle/western Montana – You are dead from Yellowstone. You are dead from the ice age

2. Western Dakotas – You are dead from the ice age

3. Northern Arizona – Maybe. But find your water well depth AND if the soil will take a septic tank before you buy. Many places have volcanic rock a few feet below the surface. It cannot be drilled through. Test the water or talk to someone. Some of the water is so reactive it dissolves parts in submersible pumps. Yes, I have land there.

4. Northern New Hampshire/western Maine – You are dead from the New York refugees and the communist governments.

5. Eastern Kentucky (specifically around the Appalachians) – Polluted. New madrid fault. Close to D.C. Underground burning coal mines. Underground mine tunnels – the least earthquake can cause them to collapse.

Dave, I totally agree. Few places in US will be survivable. Most of these articles don’t take into account important details such as the ones you mention. East Coast is toast also due to many nuke power plants. My spots are SW CO Rockies & So. Canadian Rockies (still looking, but time is getting short).

I agree with your assessment except for northern NH VT and Maine. I live here and up north we have large tracts of wilderness, fish and game and we are all well ARMED. those from boston and NY will never make it up here and if they do, they wont make it for long

The New Madrid fault affects western KY moreso than eastern. The fault itself is in southeastern Missouri. Although, if it goes, the whole east coast will probably be rocked like it was in 1811/12. I used to live in that area. As far as the Appalachians go, further south in Tennessee and North Carolina, make a much better choice.

The key to all of this is – “BEFORE” society collapses and therein lies as good a mystery as the return of Christ as no one knows the day!

What day will be the day we deem the last day ‘before’ we lock-load and leave!

Living in Washington, I would add the mid northern part of the state.

Please think about so central Texas. From about San Antonio down to Beeville IE ranch country. VERY long growing season, water well at about 75 to 100 feet, excellent gun laws, low population, might freeze one time in winter, summer between 95 to 100 f. Finding a small tract may be hard this is huge country.

What about the Ozarks? IS it too close to the New Madrid fault? My husband and I have been considering buying land there. I was hoping to see it on the list. I am from Eastern KY I no longer reside there. There is a large oil refinery in Ashland, KY wihich is in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains that my dad said would be a target if there was a nuclear war.

S.L. John Moore Earth Changes analysts claims US Navy has advised its officers to retire in Ozarks. Problem I see is the whole Eastern seaboard could easily be deadly radioactive from all the power plants there. I also worry about New Madrid.

VERY FINE COUNSEL! One point I’d suggest bringing up is the REALITY of movement AFTER a major catastrophic event,{Hurricane, Tornado, and SNOW pileup…Sooo, choosing your “fall Back Location” should be based upon “CAN we EVEN get there AFTER an event, (especially a Nuclear event)! Of COURSE, you’ll ALL probably thought of this…just as did the 4 million folks in Houston…and they PROVED it by jumping in their cars and hitting the road…Can you remember the song with “ALL TOGETHER NOW” as the main stanza? Well, WE DO! We were THERE…ALL TOGETHER…for 17 hrs. and went 75+ mi., {USUALLY & half hr. to 45 min. drive!?}…SOooo…common sense demands that you PRE-pare, AND move OUT BEFORE you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO…while the REST of your community does too!

I totally agree about leaving early. In appox 1961 Carla was due to hit Houston. We were there to visit my mom in the hosp for eye surgery. We left Houston after dark, the wind was already above 50 knots and we headed east. At 35 mph until we got about 175 miles away and then normal speed was possible. Once you are away from the coast (say 50 miles) tropical weather is of no concern in So Tex. May get rain and some winds but nothing to endanger life. Rain is good.

I live in the middle of a National oak forest – elevation 994 feet above sea level. I have a wood burning stove. I have 1 ton (literal) of rice, beans, corn, and oats, plus many other non-perishable items buried in food grade 55 gallon drums that I have easy access to. I am surrounded by 156 spring fed lakes and 46 trout streams. And I have a Burkey water filtering system. Where I live (very sparse population away from all cities big or small (not one in the entire county) is not mentioned in the listing. And I bet no one can guess where it’s at.

I live in southern Idaho, lived in central Colorado before that. Originally came from that hellhole central California before moving to Colorado. Sure move to northern Idaho western Montana and freeze your ass off (I’ve been there). Colorado Springs was ok if you ignore the weather and elevation (don’t try a garden). I’ve checked out the south, Utah, Arizona even Nevada. I’ve also been in the south east, not impressed. I’ve come to the conclusion there isn’t anywhere in this country that even approaches ideal. I’m retired and in decent financial shape and could move anywhere I’d like. Good luck in your quest.

Central Utah is also looking good to me– but I’m an engineer and they have many high-tech jobs there (while I’m waiting for when the SHTF)… The state is primarily occupied by Mormons, but they are very nice people, very family friendly, and their church mandates that they must be “preppers”– so less “looters” to deal with.

I’ll stay in central texas thank you. The country here is beautiful. The stars do shine bright here too. My well is 300 feet with a pump at 150 feet. Easy swap out to a solar if need be. The nearest small town is 10 miles away as the crow flies. Houston, San Antonio, and Austin are all over 100 miles + away. Dallas even farther. Plenty of game and i can grow food all year around. Rains 30” + plus here too. Storm Harvey did nothing but rain, no flooding. It took a while to find this place, but its all good now.

Watch John Moore’s YouTube videos about the “pole shift”, and Planet X. The US Navy tells their retirees to move to the Arkansas/Missouri Ozarks. We have mild winters, heavily forested hills, caves, preppers, gun culture, good hunting and fishing,water everywhere, long growing seasons, and the Ozark plateau is a rock fortress able to withstand the New Madrid earthquake if you’re not too Far East. Do your research.

I say no. The best place to bug out to is the central rocky mountain region. Northern Arizona to north western New Mexico, north through western Colorado and Wyoming, western Montana to eastern Washington and down to northern Nevada. People will suffer terribly East of the Rocky Mountain divide.

probably the best way to survive is an “intentional community” (Google the term, these exist in the USA and many nations around the world). And you need to find/create one that isn’t loaded down with old people with money who will be dependent upon younger people with skills. You’ll have a leg up on an unfolding disaster if your organic crops/aquaponics/livestock skills are up and running. Oh, and you may wish to avoid the sprinkling of “polyamorous” intentional communities. Something tells me that might not work in a disaster scenario.

SW MN… Western edge counties. Nearest big cities are 90 miles away, we have a huge wind energy resource that could provide power after the collapse, super fertile farmland and a decent growing season of 4-5 months but winters can be brutal with temps to -30f…


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