Letter Re: Minimum Safe Distance From The Big City for Retreat Locales

Mr. Rawles,
If one takes the Rawles Ranch criteria for minimum safe distance from large metropolitan areas – 400 miles from an area of 1 million or more, then one has eliminated all of the west except Montana north of Helena and North Dakota west of Bismarck (With a small piece of South Dakota northwest of Pierre too). Indeed, all of Idaho (the state mentioned in your novel “Patriots”) is excluded by circles drawn on Seattle and Salt Lake. My area of interest (when I’ve paid off the land and can afford to move) in the Big Horn area of Wyoming is excluded by the circle on Denver. Most points south are excluded by circles centered on Phoenix and Fort Worth. (I haven’t even considered the impact of Juarez.)
Even 300 mile circles on cities of 1 million or more only adds small parts of Idaho and Nevada.

While a safe distance criteria is an important consideration, living closer to cities (but off of major lines of drift) may be more important to most of your readers in the western USA. Long term, the agricultural climate and radiological hazards may be very important as well. However, the more I read from your blog, as well as “classical” sources like Mel Tappan, Robert Heinlein, and David Brin, leads me to conclude that living in or near a small community of like minded, prepared people may be the most important criteria of all. – Sun Dog

JWR Replies: The location of the Rawles Ranch–400+ miles from the nearest major metro area–was an admittedly ultraconservative selection. We like our elbow room and we prefer to have more deer and elk than people for neighbors. In conversations with my consulting clients, I often cite 200 miles as a typical “safe distance” figure, and 300+ miles as the ideal. I suppose that I would only feel nervous within a 150 mile radius. It is interesting that you mention Ciudad Juarez. That is one of the population centers that is shown as a “cross border” threat in one of the maps in my recently released non-fiction book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.