Letter Re: Weighing the Merits of Retreat Areas

I was hoping you could chime in for some feedback, as I think many of your readers are in a similar boat that my family is: Trying to balance professions and existing commitments against hunkering down for the coming storm.  Given the population density of some of the Midwest states… If you had to take relocating to a larger 60,000 population town in the American Redoubt (Idaho Falls, and the like) or living in the rural cornfields of the Midwest, and I correct you would advise locating to a medium sized American Redoubt city?  – Greg H.

JWR Replies: That all depends… Parts of the Midwest can be viable for retreats depending on their distance from population centers, the water table, and whether or not they are monocrop regions. But a place that is close to a city, with deep well depths and/or just one crop (corn) would be a bad thing.

Selecting a retreat locale is always a tradeoff. The desire to have isolation from urban areas and self-sufficiency has to be tempered by the need to make a living and to keep peace in your family.

While I tout the Redoubt, I don’t claim it has any magical exclusivity or that it is a panacea. You can make up for the higher population density of the Midwest and some of the eastern states by very carefully selecting bypassed areas that are well away from refugee lines of drift, and by stocking up on food and fuel in greater depth. (Since the period of lawlessness in a societal collapse will undoubtedly be longer, with higher population density, you may need to hunker down much longer.)

I would feel uncomfortable in a city with a population of 60,000, even in farming country. To my mind, the sweet spot is a population somewhere between 500 and 5,000. With less than 500 people, a town might not be defendable. And with any more than 5,000, the sense of community cohesion will likely be lost. (See my comments about this in my September, 2008 SurvivalBlog article: Finding a Mineshaft or a Gemeinschaft, and my earlier commentary on the We/They Paradigm.)

To look for some retreat locale possibilities outside of the 19 western states that I’ve analyzed, I highly recommend Joel and Andrew Skousen’s book Strategic Relocation–North American Guide to Safe Places. The updated Third Edition was just recently released.