I have had a couple of consulting clients contact me since July, both asking me for advice on potential retreat locales that are fairly close to Northeastern cities. My replies to them were fairly pointed and terse: There are simply no viable retreat locales to survive a “worst case” collapse anywhere within 100 miles of New York City, Boston, or Philadephia. This is because the population density is simply too high. And, in fact, I generally discourage my clients from residing anywhere east of the Mississippi River — or better yet the Missouri River — if they have the opportunity to move. I realize that because of family commitments, health conditions, and work obligations, relocation is not feasible for many eastern families. For them, the best that they can hope for in a major grid-down socioeconomic collapse is to “hunker down” in a hardened house with little or no outside contact for a couple of winters and wait for the results of a die-off. But their statistical chances of surviving this are quite slim.
It is All About Population
Take a few minutes to study the updated population density of map of the United States, by county.
Where I live, there are less than 15 people per square mile. There are far more deer and elk, than people. The nearest major city is more than 300 miles away, as the crow flies, and almost 400 driving miles. It is 60 miles to drive to the nearest Wal-Mart. l honestly believe that living where we do, my family will be able to live off the land, and that we will be unlikely to come under attack by looters. There is no perfect retreat locale in CONUS, but generally, I believe that The American Redoubt region offers the best combination of isolation from population centers, local power generation, minimally-intrusive government, and potential for self-sufficiency.
Back in October of 2005, I received the following e-mail from a SurvivalBlog reader:
You mentioned that you don’t feel qualified to comment on much less to rank the eastern states. I can start the ball rolling, re: the Urban Northeast (the UNE). The disadvantages of the UNE are: cold winters, overpopulation, generally bad gun laws, socialistic politicians, and high Sheeple Ratio (SR). However, tens of millions of people live there, so:
1. I live in Philadelphia, for which the natural bugout area is the Catskills, Lehigh Valley, etc.
PA gun laws are surprisingly good; an oasis of sanity in the UNE: Shall Issue CCW (and you can carry virtually anywhere — no annoying patchwork of carry-proscribed areas); no AW laws; no waiting periods. Long guns can be sold privately without a paper trail, but sadly all handguns must go through FFL. This latter is disconcerting because, in open defiance of state law, the PA State Police are keeping a firearm registry. That’s why creating a cache of off-paper rifles is all-important.
PA taxes vary: state income taxes are mild but City of Philadelphia taxes are savagely draconian.
2. New York City: you’re screwed. Politics; gun laws; taxes; population; SR are all hopeless for the foreseeable future. There is no sane bugout area around. New York state gun laws are only marginally better than NYC. NJ is hopeless too. Your best bet might be CT.
3. Boston area. Look north. I can’t comment on Maine, but both NH and VT are excellent choices, especially with regard to gun laws. I’ll try to have my NH friend contribute more info.
Conditions Have Worsened
I still stand by the position that I took, back in 2005. If anything, the situation in the “UNE” is even worse now — 17 years later — with ongoing urbanization, ongoing reductions in the number of small family farms, higher taxes, the advent of “woke” politics, increasing homelessness, and the ongoing bureaucratization of both county and state governments. Even states like New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine are seeing gradual population increases and a quite perceptible diminution of private property rights. Surprisingly, even Vermont has done away with private party sales of used guns. There, all sales of post-1898 guns now have to be handled through a FFL holder, with a 4473 form filled out, and a FBI background check.
I look forward to hearing the perspective of SurvivaBlog readers on this topic. Please e-mail me, and I’ll post your comments in the next Snippets column.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Vote with your feet! – JWR