State By State – North Dakota

North Dakota:
Population: 642,200.
Population Density: 9 per square mile (Rank 17 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 70,700 square miles (rank 17 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $601/yr. (rank 49 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $426/yr. (rank 33 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 2 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 61%.
Per capita income: $24,708 (rank 38 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 6 of 50.
Plusses: very low population density. Extremely low crime rate. Extremely low car insurance rates. With the decline in family farming, the state has actually de-populated, leaving real estate prices low. In eastern North Dakota, in-town lots can be had literally for free–to encourage re-settlement. For various economic and demographic data, see:
Minuses: Brutally cold winters. Short growing season.With the de-population, crop diversity has decreased. (Practically a monoculture.) Many small towns in North Dakota now lack key commerce such as grocery stores, hardware stores, and so forth. (People in many small towns are now forced to drive long distances to do their weekly shopping.) Some small towns in the de-populated regions are verging on desperation, hence the aforementioned “free lots”offers. (Some schools are being closed for want of pupils.) North Dakota has major nuclear targets, so I only recommend that you look west (upwind) of the missile fields. It is estimated that in a full scale nuclear exchange Russia might direct up to 1/3 of its ICBMs at the Dakotas! Unfortunately the missile fields are all WEST (mostly upwind) of Grand Forks (which is on the eastern border). Also, much of North Dakota is downwind from the missile fields in Montana and Wyoming, at least with the prevailing winds. That makes it less than inviting in a nuclear war scenario. North Dakota also has highly regulated home schooling.

JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 8 of 19.

The Precious Metals Bull Market Continues

I was gratified to see that the spot price of gold went to a 17 year high ($459 per ounce) yesterday, while silver closed at $7.21 per ounce. (See my metals price ticker.) I expect some brief profit taking for a few days (and perhaps into October–which has traditionally been a weak month for precious metals prices), but then the metals bull will probably resume his full-tilt charge in the winter. How high will the top be? Who knows… But consider that when adjusted for inflation, the $805 top that gold saw 25 years ago would equate to around $2,200 per ounce, today.

Only one thing is for certain: Like all of the other “fiat” (by decree) unbacked paper currencies of this new century, the U.S. dollar is doomed. Any investment that you buy denominated in dollars is a loser in the long run. Because of both the huge balance of trade deficit and the Federal government budget deficit, someday–probably within the next five years–there will be a full scale dollar crisis. When that happens, expect to lose 40 to 70% of the value of all of your dollar-denominated paper assets overnight. Poof. Finis. Gone!

Your solution to all of this is to buy tangibles. Buy productive farmland. Buy guns, buy ammunition, and buy storage food. Once that is done, buy some silver, and then perhaps some gold. Then you will be sitting pretty. Take the time to read through my Profiles of retreat owners. You will note that tangibles investing, including plenty of precious metals investing is a common thread. They do this for a reason: These folks are not the Generally Dumb Public (GDP). You should invest likewise.

My current prediction is that the U.S. Housing Market Bubble is likely to burst sometime in the next two or three years. There will likely be a concomitant stock market collapse and perhaps a dollar crisis. This will make the Crash of 1929 look like a summer picnic by comparison. And depending on which party that the Powers That Be (read: The Banksters) want to occupy the White House and to control congress, then these events will be orchestrated either before or after the next mid-term elections. (Pardon my cynicism.) In any event, buckle your seatbelts.

Parenthetically, I still think that silver has a better chance of doubling or tripling than gold in this bull market cycle. So if you have the room, buy more silver than gold. Besides, all of those 55 pound bags ($1,000 face value each) of pre-1965 silver coinage make great ballast in the bottom of a gun vault–making your vault that much harder for burglars to haul away. (Which is not to say that you shouldn’t also bolt your vault to the floor, too.)

In closing…
Aside from my steadfast faith in God, the reason that I sleep well at night is the knowledge that my home has a very full larder, large stores of fuel, and a full gun vault. The last thing that I see when I drift off each night is the reassuring glow of a Colt 1911’s tritium sights beside my bed.

Letter Re: AA and AAA Batteries by the “500 Pack”

I should point out that the battery offer by Botach is a high risk issue. Botach is a scum sucking bottom feeding scammer! Check the comments at and – They have a horrible reputation. I can also attest personally that they and have ripped me off (on an expensive rifle scope deal) as well as two of my associates (various rifle parts). I strongly encourage folks to slit their wrists before buying from Botach! – A.M.

JWR Replies: Don’t hold back, A.M., tell us how you really feel! (Seriously, I appreciate your advice. I’ve removed that post.)

Letter Re: Advice on West Virginia’s Retreat Potential?

Mr. Rawles – I appreciate your web site and read it daily. This is in response to “Mo” in West Virginia: I wondered if you have read Mr. Joel Skousen’s book Strategic Relocation. He tends to feel there are areas of the south east that could be viable areas during a crisis . My choice would be central Idaho, but for complex reasons, I will stay in small town western North Carolina and try to prepare an adequate blast shelter. Water is plentiful here and the weather is rarely extreme. (Mr. Skousen also wrote an excellent book on survival shelters.) Respectfully, – C.G.


Letter Re: “Interest Only” Mortgages and Montana Real Estate (SAs: Economics, Montana)

I read a discussion today at Investec Research about on Mortgages and the Federal Reserve as well as price rises on property in Montana. The Fellow said that over 40% of new mortgages are adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and then he said that over 40% of new mortgages are set up as interest only loans. Interest only means that it’s a forever mortgage. Geez, it’s just a new form of rent where the banks are becoming 100% property owners. I wonder what that connotes, huh? Another dot seems to be connected. – The Army Aviator

Letter Re: EMP Protection

I have been thinking about EMP damage to circuitry. Am I correct that it only damages computer-chip circuits, or does it also fry transistor type? It won’t harm old type ignition (with points) systems, right? If this is the case, a generator would become just as useless as anything, unless it is stored in a metal cabinet of some kind, right? How air-tight would it have to be to be effective in EMP suppression? (would it need to be totally welded, or just tacked good enough to keep it together? I am a welder, and am thinking about making just such a cabinet for my generator, just for such an eventuality, using old 275 gallon furnace oil tanks for metal, I find they are a good source for fairly heavy gauge metal, long as you ‘burn them’ first, so they won’t cause any problems when ya cut them. So, the old tractors, Harleys, etc. will still run, but everyone else will be walking, right? Can we do anything to protect our existing ignition systems that we use day-to-day? I guess this is more than enough questions for right now. I just found your site last night, and I think you are barking up the right tree. With between 80 and 100 suitcase nukes running around, we are very likely to need this info sooner than later!! “My people perish for the lack of knowledge” is more true now than ever!!

If this is the case, extra ignition systems for these generators would be worth their weight in gold, if not more, if stored properly. Talk about a great barter item!! – S.C.

JWR Replies: To clarify: There is essentially nothing practical that you can do to protect existing vehicle electronic ignition systems or fuel injection systems that are used day-to-day. Just store spares, but they must be shielded. (See below.) The alternative is retrofitting to traditional “points, rotor, and condenser”. This is still possible on many rigs built up until the early 1990s.

Some transistorized circuits are at risk from EMP. Essentially, it all depends on the size of the gaps (gates) between components. The smaller the gaps, the greater the risk. (With advances in miniaturization–now down to 1/10 micron gates on many chips–the vulnerability of microcircuits to EMP has steadily increased. The rule of thumb: the older the circuitry, the better. OBTW, as I’m writing this, I’m looking across my desk at my Zenith Trans-Oceanic multiband (AM/Shortwave) receiver that was built in 1957. It has all vacuum tubes–no transistors. So it is essentially invulnerable to EMP. This radio was just recently acquired for me at a garage sale by my friend Fred the Valmet-Meister. It was priced at just $20 because it had some paint splatters that ruined its collector’s value. Look around and you might find some similar vacuum tube vintage radio bargains.

Your generator itself (the windings and the ignition system–assuming that it has traditional “points, rotor, and condenser” ignition) is not at risk, but its control and switching circuitry probably are at risk. Buy at least one spare set of control parts and store them in an ammo can or other similar “Farady cage.” Putting your whole generator in a metal housing will not work unless you disconnect all external connections–including the power output cables. (Any long metal conductor acts as an ‘antenna” for EMP.) So that is not practical on a day-to-day basis, but potentially viable if you get some warning about international tensions.

Finally, your comment about storing extra ignition systems is spot on! You will need both electronic ignition sets and electronic fuel injection controller sets. Try to find them cheap–perhaps from auto parts shops that go out of business. Concentrate on the most common types for pickup trucks and those ubiquitous minivans. Do some research on commonality between models/model years for each type of ignition set that you acquire, and photocopy that data. (So that they’ll be no guesswork, post facto.) Just be sure to store all of the parts in ammo cans or metal tool boxes. An absolutely tight-fitting lid is not crucial. But if you aren’t certain, wrap items in aluminum foil first, for extra protection.

Letter Re: “Square Foot” Gardening Techniques

You should certainly stock up to protect against a disaster, but meanwhile, here’s a website which will teach you how to start “square-foot” gardening now, so you can take care of yourself and yours now and post-disaster, See:
Note: this method will also provide work/food for everybody/anybody you find under your wing. And the “work” part: a feeling of being a contributor may be as important as the food. I heard the man lecture and this Saturday I will attend a workshop on constructing and completing a square-foot garden–but clearly it’s not rocket science. It is something everybody can start doing and thus feel they are participating in your preparation plans, even if they think that you are a bit of a fanatic.

BTW, I paid full price for the same book that he’ll sell you for 1/2 the price on the web site (Grrrrr!) – B.B.

Letter Re: Manufactured Homes Versus “Stick Built” Homes for Retreats + Gun Questions

Dear Jim:
I am completely impressed with the level of data and analysis on your blog site! However, there is one subject I have yet to see discussed. When looking for a homestead/retreat have you evaluated a manufactured home versus a conventional\ stick and frame house? Around these parts lots of rural properties come with manufactured/mobile homes as part of the deal. What is your opinion as to the type of housing to be used for your homestead/retreat?

I also have a few questions concerning some answers to a previous e-mail:
1.) You had mentioned a CETME weapon. What exactly is it and can you tell me something about it?
2.) What kind of AR-10 do you recommend?
3.) You recommended purchasing hollow point .22 bullets. I have noticed a lot of soft point .22 are available. Are
these similar? Any advantage of hollow vs. soft points in .22?

As always thanx for your input.
B’shem Moshiach Yahshua, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR: Replies:

On Manufactured Homes Versus “Stick Built” Homes: If you aren’t worried about ballistic protection, then a manufactured home (also called a mobile home) is probably a good choice. Most built these days have 2×6 stud walls and are very well insulated. If you are moving to an area where they are commonplace, then buying a manufactured home will help you to blend in. You certainly won’t be looked at as a pretentious newcomer! The only serious downside is resale value–but that is hardly an issue for most survival retreats.

Regarding your firearms questions:
1.) The CETME is the Spanish-made predecessor of the HK-91–a semi-auto magazine-fed rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. A lot of CETME parts kits landed on American shores in the past few years, and most have been built-up with semi auto-only American made receivers. The result: a fairly reliable +/-$350 semi-auto .308 rifle that can utilize dirt cheap HK-91 alloy magazines. (See previous posts on this subject.) The CETME is a good choice as a primary rifle for someone that is on a very tight budget. (For example fixed-income retirees or starving college students.)
2.) I recommend the American Spirit brand AR-10, because it uses standard FN-FAL magazines, which are cheap and plentiful. Some of the AR-10s from other makers require expensive OEM magazines. In general, I prefer FALs/L1A1s or M1As over AR-10s, since AR-10s share one major design flaw with the AR-15: a gas system that blows powder fouling back into the action.
3.) The .22 LR hollow points are only marginally better for small game hunting than standard copper-washed soft points. (They only expand slightly better.) But, I predict that they’ll be preferred for barter purposes, because most of your potential customer will be doing their shooting for the stew pot, and hollow points will be perceived as better for this purpose.

Note from JWR:

Today, I’m covering New Mexico, the 11th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

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State By State – New Mexico

New Mexico:
Population: 1.8 million.
Population Density: 14.8 per square mile (Rank 15 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 121,593 square miles (rank 5 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $828/yr. (rank 14 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $450/yr. (rank 27 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 44 of 50.
Per capita income: $21,931 (rank 48 of 50).
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 87%.
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 30 of 50.
Plusses: Low population density. Minimal gun laws. People in New Mexico’s rural areas are already highly self-sufficient, out of economic necessity.
Minuses: Proximity to Mexican border. Water is scarce in much of the state. (Many families haul all of their drinking water from town and store it in large cisterns. That would have dubious utility in a TEOTWAWKI-style collapse.) Economically, New Mexico is essentially like a Third World country within the U.S. The least well-educated population of any state. Expensive car insurance rates. Unfortunately the most mild climate zone in New Mexico (the southwest corner) is also very close to the Mexican border. Low wages. High crime rate. Note: Look for natural gas producing areas so that you can run your pickup on “drip” oil. (See my posts in the Archives on alternate fuels.) Some portions of the state with low population density are recommended.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 15 of 19.

From David in Israel Re: Traveling Cross-Country Undetected

After our recent Gush Katif removal of Jews because of their religion I have seen firsthand people who had to do a grid up bugout. I suggest having all 110/220 VAC gadgets in your pack at a minimum immersion boiler and battery charger these will take up a few grams and make your life easier by not wasting cooking fuel and lantern fuel, a lightweight extension cord may not be a bad idea either if room/weight permits. Sneaking into Gaza to protest (it felt freaky sneaking through Arab villages) reminded me of several important things which I hope to write about at length. But for starters: Have a decent heavy duty wire cutter for both concertina and cyclone fence. Only travel (if possible) with a trained group. Infrared cameras are mounted on drones for personnel detection, if you are in an unauthorized place have plans to defeat FLIR both cameras and airborne (an umbrella is pretty effective). The cellular system is operated totally at the whim of the powers that be not to mention acts of G-d destroying the infrastructure. The cellular system also allows you to be found within a few meters of your location every time your phone is powered up similar to GPS (AT&T in the USA allows you to access this function). Never assume that roads will be open even if it was open only hours ago! Be ready to have to get out and walk, or use a dirt bike. If a cash reward is offered and times are hard a person would be surprised that even hostile Arabs will call the army. Have a VERY detailed map of possible areas readable in red light and NVGs use map compass and GPS. A piece of aluminum foil with a pinhole behind your flashlight lens is good for reading a map, don’t forget your light discipline including infrared lights.

Letter Re: Advice on West Virginia’s Retreat Potential?

Mr. Rawles,
I’m a huge fan of your work, and was pleasantly surprised to come across Survivalblog during the course of my cyber-travels. It has become my new source for survival info. I particularly enjoy your state-by-state retreat potential evaluations. As a lifelong resident of the east coast, and an eight year resident of Virginia, I’m kind of geographically anchored to this section of the country. My family’s here, too. Consequently, I’m rather limited in terms of my choice of retreat locations. I will be graduating from law school (God willing) in May 2006, and hope to do real estate settlement work, as it will give me some flexibility in terms of work locations. Plus, it will ensure that I am able to avoid engaging in the sort of lawyering that would conflict with my beliefs (my wife and I are fundamentalist Baptists). I’ve had my eye on West Virginia for awhile, as it seems to offer the greatest potential within this limited region. I would really appreciate your thoughts on the matter. – “Mo”

JWR’s Reply:

As mentioned in previous posts, I don’t consider anything east of the Mississippi River to be survivable if and when things get truly Schumeresque. (The East has too much population density and is downwind of too many nuke targets.) Read my posts from early August, 2005 in the Archives for details.

With the mobility that your new profession will afford you, I strongly suggest that you move out West. (Preferably the inland northwest.) With a lawyer’s income you can afford to fly home frequently to visit relatives. But if you must stay in the east, move to a very lightly populated rural area and construct a very well stocked fallout shelter.

I am not familiar enough with West Virginia to make any specific locale recommendations. Perhaps someone who reads the blog who lives there will send me an e-mail and enlighten us.