Many people think that there are very troubled times ahead for the United States. Some who think that realize if that comes to pass their current residence could make their very survival problematic. So what to do? Move now or if tied down, like because of a job, etc, then maybe set up a bug-out-location (BOL). Great but where would you go? And what would be the determining factors in BOL selection?
The “where” and the many deciding factors will likely be different for just about everyone. And anyone who has ever been house hunting knows that buying a house or property is always about compromise. You are almost certainly not going to find the special perfect location, so you just choose the best location out of what you do find available.
The first decision is to decide to completely relocate now or stay where you are and just buy empty land, so that you at least have your own BOL. Once you have that, perhaps plan on slowly building that empty land up to possibly live there at some later date. Or you might opt to leave it primitive. Or if you have the finances you could buy a second home. Any of those choices can be the correct decision. If you are married, this big decision would have to be fully agreed to by both spouses. Again that might, and likely would, lead to many compromises. Not a bad thing–and with two people you could likely think of more or better ideas.
Where Shall It Be?
Once the decision is made as to empty land or new residence, the next decision is where. Here again, it would be a question of whether you are totally relocating or just buying a BOL. If moving to the new location permanently, there might not be any distance worries. But if you are just buying a BOL then obviously distance would be an important issue.
Again such distance would be different for everyone. If you now have an apartment in a small city then a BOL only twenty miles away might be an excellent choice. But if you now live in a large urban area with other large cities close by then you might wish for more distance. The old rule of thumb was a place less than a half tank of gas away.
I would say that if your BOL were four hours or more away, then you would seldom go there. And because of the long distance, you might decide not to run there when you really should and staying in place too long might then prevent you from ever being able to go. Also, I would assume you might want to make improvements to your BOL. The farther away it is, then the less chance you will have to go and make those improvements.
This again would have to be a decision each would have to make for themselves. You might decide that for your particular case you want your BOL to be three states away. Maybe you will be buying a BOL now with the thought of a permanent move there in a couple of years so you decide it would be better to now buy a spot where you want to spend the rest of your life, rather than buy a closer temporary BOL.
What to Look For
What should you look for in a place? I would look for a place off-the-beaten-path. It doesn’t have to be ten miles back on a goat trail but just not next to a main highway or within sight of a town. Maybe just a spot a couple of miles down a well maintained gravel road off of a state highway or something. You want easy access for you but not a spot where masses of people could see you from a big highway. Look around and check on local conditions to see if that area you picked might be up for future local town expansion or a likely spot for a new suburb or retirement community or any other building plans. Most realtors know about future plans for their area. So pick a spot you are comfortable with, whether it is remote and only accessible with 4-wheel drive, or on a good road that you can easily drive your car to and from even in bad weather.
Many people want to get a BOL in the middle of a dense forest. That is, of course, your choice but that might have issues. It would certainly provide you concealment and a source of firewood. But it would also mean a real chance of wildfire burning you out. Also, dense forest would be difficult for any gardening. Also if you plan on using solar power or wind power, tall trees could cause issues with both of those power sources.
Trees can be cut and removed but removing the stumps and roots of those trees so you can build a house or even a garden will be more difficult. Digging even a post hole is troublesome if you encounter roots. Also, the soil would likely need conditioning before you could grow a garden or crops on it. The trees might be pretty but plan ahead as to what you actually want to do on your property and if those trees are something you want or not. A bare spot means you could plant desirable trees in the exact locations you want them but most trees take many years to mature. And thinking of security, a forest would allow anyone to get close to you without worry of being seen.
Water is Crucial
Water is certainly an issue you want to cover for any spot. Is there any surface water on the property or very close by? If you plan on no or few improvements to the land then surface water would be almost a necessity. Is it easy to drill a well in the area? Many counties have a list of all wells online and often give information about those wells, like depth, static water level, and even how much water the well produces. All this is very valuable information that you can access online before buying any property. You can also stop and talk to any permanent residents in the area. Ask them about wells, ask about snow in winters, ask about flooding issues, or any other concerns you might see with the local area.
And about possible neighbors. In many locations outsiders are looked at with distaste and distrust. Every area is different. But often it might take time to establish a good rapport with your new neighbors. Neighbors can make or break any location. Bad neighbors can make an otherwise perfect spot almost unlivable. Good neighbors can change a relatively poor spot into an ideal location. Before investing your life savings after you think you found a perfect spot, I would invest some time to meet with your prospective neighbors.
Speaking of neighbors before buying look on the county’s website and see who or what owns all the surrounding land to your spot. This is usually a very simple online task and could be important to whether you want to buy that property or not.
Picking a BOL for possible future residence makes the decision on a spot more difficult with more requirements than just getting a BOL spot. And even if all you initially want is a simple BOL or camping spot, most people will want to make at least some improvements. This might be as simple as digging and building an outhouse for when you camp there, or it could involve much more.
If you ever plan to build at your BOL then you would want to check if electric power is available. If the closest electric line is two miles away, then it just would not be economical to run the electric lines to your property. Of course you can go off-grid but that comes with its own set of issues.
Some states and localities will not allow a permanent residence to be off-grid. Check now if that is your plan so you know the facts for your location before you buy. If off-grid is accepted, then know that it is usually expensive and often requires a change in lifestyle. For instance if you are off-grid, then you probably won’t be be able to have air conditioning. It just requires too much power for most systems. Again, everything has a cost attached to it and air conditioning while off-grid has a huge cost.
Even if you plan on few improvements you can do a few things at small costs that would make your spot handier for you to use. Maybe have a CONEX shipping container dropped on site. A twenty-foot container can often be purchased and delivered for a couple of thousand dollars though prices vary widely depending on the location. A shipping container can provide a relatively safe, secure, and weather-proof spot to store supplies at your new BOL without waiting for construction.
Property taxes are something every owner has to pay. And like many things property taxes can vary a huge amount from one state to the next and even between adjoining counties. Again, check in advance before buying, especially if you plan on making improvements or possibly moving there permanently at some point.
County building codes vary widely and some checking should be done before any purchase to see if the local codes are compatible with your future plans. The time to check that is before you buy.
Many improvements can be made with little cost if you do them yourself. Sometimes the project might require renting a piece of equipment but even that is often not that expensive. (At least compared to hiring someone to do the work.)
So, after an exhausting search you find a spot to purchase. You check everything out thoroughly and finally you write the big check and become a landowner. Good for you!
Now when you start making trips to and from your new BOL, you should plan and change routes as many times as is feasible. This is because your new land is the spot you will run to if everything breaks down. Naturally, if everything does break down you could easily find one or more of the routes to your property blocked. In such case it would be a good thing to be familiar with alternate routes to get you safely to your getaway spot. The time to find those other routes is now, when everything is fine.
In closing, I believe that many people are better off sheltering in place. Take the money you would have spent on the BOL purchase and save it until you can permanently move to a rural spot where you are more comfortable living. For those that do decide to buy a BOL then do your homework before you spend all that money.