Prepper House Hunting – Part 1, by Mrs. AK

After two years spent traveling and volunteering both in the US and overseas, I’m now back in the US and looking for a place to settle down again. For someone who’s definitely oriented towards a preparedness lifestyle, living out of suitcases with no garden and minimal ability to stockpile food, water et cetera for two plus years has been an eye opening experience. After spending many years on my off-grid farm with photovoltaics (PV) and wind, a gravity fed spring, wood heat, an orchard, greenhouses etc. there has definitely been some discomfort associated with having left (and sold) that tie to security and knowing that if the Schumer Hits The Fan (SHTF), I was mostly on my own, often overseas where I couldn’t even easily understand the radio broadcasts!

But now that I’m back, I thought I’d share my thinking about where I’m hoping to resettle and what I’m looking for. Although the exact specifics may differ for others, I hope that my thought process while considering where I might want to live will be useful to other readers of this site.

I’ve lived in Vermont for a long time. Other than our winters–which are just too long–I really love it here for many reasons including our low population numbers and density, beautiful landscapes, local food production and the presence of people who still know how to do real work with real tools and not just a computer mouse. Living somewhere that when a tree comes down across the road someone is likely to come along soon with their chainsaw and quickly reopen the road and not just wait for someone in an “official “capacity to arrive and take care of it is something that I value. That said, we also are increasingly being overrun by people with super liberal/progressive political beliefs that I abhor. We do still have a decent gun culture and laws though, despite the influx of others that demonize all guns and gun owners.

Where to Relocate?

I have heard good things about life in the western parts of the country such as Idaho, Montana etc. but I’ve spent my whole life on the East coast. For better or worse, this is the area I know people, have family and friends etc. I also recently considered settling in western North Carolina or maybe the central or western parts of Virginia as the winters are definitely milder there yet summer isn’t as unbearable as further south or on the coast. I spent some time in North Carolina and was intrigued as there is even a “preparedness” store, a Prepper “camp” etc. so there was definitely a segment of the population that shared my beliefs. However, I still came back to the same thing, that I had no family or good friends there and found that lack to be a huge concern.

I’ve read recommendations on looking for places to settle with preparedness in mind but I also needed to weigh proximity to people I can count on, employment options and knowledge of the local climate and cities/towns. I decided that ultimately I was better off settling down again where I was familiar with my surroundings and not too far from family and friends. And yes, I know I will still hate our endless winters (and “progressive” politicians) but this may also serve to keep too many from coming here either to live or in the event of disaster(the weather, not the politicians alas).

There are also many who espouse and write about settling down where they can live their daily lives with proximity to employment etc but having a “retreat” to bug out to if times get tough. That really isn’t an option for me due to the costs involved. Having spent my life mostly doing work that “did good” rather than “paid good”, and raising a child on my own to boot, I’m definitely limited by what I can afford. Sadly, due to a significant uptick in home prices here, I couldn’t even afford my former farm if it were to become available to re-purchase! So with this in mind, I knew I’d be looking to find a place that would allow me to live out my ordinary daily life with access to employment, stores, etc. yet also function to provide for me and my young adult son if times got tough. This definitely meant I was going to need to make a lot of compromises.

I had to recognize that I would not be able to find the ultimate “retreat” setting, an off-grid remote place that would be defensible and not likely to be overrun if TSHTF as this also needed to function as my home in normal times and allow for me to access employment and other needs/desires of daily life. I strongly suspect that this is also the case for many others who are concerned with preparedness yet don’t feel they can relocate to a remote area and surely can’t afford to buy and outfit a retreat property while continuing to live and work in their regular home.

I’ve also given some consideration to the findings of studies such as this one from the US EPA:  Development of a Climate Resilience Screening Index (CRSI): An Assessment of Resilience to Acute Meteorological Events and Selected Natural Hazards. This is a resilience study that assesses each county in the US in terms of their vulnerability to extreme weather, both now and potentially in the future driven by climate change as well as a whole host of other factors including social cohesion, employment, governance, etc. Many counties in Vermont score very high in this study as do others in New England, especially Maine. I think the points they make here are valid ones and well worth considering when searching for a place to live and perhaps where to avoid.

My Selection Criteria

So given this, I thought I’d share my thinking in terms of what I’ve been looking for in a home/land as I suspect I’ve got lots of company facing this same situation. I decided that I needed to find a place that would function in our present “normal” times yet would be able to provide for us if things got bad. I recognize that whatever I settle on won’t likely be a “defensible” property if the hordes came in search of provisions. It won’t be high up on a mountain or 300 miles from the closest highway. I’m taking a gamble that things won’t get that bad and also needing to accept that if they do, my home and safety may well be compromised. Still, given my finances and current situation/needs, this is a gamble I feel I need to make and just be okay with.

That said, with these compromises in mind, what have I been looking for during my house-hunt? I’ve been looking for an affordable (for me) home that has at least a ½ acre of land, preferably more. This land needs to be sunny and have sufficient land to garden and grow some fruit trees plus blueberries, raspberries etc. If it has already got bearing fruit trees/bushes that’s a plus. The land has to be mostly usable; steep wooded terrain with rocky outcrops won’t grow much in the way of food. Solar exposure is very important; a property with good southern exposure is a real plus. It’s hard to grow food on a dark northern exposure piece of land, especially given our already short growing season.

I want to be on a side road that isn’t heavily traveled (not a main road). I don’t want to be super close to the interstate or an exit. I’d rather not be on top of the neighbors; a place where I can’t see the neighbors would be most desirable. I’m friendly and into community but even in regular times I’d just as soon as not listen to them mowing their lawns, weed whacking etc. let alone if times got tough. That said, most of our side roads here tend to be dirt (unpaved). I don’t have 4WD and am not looking for a long private or Class 4 road I’d have to maintain and plow. I want to live on a road that the town takes care of. Winters are tough here and “mud season” is a real problem on dirt roads. So if the property is on a dirt road it can’t be too long a stretch of it. I’m still mindful of the need to be able to get out to a job on a regular basis.

I’m also not looking for a home in any of our “cities”. I want a more rural location and not an urban one nor a house in the downtown of even a smaller town. I’m also leery of proximity to certain cities here that have a bad (and well deserved) reputation with lots of drug use and associated crime problems.

I want to live in a place with homes that are cared for and not lots of dilapidated trailers and old falling down homes with their yards filled with all of their cast-off broken appliances, cars and trash. Here in Vermont one is likely to find a mix in most areas, with expensive homes located not far from trailers, et cetera. But I don’t want to live in a community that’s clearly already struggling or has just given up. I consider some of the people who would live there to be a risk even in “normal” times and a clear danger if there was a cut-off of government benefits, their drug supply etc.  With that said, I also want to avoid subdivisions, HOAs etc. I don’t want to have a problem with owning chickens or other livestock, minimizing my lawn area in favor of gardens, et cetera, so no place that would tell me I can’t hang my clothes out to dry on the line or what color I can paint my house or front door!

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)




21 Comments

  1. I know you’ll get a lot of these, but if you’d at all be interested in Western NC, I know of one very private 16 acres, mostly hard wood ,gravity water, with what I, and a few friends I’ve shown it to, think is the worlds most comfortable, small 2 story “hippie” cabin, at a very decent price. It’s in Green mountain, at Burnsville. If interested, I think I can get you some pics, or at least the Lat/Long so you could spy on it, and more details. Good luck, and God Bless, Marv the mountain man..

  2. I fled Connecticut 5 years ago , and fled western Massachusetts before that to relocate to NC.

    NC and parts of SC are being invaded by liberal northerners, mostly university “educated” and white collar, who wish to bring the liberal, progressive cancer with them.

    Charlotte (and it’s huge surrounding suburban sprawl), Asheville, triad, Greensboro, NC, etc……even the Greenville, SC and surrounding areas are being invaded due to lots of high tech jobs being created there, bringing the over “educated” liberals with them……slowly transforming (destroying) the conservative culture.

    Hope I am not sounding too harsh, but I have lived in two Democrat-run liberal cesspools, and having moved to NC, I can see the slow transformation happening.

    To me, it’s really the difference between city folk and country folk, and university educated white collar folk and blue collar folk, that really reveals the difference in mindset.

    With that being said, Western NC is very nice, but, PLEASE do not allow any of the anti God, anti Constitutional mindset to follow you down here.

    1. Yes, I figured that out from my trips to NC. I decided I might as well stay in VT where I have friends and family; we’ve got the same ultra liberal contingent up here as well. In both places there are of course others that are more old-time VT(or NC).

      1. I hear you. I just got back from the tristate area in southern VT western MA and NY. My cabin I lived in near Pownal VT had been purchased by some college alums just one month earlier I learned from the real estate agent as I walked into her office. I was amazed that she knew about this all but abandoned place on 49 acres. With a heavy heart I returned to Asheville NC where I have lived for 3 yrs and also looking at zillow for places near Burnsville. I make a few SOTAs with my ham radio to nearby Mt Mitchell. Stuck here in Asheville for two more years, by the time I get “unstuck” I’ll be too old to make relocation worthwhile. No family. No friends, just my almost 16 yr old daughter who will take off as soon as she turns 18, unless she realizes her dad was right all along, and borrowing to pay for college is probably a career death sentence tgese days, guranteed to enslave her in debt for the rest of her life, not to mention the costs of apt living, car, insurance, etc.

    2. Paul wrote, “it’s really the difference between city folk and country folk, and university educated white collar folk and blue collar folk, that really reveals the difference in mindset.” Can I hear an ‘Amen!’

      Those distinctions are absolutely fundamental. Priority #1 should be ‘whom we will be with’, not ‘what will we have’. If you have friends and family who are country men and women, you have a foundation to build upon. Think twice before moving away from them.

      1. I wouldn’t paint with too broad of brush strokes. Much of our outlook comes from more than our education or lack thereof. I know many college educated conservative preppers. And, I know many blue collar, union supporting liberals. It cuts both ways…

        “Where” you receive your degree probably has more influence as well as your upbringing. People graduating from Hillsdale College are much more likely to be conservative than those graduating from UC Santa Cruz. Of course, how you think also dictates where you will study.

        1. Jake, have you built ‘teams’?

          For example, let’s say you had to build two teams, each just as important as the other. One team would compete in hunting for wild game. The second team would compete in painting pictures of wild game.

          Would you search for members of both teams in similar geographical locations, with similar educations and backgrounds?

          1. Yes, I would. I know people who can hunt, carve, and paint. And they come from a variety of backgrounds. It is dangerous to make assumptions. Book covers can be very deceptive.

  3. I enjoyed reading your article very much, eagerly look forward to the next installment.
    Fifty some years ago, after being honorably discharged from the Military, and having served in a tropical climate (‘Vam), I realized after returning to northern New England where I grew up, I didn’t care for cold winters and everything that goes with it, so without further ado, leaving family and friends, I headed as far south in the USA as I could, and settled in the Florida Keys. (Leaving family was no problem for me, as they derided me for going to Vietnam and called me a fool for doing so.)
    I never looked back nor regretted the move. I now have a very comfortable and self-sufficient life, surrounded by family and friends.
    I commend you on your goals, and wish you success. Never, ever, give up !

    1. WarVet, what a great story. I love hearing of Americans exercising Liberty. It sounds like you made that move at the perfect stage of your life. While you were moving as far south that you could go, my family was moving as for north (Maine) as we could go.

      And the Florida Keys? Wow… Montana is awesome but I still have salt water in my blood. I practically grew up on a boat (RI and Maine). The Keys are a fishing and boating paradise. If the Schumer hits the fan you have some unique options.

  4. Excellent! I relate to the financial constraints of looking for a perfect location, and having to work at least part time. We have three children, one in law school, one finishing college next spring, and our last homeschooler will also be done next spring. We love it out west but need to be here about a year or so longer. We’ve considered buying a simple camper-RV type trailer (would have to sleep 6) to hook up to our truck, maybe live in temporarily until we can go where we want. We own our home. It’s in a sellable area, but we really want to sell before values go down. It would be hard to leave our almost .5 acre we garden on. It’s just really helpful how the last two articles are focused on challenges of relocation. Praying so hard for God to direct each of our paths and decisions. I can tell you, the liberal agenda in our area is becoming so prevalent, I haven’t felt at home here for some time now–a stranger in a foreign land, so to speak. A move cannot come soon enough. Thank you for your article.

    1. Deb,

      I think a lot of us are being direct to areas where we will be safe and perhaps be part of something bigger. I was a 100% “ain’t bugging out no matter what” type of prepper. Thought it foolish to leave and become a nomad. One day out of the blue that changed and we bought a camp/retirement/BOL home. A change in philosophy usually takes a monumental incident to happen. On top of the change in philosophy I then had a medical issue that we had to deal with. It would have made more sense to sell the camp/BOL and stay in town but we didn’t do that either. We made the decision to leave the city for a life that would be more challenging. I had been thinking we need to leave the city and I compromised. I had a major life altering medical issue and boom we moved. (Guess I should have listened). All this Wouldn’t mean anything if it was just us but when you listen people are doing it all over. And like myself, many feel that they were guided to make that move. When I get that “spidy sense” I listen to to it now. I don’t have to know why but I have learned to put my trust in Him and I will not be harmed. I don’t gamble, I’m too good at math and statistics. I’m at the local convenience store where I get my coffee M-F and I realize I forgot my wallet at home. No big deal I got a ten dollar bill for just this type of scenario stashed away. I get it and go into the store to get my coffee. I’m standing in line and the sun suddenly shines through the window and blinds me and I look away only for my eyes to land on the lottery sign. No way am I going to waste what is left of the ten dollar bill on the lottery when I’ll need it for lunch. It was like a magnet pulling me towards those stupid lottery machines and before you know it, stupid me put not $1 in the machine but $3. I won $11. So I had lunch money. Amazing. We just got to realize what we are hearing and put trust in Him, and it will all work out.

  5. We’ve lived on a mountainside in western NC for four years now. I’d recommend it. We came here from coastal NC and, before that, the places where my job took us: the NYC area and outside Detroit. We don’t regret for a minute where we live, on a side road off a side road. We do understand that we won’t ever be one of the locals because we weren’t raised here, and we aren’t kin. That’s just the way mountain people are, and we don’t mind that at all. Everybody’s friendly. Ironically, the only people we’ve ever had a hard time with are the smug, self-righteous, virtue signalling, educated progressives who have moved here from their blue enclaves and who try to force their socialist beliefs on the rest of us.

  6. One way or another, we cannot do this alone. Have a plan to be with family and friends, whether you go to them, or they come to you. Have provisions stocked up at their location, and have them store supplies at your place. Or prepare your retreat to provide for family, even if they refuse to be responsible for themselves. Having an excess of supplies can sustain your own army that may not include family. Most simply will not stock up enough. Budget this in.

    This give one options, at least a ‘primary’, and then an ‘alternative’ plan. Security will be job one. Defensible terrain is key in this. Can we secure ourselves during a worst case, or during a less than a worst case scenario? Without others to keep watch and defend the property that would sustain you, even in a less than worst case scenario, one could be at greater risk alone, than if in a worst case scenario should the retreat be located in defensible terrain, and by loyal family and friends… I could be in the ‘big city’ making a ‘decent’ living, yet I choose to live somewhat like a pioneer with next to nothing, yet I have everything I actually need. Needs and ‘wants’ are different things.

    I live outside the fast rising Beast System already, and my life will change less than most when this country falls apart. I will not miss as much as most will. In the process we also develop the necessary mind set. Learning to live on almost no income, is an art and discipline. It is something that is best learned during the relative good times. Also choose a retreat that can also become self sufficient as conceivable, as soon as possible. There will be few opportunities to make a living in the future. Practical skills, provisions, and equipment will count.

  7. Well Mrs. AK, I’ve lived in SC, GA, MO and MI. I know live in TN. Some counties in TN have few code restrictions. Where my BOL is, we have two that are state mandated, electric and septic. The septic has to be approved first before “permanent” electric will be approved. There is a way around that too. Otherwise you can build your house out of Popsicle sticks if you want. Each county is different. Where BOL is is small town with a few amenities, but finding land off the beaten path is not too hard.

    Where I live currently in TN has strict codes and can be as bad as living up North, with their busy bodies and such. Since my career allows for 100% remote work, that is what I’m trying to do. Move to BOL, where I can even get fiber internet for my work.

  8. Have you considered Indiana? Lots of rural areas, small towns, not as expensive as East Coast states. Corn, soybeans, wheat, to name a few, grow well here, and most people have vegetable gardens and/or fruit trees. Chickens, goats, and dairy cows are popular livestock. In Amish country, add horses as well. Lots of local small businesses. Politically the state is conservative once you avoid South Bend, Gary, and Indianapolis.Cold weather (45 degrees daytime) sets in around Nov. 1st each year, but the snow months are Dec., Jan., and Feb., with a couple of inches on the ground by January. Occasionally it will snow in early March. The southern part of the state is hilly with low level mountains closer to the KY state line. Cheer for the local high school basketball team to do well. Life in the small towns revolves around the school. I returned to Indiana after 30 years away after college.

  9. You might also look at what the tax situation is where ever you go. I remember people in the military wishing they could change their state of residence from Virginia because of all the taxes Va took from them. Also be careful of North Carolina. My Brother lives there and I would HATE to pay some of their stupid taxes. NC is considered to be the Mass. of the South because of their taxes. You might want to consider Eastern Tn in the Appalachian Mts. Have a friend there back in the woods who loves it.

    What others have said about the folks moving from the NE into other areas and changing it is true. I have seen it in two different places in the same state. Was stationed outside Key West and saw so many people from the North move in, and after about six months they start complaining and want more of what they left behind. Now living in N Fl and seeing people move in from NE and South Fl. And again after about six months these same folks complain that they want it to be more like where they came from. My response is “If you want what you had back there, GO HOME! Mostly because I really like the way it is here.” And I am originally from the NE. But I learned a long time ago that I didn’t know squat about things, so when I move somewhere new I would shut my mouth and listen to the locals to see how things actually work here.

    Sorry to talk so long, so will say goodbye.

  10. Since you are looking/living in Vermont, consider New Hampshire next door – no income tax and no sales tax. Demographics I think is a key variable and VT NH Maine would be a fair option in northeastern US scandanavia (ME to MD). Best of luck and God Bless!

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