If you closed your eyes and pictured your ideal bug out location, what would your mind’s eye see? You’d probably see green grass, blue skies, rolling hills, fertile farmland, your family, friendly neighbors, and a basement stocked with a thousand years of food and supplies. Now, open your eyes. Is that what surrounds you now? If not, then why not? Are you stuck in a job, weighed down by family obligations, struggling with debt, or just filled with fear?
Many of us have an idea of what we want in life and what we think would be best for our family, but at the end of the day that picture seems a far cry from reality. Do we have the guts to change this, to actually do something about our current situation? Or, are we content just reading blogs and fantasizing about “some day”?
About four years ago, my wife and I started taking a difficult look at our current situation. Was the life we were living the life we wanted? And if not, could we change it? We had some hard talks about our individual and family values. Through a few months of discussion and learning we decided that:
- We wanted to live within our means and carry no debt, other than a mortgage.
- We wanted to get out of our apartment and buy a house.
- Our ideal location was somewhere rural, with mountains and plenty of outdoor places to explore.
- My wife wanted to stay home with any future children we had, and potentially home school.
- I wanted a career where I would work to live and not live to work.
Were these things happening already or were they possible in the future, with our current path?
The answer came back sharply as “no”.
- We had about 40k worth of debt from school and car loans.
- On one salary, we could not afford any house in our area, even with no other debt.
- We lived in one of the most over-priced and congested areas of the country.
- On one salary, we could not afford a house and kids.
- Conversations with my boss assured me that “in order to move ahead in this company, I would need to be prepared to miss my kids’ kindergarten graduations”.
So, basically, our current situation was the complete opposite of where we wanted to be, and it conflicted entirely with our personal values.
What to do? At this point there were really two options.
- Compromise on our core values and keep both of us working and struggling to get by.
- Make drastic life changes with high risk to get to where we wanted to be.
We chose option #2.
It took four years, but we accomplished our goals. We paid off all our debt, searched the country for a place with a more affordable standard of living and the lifestyle we wanted, applied to jobs in the target area, accepted a job, quit our current ones, and moved 1000 miles away from where we were born and raised. Since arriving at our new “bug in” location in a wonderful small town, we have bought a house, conceived a child, and are preparing for my wife to stay at home full time while I work at my very family-oriented job.
Some people reading this have already walked this path. To others, this sounds like something out of dream that you could never imagine doing. However, you could do it. It just takes a lot of hard work, determination and luck.
This article will share how you can plan your own strategic relocation, follow the American dream, and stop living for other people’s desires instead of your own. In this article, we will cover:
- Creating a plan,
- Executing the plan, and
- Surviving the plan.
Step 1: Creating A Plan
Before you start making any changes in your life, you need to plan. As Benjamin Franklin once wisely said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Planning task 1: Identify what you want.
This is the absolute most crucial part of the entire process. If you fail to accurately determine what you actually want to accomplish, you will spend a life time chasing the wrong dreams and suffer a lot of unnecessary hurt, anxiety, and frustration along the way. Sit down by yourself or with your spouse, and list out what you want in life.
Answer questions like:
- If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
- If you could work any job, what would you do?
- How much do you value self-sufficiency over convenience?
- How important is it to have neighbors close by or at a distance?
- What type of work environments do I thrive in?
- What are my financial priorities?
- Would I rather have something I want now and be in debt or wait until it could be bought with cash?
- What are my career aspirations?
- What kind of luxuries could I not live without?
- If I had a $5000 tax return, would I save it for an emergency or spend it on a vacation?
- Do I want other people to educate my children or take that responsibility myself?
- Do I want to run my household off one income or two?
- Do I have hobbies that take a lot of time that I want to prioritize or can only happen in certain areas?
- Does legislation in my current area negatively affect the freedoms I would like to pursue?
- How important is being close to immediate family?
- Would I be comfortable staying in my current residence in the event of societal collapse?
As you answer these questions and the many more you will think up, write them down and then share them with your spouse (or someone you trust, if you are single). Hopefully, your spouse’s and your answers will be pretty complementary. Now look carefully and with an open mind at each other’s lists. These are things they just charted out as life goals and desires. Some may seem odd or trivial to you. They are not! These are your spouse’s passions, dreams, and visions. You need to realize that if they wrote them down, they are important and need to be valued just as highly as your own desires.
I cannot overemphasize how critical it is to get this step right. Take your time. My spouse and I took months hashing this step out. It sets the direction for the rest of your life, so don’t rush it. Find the big things that you most agree on, and use those to determine your path.
Planning task 2: Identify the gaps and prioritize.
Now that you know what you want in life, check it against reality. For some of you, you are already living your dreams. Keep it up and enjoy your life. Others will notice significant gaps between what they desire and what they have.
The odds are you identified quite a few things that you would like to have or do. As best you can, you need to condense, cut, and optimize your goals. Are there any that are related and would fall into place if you hit a bigger goal? Any that really aren’t that important? Any that can be squeezed out for the sake of something better?
Try to come up with five core goals, and then document their current situation. Are they a reality, or does some hard work need to be done to get there? These are your core values and will drive the rest of this process.
Planning task 3: Plan your attack.
Now that you have identified your core values and where your current life deviates from what you want, it is time to start identifying some practical next steps. Merely knowing that things are not where you want them to be will leave you hopeless, if you fail to take the next step.
Once you have identified your core values, you may realize that you can live the life you want in your current location and relocation is not necessary. If your primary goals are career related, then moving to an area far from the city may be out of the cards, and you will need to focus more on doing the best with what you have where you are. Maybe you could develop an extremely solid alternative bug out location and escape plan for if there was an emergency.
Similarly, if you currently live close to family and have an extremely tight set of relationships and community that you are a part of, it might not be worth trading those human resources for a little more land. Groups of survivors will have a huge advantage over even individual family units in a collapse, and you want to make sure you don’t undervalue your current situation.
If you decide to stay where you are, fully commit to that vision. A less than optimal plan that is fully executed is better than a perfect plan that never gets started. There are people that will survive in every area of the world if there is a societal breakdown. Just focus on being the guy that survives and not the guy who dies.
Whether you decide to stay or go, you can still tackle your gaps. Let’s look at how to break down a gap and then accomplish it. I like to explain concepts with math, so I created a formula here to help you understand your next task.
The difference between your goal and reality will determine how much work you have to do to get to where your goal is. The farther your reality is from your goal, the more work it will take to get there. If your goal is to be a self sufficient farmer in a Redoubt state, but you currently live on a beach in Maine, you have a very large gap and a lot of work ahead of you. You need to decide now that you will take whatever steps are required to get to your goal. If you don’t, you will never get there.
“A goal without a plan is a wish.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
For each of your goals, come up with a detailed plan of how to get there and put dates next to each step. Here is an example.
Goal: Be debt free.
Reality: 40k in debt.
- Take an extra job on weekends to help pay down quicker. $200 per month.
- Divert “fun” expenditure money into loans. $100 per month.
- Skip $3600 vacation each year until debt is paid off. $300 per month.
- Don’t attend that cross country wedding for a cousin you haven’t seen in three years. $800 one time.
- Sell motorized toy that is underutilized. $3000 one time.
- Continue making normal payments of $500 per month.
After dumping the one time money into the debt, you will have 36200 left. Keeping the current level of monthly debt attack going, it will take you three years to get out of debt. Is this a long time? Yes. However, three years will pass quick, and you need to remember the options that will open up to you after your debt is paid off and you are not obligated to $1000 per month of payments.
Here is another common example that we will spend the rest of our time on.
Goal: Live a reasonably self-sufficient lifestyle in an area off the beaten path from the golden hoards.
Reality: Live in a third floor apartment by a major city.
Identifying that the place you currently live is most likely a death trap in a SHTF event and is not where you want to be long term is one of the most difficult Goal-Reality formulas to solve. Where you live has enormous implications for your lifestyle. Changing your current location without adequate foresight can have catastrophic consequences for yourself, your family, and your career. As a result of these consequences, the plan here needs to be detailed, well thought out,and created with full buy-in from all interested parties.