Could You Survive TEOTWAWKI in Your State? Here are the 5 Best and Worst States for Survival

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Have you ever wondered how your current home location ranks in terms of survive-ability in case of a major catastrophe? When you consider the possibility of The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) how survival-friendly is your location? Did the prepper craze of the early 2000s leave you feeling unsettled and thinking about moving to a rural location?

Could You Survive TEOTWAWKI in Your State Here are the 5 Best and Worst States for Survival via The Survival Mom

Joel Skousen’s book Strategic Relocation has some of the answers to those questions and may be able to help you assess the security of your current location. His book is fascinating reading and a bit controversial, but after living in some of the states he reviews, I’d say that portion of the book, at least, is pretty accurate.

He bases his assessments on a number of factors:

  • Climate
  • Population density
  • Cost of living index
  • Food production
  • Health environment
  • Traffic
  • Politics
  • Taxes
  • Corruption and crime
  • Gun liberty
  • Homeschooling liberty
  • Military targets & nuclear power plants

One thing I always keep in mind is that no location is perfect, and no matter where you live, there’s such a thing as dumb luck or the hand of God. Just ask the people in Joplin, Missouri, whose homes remained completely intact while those of their neighbors were devastated.

Just because a family lives in one of the Top 5 states, doesn’t mean they can kick back, relax, and ignore signs of coming turmoil or potential natural disasters. Likewise, residents of one of the Bottom 5 states, may be well prepared enough to mitigate some of the disadvantages.

Take a look at the five states Skousen regards as the best for survival. Keep in mind that these observations and opinions come from his book published in 2011 and much has changed since then. (By the way, I think his book is fascinating and worth a read, even if it is a bit outdated.)

Top 5 states

#1  Utah – Low population density, except in Salt Lake City area. Utah has a  below-average cost of living and good food production potential, although irrigation is usually required. It has good water quality, average tax rates, and low property taxes. It’s crime rate and government corruption levels are moderate, and it’s rated as a very friendly-gun state. Homeschooling in Utah is easy as it has no homeschooling regulations.  There are only a few military targets.  Overall, there are a lot of areas that are very suitable for survival retreats and numerous small towns that are also good locations. The 50% of the Mormon (LDS) population means that more people here are preparedness-minded than anywhere else in the country. Survival type products are easy to find, and a lot of LDS resources are open to non-members.

#2  Idaho – Idaho offers a low cost of living and low population density. The food production potential is average with irrigation being required in most parts of the state. There is good water quality, low levels of pollution, but higher than average taxes. You’ll find a low crime rate here with very friendly gun laws.  Homeschoolers won’t have to deal with any regulations, and overall the state as a very high Personal Liberty rating. Many people here are preparedness-minded, the state is more conservative than most, and there are numerous locations for good survival retreats or residential areas suitable for survival-minded families.

#3  Montana – A classic survivalist state with very low population density. It has a moderate cost of living, excellent water quality, low taxes, and a moderate crime rate. It ranks high in gun liberty and has very low homeschooling regulations. However, near Great Falls, there is the largest Minuteman missile base in the country, which makes it a primary target for hundreds of warheads. Stay away from that area and you have a state that rates high in personal freedom and has plenty of room to spread out and explore.

#4  Washington — As long as you avoid the Seattle area and give it a very wide berth, there’s a lot about the state to make it very survive-able. As a state, it has an average population density and cost of living index. Most of the state has a nice growing season of 150-210 days per year and the water quality is good. It has moderately good gun laws but more homeschooling regulation than many other states. One nice feature is that it has no income tax.

#5  Colorado – In his book, Joel Skousen gives Colorado 4 stars in spite of some significant, primary military targets near Denver and Colorado Springs. Outside Denver, there’s a below-average population density, the average cost of living in the state, and depending on where you live, you have either a below-average growing season or a very nice one with 180 days or so. Colorado offers below-average taxes and a low crime rate. Denver has restrictive gun laws but other parts of the state are gun-friendly. Moving forward, you’ll see Mr. Skousen downgrading Colorado to a much lower ranking based on more current events.

And now, for the states that have the worst rankings.

Bottom 5 states

#50  Hawaii – Great vacation destination but a horrible place to be if things ever hits the fan. As an island, most necessities have to be shipped in, including fuel and most food. Cost of living is very high, the soil is fairly poor for general farming, and depending on which side of an island you live on, you could get too much or too little rainfall. Hawaii is the 5th highest in state taxes and property taxes and has a very high level of corruption in government and in the police department. There are strict gun laws and it’s home to several primary military targets. Additionally, there are plenty of racial tensions here.  If tourism should ever die, the entire state would collapse in just about every sense of the word.

#49  Florida – High population density overall.  Florida averages 45 tornadoes a year, plus it gets a fair share of hurricanes. Food production potential is good, but only for a few specific crops, not for general farming. It has higher than average water pollution, and some areas have high air pollution.  Additionally, it has a very high crime rate. Skousen describes it as one big trap zone. There are multiple military targets, and some areas will be impossible to evacuate without a fast boat. Without electricity, the climate is very difficult to live in.

#48  Rhode Island – Rhode Island has a very high population density, high cost of living, and restrictive laws when it comes to personal liberty. For example, strict building permits are required, there’s highly centralized planning,  restrictive gun laws with a 7 day waiting period for making a purchase, and homeschooling is highly regulated. Because the state is so small, there really is nowhere safe to hunker down or use as a survival location. There are numerous lakes and creeks to cross, making evacuations potentially dangerous or impossible. Rhode Island also has heavy traffic and high taxes.

#47  Massachusetts – Very high population density and the 14th worst traffic in the country.  Massachusetts has a high cost of living, a very high violent crime rate, and restrictive gun laws. Homeschooling is highly regulated and there are high levels of corruption at the state and local levels.

#46  New Jersey – New Jersey has a high population density, very high cost of living, and heavy-handed state and local governments. Building permits are required for everything. Skousen reports, “Some localities even require a permit to replace kitchen appliances.”  There are red-light cameras, high levels of surface water pollution, heavy traffic problems, and the highest tax burden of any state.  Additionally, there is very high corruption in government and stringent gun laws.

Are you ready to pack up and move from your state?

Before putting up that For Sale sign, assess your own circumstances and, very importantly, the connections you have. Moving to a so-called “survival friendly” state will mean getting to know neighbors all over again and, likely, being far away from your closest friends and family members. When I think of moving to the ideal survival retreat, I know my kids would grow up not knowing their cousins, and I would watch my parents grow old without having me nearby to lend support. No matter where you live, there are trade-offs.

In 2013, my family moved from Arizona to Texas. Not for “survival” but for my husband’s job. To be honest, I really underestimated how difficult such a move would be, from getting our house ready to sell, the whole selling process, packing up, moving with 5 pets, and then deciding exactly where we wanted to buy. You can read the full story of my move at this link. 

The Top 5 or Bottom 5 may not tell the whole story. Do your own research and consult multiple sources if you’re thinking of either moving or establishing a location as a survival retreat.

A few more insights from Mr. Skousen

Stay away from these dangerous metro areas: (partial list)

1. Detroit, MI

2. Memphis, Tn

3. St. Louis, MO

4. Oakland, CA

5. Birmingham, AL

 

You’ll find the most dangerous nuclear targets here: (partial list)

1. Washington DC /and related bases (major command and control for the President)

2. Colorado Springs, CO (Cheyenne Mtn Control Center, 2 space command/comm bases)

3. Omaha, NE (secondary command and control bases)

4. Seattle, WA (Trident Missile Sub base and numerous Naval Bases)

5. Jacksonville FL/Kings Bay GA (Trident Missile Sub base, Major East Coast Naval Center)

 

Skousen’s recommendations for the most economical states to live in: (partial list)

1. Arkansas

2. Alabama

3. Louisiana

4. Texas (except Dallas Metroplex)

5. West Virginia

Get the full lists and more insights on Joel Skousen’s page, “Strategic Relocation”.

Could You Survive TEOTWAWKI in Your State Here are the 5 Best and Worst States for Survival via The Survival Mom

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108 thoughts on “Could You Survive TEOTWAWKI in Your State? Here are the 5 Best and Worst States for Survival”

  1. I look forward to your upcoming review of this book. I have thought about buying it to get more indepth information on my area, but since I don't intend to relocate I thought my money would be better spent elsewhere. I did read though that he takes state by state and breaks down the best parts of each state to be in and I would like that information. Do you think there's enough of that kind of info to justify the purchase? Thanks and hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving!
    MaryB in GA

    1. If you\’re not thinking about moving or buying real estate somewhere, then I wouldn\’t suggest the book, at $35 or so. It\’s interesting to learn about his observations of different states, Canada, and other countries in terms of surviving though.

      1. I really like Colorado, especially the western part of the state. Plenty of sun, high elevation, rain and snow good for water and crops.

          1. Wood stoves are legal in Colorado, I live there. There are restrictions on burning when there is poor air quality days. This primarily impacts the front range.

    2. George the machinist in Alberta

      I suppose this is too late for you ma’am but, maybe someone else will come upon this late like I did.
      Skousen says the mnts of NW Georgia are the best locale in GA! And the mnts of the Southern States are the best bet in each State. Ya’ll on the coast might consider buying an old barge and having that just in case.

  2. I was surprised about Utah – in one of the peak oil books I read, she suggested that a place receive at least 30 inches of rain a year in order to avoid a lot of water issues, water issues being one of the most difficult to deal with. I'm in the Souther Appalachians and think it's a great spot – they say people didn't "feel" the Depression because they already knew how to make do and to make do with less than most people. The only difficulty in my county is the relatively high cost of living, as there are a lot of second home people that increase the cost of food, gas, etc.

    1. James Rawles doesn\’t recommend Utah either, also because of the lower amount of rainfall. Skousen lives there so maybe he\’s a little biased.

  3. Stephen Clay McGehee

    Looking at this on the state level is probably the only practical way to do it, but I still question the usefulness of such a list. I live in one of the "bottom of the list" states (Florida), and I wouldn't even give relocating a second thought. If I lived just a few miles from where I am though, the situation could be vastly different. There are SO many different factors involved and just a short distance can make a huge difference.

    As you mentioned, having a life-time of close friends and family is incredibly important. A good reputation and solid roots in an area will count for far more than most of the items on his criteria list. A list like that makes for interesting discussion, and if you're having to leave your current location, then it's better than nothing. Bottom line – think it through carefully using an honest appraisal of your own very specific situation.

    Stephen Clay McGehee
    SouthernAgrarian.com

    1. Why do you assume that the 'folks' in the bad neighborhoods are incapable of walking a few miles….TO EAT YOUR DINNER? Florida is a FUNNEL TRAP…18 million people and the only way out is NORTH I-75!

      I pre-evacuted Florida three years ago, after 22 years of hurricanes, foreigners, high taxes, heat and hoardes of bugs. I still can't figure out how I lasted that long. Life in the Ozarks is PURE BLISS!

      1. Stephen Clay McGehee

        Because real life is quite different from looking at a map and coming to a conclusion. I've lived here all my life and I'm almost 60. My father's family moved here from Alabama in the 1920's because the farming was better here than it was there, and my mother was born here. I think I have a pretty good sense of the pros and cons of living here in Florida.

        It is important to consider human nature when thinking about "the golden hordes" and how people act and react when they face a real threat.

        Another important question to ask: You said, "Florida is a FUNNEL TRAP…18 million people and the only way out is NORTH I-75! " – What could possibly prompt 18 million people to decide to leave Florida? Where would they be heading to? Think it through – it just doesn't make sense.

        Suit yourself though. I've got to admit that IF I were to relocate, I'd be looking at a certain place in Arkansas. You've probably picked a good place and I wish you well. As for me and my family, we will remain right where we are.

        1. Stephen, your comments are insightful and I know a lot of people have determined that where they are right now is the best place for them, regardless of what any expert says. There are thousands of variables that will come into play if our country ever experiences a collapse. I have all the respect in the world for James Rawles, but I've questioned the whole "golden hoard" thing for the very reason you mention — where are they going to go and will parents really grab their kids and head into parts unknown? I'm not convinced. Now, where I currently live is a death trap if something horrific should happen in the Phoenix. There's nothing but desert around us and, really, nowhere to escape TO, which is why I still think Hawaii is going to be a difficult place to survive in. And, of course, it all depends on WHAT happens! An EMP? Economic collapse? Nuclear attack? We in Phoenix could be far better off than those in some other survival "haven", depending on what happens and during which season of the
          year.

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  5. I've considered the survivablity of my current situation. I live in an appalachian portion of Ohio. I decently sized town but not a dense population beyond unless you go to a larger city like Columbus. A decent growing season and not much danger in the way of natural disaster. There are also lots of woods and wildlife, lots of hunters. I don't know where Ohio ranks on the list, but I feel pretty safe here. I would recommend it.

  6. As a new prepper, it is a little disheartening to see my state (Massachusetts) at the bottom 5, however it isn't a surprise. Most of the east coast is densely populated. I don't have an option, so this is where I will be hunkering down. I think if you live in a location that is not the best scenario, assess your surroundings and determine what the obstacles are? Perhaps you need to pay extra attention to security, which is a priority for me, since I live on the outskirts of a medium sized city. Houses are close together and I worry about looting/home invasions. Some of my food storage is easy to find within my home, but some is also hidden. Gun laws are strict here, but a permit is obtainable if you are willing to put the required time into it. Every location has their pros and cons. I am making a list of what I feel each one is and what can I do to overcome it as best as I can.

    1. mass is my home as well, I think Boston area skews

      These types of reviews, I live in a rural spot have a LTC

      And other than the cost of living don’t have many

      Issues. If I lived in springfield area or Boston area I’d

      Probably run for the hills tho 😉

      1. Please note that one of the most high profile preppers, chris martenson, lives in mass. Its not just about the state. Its about the community you form and working together to ensure thorough preparation

    2. Look at it this way; CA isn't in the list. LA is probably darn near as big as Rhode Island, which is on the list, and LA is undoubtedly a far worse option than Rhode Island. Mass is probably easier to get out of than CA simply because it is so much smaller, and that is a big mitigating factor, IMHO.

      1. I have Skousen’s book and his rating system is based on several things. Low ratings for RI and MA are not just due to population density but proximity to military bases and other targets ie Nuclear Reactors and being vulnerable to natural disasters not to mention high cost of living among other things.

  7. Relocation just isn't an option for many.

    And in anything short of a total Mad Max collapse millions of people from the more urban areas will sweep across the land. All that natural food and water will be taken (or spoiled) very very quickly.

    1. Uuuuuhhhh, I seriously doubt that MasterPro. Most urbanites could not travel fifty miles without an automobile or some other conveyance. And those who could travel wouldn’t last long trying to ravage the countryside like a swarm of locusts. I’d wager 95% or more folks in the rural areas around here own a few firearms at a minimum. The country as a whole is probably similar. On our road with15 houses folks own approximately 200 various firearms and hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of rounds of ammo. I don’t see the “Golden Horde” getting very far around here.

      1. Yes. Those “hordes” will mostly peter out at the outer edges of the suburbs. Anyone thinking ten million refugees are going to cross three states in an orderly fashion on whatever fuel happens to be in their tanks that day is using some odd math.

  8. Just like real estate markets and micro-climes. You can find a gem in a field of coal.

    Rawles has his Redoubt, and there are many good points. But if I could move, I'd consider some remote ocean front to bug out to. Not to boast, but I think I can desalinate enough to get by and the ocean won't be fished out.

  9. I am curious to read the book and find out where California is. The extremely overcrowded LA/Orange/SD counties areas still have some surprisingly rural areas, but water is almost nill if a the agri-pumps stopped. Northern Cal, is rural in a lot of places, but again, water is tough. And moving to the beach in the lost coast area (north of Ukiah on the beach side of 101) is rough & desolate with a usually churning sea. Desalting sea water is complicated. I think I am doing the old fashioned list-what I need, want, can put up with, etc. It is always 6 of 1, half dozen of another.

    1. We spent some time in northern-ish CA a couple of months ago and were just about ready to move there. We stayed with friends who live in a beautiful community out in the rolling hills….but then we remembered Sacramento and the crazy people there who make the laws that affect everyone. There's no telling what they'll do next to add to the tax burden of the citizens and business owners and what rights they'll figure out how to limit. So, CA is no longer on our list.

    2. I live in Northern California, and find we have everything pretty readily available.. there are other rural areas besides the Lost Coast/Kings Range area.. Plentiful water, trees, agriculture..Many here are preppers out of necessity… it’s just how we live and always have.

      1. Terri, it really does depend on specific locations. There are parts of California which are excellent locations, even in a SHTF scenario. I didn’t write this list, BTW, but my main issue with California are the people running the state and the laws and taxes they come up with every year.

        1. You might also keep in mind the fault lines and tidal waves….this is a huge factor for those in california..earthquakes would be a major devistation.

  10. Interesting information, but I'm staying in TN. The northwest states are too cold in winter, meaning a shorter crop season and too much energy expended cutting wood for the fireplace. Utah is too dry and residents don't even own the rain that falls on their property. If the grid goes down, so does irrigation; there will be few crops grown in Utah. TN has moderate winters; many days we don't need heat at all. We do have hot days in summer, which is why I have a basement; it's 15-18 degrees cooler down there. Our rainfall is good, we have rivers, creeks, etc. We get a fairly early start on spring planting, and I've eaten homegrown tomatoes on Christmas Day. While the presence of a particular religious group may seem an advantage to some, I dislike it because of the temptation to turn doctrine into law. I'll refrain from saying a word about vampires in Washington state. . .

  11. I live in MA and I don't know why it made the "worst" list. There are areas, such as mine, that are well suited to survival. Obtaining an LTC is relatively easy once you take a course, pass the CORI and get the blessing of the local police chief.
    One would think the entire state is inhabited by city dwellers. It's not.
    You really have to live here before you pass judgement.

  12. I am interested to see where North Carolina lists. I would tend to think we are near the bottom. Fairly populated and some high risk military targets. Trying to learn more to see if we can survive TEOTWAWKI

    1. Not anywhere near the top, that\’s for sure. One survivalist said, \”You can tell if your city is a terrorist target by looking for large, white buildings.\” What he meant was cities with important courthouses, capitol buildings, etc. are prime targets, and that certainly includes much of VA and the DC area.

    2. Down near Roanoke is undoubtedly higher. NoVA / DC? Not so much. But as much as DC has to be the #1 nuclear target on the planet, the reality is that if it's hit, most of those there will stay on the MD side because the bridges and tunnels (Metro) will be gone so they won't have much choice unless they have a boat.

      And when you get past Fairfax and eastern Prince William, you get into a lot more agriculture a lot more quickly than big cities like NYC or LA or Chicago have that close to them. And I don't think VA is so much "gun friendly" as actively pro-gun. There's a reason the NRA headquarters are in VA, not DC or MD.

      Of course, Norfolk and that area would also be a military target, but not so much farther inland. So, I agree that there are some big targets, but I think there are also some better areas. One positive is that it really isn't near NYC. Refugees from NYC would have thinned out and gone elsewhere before hitting VA (mostly into PA, NJ and the New England States, I would expect), Philly refugees would go into PA, NJ and MD. Baltimore refugees might make it into VA, but they would still need to cross the Potomac and it doesn't seem to be heavily bridged. KWIM? I could be wrong because I haven't really looked into it.

  13. If it ever falls completely, no one is getting out alive. You can delude yourself to whatever you think, but your toast.
    Jim Rawles is an idiot who is making PILES of money off this end of the world thing that has been spouted for about 50 years now. Mel Tappan. ha.

    1. I disagree that, \’no one is getting out alive.\’ That may be true in some urban centers that are already decaying and have high levels of crime and corruption, but there\’s too much variety across the country to say that every village, every community will experience the same fate. Rawles may be making some money, true, but he\’s filling a gap of information. People are afraid and don\’t know what to do next. Bloggers like Rawles, and hopefully myself, are giving directives to people who have no idea what it means to think like a self-reliant person.

  14. SM,

    I noticed neither of the Dakotas nor a single Great Lakes state made the top 5. I suppose many other states could "tie" for top 5 if things were weighted more on sustainable agriculture and water resources. I would suggest reviewing these extensive agriculture maps:
    http://gardenserf.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/fortre

    You are correct that many western states are heavily dependent on the Oglala acquifer for irrigation since they lack adequate rainfall. The old midwest does pretty well, though.

    1. Skousen gives North Dakota 2.5 stars and South Dakota 3 stars. Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan each received 3 stars, as did Texas! You'll have to read his summaries to understand why he rates these the way he does.

  15. Not sure some people know exactly where virginia is. Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Ohio are all considerably closer to DC then are parts of VA. Only 2 of the 95 counties in VA touch the DC border. you would need at least 2 tanks of gas if not 3 to get to the southwest corner of VA.

  16. Something to remember about us crazy mormons – only about 5-10% of us actually deserve the image of preparadness enthusaist. The rest of us are just as ignorant about reality and reliant on our modern society as anyone else.

    As for growing crops – I have always taken advice like yours and Rawles', and scratched my head when looking at information like this: http://www.sage.wisc.edu/iamdata/

  17. North Florida is a great area to live in… plenty of lakes, rivers & springs “more natural springs then anywhere in the world” Plus the weather is great year round even without A/C and you can grown vegetables year round too… I think your you should split south Florida and rank it number 49… North Florida should be ranked in the top 10… Nick

    1. I agree. I’ve wanted to move north for years. Just about anywhere north of the Lake, except the major population centers.

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  19. I disagree with much of this assessment. Just to start with logically when the meltdown occurs, which states have the highest taxation isn't going to matter either way. Secondly, the statement regarding Hawaii is purely just bull. Having lived there for much of my life, regardless of whether their is shipping or not who cares. We as a nation are able to feed ourselves quite nicely from the Ocean and the Land. And believe me we have plenty of Ammo.

    1. I think his inclusion of things like tax rates and homeschool laws has more to do with actual LIVING there than whether or not those factors will impact survive-ability in a collapse. One of the problems with Hawaii is that all fuel has to be shipped there, and there is no way off the island unless you have a good, fast boat or an airplane. Some people who are used to living close to the land may do just fine, but there are many important crops Hawaii's climate just doesn't support.

  20. Come see us in Ecuador: http://JourneymanJack.com/ Quito is the Capital, right on the Equator, at 9,350 ft. (1.77 miles) above sea level in the heart of the Andes Mountains, where the weather is 50's in the evening, and 70's during the day all year round. Valley of Eternal Sprintime! Do not hesitate to contact me for your relocation or exploration needs!

  21. It may be true that Hawaii is a bad location if you live on Oahu. I live on Kauai and we will do just fine thank you very much. Besides my house is almost paid for.

  22. I live in upper East Tennessee in the Tri-city area. The largest is Johnson City with 60,000 residents. We have several rivers, creeks, TVA lakes, and over 40 inches of rain a year. You can grow almost anything here except for tropical varieties. We have few tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, etc. However we do have a couple of military targets with BAE ordinance and Nuclear Fuel services that make nuclear fuel for the navy. Besides that, it is rural. Knoxville and Asheville are over 90 miles away in opposite directions. As far as gun laws their is NO STATE REGISTRY. As long as you pass a back ground check which takes at most 30 minutes buy whatever.
    Southwest Virginia is also a very good place. It is almost the same as NorthEast Tennessee except you are in Virginia unfortunately. The mountains of Western North Carolina would also be great.

  23. I found that the top states were also states with major winter climates ? Lived in Montana for 15 years, N of Gt Falls (240 ICBM MM3's) 85 miles with 2 MM3s just east of town. ( we had a nulcear attack map at the hosptial showing evacutation routes to the NW towards Glacier Park area ) I now live in Texas (since 1997) so my reference to Mt taxes would be old , but, the taxes in Montana (fed,state,local, etc) were considerableI thought. Moving to Tlexas I was able to register and license 3 cars for the cost of one in Montana! Ive not read book but would be curious as to where Texas fit?

  24. Utah used to have pure, delicious, fresh mountain water until a decade ago when the Feds began taking it over for their NSA project and filled it with so many chemicals your first impulse on tasting is to spit it out immediately. Now most culinary water rates an average of 1.5 out of 10. The Mormon to Non-Mormon population is as much as 75%-25% which can affect the local conservative culture strongly; make sure you can live with that – some can't and have fled. There are some military targets: Hill Air Force Base, Tooele Chemical Weapons Depot, the new NSA Center, and Dugway Proving Grounds (aka The Real Area 51 or Area 52). Underground tunnels supposedly connect these areas to Denver Airport, etc. Utah is a mountain desert, formerly an ocean. So the soil is very salty, requiring much water, yet rainfall is 2nd lowest in the nation – only Nevada gets less. Being high altitude means hotter summers and colder winters – as low as -60F in Randall, for example. That's why some sarcastic tourists dub Utah The Brown State – there aren't many trees and some local businessmen prefer brown suits. But watching the sunset from the mountains over the lake is one of the world's grandest views.

  25. What about Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama? Does anyone know where they fall on the list? We live in Louisiana and are thinking about going to Alabama where we have family.

  26. Are there any books on assessing and setting up property where you are digging in? or does this book cover that. Not sure where SC ranks.

    1. SC ranks low (only 1.5 stars out of 5 stars) mostly due to backwards thinking such as banning Naturopathic Medicine, strict building permits, high corruption amongst state legislators, judges, police and lawyers, polluted surface water, and 91 percent of municipal water is fluoridated, Also there are 4 nuclear power plants and 8 military bases which could be potential targets. Skousen says the best areas in SC are in the upstate.

  27. Interesting, but I'm staying put. Utah has serious water problems; people don't even legally own the rain that falls on their land. Few crops can be grown there without irrigation, and chances of irrigation after SHTF: 0. Same for Colorado. Montana, Washington, and Idaho have long, cold winters; this means a lot of time spent chopping down trees for firewood, which equals a great energy/time expenditure.

  28. The lsit seems odd to me. Such things as permitting problems? A difficulty in normal times, but this is supposed to be about TEOTWAWKI, and the criteria for and against is bogus in many regards. Please try again.

    1. The author, Joel Skousen, includes things like permits to evaluate a state\’s level of personal liberty. Why move to a state that has overly restrictive laws?

      1. I have read the book over a few times, and while some of the information is very interesting, much of it seems impractical. Utah is the highest rated state but gets such little water and has a short growing season. And Hawaii receives zero stars, why? It seems to me that if things got bad here in America, Hawaii would bond and work together, almost as a separate nation. What makes Hawaii so intriguing to me (that is, if you can afford a home with some land .5 acres at least would be good, the big island has some cheaper land) is year round rainfall. Water is the #1 most important resource in a crisis situation, not only for drinking, but for irrigation as well. With a simple water catchment system you insure yourself pure drinking water year round. Then on top of that, if you set up a small farm/garden you can insure yourself food forever, regardless of SOARING food prices. Lettuces, onions, cherry tomatoes, cucs, celery, carrots, beans, strawberries, broccoli, blueberries etc… grow pretty much year round. On top of that, if you plant a couple fruit trees, you ensure yourself fruit year round. Some lesser known tropical fruit trees produce in the hundreds of pounds of fresh fruit yearly. Of course there is also the ocean with an unlimited supply of fish (i guess you would need a boat though?). The final positive is no heating or cooling expenses, year round. No finding, chopping and storing wood, no expensive a/c to worry about. I am seriously considering buying land on the big island (1 acre minimum) and would like any insight as to why Hawaii would be a poor place to move in a survival situation. Lets all cross our fingers there isnt a major collapse (which seems inevitable) and a “mad max” situation.

        1. Putting Utah first on the list when it doesn’t get much rainfall was interesting to me, too. As far as Hawaii is concerned, it seemed that is big issue was being trapped, as well as parts of Hawaii being a possible primary target in a war and there’s really no escaping it in a worst case scenario. Not sure it deserves to be last on the list,though.

        2. I moved to the Big Island and consider it the great place for an economic collapse. There is a huge grey market already in place here. I think it would rapidly adapt to an economic collapse. The weather is mild and we don’t use air conditioning or heat. Most of the neighbors have gardens and chickens. People may laugh at the hippies up near Pahoa, but I have seen all those fruit trees they have growing.
          I figure that we could survive on this island with no food coming in. Sure we would lose weight, but I am sure we wouldn’t starve. Remember, most people waste about a third of the food they buy. I am not a hard core prepper, but I do have a lot of extra food in bins. There is a wild fruit growing everywhere called strawberry guava which i personally can’t stand, but keep us alive if necessary. Oh, we have about 25% of our power from geothermal here too. Not sure how it would be allocated, but at least the island wouldn’t be totally devoid of power. They are building more geothermal plants too.
          The problem with articles like this is that they combine all of a state as a single area. I have no doubt that living on Oahu could be a living hell if things got even moderately bad. A place like Montana may be great, but I suspect you might be working your ass off to prepare for the harsh winters, which brings up another point. Weather has a big effect on health and I am not getting any younger. Those harsh cold winters may be deadly without modern medicine. Another point for Hawaii.

  29. My husband and I left Montana 16 years ago because the jobs up there in my husband’s field of underground mining disappeared . We now live in Nevada.

    We still own a house up there, 2 bdrm/1bth, and pay more in property tax, power bills, and insurance than we do in Nevada. Granted, water in Nevada is a major issue, but we have 2+ acres and our own pump. We are putting in a generator for the pump as soon as we get the new pumphouse in. Temperatures are better even though we have more drastic swings (19 degrees tonight, 61 tomorrow).

    We are setting up the house in Montana (Just-In-Case) as a bug-out location, but I doubt we will ever need it. Northern Nevadans are more freedom loving than most of the people we know in Montana. Our community here is more prepared and we look out for each other.

    All in all, as much as I love Montana and would like to live there, the tax structure isn’t conducive to retiring there. Property tax, Income Tax, Personal Property Tax (Cars, etc) are more than out of line. Even the friends we have in Montana believe that the government will take care of them (because most of them are on assistance). And I don’t believe in the “Welfare State” attitude that is currently prevalent in Montana government really represents the “Do it yourself” government that I grew up with. Nor do I choose to participate in it. While we were there I wrote letters, attended meetings, etc. to let the legislature know that I disagreed with what they were doing, but we were ignored.

    I didn’t mean for this to be a diatribe against Montana. Every state has points that you have to deal with whether you like them or not. In Nevada it is Harry Reid. But no matter where you decide to live, YOU are responsible for making your life the best you can. And when you work to make it better, you win.

  30. This was an interesting post to read through…and it made me wonder about South Carolina….we have low taxes, embrace home schoolng without too much back lash, a great growing season, mountains and ocean, fair rainfall (well…most years I think) and an easy route to a concealed weapons permit. Most of us rednecks can farm and can, hunt and/or fish and generally understand that America is swirling the drain and the new martial law crap of O’s new executive order is just a mess waiting to happen. I’d like to think we should have been in the top 5 unless I am missing something major about this state. I am not moving unless it is out of the country so likely not getting the book…besides my reading list is all “fulled up” for some time to come:). I am noting too that i can’t find anywhere outside this country that would be easier than roughing it here…unless I get to leave with the trumpet blast that surely is not far off…

  31. As east coast residents fairly close to NYC (w/in 50 miles) we put a lot of thought into our “bug-out” location – must be easily accessible to us (less than 3 hours drive along a not-very-traveled route), must be very rural, preferably even off of GPS, must have access to safe water, must have enough land to farm and hunt and must have a few neighbors of “like minds”. We found it in New Hampshire and due to very careful financial planning, we bought 5 acres for cash and my husband built our house from the ground up by himself. We have are off the grid and have a solar system, heat with wood and a good water supply along with great neighbors. New Hampshire has very 2nd Amendment based gun laws (ie., none except a background check required by the feds that one you pass they put through the paper through the shredder) and a very self sufficient and libertarian thinking population. My opinion, if you are on the east coast and are of a hearty mindset, New Hampshire is a great place to bug-out to.

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  42. Toni Verkruysse

    In any catastrophe whatever its nature, the coastal regions and the great population centers are the most vulnerable. I believe that it is in outlying rural areas where the odds of survival increase and the fight for survival becomes the most desperate. I put this thesis to the test in my novel, ‘Pale As Hope’ where three misfits struggle to survive the cataclysm of a freak pandemic only to discover that they are humankind’s last ditch hope. Watch the video. http://youtu.be/DO6VvS8DI6I

  43. I haven’t read the book, so I can only speak to this post and some comments here. Having been a military wife (he served in 2 different branches), I have lived in several states mentioned. Relocating before or after a collapse, either way you are looking at learning how to live in a new area. Not just the type of people there (that will be changing often until some form of civility returns), but climate, altitude, and other forms of adjustments. I’ve lived on the coast, middle of the country, in the mountains and on an island.
    I am at a place now where I am comfortable, I know what’s around me enough to know the known threats as well as how to manage around those. Not saying I know ALL the answers but enough that relocating is only an option in the most extreme event beyond total collapse.
    Having lived in the plains, I know the northern parts no matter the state, are difficult to live in which is why the population isn’t there already. The coast….someone spoke of plenty to eat from the ocean….wonder how many know there are increasing dead zones in the oceans? Living in the rural and wild country so you can survive on wildlife? How many are figuring the same way…history says that’s how species get exterminated when man wipes them out to eat. Basically, unless one can move very soon, get adapted quickly, and unless you are living in a really bad place. I have come to the opinion, it’s better to stay in place and deal with the monsters known because of your familiarity with what’s around you.
    In truth (I can be wrong and hope I am) I don’t believe we have too much longer to relocate and become familiar with the area and people. I have family in many parts of the country. I am concerned about them. I am making plans so they can come to me or if I am wrong and need to bug out, I would have somewhere to go; BUT it would take a lot, at this point, for me to change my mind. Great discussion and thanks since I’ve just found your homesite.

  44. jim rawles is an idiot and a complete fraud, if not simply a naive, undereducated twit… at best, he’s a clown with ZERO experience in anything other than shopping for survival supplies and living in a delusional fantasy world… if you think “bugging in” is going to yield you anything more than a solid gang ass-rape and theft of your goods, you’re as stupid as he is… try googling some REAL WORLD examples of what happens when the SHTF, like in china… wake up and realize that rawles is a moron profiting off your ignorance and nothing more.

    1. Wow. Without knowing you and based solely on this comment, I’d say you have some truly significant anger issues. Nowhere in this article is your nemesis, James Rawles, mentioned. Did you even read it?? You sound like a fool who needs remedial help with basic writing skills. Please take your rage elsewhere.

  45. You can cherry pick errors or simple differences of opinion on probably all the prepper/survival oriented references. Everyone’s circumstances are unique. A few years ago I started my research on getting out of California. This book, Rawles writings and many others. I took what they had to say, digested it and applied my own criteria to the decision making process. Ultimately I came home to Texas. Is it perfect? No. Not for me and probably not for anybody else. If you honestly think utopia is waiting for you then no book will help. I balanced mine and my wife’s preferences against the information I gleaned and this was the best choice for “Us”. Yes Strategic Relocation has lots of opinions and some obvious errors. I hope that if you are looking into preparing for tough times you can at least think for yourself and not take anything you read at face value.

  46. So I was born an Ohioan. Personally this place has already fallen to me. A lot of population, a lot of gun freaks, and a lot military n’ cops. On top of that the suburbs are growing about a mile a year and its just getting more and more mass produced blandness. So I’m soon making a cross country trip to see America for perhaps the last time. There is an offroad trail that goes several thousand mile across her and I think I will take that a good lil bit just to see the real natural beauty again. Once I hit the coast I am going to move back to supposedly the worst state on the survival list. The love of my life Hawaii. It is truly is a wonderful place as long as you aren’t a tourist. Yes the tourism is what brings money into Hawaii but man oh man if there is one state that doesn’t need money. If things fall and the tourists stop showing up then the 99% of all the islands that aren’t crazy rich will be left with a very diverse genetic population of Hawaiians, continental Asians, Polynesians, South Americans, European Caucasian, and American Caucasians. Not in that order. So if it is isolated for centuries it will remain genetically pliable. Second the military targets are all isolated on one island full of people that don’t know how to live off the land aswell as people outside of the city. Third as for the racial tensions, yes a lot of smart Hawaiian and not so bright ones aswell have a lot of issues with hoales(not from Hawaii people). But usually it is for good reason, I have been on the wrong end of the stick and have rectified my good name with the real owners of those islands. If you are good, kind, strong, and understanding. They will respect you. If not then you may end up swimming. And finally as for the fertility. Those islands sustained large populations for thousands of years before any cargo ships showed up. They can and do support an extremely wide variety of earthen foods and also can support an decent animal population, and don’t forget the fish. Hawaii could easily support 500,000 to 1,000,000 people between the islands. And finally Hawaii’s reputation on the world stage. Yes the militaries of the world likely strike Oahu because of its massive naval presence, but the other island have very little military if any. And visitors from literally every nation have fallen in love with Hawaii over and over in the last 50 years or so. Simply put no one world wide has hate in their hearts for Hawaii or its people.

    1. Shaner, I hope your plan goes smoothly. America is an amazing country but there are an increasingly large number of problems, some of them insurmountable. In my opinion. I’m not so sure that Hawaii could bring its agricultural production up to a level that could sustain a large number of people. It would take a few years to do that.

  47. I live in Washington State, and I have no real plans to relocate, but I feel something was missed perhaps. Hanford Nuclear Reservation. While it is currently only used to produce electricity, It could easily be returned to Plutonium and Uranium production. To me, that screams target. An attack there could have lingering implications for parts of Oregon and Idaho. I haven’t read the book, so Hanford could have been included in the author’s assessment, but it still raises concerns to my mind.

    Personally, I have to consider my wife and young son as well as our proximity to a major Interstate (I-90). Staying put may be our best option, but that depends on the type of event. A weapons based attack might force us to relocate, but any other event such as economic collapse, etc. might be better handled by us staying put. As many comments have noted, every situation will be different.

  48. Pingback: The Best & Worst Bug Out States - Survival Frog Blog

  49. I think Colorado is average for a bug out location. It has a high cost of living, there are several Bio Safety Labs/Missile Silos and a large number of Military Bases that would be targeted in a Military conflict.

    I built a application to help to organize this data and allow people to find a bug out location that meets their needs. It provides data about Demographics, Taxes, Cost of Living, Food Production, Bio/Nuclear Hazards, Military Targets, Crime Rate, Self Defense, Weather Events for each State in the US.

    If you interested in this type data you may find the Location Risk Assessment Tool (LRAT) helpful.

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/location-risk-assessment-tool/9pg246xnss1b?activetab=pivot:overviewtab#

  50. You are very naive about #5, Colorado.
    I lived here for 5 years in the latter 1980’s, moved away and then back in 1995 because of my career and being transferred. I have lived in 5 different locations in Colorado. From SE Colorado, the geographic center of the 1930’s Dust Bowl, and three locations on the western slope to the Front Range. I was there when Maybell set a new state record low temperature of MINUS 62 F, I lived through the winter of 1983-1984 when record snowfall was responsible for a major die off of wildlife on the western slope and significant snowmelt runoff in the spring of 84, (check your history and you’ll find Salt Lake City also experienced similar runoff and had to sandbag streets to control flooding), I have lived adjacent to a reservation and worked there for several years and experienced the effects of federal programs on the Native Americans, I lived in the mountains and know first hand how expensive it is to live there because it is Colorado and the recreation etc., and I have lived in the Front Range and driven and travelled the I-25 corridor the entire length of the state from New Mexico to Wyoming, as well as the I-70 corridor from Kansas to Utah. I have done this in my private vehicle as well as commercial vehicles because I am a licensed commercial driver. You can’t understand the meaning of “parking lot” until you’ve driven those corridors throughout the different times of year. Problems with homelessness exploded after marijuana was legalized as people flocked here for the dope, and then there are the sanctuary cities where illegals are protected. I was involved in a wreck with one, they were found to be at fault. The cops protected them, did nothing about the children not being in child seats, or the male passenger and children leaving the scene of the accident in a friends car before the police arrived, the police did NOTHING about the fact that the driver did NOT have current registration, insurance, or driving license, car insurance goes up by double digit percentages because of the dope and the illegals driving. Talk to school district employees about the impact of the illegals on teaching and budgets, you’ll get an earful. Gun rights, continually restricted and I fully expect Virginia type gun laws to be introduced here this legislative session with Democrats controlling the state legislature and governor’s chair.
    I am now preparing to leave Colorado because of the downward spiral in personal freedoms here and the upwards spiral in increased laws and regulations.
    You are mistaken, you don’t live here and you haven’t lived here, you probably believe that there are good reasons people want to live in Fort Collins and Colorado Springs because some other author wrote on how their population is booming. The Californication of Colorado continues.
    I don’t expect to see this comment posted because I have disagreed with you. So be it.

    1. Hi Thomas. The world has changed dramatically since Skousen published this book in 2011. Since I based this article from his writing and assessments, I only have those to go on. But, you’re right about Colorado and how both immigration and the marijuana laws have changed it. I’d like to hear from people in Colorado to see if their observations are the same.

  51. We live in Texas, but 100 plus miles from Dallas/Fort Worth area. I love it! We have an acre of land for the two of us.

  52. I think Mr. Skousen may want to examine recent changes nationwide and update his list in the coming year. Washington state’s firearms laws have gotten much worse over the past decade, and state legislators, as well as city and county politicians, are trying to tighten things even further. I-594 was the clear beginning, and I-1639 was the death knoll for my family returning to WA to retire post-military, despite the bulk of my extended family still living there. We have even gone so far as to release our residency there after almost 15 years of maintaining it through moves. The gun laws have gone from “not to bad” to heinous. As much as I love Washington for its natural beauty and availability of resources, it’s absolutely not worth it unless folks currently trying to get I-1639 repealed are successful in that, and regaining other ground on 2A issues.

    1. Hi Melonie. I don’t know if Mr. Skousen plans on updating his book, but he’s very well aware of dramatic changes around the country in regard to firearm laws, immigration, etc. Keep an eye on this blog for an interview with him that I’ll be posting soon.

      1. This was very interesting, read all the comments. The older I get, the more I plan to stay in place, what ever happens. Live in rural Wa state, half way between Seattle and Portland. Many, maybe most people in this county are survivalist mentality and have guns.

  53. Ghostery found 73 and blocked trackers for this page. Really? I have Never seen more than a dozen for a page. I have the 3rd edition, 2010. Yes this needs updating as the past 4 years have turned these ratings sideways and upside down! A lot of the info in their book is still good information that it pertains to relocation. Thanks for the revisit!

    1. Mark, I’ll ask my webmaster about the trackers. It probably has something to do with my ad network, which has been overdoing things a bit lately due to the holiday season. Thanks for mentioning this.

  54. Hi there. I was just looking at purchasing this book. Im wondering how dated it is? My family is considering a move from CA to Austin TX…or Nevada.

  55. How can I find outcroppings of preppers to move by? We are on the cusp of a big move and I would love a prepper community

  56. Much of interest here – – thank you (all) for posting. I love reading about others’ experiences/thoughts on diff areas.
    Poster re WA state is correct; guv’s become very anti-2ndA. and while there are several good sheriffs in the state (to me, that’s in my Top 5 of wants, a 2ndA friendly Sheriff!!) its not enough to make me ever consider going back. I’m in the beautiful Sonoran now, and trying to determine the best spot here for when the SHTF, ie, possibly after the cv19 manufactured panic.
    Best to all~

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