Choosing a bug out location is an important step of bugging out and prepping.
Planning for a disaster includes procuring required survival gear, sustenance supplies, developing an emergency/evacuation plan, selecting a bug-out location, and exploring the most likely disaster scenarios.
It doesn’t make sense to plan to bunker down during a pandemic or nuclear accident; in such a scenario, you best bug the fuck out (but don’t “bug” out). Basic disaster prepping suggest compiling a bug-out bag for situations that require you to evacuate. This is a wise pursuit, but without considering, selecting, and scouting a bug-out location, you won’t know to evacuate to.
For this reason, we recommend developing an emergency evacuation plan and choosing a solid bug-out location (BOL) before you start building your bug-out bag.
Approach and Evacuation Philosophy
When it comes to planning a bug-out location, there are different approaches.
- Choose a remote, rural, wilderness area (forrest, mountains)
- Find a old and abandoned area or property (unclaimed land, condemned building, unused farm)
- Purchase a second, secure property and configure it as your base of operations
Choice #1: Rural Wilderness Bug Out Location
Choice #1 is the most common and is what we recommend for virtually everyone, especially those new to prepping. Choosing a wilderness are for your bug-out location is the easiest to plan and has the most easily identified risks and benefits.
Using this method, you find somewhere far outside your city. Somewhere very rural or somewhere that borders on wilderness. These types of locations includes heavily wooded areas, forests, mountainous regions, caves, valleys, and other natural areas that are remote, obscure, and reasonably difficult to get to.
These types of locations can include national parks, forrest reserves, public/private wilderness areas (both on-the-map and off-the-map), and extremely remote fields and farmland.
If you’re simply fleeing to a remote, wilderness location, when you plan your BOL you can think of it as a camping trip with only bare-bones survival supplies. You’ll need to provide food and water, shelter, and other basic necessities.
Rural bug-out locations have many benefits and some downsides.
The most obvious benefits are that it’s easy to plan and easy to scout. If you put in the scouting and research, you should be able to consider and identify geographical factors that increase your security, and your access to water, shelter, and other resources.
Downsides of this area include the risk of encountering other, more hostile survivalists, the risks of trespassing on farmland, government land, or other private property, wild animal risk, increase difficulty in finding the location, and challenges preparing and securing the location.
Choice #2: Old and Abandoned Property that Provides Existing Shelter
This option is generally discouraged, but may still be an option for some.
The idea is that you find a remote parcel of land, ideally with a old house, condemned structure, or abandoned building to serve as your primary bug-out location. In selecting such a property, you can find one a friend or family member owes, an unused or abandoned property (i.e. something not touched in years), a old, damaged, or condemned building, or other such properties. This is a high risk option, because in most instances you will be trespassing and existing, remote properties may attract people fleeing the cities.
Existing properties can have many benefits over rural bug out locations. Specifically, such a property may contain an existing structure that could be used as your primary shelter or base of operations. It will protect you from the elements, bad weather, wild animals, and offer a first line of defense against hostile parties.
An existing property with a shelter may offer additional non-obvious benefits, such as working plumbing, oven/cooking utilities, and others.
Furthermore, properties with structures generally have transportation routes: this can be an advantage or a disadvantage. It will allow easy of access for you (and potentially others) along with an increased ability to flee your BOL. You may be able to use a bug-out vehicle (BOV) to reach your location, something that otherwise may be impossible. These roads are best if they are unused, dirt roads that are highly remote, overgrown, and/or hard to see. If your bugging out or meeting up with more than a few people, routes in and out may be beneficial.
Choice #3: Purchase a Remote and Secure Secondary Property
This option is not for the weak-willed. This is by far the coolest approach, usually only undertaken by the wealthy, paranoid, or extreme hobbiest.
The idea is to careful browse and identify a remote property that is ideal for a BOL. You purchase the location (sometimes discretely) and set it up as the ultimate emergency shelter. It’s your ultimate evacuation location.
Using a second property as a survival property has very few risks with numerous benefits:
- Knowledge/Control of Transportation Routes
- Increased Security
- Geographical Benefits
- Long-Term Survival
Knowledge of Routes: direct and alternative, no risk of trespassing, decreased risks of encountering zombies
Increased Security: make your location secure by camoflaguing the route/entrance, adding fencing and other protective security gear, or building an increadibly discreet bunker.
Geogrphaical Benefits: choose a location with antural resources/water, remoteness, discretness, other factors
Purchasing a secondary bug-out location property is a process that involves of lot of research and many hours of planning. You must due your due diligence on the benefits of the location, you should take additional steps to prepare the location (security, survival supply caches), and you will also have to deal with the legal and financial elements of buying the land.
Key Factors to Consider
There are a number of location-based factors to consider when choosing a BOL. There are a few key factors to consider before we consider those. These key factors are BOL Distance and Natural Resource/Water Availability.
BOL Distance: Distance to Location, Distance from Disaster, Distance from Population Centers, Distance From Assoicated Risks, How Will You Get There?
Distance traveled on foot or by car.
Basic Sustenance: water, food, natural resources, scarcity
How Long will You Stay
When considering these factors, consider your bug out location selection approach, the key factors, and the factors relevant to you and your location. Once you have, research, research, research. We’re glad your research starts here but there’s a reason we recommend choosing a bug-out location before creating your bag.
Consider Your Location
Assuming a SHTF event, you’ll need to GTFO of dodge quickly. (Let’s assume you do have a bug-out bag prepared for this scenario). Where will you go?
Your location’s risks, population density, climate, geography, and natural resources are among the most important things to consider.
In a bug out scenario you want to avoid high population centers. This means avoiding big cities and urban areas, and feeling them if you live in one. If you need to bug out, most of the time you want to find somewhere urban, remote, or at the very least, sub-urban.
Areas with a high population present a number of risks: congested transportation, risk of disease/contamination, looting/theft, and others.
Climate, Weather, Disaster Risks
Geography: Natural Resources, Remoteness, Landscape
Ability to Provide Adequate Shelter (existing utilities, caches)
Security: Geographic Camouflage, Ability to Remain Undetected, Ability to Flee
Self-Sufficiency: Long-Term Survival, Survival Skills, Living Off the Land
Part of the reason you should have a BOL before a bug-out bag is because you may need to build your bag different based on your location. If you’re evacuating to a mountainous area, you need to have at least some form of mountaineering and water-sourcing supplies.
Once you’ve selected your bug out shelter, you should take steps to secure, improve, and hide your retreat.
Important Considerations When Planning to Bug Out
You need to know when to bug out, who might come with you, know how you might get there (what transportation method and route(s) you will use, with redundancies), and how long you will stay.
You should also consider your family meet-up plan, ending your family know about your bug-out location, how to get there, when to bug out, and how to survive during a crisis.
Also consider the need for long-term survival and self-sufficiency.
Of course, don’t forget to create a survival bag or bug-out/72-hour bag to take with you. After selecting a BOL, creating an emergency plan, and understanding your evacuation method and route, your bug out bag is your most important asset.
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Mistakes to Avoid
Bugging Out Mistakes
- Evacuating to late
- Evacuating in the wrong situation
- Using the wrong evacuation route
- Bugging in/hunkering down when you should bug out
- Lack of family meet-up plan
Bug Out Location Mistakes
- Failure to consider security of location
- Failure to consider isolation of location
- Failure to consider natural resources and access to water
- Failure to consider distance to location
- Failure to consider distance from disaster
- Failure to plan an evacuate route and redundancies
- Failure to plan a transportation method and redundancies
- Choosing a popular bug-out location
If You Remember Nothing Else
If you take nothing else from this article on choosing a bug-out location and our series on bugging out, remember this:
- Have a Location Far Enough Away to Flee to Safely
- Have a Method to Evacuate to that Location
- Have Essential Supplies Stored Nearby
- Have an Emergency-Family Meet-Up Plan in Place
What are your thoughts on selecting a bug out location? Is the wilderness best, or would you opt-to squat or build your own bug-out retreat?
Would you like to see future articles on bug-out locations, evacuation shelters, and bug-out retreats?
Let us know if you are interested. We are considering the following articles:
- What to Do if You Don’t Have a Bug Out Location During an Evacuation
- How to Scout Out a Bug Out Location
- How to Prepare Your Bug Out Location: Defense, Supplies, Caches Along the Way
- How to Pro-Actively Defend and Protect Your Survival Shelter
- Shelter Types and Examples of Good Bug-Out Locations
- Guide to Purchase and Build Your Own Survival Shelter
- Popular Locations and Survival Retreats
For those of you ready to take the next step in evacuation prepping, check out our bug-out bag guide, including what to consider before you build your bag, what should go into your bag, and choosing the actual bag for your survival kit.