From my good friend and fellow writer, Mike Williams:
When the proverbial fan is spreading manure faster than a political speech, the cities, suburbs, and any town larger than three driveways and a tavern will quickly descend into anarchy and no longer be safe places to live.
There comes a point when the rule of law reverses. People who once feared the law and were held in check by it become the ones to fear and the ones who rule the streets of urban areas. Gangs will roam neighborhoods unchecked, taking what they want and killing anyone that gets in their way.
Hopefully, you will see it coming and be long gone before the gangs take over. But where will you go?
Primary needs for the first year are shelter, water, food, and sanitation, in a location that is remote enough to keep you out of sight. A place off the beaten path. Better still, a place off the path entirely.
That vacation cabin, the one on a lake surrounded by cabins, is not such a good location. Everyone else will have the same idea and when food runs low, desperate people you once called neighbor will come to knock on your door, fully armed.
A remote hunting cabin or something similar is a better choice, and the further it is from what you once called civilization―within certain limits―the better. It has the things you need: hand-pumped water, a roof over your head, perhaps an outhouse for sanitation, a gas refrigerator. Forget about electricity, you won’t have it unless you make your own from the sun or wind. In cold-weather climates, rely on wood for heat. Save LP gas for cooking, lighting, and refrigeration.
The size of the abode depends entirely on how many people you plan to support. A family of four can get by with a three-room house that has two bedrooms and a living area / kitchen. The smaller the place, the easier it is to heat and maintain. Keep in mind, you can’t call Joe the Handyman to come fix your roof. You’ve just become Mr. and Mrs. DIY. Keep it small. Keep it simple.
A piece of land with a hidden house trailer is another very good option. Small, efficient, and it keeps the weather out. A place that won’t be seen from main roads, or even less traveled town roads.
Buying fuel as you bug-out might be difficult, so keep the driving distance from home to less than three tanks of gas. You can carry that much with you if you’re prepared. For most modern vehicles, that is about 15-20 gallons per tankful. One full tank of gas plus up to eight, five-gallon gasoline containers. It takes up a lot of room so plan for the space in your vehicle.
Keep it stocked with a year-long supply of life’s necessities and you won’t have to carry as much with you. Food staples like rice, flour, beans and canned foods including meats, vegetables and fruit. Figure out what you need for a year, add 30 percent, and stock up on it. After a year, you better be ready to start harvesting a garden and any tasty critters you see roaming the countryside.
A second choice is a rural location where no one will bother you. A place far enough from the city to discourage roving road gangs looking for trouble or entertainment. Take all your supplies and Get Out Of Dodge to a location already chosen and visited, and selected for security and long-term residence.
The country is full of national, state, and county forests. You’re looking for a place to get off the road where your presence won’t attract attention. Take day trips to scout various places. Make them fun outings with picnics or camping trips. Avoid places where others are likely to congregate. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the crate.
Your shelter in these places is temporary and probably rustic. Think camping trailers and tents. Small portable shelters to get you out of the city and away from the danger of the urban neighborhoods. Once there, if the location is good, you can work on making your residence more permanent. Things you need are a supply of water, a method of waste disposal other than a nearby tree, and a shelter that will keep you warm and safe in cold or bad weather.
What if escaping the city is not possible?
Large urban areas are pock-marked with possible bug-out destinations. These places won’t have much in the way of shelter, but may offer some if you remain flexible. There is a good possibility you will have to share the space with others. Possible sites include large gravel pits or quarries, parks, recreation areas, and small airports. Set up shelter in trailers, tents, shipping containers, and rail cars. Anything you can convert to living space and keep warm in will do.
Consider these areas temporary until you can move up to something better. Be ready to move when food and water begin to run low; your neighbors may become your competitors.
It may seem counterintuitive, but places to avoid are those with the most resources. They are the places gangs will settle in, fight over, and try to control. Not the kind of place to protect your family in.
Your best plan in this scenario is all the food and supplies you can carry to a place that has little interest to gangs or those looking for resources. Select multiple locations in advance so you can remain flexible. For the long term, you will have to work your way out of the city and into the rural countryside where you can provide for your family.
Lately, television seems filled with reality shows that show different kinds of survival, from the aftermath of a plague or war, to subsistence living in the wilds of Alaska. These shows offer little in the way of advice, and most don’t begin to portray the true hardships of that kind of living. Instead, they focus on creating drama out of nothing.
The reality of living life after a bug out is that it will be hard. Do you know how to start a fire? Build a shelter, pitch a tent? Can you figure out how much food your family will need for a year? How will you store it, or get it to your bug-out destination? Have you any idea how to arm and protect yourself and your family?
If you want to survive a SHTF situation, the time to learn and plan is now, not when it happens. And the first thing you need to know, is where you will go to begin surviving.