By Milan Adams
February 13, 2024
Where is the best place to live in the US during and after the apocalypse?
While trying to figure out the answer, I've looked inside of prepping blogs to find a consensus for the criteria known to be essential for any place to survive in during the wake of such an event. That is, any event that can potentially destabilize society to the point of no return to normal any time soon. It will be important for you to have whatever supplies you need ready ahead of time before you travel to your destination. So start getting ready.
That being said, the criteria for the best area to survive in can be broken into three categories:
1. Human factors, 2. Natural factors, and 3. Economic factors
- Low population density (40 people per sq. mile or less)
- Distance to major/minor cities (50+ miles away)
- Distance to military bases (50+ miles away)
- Distance to nuclear power plants (100+ miles away)
- Distance to interstate highways
- Low poverty rate
- Low violent crime rate
- Easy access to fresh water
- Abundance of wild game
- Low natural disaster risk
- Dense forest cover
- Adequate soil textures
- Adequate rainfall
- Low drought risk
- Higher job growth
- High abundance of non-renewable natural resources available for extraction (coal, oil, natural gas, metals and minerals, lumber, etc.
- Higher educated citizens
Now that we know what to look for, I'll narrow down a map of the U.S. by one category at a time using other maps I have compiled. The "Orange" counties are those disqualified, which will then become and remain dark gray when the next factor is applied. For simplicity reasons, we'll focus on the continental U.S. But before starting I will say that the state of Hawaii is probably a fairly safe place to be considering its isolation, moderate climate, and the Polynesians have managed living there by themselves for millennia.
The first most important thing is population density or lack of it. This is common sense since you don't wanna be around massive numbers of unprepared people when SHTF. Ideally anywhere under 40 people per square mile is best. The blue shaded counties are where to go.
Next is proximity to major and minor cities. A distance of at least 50 miles away is best.
Stay out of counties that contain Interstate highways as the most desperate people will use them traveling in search of resources.
We are now isolated from any major threats from large populations and groups of people. But, there is still the possibility of martial law being put into effect. So it's best to keep our distance from military bases.
And nuclear reactors, in case of meltdowns occuring during grid failures.
The last places to "watch out" from are areas with already high poverty and crime rates. When they no longer can depend on Uncle Sam for their existence, it will get ugly. Avoiding these areas may potentially eliminate our options in the Southern states but I would like to keep them open for now for climate reasons. We'll use a 25% poverty rate limit for the south and 20% everywhere else. (The south includes WV, southern MO, and eastern half of OK and TX)
I won't make any exception for violent crime rates. Those will be applied evenly across the board. Lighter counties are safer.
We are now looking at a map of what are probably the "safest" counties in the United States. But now that the potential for human threat is minimized, we must figure out where is the best place to settle down based on what resources there will be available. The most important thing is easy access to fresh water always within close proximity.
Next in my opinion is wild game abundance, which you need for food during winters and harsh growing seasons, and for protein in general.
You wanna be safe from natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Given recent events I think it's safe to eliminate the lone county remaining in Florida.
This is a potentially controversial assumption, but the amount of forest cover over an area may be a good indicator for how much local resources there will be for us to utilize for our way of life. Everything from ecosystems that support wild game and edible plants to having plentiful amounts of lumber if needed (especially in the winter). Forests are just as useful as farmland. At least 25% forest cover is beneficial.
We need to grow food. This requires a number of things. Most important of them are good soil textures and rainfall. Drought-prone areas must be avoided. Warm climate isn't necessary and depending on your environment you can expect to have different lengths of growing seasons. I will subtract all these variables all at once from the next map.
The best soil textures are ones with a close to even mixture of sand, silt, and clay, together known as loam. This mixture holds nutrients best. Anywhere on the scale from sandy loam to clay loam will work for most vegetables, fruits, wheat, nuts, and other produce.
This map is just for reference. Knowing your plant hardiness zones is key to scheduling your growing seasons with which types of produce you can expect to grow based on the average climate of your zone. Generally speaking, your options get wider the more south you go with more varieties of produce able to grow in warmer climates. There is also the potential for yielding not just one but two or more crop yields in a year with longer growing seasons in warm climates.
Rain should be 20 inches or more a year. So anything from dark green (40″+) all the way to light orange (20″) is good. Of course avoid regions that most often experience drought.
With all agricultural factors considered, this is what's left on the map.
A variety of choices are left spanning different parts of the US. These are places that have everything we "need" to survive. You can perhaps at this point choose to pick whichever is closest to where you currently live. It is arguable that depending on the nature of the apocalyptic event the local economy may or may not make a difference on your quality of life. But let's see where factoring it leads us.
A strong local economy in a rural area can indicate the presence of a stable natural resource based economy be it agriculture, mining, logging, etc. These resources can potentially be very important for the economic growth of the area and in the rebuilding of other economies through the exporting of these resources. It's best to pick the areas with current stable job growth with high natural resource reserves.
Areas with 2.5%+ job growth with heavy natural resource reserves and industries:
The culture of where you live can be rather important. To borrow from one commenter, "You need a community. No matter how much of a bad ass you are you have to sleep sometime. It is great to consider things like natural resources and growing conditions, but you also need people with the knowledge to put those attributes to work for the community." Areas with a high concentration of college graduates can indicate the presence of a college or of other skilled service providers which can potentially contribute to the needs of a community in areas such as healthcare, engineering, agriculture, etc. Areas with a population of at least 20% college graduates would be good.
We have 5 finalists:
Archuleta Co., CO
Hinsdale Co., CO
San Juan Co., CO
Hubbard Co., MN
Highland Co., VA
At this point, let's eliminate by comparing.
For extra isolation, eliminate Highland County, VA.
For better access to water, rain, and wild game, eliminate Archuleta County, CO.
For a place with less poverty and crime, stay out of San Juan County, CO.
At this point the decision for me comes down to the potential for future economic growth and a population that is more wilderness survival conscious, which leaves us our winner....
Hinsdale County, Colorado
I welcome any suggestions from you for additions, corrections, or edits to help accurately improve the results I have found and will perhaps make updates to everything based on them in the future.