How to Purchase Bug Out Property

There are many forms of survivalist. You have your hiker, wilderness hunter, wilderness fishers, and people who just like to be prepared for anything life throws at them. As with all things in life, financial ability plays a huge role in our abilities to achieve what we desire. You may want that $1500 AR-15 but may have to settle for the used $400 30-06.

If you have graduated to honestly searching for a spot to build a bug out safety shelter, there are a lot of things to consider and we’re going to examine the major obstacles to overcome in securing a safe place for you and your family to live until things settle down. I’d say until things return to normal, but I doubt that will ever happen again. There will be a new normal established.

Let’s begin our checklist:

You’ve made a huge decision to seek out the perfect bug out spot for securing your family’s safety. Take a deep breath and stop. You have made the choice to invest money and an incredible amount of time and energy into creating your safe haven. To do it right will require intense and patient research. You may be faced with deciding on trade-offs down the road, but the intent is to locate the perfect spot and that won’t be easy.

The very first thing to decide are you going to buy the property, obviously the best choice, or are you forced to try and locate a spot on public lands. The biggest issue with investigating public lands are the sizes of a lot of National and State parks. 1200 acres sounds like a massive land area, @ 2 square miles, but if 10,000 visitors attend the park yearly how long do you think it’ll take to discover your hiding place. Not saying it’s impossible … just highly unlikely you can hide successfully. Unless your location is in an area in which there are tens of thousands of acres of uninhabited land, buying is about your only realistic choice.

Location, location and location:

You’ve heard this real estate mantra before pertaining to flipping houses for profit or real estate investing, but it holds true for bug out spots as well, just for entirely different reasons, which there are many, but let’s start with these two.

  1. You must find a location as far away from dense population as possible.
  2. You must be very conscious of how far you must travel to get to your bug out spot.

Hey, wait a minute. That kinda sounds like they conflict with one another. If I get away from my densely populated city I’ll have to travel a good distance, and you just said be cautious of having to travel too far. Such is the first dilemma you face.

Let’s examine these two issues further. When the SHTF, plan on civilization collapsing. Depending on where you currently live maintaining your possessions may already be difficult, but normally good people will become viscous and untrustworthy. The more people you are exposed to that have failed to prepare, the odds increase exponentially of a violent encounter as they attempt to steal your supplies. You must isolate yourself from others asap.

The ability to travel can quickly become an issue. The governments, local, state and federal, already have Civil Defense plans in place that could result in major roadways being closed down by checkpoints, and armed National Guard, that will detain you or turn you back to the city. Therefore it’s important to know the specifics of where you want to buy a piece of property.

  1. Know exactly how far it is from the home to the bug out spot. Buying the perfect spot 100 miles from home may not be the wisest choice.
  2. Do you have at least 3 avenues of escape to reach your destination. If the major highway is closed do you have back roads you can travel to get out? Having a 1 exit path is destined to failure.
  3. Can you realistically walk to your bug out if all else fails? A rule of thumb for a normally healthy adult is, a person can travel 12 miles a day by foot, for 5 days before succumbing to fatigue. So 60 miles appears to be the maximum distance you could cover on foot.

If you are confident you can drive to your destination safely, then plan on traveling no farther than a tank of fuel will take you. There’s no guarantee fuel stops will be open or able to sell product. They may stop taking credit / debit cards and you have no cash. The lines may be miles long. Extended travel increases the risk of becoming ensnared in massive traffic jams, increasing the time to get to the bug out and allows for more opportunities to meet unsavory people.

Finally, if you honestly believe (No I think I can. You’re not the little engine that could) you can get from your current location to your bug out location safely during a major crisis …

and … the bug out location is far enough away from a densely populated area. You need to thoroughly research buying that spot. If not … move on to the next piece of property.

There has to be access to Water:

Rule 1 of survival. You can not live long without water. Therefore, ideally there must be water located on or at least near the property. Some rural property will have a well already drilled, which is great, but … remember wells operate on electricity. Should the power grid collapse the well will be useless unless you have a generator to power the pump. Generators require fuel, so consider a well as an excellent secondary source of water. If everything goes right you have an unlimited water source, if not, make alternative preparations.

rocky creeks

Invaluable Asset

The best choice is to purchase land with water on it, a pond, lake, river or natural spring. In addition to providing life saving hydration, water can be utilized for irrigation, sanitation and a possible power source. Our ancestors harnessed the power of running water to build wheel meal grinding houses and other power sources. You can use the same principle to power a small hydroelectric generator.

So. Are there water resources on the property or at least very close? Is the water source available year round? Many creeks will dry up during the summer dry spells. The deep flowing creek you saw in the Spring may shrivel to a trickle at the first sign of a drought. It would be wise to check with the county real estate commission to see if the water source can be stopped or diverted by a land owner up stream. (Just a thought)

Hide the Welcome Mat:

Your intent is to be concealed and secured. You don’t want any visitors, friendly or not. Friendly visitors may have unfriendly friends. But … finding an absolutely perfect bug out spot is nearly impossible, as there will always be trade offs of some type. For instance you don’t really want to be located off a road of any type, because people travel roads and hiding your access point, no matter how far you are located from the road, can be a problem. On the other hand if you purchase, what is known as land locked property, which is property with no public access, you must cross other landowners property to access yours, you’ll be exposed to those people.

You must use common sense when dealing with these types of problems. For instance if your bug out location is in mountainous terrain, you wouldn’t want to be located near a pass where people would naturally travel.

If you’re located off a rural gravel road, don’t leave obvious signs of life like posting “No Trespassing” signs, having a cute little mail box shaped like a fish, or a chain draped across your access point. If you have trouble seeing your access point or its challenging for you to reach your bug out spot … that’s good. Chances of someone stumbling onto you are lessened.

Once you buy the land walk every inch of it. Not to admire your purchase or know the boundaries, but to scour the area for the best place to build your shelter or setup your camper or tent. Your intent is not to make it convenient for you, oh, it’s only 10 yards to the lake, it’s to make it inconvenient to a stranger to find you. It’s important to blend in with your surroundings, using camouflage intentionally to conceal your location.


Nearly Invisible

Know your surroundings. That doesn’t mean your property, unless you are in the middle of 600 acres. Know what houses, pastures, ATV paths, etc are located within at least a 1 mile perimeter, preferably farther. Why?

When you have a fire for cooking the smell of frying bacon can drift a ½ mile or more. The smoke may be detectable for several miles. Knowing this could reveal your location you would need to alter your routine. Cook only at night to conceal the smoke, and only after midnight to insure anybody close would be asleep and not as apt to smell the bacon.

Look at how you would protect the shelter if need be. Unless you have military training this would be in simple terms. Take the high ground if possible. Locate in the middle of a thicket patch instead of in the open, camouflage your entry. Back up to a cliff to prevent being outflanked. It’s always best to avoid any type of conflict, especially armed conflict, but the other guy may leave you no choice.

Remember trade-offs? People will be drawn to water, the water you require to survive. Realize this and try to plan accordingly.

Other Inherent Assets:

Make note of additional property assets. For instance how fertile is the ground? If the ground is nothing but rock you’ll never be able to produce any long term food sources from a garden. If the soil is not great … can it be enriched with compost and etc.

Are there open places on the property to set-up solar power? Deep woods would not offer enough sun light to power anything solar, a HUGE benefit, but an open field where it could easily be set-up and camouflaged would be invaluable.

Is there adequate supplies of wood? You’ll be shocked at how much firewood you can burn for heat and cooking. 20 acres of field would be helpful for raising livestock, but little benefit for keeping warm. What’s the outlook for hunting wild game or fishing, both essential to long term survival.

Again, trade-offs. Your planning and skill set along with the inherent assets of the property will dictate a nightmare or a decent bug out experience.


Nearly impossible to see from a distance

Resolving headaches before they occur:

When looking at property be sure to check any zoning restrictions pertaining to buildings, growing crops or raising animals. In a rural area this should not be a problem, but make sure. Do this discretely as you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. That nosy clerk may inform the sheriff she thinks you are gonna grow marijuana on your newly purchased ground. You don’t need any BS from deputy dog or the real estate assessor.

Research any natural disaster potential threats, as that may not discourage your purchase, may make it a better deal, but you don’t want to build your shelter in an area designated a 500 year flood plain that has flooded the last 2 out of 3 years. The area may be subject to blustery winds in the winter, so you’ll build a low profile shelter with the door facing away from the direction of wind blow. These are the types of small things that can make or break a bug out spot.

In summary, purchasing property for the intent of providing a bug out location for your family is dead serious business which must be approached in a methodical and realistic manner. You’re not looking for beachfront vacation property. You’re looking for a place to keep your family safe from harm.

  1. You must locate as far away from densely populated areas as practical.
  2. You must not over extend your abilities to reach the spot. Have more than 1 avenue of escape.
  3. Do not buy ground farther than a tank of gas will take you.
  4. You must have water on the property, or very close access to it.
  5. Analyze where you will build your shelter. It must be camouflaged and easily defended from hostile people.
  6. Make note of any inherent assets … good soil, plenty of firewood, wild game.






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