6 Reasons Why I’m NOT Buying a Survival Property

With so many likely disasters that could occur at a moment’s notice, many people are buying a survival property where they could retreat to, or a “Bug Out Location.”

While I also would love to have the peace of mind that comes with owning a survival property, I am NOT going to buy one.

Ownership Won’t Mean Anything When SHTF

You invest a lot of money, time, and effort into your survival property but get the satisfaction that comes with it being yours. I hate to break it to you, but ownership won’t mean anything in a true disaster situation.

The moment a gang of starving people sees your property, they are going to raid it and take it for themselves.

I am a realist.

Even with a good stash of ammunition and installing defensive structures, I know I couldn’t defend the property for long (it’s just me, my wife, and small child – how long could we realistically last?).

There Aren’t Any Truly Secluded Survival Properties Near Me

Take a look at this population density map. You will see that most people, including myself, live in pretty dense areas.

population density map
Image credit: Population Density Map by JimIrwin CC-BY-SA-3.0, Found at Wiki Commons

One of the requirements for choosing a Bug Out location is that it must be remote. Another requirement of a Bug Out location is that it must be accessible (ideally within 1 tank of gas).

Even if you find a “remote” area near you, chances are that it will be overrun by people when a disaster strikes (you won’t be the only one with the idea of fleeing into the wilderness!).

Unless you live in the Dakotas, Montana, or Wyoming, chances are there aren’t any suitable Bug Out properties for sale near you.

I could buy a seemingly remote survival property near me, but if SHTF, I wouldn’t be able to rely on that location.

We Can’t Predict What Disaster Will Strike

Survivalists and preppers spend a lot of time predicting what disasters are more likely and what would happen in the aftermath. But the truth is that we don’t know.

Even if I spent a lot of time calculating which survival properties are in “safe zones” away from likely risks like hurricanes, nuclear power plants, and earthquake fault lines, I still could end up near ground zero.

I’d rather have a few good Bug Out locations scouted than rely on one survival property, which might not even be there when SHTF.

Your Survival Chickens Will Make You a Target

The one benefit of buying a survival property (as opposed to bugging out in the wilderness) is that you can stockpile the property with survival supplies and get off-grid technologies going, make a survival garden, and get some backyard chickens.

But all these things will make you a target to anyone who comes by.

Yes, there are many ways to camouflage your survival property, but someone will eventually find you.

Thieves and looters always pick the easiest target in relationship to the reward. Those chickens (or your solar panels, water well, etc.) will be a BIG reward in a survival situation. No matter how many defenses you have, thieves will go for you.

Staying Mobile Will Help You Survive

Again, we don’t know what would happen in a disaster situation, but I predict that staying mobile will be a lot more beneficial to your immediate survival than staying put at one survival property.

When you are mobile, you:

  • Can change locations when resources run out or whether conditions change
  • Can easily flee or hide if you encounter a potentially-dangerous group
  • Are better prepared mentally to respond to new disasters or changes in the situation
  • Less of a target (bands that you encounter will think you have nothing/little to steal)

Of course, this will require you to know wilderness survival skills like how to build a survival shelter, find water, purify water, edible plant identification, first aid, and self-defense tactics.

Survival Properties Are Expensive

Finally, I’ve got to point out that buying a survival property requires a significant investment.

Yes, this is an investment in your survival and security – but I’d rather spend my money on supplies and learning survival techniques than putting all my eggs in one basket.

When I Would Consider Buying a Survival Property

I haven’t completely excluded the idea of buying a survival property. I just don’t think it is the right decision for my family right now.

These are some of the cases during which I would think it is a good idea to invest in a survival property:

You have the money to spare.
If you’ve got the money, invest it in your survival and security!

There are truly remote, safe areas located near you.
Do the research.

What is the population density of the areas around you?

What is the likelihood of a natural disaster hitting these areas?

How accessible is the property to other people?

Are there natural defenses in place (like it is located at the top of a hill where you could see intruders coming)?

If you find a nearby survival property that meets these requirements, buy it!

You or your family wouldn’t survive in the wilderness.
If anyone in your group has medical problems, is elderly, or is very young, they probably wouldn’t fare well in a wilderness survival situation where you’ve got to walk a lot every day. They may need to go long periods without food or basic resources.

Even if the survival property isn’t 100% secure, it is better than having no survival retreat or trying to bug out in the wilderness.

You will be able to use the property, even in non-disaster situations.
I’m saving up to buy a cabin in the woods – but not to use it as our “survival retreat” or “bug out location.”

I just want a nice place to take my family and friends to on weekends to get some fresh air.

Because of the area’s population density, I know this cabin won’t be suitable as a SHTF survival property. But it is still a good investment because we will enjoy the property, and it will make an excellent temporary retreat for short-term and small disasters.

Are you considering a survival property? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. I really like this website! My survival property investment is my primary residence, in the middle of an urban city of New Mexico. I fully expect to bug-in for most any scenario. Defending in place is generally the best option since you already have shelter, your survival stores are with you, and you are most familiar with the area. On top of that, my family are NOT the most skillful or resourceful of survivalist (god forbid the internet goes down for an hour), so keeping them where safe is the primary option. Although I do have options if the need to scramble were to force my hand, it would be a last resort under most any circumstance. However, based on my type and location of work, I do have multiple workplace “bug-out” scenarios that will return me home if needed (and assuming I’m not vaporized). Lastly, although I have in mind some credible SHTF scenarios, I don’t spend too much time preparing for any one thing. If I did, I’d be prepared for nothing. I keep abreast of world and local events, but I don’t obsess. Changes are just too dynamic these days.

  2. I am not technically a “prepper”, but my lifestyle and approach to living in perpetual survival mode has earned me the nickname “Apocalyptic Eddie”. I own a couple BOLs and am pursuing others. My technique involves appearing to be hard scrabble poor with nothing worth stealing. The paramount possession to have is SKILLS. They are portable, invisible, can’t be stolen, can’t be left behind and make you more valuable as an ally than an enemy. One must learn to live lean, to be Spartan, to suffer loss and scarcity with aplomb. All can be regained except life. Be prepared through training, integrity, and personal sacrifice to survive and protect that which you claim as yours.

  3. Staying mobile? You may be setting yourself up for unnecessary exposure to others, ambush or risk of injuries. I could agree with “picking up and finding a new home” when the situation justifies it, after all, resources may become scarce and you may get too many “neighbors” to keep track of.

  4. All this is interesting to read. My fear (for many years) has been an EMP exploded above the USA, thereby destroying all electrical grids, vehicles would not run, etc., setting us back to the 1800’s. Also, massive fires in heavily wooded areas are getting common for many reasons and spread far and fast. I just don’t know what the answer is.

  5. Don’t agree, but that’s ok. There’s no good reason to think that roving gangs will be like omnipotent and we’ll be utterly at their mercy. Even in the most crime infested places in the US, or the world for that matter, their are lawful notions of private property. I’d imagine even like places in Haiti and almost everywhere isn’t there? And how many gangs are going to invade a place with bullets flying at them, when there’s one down the road with no such hurdles? The answer to that is I don’t know.
    Even in WW2, in occupied Europe, I read how people lived on farms etc. Sure you may need to figure out operational security, and sure you may fail at that. Maybe conceal your retreat from the road with a lot of trees, so 99% of the people who pass by do not know you’re there? Idk.
    However, with no property in place, you’re starting out at square 0. Remember, all the other things you suggested, you could still do if you owned your own property. Scout out a secondary place either way. Having a back up plan is always smart.

  6. Sound thinking and best advise I’ve ever read. I have a cabin but it’s for
    enjoyment. I have backup supplies stored in other places, never all in one spot…
    You give excellent advise. Thanks !

    • Glad you found the advice useful. It’s fairly annoying that so many prepper sites recommend that people buy “survival property” for doomsday — as though we all have massive amounts of disposable cash laying around — when many people can barely afford basics like good water storage containers.

  7. Chances of any one person or small family group surviving when the SHTF for an extended period of time is slim and none no matter where they bug out to. One thought I like is to band together with people of like minds to form a group of 25 to 40 family units that have individual survival properties in close proximity that allow for common defense of all the participants. I am aware there are some “condo” bunker villages which I would assume would scrutinize and verify and new associates who wished to join and/or buy into the group. I am also aware of a site in a lower density area that has 5 acre sites, access to thousands of acres of forests and mountainous areas – each site is totally responsible for their bunker, supplies, water, etc – but all band together for common defense.

  8. Why the US?

    Also you can stay mobile and have a home on a sailboat. Food production is harder – can’t live on fish but you get international mobility without needing gas, and they are usually much less than real estate.

  9. I agree that it’s not easy to find a good bol. Also agree that we can’t predict the nature of a shtf. I think several of the typical threats that are predicted will end up producing a long term survival situation, so I believe a long term (at least several years) solution is needed. I don’t want to think about trying to do that in a “roving thru the wilderness” scenario with a wife and/or other family members. So we did buy a location in Montana that is pretty ideal. We plan to share it with others so we won’t be defending it by ourselves and it can sustain 8 to 20 families.

    • My thoughts exactly….rather than trying to survive by yourself or just your family, organize with like minded families into a community ready to act and protect themselves in their interests. Actually, during the Arab Spring of 2011, many areas of cities splt up into neighborhoods where the local residents organized themselves for protection and survival when their country fell apart. It is the smart thing to do and actually , the only thing to do to ensure survival.

  10. I live in the UK which is obviously a relatively small country. There are still plenty of wilderness areas like the Scottish Highlands but you can just imagine in a SHTF situation all those people spilling out of the cities with no real plan and, probably, no way to sustain themselves for more than a week or two. Wherever you are someone or some people are eventually going to come knocking and in desperate times people will do whatever they can to survive. We obviously have much tighter gun laws than the US, although even if you were armed to the teeth how long can you realistically hold out against a whole gang of people armed to the teeth? It’s a tricky one because I can always see the argument in favour of mobility but eventually, unless you’re on foot, something is going to happen like fuel running out or a serious breakdown that, no matter what your mechanical skills, can’t be fixed because the spare parts have run out.

  11. I’m not buying a BOL, either…

    If a cataclysmic SHTF event occurs, we’re pretty much guaranteed that nine of every 10 individuals will die in the first 12 months… that’s going to leave an incredible amount of properties available to most anyone who wants them.

    Additionally, I’m not much interested in finding/buying/paying for/improving/stocking a BOL only to find everything, post-SHTF, now belongs to someone who got to my property before I did and has more firepower & warm bodies to protect my stuff from me & mine.

    Nope. I’ll save my money, prep for bugging in for 6-12 months, have a way to get me & mine (and our respective preps) outta Dodge if necessary, and go “shopping” for a BOL well after the fact. 😉

  12. I agree with Jacob on not buying a buyout property. A while back my wife and I were considering it and found what we thought was as remote a place as possible in the back country. It was 40 miles from anywhere and just Jeep trail to get near it , so we decided to camp out for the weekend as a test run. The first hour there 3 people came by and over the course of the weekend more than a dozen. There is no place to hide that can’t be found and even mobile buyout is only a temporary solution if there is a full collapse event.

  13. We bought property about 2 years ago for camping out and fishing. Late last year the land and house came available and we bought it for a steal. We sold our house in the city and now live on 12 acres of hunting land, fishing and garden area’s. It’s over an hour from any big city. We feel very comfortable bugging in here. City folks who pound the pavement are as unlikely to come here as I am to go there in a SHTF situation.

  14. I’m glad I read this. I live in FLA on a sailboat and have been looking at undeveloped property around me. I’ve been horribly discouraged at the prices I’ve seen. I’ve realized that grabbing my SHTF supplies, bringing them aboard and heading out for open water will put me far out of the way of the roving hoards of desperate humanity looking for easy scores. Who wants to risk drowning to try and steal from an armed crew (no, I wouldn’t be alone) a mile from land when cities, towns and roadways will be target rich environments? And with solar, wind generator, and watermaker – we are pretty much self sustainable. A few caches of extra supplies buried in various locations a hundred yards inland complete the plan. You make several good points in your article. Thanks.

    • Hey BW – never really considered bugging out in a boat, its an interesting concept and certainly has some advantages. Has anyone else looked at this option?

      • A boat is my goal home, docked near a decently-protected city, but always ready to roll. KISS is my philosophy, but easily-replaceable technology is my game – all records are in the cloud AND on a memory chip in my wallet.

        If the boat dies, jump, swim, find another and the tech, then fire it up from where stored.

        We can live on canned soup, so have a huge stashes, and everything is cheap at the thrift stores.

        If grid-killing crisis, will need to learn to improvise. Glad you are a resource.

    • I like your point BW,
      my sailboat is also my first choice in a SHTF situation.
      – barely any fuel necessary
      – usually very hard to get to by the average thug or looter
      – if well prepared then self sufficient
      – needs special skills, therefore not for the stampeding crowds

      good luck


      • What concerns me about being on the open water is if an aggressive looter in a boat decides to open fire from a distance as an offensive.

  15. If you state the “6 Reasons Why I’m NOT Buying a Survival Property, ” then you state near the end that you haven’t completely rulled it out. Sounds a little contradictory to me.

    • Nothing is black and white, my reasoning for and against is clearly stated in the article. Happy to debate any specific points you may have?


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