Where I Live as A Survival Retreat Location

In Homesteading, Prepping and Preparedness by M.D. Creekmore23 Comments

Yesterday, a reader dropped an email asking specifics about my retreat location. I’ll admit being caught off guard by such a sensitive question. However; I don’t think the sender has evil intentions only curiosity. Maybe he was looking for an example to compare his situation – I don’t know.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to think at first, but after some thought, I decided it probably wouldn’t hurt to elaborate on my general area (Southern Appalachian Mountain Range) without divulging details that could present a security risk.

No doubt some of you have considered this area yourself.

The Good

The area has a long growing season with plentiful rainfall, sunlight and fertile soil. Raising a garden here is not a problem.

Many areas are covered by thousands of acres of forest, with most of the population being concentrated in a few areas.

Wild game is abundant, with black bear, white-tail deer, wild turkey, rabbit, and squirrel. And the rivers, creeks and other bodies of water are loaded with aquatic life.

During spring and summer, the forests and fields are teeming with eatable plants such as blackberry, cattail, wild rice, butternut, stinging nettle, sheep sorrel and lamb’s quarters.

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The Bad

But the area isn’t perfect with a number of negative factors to consider.

It’s nearly impossible to find any type of work. Currently, the county where I live has an official unemployment rate of 5.2%. But it’s really MUCH higher than that because a large part of the population is on the “draw” AKA the disability/welfare check from the federal government. Jobs are few – if you’re an outsider forget about getting a good-paying job.

The decent employment opportunities that do exist are quickly filled by friends and relatives of established workers, management and officials.

Reported unemployment numbers, only include those looking for work.

The real unemployment rate here is much higher. I would estimate the number at 60% to 70% since those living from social security, disability benefits and welfare aren’t included in the official number.

The area has a large welfare-dependent underclass. Nearly everyone is on “the draw” and living from government handouts at the first of the month. They’ve learned to work the system, many being second or third generation, welfare addicts.

I know several dozen “disabled” residents, all in their thirties who’ve been receiving social security disability payments most of their lives, (they claim to have a bad back) yet riding horses, dirt bikes and ATV’s is a common activity and doesn’t seem to bother their condition in the least, while work is another story often leading to severe pain.

How is that possible? Could it be they’re faking so they can stay on the draw?

The Ugly

And let’s not forget the drugs. Both illegal and prescribed. When I was growing up here, all you heard about was marijuana. Now the drugs of choice seemed to be methamphetamine and Oxycontin.

With the amount of drug use in the area, I’m surprised there isn’t more crime. But then for a population of just over 20,000 countywide we do have our share of property crime and the occasional homicide.


I don’t look for much rioting or looting, however, I do expect a huge increase of home invasions and property theft, especially if the government checks stop.

If you’re known to have supplies you could become a target. I expect to spend many sleepless nights guarding what I have.

You’re probably asking yourself why I continue to live here? To answer in one word – family.

How about you

Would you recommend your current location as a retreat area? Why? Why not? Looking forward to your recommendations. Also, if you don’t already own a copy then I suggest that you get a copy of Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places then I suggest you get a copy if you’re looking for a safer area to call home.


  1. Same here in Middle Tennessee. Part time jobs and everyone regardless of age is on disability. Drugs and alcohol are everywhere.
    As far as living , on or off grid. Raising your own food. It’s a hit or miss. Due to weather, there’s no in between.
    And lots of trespassing going on.

      1. I say the same thing. I’d love to leave California, but I am truly disabled after a botched spinal surgery, and am now afflicted with diabetes one, osteoarthritis, and kidney disease. I was told I’d spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair if I didn’t have spinal surgery. No second opinion and no medical studies were done prior to my surgery because it was deemed an emergency situation. It was the worst decision of my life. Please don’t follow in my footsteps. Don’t be pressured into any surgery without knowing all the facts. Physical therapy can “cure” most physical ailments.

  2. Family is what has kept me in California. I am no liberal and hate what the last two governors have done to the state.

  3. Hey MD,

    I considered relocating to the Cumberland plateau or even far eastern Tennessee near the Smokies but family matters ruled that out. Today I homestead in NW AZ and while the political climate is excellent here, I can’t recommend it as a good option for survival in a SHTF situation because of the lack of water. We get only 6-10″ of rainfall in a good year and sometimes that comes all at once, leading to flash flooding. The soil here is mostly rock so unless the rain falls slowly it just runs off. Wells are deep and therefore expensive. The lack of water and poor soils are the major drawbacks.

    The advantages are: Superb site for solar anything. Mild climate allows me to grow food year round in plastic covered hoop houses without any other source of heat than the sun. Of course I have to use raised beds and drip irrigation, but it works well.

  4. We chose to build on Lake Stillhouse just a few miles from Ft Hood, TX. Access to water and some limited wildlife. Soil is not fertile, but you can amend it. Mild winters are a plus.

  5. We live on Oahu, and I would not recommend Hawaii to anyone as a survival retreat unless you own one of the smaller islands. That would likely set one back a couple hundred million dollars. Even then you’d still have to deal with Hawaii Democrats i.e. Beneficent control freaks with guns.

    Of course, it depends on what your scenarios for trouble are. Race riots? Not likely, altho there is a subset of native Hawaiians who dislike white people. Not really all that many and easy to avoid their areas.

    EMP? Hard to say but even tho we are unlikely to be included in anything less than an all out major nation conflict, the supply chain would come to a halt. No oil = no power = no water.

    If we did get into a shooting war with, say, China, EMP would be the least of our worries. Nuclear incineration of Pearl Harbor, the airports, and military bases would see to that.

    The state is estimated to import more than 85% of our food, and the other islands get it barged from Oahu after delivery.

    Economic collapse from whatever cause? Our economy is massively dependent on tourism. Who quits vacationing during economic slowdowns? Tourists. In a major collapse? Tourists.

    Our culture is one of compulsive control freaks. Last time we went out for dinner I had to sign a release stapled to the order before the waiter could turn it in to the kitchen for a hamburger cooked less than medium because….who knows? I had to acknowledge in writing that eating meat less than medium might result in horrible possibilities. The restaurant had to get the signed release and keep it.

    It is illegal to buy more than one mixed drink at a time because our Democratic Party has determined that deciding how many to buy at once is just too big a responsibility for any adult, even in a private club. So if you’re out with a spouse or friend, and belly up to the bar to get drinks, you buy one, deliver it, go back through the line, repeat as needed because our Democrats are Wiser and More Beneficent than any mere adult.

    You do not want to know the process for buying a gun, but it requires three trips to the downtown police station during the workweek. Not weekends. No. So if you are employed, expect three half days off from work. All guns are registered. Pistol mags over ten rounds are illegal, a felony if inserted in your implement of mass murder.

    Oh: NO concealed carry permits are issued here, and Open carrying in illegal. Forget it.

    Come the apocalypse, Hawaii is likely to get everything it deserves, and deserve everything it gets.

  6. Hello M.D. and fellow survivalists/preppers,

    Where I live is in the older part of a neighborhood and the lots on my street were zoned as agricultural thus we can have animals and gardens. While that fact and the climate provides the advantage of a long growing season and lots of water except for the occasional dry spell, the one issue here is suffering the heat and humidity of the summer months.

    I believe it can be dealt with and made tolerable, but one would have to live without air conditioning. Another concern is bugs so bug nets and natural methods of repelling them would be highly beneficial to your comfort and health.

    I am curious if it’s possible to build a root cellar and how to go about it. At nearby Fort Christmas, there is an ammo storage building that sits about 4 feet deep and if you extend your hand into it, you feel cool air. I fear the high water table might be a problem. Of course in this age we have many options and methods to put into effect. Naturally location would make a difference…. further north might be better, but moving isn’t easy nor is that often financially possible. I am still researching this.

  7. Where I lived and grew up in West Virginia the unemployment in the state is pretty bad, also with rampant drug users. But it has plenty of resources that you can thrive on.

    My father in law has 170 acres of property with a well and a stream that runs along his property outside and the hunting is phenomenal. We bow hunt , trap , fish and have plenty of Ammo.But in 2016 the floods came and made a mess of things for awhile.

    The state itself has less than 1 million people which is fine by me but the winters here can be harsh. He has plenty of seasoned firewood to keep warm though.

    The nearest town in about 5 miles away as the crow flies with a population of less than 1500 people, but it’s still a pretty close knit community and everyone just about knows each other.

    I live in Dallas Texas now but if and when things get or start to look bad I’m going back home to the mountains.

  8. We live on the high plains in a very rural area. What others have said about jobs applies here. For the most part it is who you know for the good ones. Food is abundant. Rainfall varies with the average in the upper teens. There are a few houses in town that are owned by people several hundred miles west on the front range. They claim to be hunting places. More likely bug out locations. Some of the owners do a good job of coming often enough to know and get along with the neighbors. They will be ok if they need to come here permanently. The rest are in for a rude awakening. Outsiders just aren’t accepted for awhile—by that I mean decades.

  9. Left New Hampshire years ago to start a new life.
    Lived in Indiana/Kentucky line… No Work.
    Moved to Maryland… found work but the people were so angry, the congestion and crime, time to go.
    West Texas next… being a natural born citizen means nothing as the illegal aliens got better treatment. I had to put a deposit down at the hospital (no insurance) before I would get treated at the ER while the alien was told not to worry we will take care of you. They then dumped me on the sidewalk for the wheelchair I was in so the alien could have it. I have witnesses to that. And the two months of winter in the permian basin was cold like being back in NH (down to below 0)
    Minnesota came next but lost the job to a native American as it was at a casino and they own it.
    Boss from MD asked me back to save his business. I did but he didn’t make good on the deal to do so.
    I went back to New England, to Maine. Retreated to a friend in a town of 20K POP. Saved and financed a place in a town of 1100 pop. Half the town is on the “draw” , then again 2/3s of the state is. The Governor loves to take in refugees and illegals and hands them Carte Blanche for living expenses. DHS tells people how to become a dependent of the state.
    There is work but businesses don’t pay. 50 cents over minimum wage and they scream you are robbing them. Easier to be on welfare than to work for a living.
    Growing season is short, end of May through Sept… except for pumpkins then into Oct. A lot of drug traffic making its way into the state from New York/Conn. They get busted all the time coming up the interstate.
    It’s all give and take.
    When the SHTF there will be those trying to break in and they will be met with deadly force if need be. I have my defensive strategies. That is until the law enforcement communities start.
    Of all the places I’ve lived I still prefer up here in New England. Stockpile and get ready.

  10. I think I am in a good spot. Live on a 100 acre farm with plenty of stocked ponds, cows and wildlife. The big city is 70 miles away. Winters are mild . Water plentiful. No problems with neighbors , mostly people that love country life and what comes with it. Stay stocked with ammo and food and take things as they come.

  11. Looking to get out of South Florida in a few years when I retire….going up the Smoky Mountain way….have family there. I would only be looking for part time work to keep busy and “feed” my habits….cigars, fishing, shooting…. I hate the people in south Florida….

  12. Can’t complain too much where we are at, a little bit of a commute to jobs, with two good sized cities to our west, besides the growing smaller towns that aren’t that small anymore. Though I am retired now, still get plenty of work if needed. We only have a few acres, but everyone around us does also. Good view of Pikes Peak and some of the mountain range. Gardening a bit tough but we manage.

  13. I live in Western Washington, and if it wasn’t for family, hubby and I would be living in a red state, he coming from California, he’s been transplant for 25 year’s now wouldn’t go back for even family, and all his family lives in Northern California. We’ve been extremely lucky that hubby, is a master electrician 40 year’s experience he started at 15 and will be 55 this coming year, and this is the year we must make hard decisions. His mom, is in a dementia hospital, and want’s to leave but doesn’t think she takes medication for her illness, oh my gosh I don’t know what to do we have 6 month’s to get her moved to Sacramento, where family, is a bit closer its awful I wished she would have just passed dementia, just sucks. We’ve been in business for 18 year’s this next March, and we have had ups and downs but for the most part it’s been up. I wouldn’t hire anybody unless it’s our son we just wanted to have the business be simple so we can come and go take off for vacation, our area is okay it’s a very nice area but homeless people, drugs, are prevalent here too.

  14. anyone know about eastern kentucky or counties of lincoln, wayne, and cabell in west virginia? also interested in tennessee? but everywhere there is meth addiction and welfare seems to be the prevalent method of income for many more than i would ever have guessed. seems the country’s industries are gutted and mabe never coming back.
    very interested in moving back south as i lost husband one year ago and finances are tough with only soc sec
    want to get back among hillbillies–my people.
    only God can help our nation. keep praying!!

  15. I live in rural East Tenn but it’s not so rural anymore. The county population has ballooned from approx 75K to an estimated 132K today over a 42 year period. Traffic sucks, the infrastructure has not been able to keep up(the county jail has been overcrowded for years) and the county is in debt beyond belief. I’m looking at maybe moving to a less populated area in retirement.
    Yes, we have drugs and thefts always in the paper(jail overcrowded) and the occasional murder but with increase in population comes increase in crime. Fortunately I live in a decent area for now…
    Sadly, just learned our new governor who I voted for has agreed to take in refugees, what the hell is he thinking???

    1. Author


      The new governor will not get my vote for re-election. The county where I live has just over 25,000 population…

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