Choosing the Right Bug Out Location: Stay Safe, Smart, and Alive

bug out location

Do you think staying in an urban area is the right choice when the shit hits the fan?

Let me say this straight- when disaster hits like a ton of bricks, staying amidst a desperate crowd fighting for the limited resources is a bad idea.

As per most survival experts, bugging out is the safest option during a crisis.

Wondering what a bugout location (BOL) is?

It’s a house or a property that can be your safe haven during a critical scenario. It can be a temporary or permanent shelter, away from your main residence.

And you know what?

Choosing the right bug out property requires planning and steadfast preparation.

Here, we are going to discuss the most important characteristics of a bugout location. Once you go through them, it’ll be easier for you to find a safe place.

Let’s get busy.

12 Must-Have Features of the Best Bug Out Location

choosing the best bug out location

1. Proximity

Choosing the right location for any bug out house is vital. First off, it needs to be the right distance away from the city limits. You don’t want to tackle the confusion of a mass exodus while heading there. At the same time, you shouldn’t be driving for days to reach it.

When things get critical, there won’t be a steady supply of gas. Quite simply, you can’t count on gas stations during an emergency. So it’s best to pick a spot that’s within one tank of gas or less. If you’re lucky, you may have developed a plan for alternative energy to power your vehicle by this point. 

Also, plan your bug out vehicle routes driving routes in advance. You need to have a safe, primary route and a few backup routes just in case the first option is closed.

The location will also depend on the type of geography you are comfortable with. A mountainous area is good for concealment. There will also be more natural resources available. But you need to have the right wilderness survival skills.

The plains aren’t the best option for hiding. You won’t find much firewood either. But there are more water sources and farming is easier.

What if the main roads are blocked? Perhaps you will have to walk.

In that case, the bug out location should be within 4 to 5 days of walking from your home or takeoff location. Note, on average you can walk 10 to 12 miles in a day.

2. Isolation

Preppers should choose a bug out location that’s a safe distance away from densely populated areas. The truth is, finding a safe place isn’t easy. In any case, choosing an off-grid location away from roads, paths, or railway tracks is the best idea.

Try to get sufficient tree cover around the property. That will prevent the lights from being visible from long distances. That said, keep in mind the risk of wildfires while picking a spot near any National Forest.

The more distance you can keep between yourself and the rest of the population, the lesser will be the chances of hostile encounters. Avoid placing any address markers, or signs that can attract undue attention. In case there’s an entrance gate to the property, keep it nondescript and fully locked.

bugging out for water

3. Availability of Water

Water is one crucial factor that you simply can’t live without. And clean water isn’t just for drinking. Keep in mind, you’ll be needing water for washing, cooking, cleaning, and farming too.

It’s best for your bug out property to have a natural water source like a spring in the first place. Or else, you can select a location near a water body or a pond. Then again, you need to check whether these sources are seasonal or available all through the year.

What about a bug out house near a river?

A river may sound like a good idea as a dependable freshwater source. But there can be chances of flooding under heavy rain. So most of the best bug out cabins are located on high ground.

If there isn’t any nearby source of water, there should be a water storage facility on the property. Installing a rain-water harvesting system is also a good option. So check out the annual rainfall patterns in the area before prepping.

Make sure that you have the right methods of water purification at your disposal. Water-related infections can be big trouble in a survival scenario.

4. Self-Sufficiency

When you are planning to ride out the storm in the bug out property, you may have to stay put for a long period. Obviously, in any shtf scenario you can’t run to the store each time your supplies run out. So self-sufficient homesteading is the key.

Ideally, you need to have a power supply that’s independent of the grid. That will help you in case of disasters like a pandemic or an EMP blast. A source of running water within the property that has enough kinetic energy can be a big plus. 

What makes this so special?

You can use the water supply to install a small hydro-power station that can easily take care of the basic power requirements.

Installing solar panels can also be a good idea for meeting the power needs. Since you can only store a limited amount of fuel a supply of firewood is also essential.

Next, a food garden can be grown for basic supplies. That might be difficult if your property is on rocky or sandy soil. An area with fertile soil is always the best choice.

Other than that, a supply of wild game and fish in the surroundings is also a bonus. If you are planning to raise livestock for food, you need to have sufficient space and the necessary resources. Goats, chicken, and sheep are some of the easiest options.

bug out building

5. Sound Structure 

You can choose an existing BOL or bug out house or maybe you’ll build your own. No matter the type of structure you pick, it has to offer proper protection from the natural elements. 

The type of accommodation also depends on personal choices. Some may prefer a simple log cabin with just the basic necessities. Others may prefer an elaborate arrangement to maximize comfort and security.

But one thing’s for sure…

A shelter is much more than a roof with four walls. If you have a newborn baby or an aged family member, you need the type of structure to keep them warm and comfortable. Also, the construction should provide protection from the wildlife prevailing in the area.

Other than that, you need to take into account food and water storage. Shelter for the livestock also needs to be considered.

Next, check out the weather patterns in the area. If the region is prone to tornadoes, and hurricanes, you might need to build underground shelters. Proper reinforcements will be needed for earthquake-prone zones. An earth shelter, a shipping container, or a recreational vehicle can also be considered.

Finally, it should be spacious enough to comfortably accommodate all the family members.

6. Security/Self Defense 

Even if your bug out property is in an isolated location, it’ll eventually come to the notice of some people who are fleeing or seeking shelter. So the right security is essential in any shtf scenario.

Most importantly, security isn’t just about stocking guns and ammo. It begins with the design of your property and arranging the perimeter.

To ensure security, you can consider the following points before picking a bug out location.

  • A location on elevated ground, like a hilltop, that offers a vantage point.
  • Protected by natural barriers, like a stream or a cliff.
  • Camouflaging the property, including vehicles and campers.
  • Arranging for perimeter security and setting up wire fences.

While locating a property in a remote spot, make sure that it has year-round accessibility. An overflowing river or deep snow can prevent you from reaching it easily in times of need.

In truth, no bug out shelter will be perfectly secure. But, it’s important that you have a clear idea about the advantages and disadvantages that the property offers. 

In any case, you shouldn’t allow yourself and your family to be ambushed or trapped by people desperate for survival. So make sure that there are planned emergency exits.

7. Waste Management

Make no mistake about it. Waste management isn’t something that you can neglect in a bug out location. 

Technically, waste management involves the collection, transport, and disposal of the waste generated. Ineffective solid waste management can lead to multiple health risks.

Biodegradable waste will naturally decompose with time. So they can be used as manure. You can try methods like composting and vermicomposting to generate manure from organic waste.

While locating your latrine, make sure that it’s at least 50 yards away from your water source. Make sure to keep a minimum distance of six feet between the latrine bottom and the groundwater table. The location should also be downhill and downwind from the bug out house.

The other form of waste is non-biodegradable in nature. This includes broken glass pieces, metal, and plastics. You need a proper location and the right survival shovels within your property to dispose of them.

natural disasters

8. Protection from Natural Disaster

When it comes to disaster preparedness, it’s extremely important to consider the natural threats that can affect your plans. These can include floods, tornadoes, forest fires, earthquakes, etc. 

The best bug out locations need to be safe from all aspects. Basically, this should be a part of the buying process.

Here are a few things you can do.

  • Make sure the structure can resist earthquakes and strong winds
  • Avoid choosing a location near a river or a floodplain
  • Avoid choosing mountain slopes where landslides or avalanches are possible
  • Clear an area using survival saws around the structure to prevent forest fires from advancing

The structure of the shelter, the requirement of a basement, etc. will depend on the prevailing weather conditions. 

Two disasters that are hard to avoid are earthquakes and hurricanes. So it’s best not to pick a bug out property located near the coast.

9. Familiarity

It might be tempting to move to the remotest corner during an emergency. 

But here’s the thing…

It’s necessary to be familiar with the terrain where you are seeking shelter. When you know the pros and cons of a terrain, survival becomes much easier. Moreover, when you aren’t familiar with the area it might not be the safest option in a critical scenario.

You might have chosen a bugout location in a remote mountainous corner. But you may not have the necessary survival skills that are needed. It’s best to avoid such a situation.

If you have already bought such a property, spend some time to know the area. That will help you to stay prepared and avoid unwanted surprises.

surviving in the city

10. Longevity 

The length of your stay has a big role in the overall development of the bug out property. The total food, water, and fuel requirements will depend on the time factor. You also need to develop the required space for storing the bug out location supplies based on the length of stay.

In the end, this will also impact your overall budget.

The only problem?

You can never be sure how long you will need to stay to ride out the disaster. Our advice – don’t plan for a short-term stay in a BOL.

So, start with planning for the longest possible staying time that’s permissible within your budget. With time, you can start extending it by choosing more sustainable options. Make sure you’re bringing essentials like survival first aid kits and non-perishable food as well. You should have the bug out spot set up long before SHTF. 

11. Affordability

The reality is, the best survival properties can be quite costly. But that doesn’t mean that you have to choose a subpar property just to get going. Waiting for the right property at the right price can seem frustrating, but you need to be patient.

Frankly, it’ll not be easy to find a spot where all the factors are evenly balanced. So, you’ll have to balance the pros and cons with your budget.

Likewise, upfront costs can be deceptive. While buying a piece of land, keep in mind the construction and development costs that will be needed.  Installing features like an advanced security system, or a solar panel will add to your budget. Try to stick to your budget and come up with creative ideas for developing it.

However, by choosing the wrong piece of land at a cheap price, you may end up spending more in the long run. It’s true that an expensive property may end up being the most economical option at a later date.

12. Easy to Understand Legalities 

Make sure that you know about the government regulations around the bug out location and the necessary permits required. This might not be an issue when all hell breaks loose. But you need the right permits to develop the property the way you want.

There can be zoning regulations if you want to grow crops and raise animals on your property. So make sure to do your research before selecting a property for purchase.

Not following the rules can not only delay the building process but can drain out your time and funds as well. In most cases, standard bug out cabins don’t need any additional permits. But, it’s best to check the rules and follow them.


Honestly, the perfect bug out location is not something a real estate agent can pick for you. You need to take the initiative and start searching for a long-term solution that will keep you safe in any shtf situation.

Once you have finalized the bug out location, set up the rest of your plan. To begin with, stockpile the necessary supplies and prepare your bug out bag. When you are ready to move to a bug out house at a moment’s notice, you can rest easy.  

Most of all, it’s best to keep your bugout location a secret. No matter how well equipped you are, your supplies will be limited. As a survivalist, you don’t want to turn away people showing up at your doorstep during an emergency.

There you have it. We have shared all the details about choosing the best bug out locations. 

Now, it’s time to take the next step.