The Survival Podcast Forum

Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => Homesteading and Self Reliant Living => Topic started by: Longsnowsm on September 20, 2013, 12:22:11 PM

Title: How to choose a geographical location for your homestead
Post by: Longsnowsm on September 20, 2013, 12:22:11 PM
I recently went through the process over the last year of evaluating the location in which I lived.  The more I assessed the various factors I realized the location I lived probably was not going to be the best for long term survival and a sustainable lifestyle without becoming independently wealthy or some other heroic thing happening.  So we started doing a deep dive on various factors of where we we should consider to live, and why.  This lead us to a rather lengthy decision process, digging through lots of maps, facts, details, statistics and other info to find a new place to live. 

What we discovered is there is no such thing as the perfect place, there will always be compromises in the evaluation criteria and of course we all will place greater value on some things than others.  After a year of grinding through our options we finally made a decision and moved last May.  I thought the process and the things to consider might be of value to others so I went ahead and recently did a 2 part blog post with just some of the criteria we evaluated in this process.  I thought I would share the blog links and start the conversation here.  Maybe it will help others considering their options to stay or to move.

Some of the areas we considered were:

    Population density
    USDA Plant hardiness zones
    State freedom rankings
    Proximity to nuclear power facilities
    Proximity to US military installations
    Proximity to national borders (there could be and already are serious issues living too close to national borders with illegal activities, and will likely get worse as the  economy declines)
    Proximity to family and friends
    Railroad transportation corridors
    Water transportation corridors

It was a tough process for us, and given the costs and what was on the line we didn't take anything lightly.  If your in the process of trying to figure out where to setup your homestead I would encourage you to take as many factors into consideration as possible and really do some digging.  The more you dig the more relevant information comes up that will help you decide where would be a good place for you and your family.   Hopefully you will be able to avoid possible pitfalls and issues if you take the time to set aside preconceived ideas and just evaluate the data as objectively as possible.   

We started off with a short list of the must haves.
Reduced or lower population density
A good growing environment
Good precipitation
Good USDA plant hardiness zone
Good state freedoms, gun laws, taxes, low regulation

We were able to quickly thin the list of possible states in the US that were viable.  Then the hard work began.  Digging into each of the remaining states with the rest of our criteria to determine which might be the best fit based on the criteria we set.

Anyway, check out the blog post, let me know what you think.  I would love to hear others talk about their experiences and how it has worked out for them.  We are now in the general area where we want to setup our homestead, and in the process of looking for land, making connections with other like minded preppers and looking at starting a local group and meetings so that we can share, teach, and create community around our common beliefs and lifestyles. 

Take Care,
Title: Re: How to choose a geographical location for your homestead
Post by: OutWestTX on September 21, 2013, 05:52:35 PM
I see this topic hashed out over and over again by preppers.  Most of the ones who don't live in a city think they live in the best place possible.  Me?  You couldn't get me up north.  I'll stay in Texas, thank you.  Everyone thinks their place is the best. 
Title: Re: How to choose a geographical location for your homestead
Post by: Wild Colonial Boy on September 21, 2013, 10:34:08 PM
Nice work Longsnowsm.   I see that economic / employment considerations aren't a factor in your planning (apologies if I missed it in the fine print).

I'm going through similar considerations myself right now but the above is a key factor as is the availability to community/urban environments (slightly different slant to pop. density).  There is a 'tension/compromise' in the selection process from my perspective that has to meet your immediate needs, longer term goals and has to keep the family cohesive.

The good thing is that everybody has a different perspective so well done and all the best.
Title: Re: How to choose a geographical location for your homestead
Post by: nelson96 on September 22, 2013, 03:15:11 PM
Unless I missed it, I noticed you didn't have economics or education included as part of your criteria.  Economics would be a big part of my decision simply because I am still of working age and don't have enough money put away to retire yet.  Also because I value certain services that a thriving community can provide better than I can myself.  Education is important to me as well, because my children are still of school age and even if I home school them (which I don't) I still want them to have a sense of community and the opportunity to enjoy extra curricular activities with others their own age. 

Where did you end up buying your homestead?
Title: Re: How to choose a geographical location for your homestead
Post by: Longsnowsm on September 25, 2013, 10:28:15 AM
Thanks for the replies guys.  In this process we didn't go into this with the idea of where we live is the best place to be... As a matter of fact we discovered where we lived was not sustainable so we knew we needed to move.  So that is why we went through this drill trying to decide where to move.  It was pointed out that based on your own personal weighting for the various factors you might have a much wider selection of possible places or a much narrower one based on what your own personal criteria are.  In our case we did clamp it down somewhat in a few areas that narrowed our list of possible states quickly.  As always your mileage may vary.

On the topic of economics the way we approached that issue is we started looking at the specific areas in the states we were focused on to find those population centers within that area we were interested in.  We are in the same boat as everyone else in that we are still working and needed to be able to earn an income while working on going to the next level which is finally purchasing a property.  Once we narrowed down to the specific areas within the states left on the list and found the population centers we then were able to begin our search for temporary housing near one of those population centers and focus on getting jobs so that we can start the next steps which is to find suitable land for our homestead.  We searched the job search engines, local papers, Craigslist to get an idea of the opportunities in those population centers.  That gave us an idea how hard it would be to find work and helped us setting in on the temporary location we would end up renting.  That is where we are right now.  We are renting a place in the general area we we intend to buy some land and I found work.  We are now looking at starting a business that may help us provide some economic stability that may help us widen our search options... but that is still in the planning phases.

The hard part now is figuring out the distances and how accessible we want to be to the population centers without putting ourselves in the possible path of dangerous events and yet keep some income opportunities.  That is our present challenge.  The closer you get to people the number of choices seems to diminish when it comes to properties(unless your financially well off then of course there are still options).   The further out you get there are some interesting properties, but then the distance to possible jobs etc become tough.  So that is our present evaluation struggle as it relates to jobs and economics.  We are in the same boat and will have to figure out the next levels of compromise so that we can develop some basic rules to narrow our search.    My goal at this point is figuring out just how far out we can stand to be from population centers and then draw some lines on maps to narrow our search areas some more.  I thought I had an idea of what would work, but seems like I keep running into obstacles so I have some work to do.

I think overall it was a good move to get in the general area where we plan to buy and set down roots.  It makes it far easier to talk to people, go see properties, and get a better idea of the climate and environment.  In the process of waiting we of course planted a garden this year, and began the learning process for gardening in a new climate.  We learned a lot this year, and could never have done any of it without being in the area we plan to buy a homestead. 

I hope this selection process writeup was helpful. 

Take Care,
Title: Re: How to choose a geographical location for your homestead
Post by: Ian-FW on September 29, 2013, 07:43:46 PM
I would start by deciding what basic climate type you actually enjoy being in, and eliminate the places that don't fit that description. Then apply the serious calculus. A place may look great on paper, but if you hate the area at an emotional level you'll be miserable there. Building a homestead is hard enough in a place you really love.

And hey, some places (like mine) look downright terrible on paper, but I love the environment and that gives me the drive to actually make it all work.
Title: Re: How to choose a geographical location for your homestead
Post by: Longsnowsm on October 04, 2013, 03:31:08 PM
You make a good point.  I think if you have narrowed your list down to a few select locations that you think might work then a road trip might be worthwhile.  Just because a place looks good on paper doesn't mean much.   

Title: Re: How to choose a geographical location for your homestead
Post by: Varginna on October 04, 2013, 10:42:00 PM
I miss water on your list (I might have missed it) but that's more of an property not area kind of thing (unless you're moving to an area with weary Little water, for example a desert)

We didn't choose our homestead we inherited it so some things wasn't like it might have been if you had chosen it from the start.
For example were on a small mountain with our own Deep drilled well. That's good as long as we have electricity but if we don't have Power we don't have water (closest water is a lake a Little less than a mile away) theres an old dug well here but its dry so we will have to do some real landscaping to be able to get some water in there  :-\ . So if you can choose, choose a Place with water in some way near by.

and about "USDA Plant hardiness zones" all zones have negative and positives, I guess where I live in Sweden is somewhat Close to Alaska when it comes to zones so we won't grow any sweet potato's but we have near to no pest instead (one that most Heard of is varroah, we don't have it) most of the pest don't survive the Winter here. I'm not saying you should move to Alaska just that whatever the zone is they have positive and negative aspects so you should move to were you're more comfortably to live and "farm"