Friday, February 12, 2016

go west, cubicle warrior ( 2 of 4 or 5 )


Okay, so far we’ve ascertained that your average minion wants to move someplace safer, but with no abnormal life changes ( the move itself, from suburbia East to suburbia West, or whatever, is enough disruption ).  We’ve talked about how the American Redoubt is more a political fantasy than a viable PODA location.  Let’s talk about the problems with the East ( then, I’ll cover the good points of each location ).  The East is both very overpopulated and vulnerable to extreme disasters.  I don’t know if the extreme disasters are even realistic, given as how the primary reason for avoiding the area is downwind nuclear fallout from our strategic missile bases, which I don’t think is a probable threat anymore ( possible?  Of course.  Probable?  I have my doubts.  While any commander in chief can be an idiot and needlessly provoke Russia or China, don’t let all your public school propaganda fool you.  WE are the historical aggressors, not the Russians.  If economics draw back our forces, the American imperial drive for occupation which made nukes so scary will no longer be a catalyst for Russian launch ).  And while grid down overheating of nuclear power plant fuel rods will be immediately dangerous to down winders, it is far easier to be on the right side of a power plant than of Midwest silos.  Mostly, I’d fear overpopulation in the East more than anything else.  There are a LOT of people living there, but there are a LOT of people living in the West ( just more concentrated.  As if that is a better thing ).  So the question becomes not who is overcrowded but how to avoid the crowds which are everywhere.  The American Redoubt solution is rural settlement in the West.  And that is fine except for reliance on our communications grid ( as well as our long distance transportation ).  I think the solution is not in avoiding crowds now but during and after the collapse. 


So far, the normal advice has been on either avoiding crowds now or planning on long distance bug outs.  My stated advice has been on relocating to a town or small city close to your affordable junk land.  But that still just sort of assumes a Western preference ( as that is where most junk land is.  Or was.  Prior to 2008.  Now, a lot of Eastern land is opening up as whole communities fail economically.  Of course, the affordable junk land has also, at least in the East, morphed into Not-So-Affordable junk land now.  Well, that is what relocation and 401 (k) liquidation is for ).  The main question in this article series is where to go to be safest.  Safest is less people and I think you can achieve that in either location.  Not less NOW, but less after the collapse ( to be fair, less now is far better as far as avoiding crime.  But here the focus remains long term collapse danger ).  You just need to ride out the die-off and you can do that either location.  Yes, the East is a more dangerous place to hunker down.  But the West is more dangerous surviving afterwards.  More next article.


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  1. What I read on the internet about identifying good locations seems overly general and global- like looking at a population density map of the U.S. and finding the county-level-size areas with lower concentration of people per square mile. There are reasons people don't live there now, and it ain't because of the lack of Starbucks. I think isolation has as much to do with knowing the local lay of the land. There are two-lane highways in low population areas with lots of houses clustered near the road. Other more dense areas have little-out-of-the-way areas that are very isolated because people just don't tend to go there or go that route. Personally, I think you just get yourself out of the center of storm (worst in densely populated cities), try to live reasonably well now, and let the chips fall where they may with the preps you have. I think the "if I just move to ______" approach is often false hope that a radical move will fix your problems. The places you go to will have crap to deal with, so maybe just get on with dealing with the devil you know. Keep your job if it works for you and your family, but try to find a place to live that gets you out of the eye of the storm, and some junk land a little further out for when it's time to cut the cord.

  2. "I think the solution is not in avoiding crowds now but during and after the collapse."

    Personally, I think we have already started the collapse. I'm reminded of Club Orlov's "Five Stages of Collapse".

    The best reason I can give folks regarding when to make the jump and start living on junk land NOW and not wait until later is -- experience.

    When I first moved to our place over twenty years ago, I was very naive. I thought with my remote land, some food storage and a survivalist mindset, that I was ready to survive the apocalypse.

    Ahhhh, the optimism of the young and foolish.

    What I learned (and am still learning for that matter) -- that youth, energy, eagerness, preps, etc. are no substitute for actually knowing HOW to do things. If you wait until the last minute to race to your bug-out location, you are going to be behind the curve. You will squander supplies, time and possibly endanger your life.

    There is an "art" to homesteading and living off the land, and it just can't be picked up from reading books and watching YouTube videos.

    So if you really are planning on waiting until the very last second to escape to your bug-out locatiom, I would recommend AT LEAST doubling your supplies to help you through the learning curve.

    Idaho Homesteader

    1. I'd ballpark five years to learn basic gardening/animal husbandry with all the tools, supplies and a good library. If you are fairly bright. I'm still building infrastructure and I'm no where near self supporting.

    2. And I don't think you can rely on a group for those skills. True die-off PODA event, you can't support a group, only yourself. Get learning.

    3. And don't forget the necessary time to build the infrastructure- buildings, water control, earthworks, etc.
      Even just minimal make do alternatives take time to put in place.

  3. Simple math for Survivalists (sort of a joke, but not real funny)
    whereby Eviltwin proposes a simple formula for determining a way to judge two pieces of junk land for their long-term viability

    If given: water is life, and people are a threat, then the value of land can be described as: x = w - p

    Livability in unknown time units = x

    Distance to water = w
    Distance to people = p

    x = w - p

    higher x number is better, lower is worse. Note that in many cases x will be negative. feel free to modify to suit (suggest adding your own weighted variables). The right half of equation (w - p) equals competition for resourses, at the most basic level

    For Water (life), i suggest begining with:
    w = s / d
    where, Sources of water = s
    and, average distance to source = d

    For people (competition for resourses [life]), i suggest:
    p = i / m
    where, number of other indiviuals in your area of operations = i
    and, average distance away from your hidey hole = m

    x = (s/d) - (i/m)

    You are considering two properties for your "Pit of Doom"

    #1 has:

    You have rain cachement, and a year-round stream 1/2 mile away.
    You have neighbors, a family of 4, 2 miles way. the closest town is outside your ao*

    #2 has:

    You have a lake 1 mile away.
    You have neighbors, a family of 2, 2 miles way, and 2 families of 4, one at 4 miles, one at 6 miles. the closest town is outside your ao*

    * this is hardly ever true, it is just to make the math simpler...

    your w = 2 / 0.25 = 8
    or expanded:
    Your w = (s=2) / (d=[{0 + 0.5} / 2]) = 2 / [{0 + 0.5} / 2] = 2 / [0.5 / 2] = 2 / 0.250 = 8

    your p = 4 / 2 = 2

    x = (w=8) - (p=2) = 8 - 2 = 6

    Your w = (1 / 1) = 1

    your p = 10 / [(2 + 2 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 6) / 10] = 10 / [44 / 10] = 10 / 4.4 = 2.272727... ~ 2.3

    x = 1 - 2.3 = -1.3

    There you have it. A very rudimentary way of comparing two pieces of land that you know "nearly nothing" about, before investing your junk land fund. I will probably modify for high and low temps, farmable land, etc, but i think it is probably too complicated already, so maybe not...


    1. Thank you, Eviltwin, for demonstrating how math can save people time and money by making better decisions, or making bad decisions with more understanding. -pdxr13
      Portland Oregon: 65 nice inches of rain almost every year, packed with people who can't but insist on driving, politics that make 1985 Moscow seem representative. Land be OMG $$$, with annual taxes like 2 months pay (if you inherited it at no cost) driven by escapees from SoCal with 25% equity in the Covina house (about a million, which allows for a 95% remodel of a Portland Victorian walking distance from everything) or being used to paying $1700/mo for an apt. in ElAyy. Gardens grow with almost no effort in my black 30" deep topsoil. Raspberries and figs are the lowest input-effort crops.

    2. I thought the math was uncomprehendable squiggles, but what do I know from math?

    3. New math. It can be translated into "this better than that".

  4. A quick glance at the lights of America map James, tells you real quick where you do not want to be. You can compare a U.S. map of the states to this satellite image, and make a good determination. It looks as if you would not wish to be any further east than western Kansas, Nebraska, or the Dakota's. And no further west than Nevada, Idaho, or Montana. I left out New Mexico and Arizona due to their close proximity to the border. And ideally, you would not want to be right on the border of the states furthest west. This really only leaves a handful of states that fall under the category of ideal.

    There is no true ideal I understand, and I also understand that it is almost impossible for some to relocate. But in a true SHTF scenario, the places to the east that are lit up like a Christmas tree on the map, are going to be in serious trouble. Something to consider for those folks living in such areas. If a major event takes place during the warmer months, the eastern states will be like a living hell. A combination of corpses (typhoid) mosquitoes (malaria) bad water (giardiasis, from lack of treated water) and starving masses, will make survival unlikely for but a few.

    1. My first advice would be to leave the East just for those reasons. But as we agree, it isn't always practical. One does the best possible.

    2. I don't know if you had a look at that map or not James, but it gives you the lowdown, and you can readily see that surviving in such an area would be very unlikely. The only good news is that if you can survive the initial die off, you will probably survive. But the odds of that would be very low I would think; much lower than they would ordinarily be.


    3. You are throwing the dice. My move to Florida for y2k was silly, in retrospect, and a learning experience. I realized my mistake and picked Nevada. Not everyone can rectify due to circumstances. The article series isn't about what is best but what is best given the situation.

    4. I think this is a better map, highlighting counties with less density.

    5. I had a look at the county map James, and it gives a better resolution of the areas population, but it's probably more helpful to those living in the east. It's a little easier in the west; simply avoid any major burgs. Western Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakota's look like good places to me? Maybe lacking trees, but also lacking population, and a big buffer from the coasts.

      The west is a lot more forgiving overall. Even in CA, when I took that trip up to Modoc county in late 2014, I drove through areas in which I prayed like hell that I would not break down. Even a place like CA has so much space, that there are good places to retreat to, because most of the population is near the coast. You still have the regulations though, so you have to go way out, and ideally under the forest canopy.

    6. If I lived in northern CA I would be an avid hiker and stash food/tools in a deep out off trail location, then build as needed. Or, alternately, southern OR has less regulations for your vacation cabin. I imagine the East has plenty of areas like this. Indeed, more than one minion has described their rural retreat area which I would feel comfortable at.

    7. At the time of their creation counties tended to be just under one days travel at longest dimension (thus the small counties back east and along the costs getting bigger toward the areas settled later with better transportation).
      So that means if you are within one county of the a dark blue or purple on that map you are potentially in harms way of the masses and coming city states.

      Trees are indeed one of lacking resources in the western great plains and other lowest population density areas of the west, OR you have to deal with being on a mountain side. Since I am prepping here on the edge of the bakken where there are no trees lumber is expensive, and I am planning on walls made with the clay and rock under the land I own instead of with the typical lumber house or even worse a timber frame or log cabin house.
      Roof will be metal clad wood of course because I don't want a roof collapse to severely injure or kill an occupant.

    8. Building with local material is always a good idea.

  5. What makes junk land, junk land? I would say it's more then just a low price.

    In the West you probably can find junk land that is inexpensive and has little to no building restrictions.

    In the East low priced land can be found, but it's very hard to find land that will allow you to build what you want in the way you want to build it.

    Eastern governments like to put all kinds of restrictions on what a person can do.

    If anyone has a work around for this in the Eastern states I would like to know about it.

    Chuck Findlay

    1. Agreed and the only thing you can do in the East is pretend to comply, bite the bullet and invest, or hope that when the SHTF you can squat and live there without harassment.

    2. I bought land zoned for agriculture with neighbors who grow trees for timber harvesting. It is mostly passive ag. Rarely see the owners. Whatever I do there is under tree cover from Google Earth and blocked from neighbor view by trees, etc. Yea, I'm violating codes, but have flown under the radar for 5 years. Property taxes are <$10 per acre. 3 acres gives adequate buffer from nosy neighbors, as does barbed vines and shrubs.

    3. I'm assuming East is East of the Mississippi. My BOL is considered Middle Tennessee, but one county to the West, becomes W. Tennessee. My county has no building codes. Out in the county the only code enforced are State codes for Septic, if you have one and Electric. Septic ties in with electric in that to get final or permanent electrical service you need to have approved septic inspection in hand before hand. We have meter fees here. IF you have a construction meter it's $35 a month before you use any electricity and $23 after said inspection. If you are off grid and don't have the electric Co-Op come out and place a pole or put in a meter, then who's to know? The only rub with this is that if you want an address, then you have to have a basement or footer dug and the guy will come out and GPS the location for 911 services supposedly. Get a PO Box, but then getting DL is difficult without an address and utility bill(s). They just have to know where to find you and this comes from the Fed level.

      Any how low population density. My son and I were looking at who owned property in our county and a Timber company has about 10%. The FED government maybe 20-25%. National Battlefield, National Wildlife Refuge(s), National Recreation area and part of an Army Fort. The only rub is it is close to Clarkseville, that has a serious gang problem and I think the 5th largest city in Tennessee. I live way off the beaten path, so hopefully they won't find me. Here's to hoping :)

    4. You could consider East from the 100th meridian but I think most of use the Mississippi as the line. Every state has its quirks. Off grid here, you have a hard time describing to the ambulance where to come. The power company wants an actual street address which is a pain to create, but I'll never worry about that, myself. You sound like you're pretty squared away all things considered.

    5. In the East, frequently what makes junk land junk is inaccessibility. There is a spot about 10 miles from where I live that has NEVER been logged because they couldn't even use horses to drag the trees out. Helicopters, maybe, but the timber just isn't that valuable.

      The point being, inaccessibility is a big drawback for daily use, but could be a big plus for bug out land.

      And if no one ever comes around to inspect your place, who is going to complain about what you do?

    6. And most folks are so out of shape, it doesn't take much to be inaccessible.

  6. Jim the east has a ton of abandoned properties that owners and government want to unload cheap. You have to work to find them no relators list them, no profit. Most county's assessor's office has on line GIS mapping if you are interested in a parcel a quick look at these maps will tell you who owns it and address, assessed value, and zoning. old burned houses are almost free if cleaned off lot in a year from cities. I just bought 2 acres for 732$ it has a well, stream, power, and septic. While not rural it is isolated . It was 5 year behind on taxes plus interest. It is surrounded by 6000 acres of timber land.

    1. I'm still jealous of that deal. Almost as envious as you are of my hair.

    2. I'm jealous too. A well and stream.

    3. An excellent book on this topic is “Country Property Dirt Cheap: How I Found My Piece of Inexpensive Rural Land...Plus My Adventures with a $300 Junk Antique Tractor”, by Ralph Turner. It's somewhat dated, since it's from the mid-90's, so Ralph actually used hard copies of a plat map to find out who owned the land in the areas that he was interested. Now I'm sure that you can find all of that online. Sometimes you can find a rancher or farmer that is willing to sub-divide and sell off a portion of a large ranch.

    4. Thanks, I'll think on buying it. Not that I should buy any more land.

    5. "Thanks, I'll think on buying it. Not that I should buy any more land."

      It was actually a very good book James. One of those books that I found hard to put down. Though I never really understood what the dudes obsession with an old tractor was?


    6. For the price, food independence, perhaps?

    7. “For the price, food independence, perhaps?”

      Don't recall James, it's been several years since I've read it? Seemed like a boyhood obsession with tractors that he never really got over? He wasn't planning on homesteading I don't think, just looking for a weekend retreat. He later became an attorney.

      One interesting part of the book to me was the way he went about getting a cabin. He looked around for a summer kitchen. For those that don't know what these are, they were old out buildings that pioneer families used in the summer, so as not to heat the whole house during the warm months when cooking. He found one, jacked it up and loaded it onto a trailer, and he had a nice little cabin for $100; done! I've thought about doing this as well, but I can't imagine that it would be anything less than my favorite new Bison saying; a chrome plated bitch! But for the mechanical among us, this might be a good option?

    8. My stepdad seemed a bit gay over his tractor ( which he finally got moving from town out to our ten acres ). Of course, he was an engineer, and those guys are full blown nerd crazy. It has to be a Big Boy Toy thing.

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