Choosing a Bug Out Location

Choosing a Bug Out Location

A major priority after an SHTF event is shelter. If the situation is a temporary one, then a tent or small make-shift shelters like a debris hut can be adequate. However, for a long-term SHTF event – particularly an “end of the world as we know it” situation, survivors will need to find a more permanent location to settle.  You need a suitable bug-out location.

If you find yourself bugging out with no pre-planned location in mind, here are some considerations and some potential places that can be adapted to make a good bug-out location.


Close to a water source

we all are very aware of the importance of water when it comes to survival. If you can find a bug-out location that has a river, stream or another water source nearby, this will greatly enhance your chances of survival. You will need water for drinking, washing, cleaning, etc, so the larger the water source, the better. Remember that you will need to filter and/or boil the water for drinking and cooking. Having your own source of freshwater will be a huge boost for you and your group. You could also use your water source to provide food (fishing) power (to power a generator or turbine) and added security (as a barrier to cross to get to your BOL). If there is no water source near your chosen location – you may need to keep moving!


You will need enough space for each member of your group to be able to have some kind of personal space. To help them relax, meditate, or just to have some alone time. You will also need to make sure that there is enough land available for food production. Planting seeds, keeping chickens, etc all require a fair amount of space. If you are looking for a long-term bug-out location, make sure adequate indoor and outdoor space is available.

Distance from populated areas

This can be a tricky one to get right. You want your camp to be as isolated as possible to keep the probability of running into bad guys as low as possible. However, you also need to be able to survive long enough to get there. If you and your group have to travel for weeks to reach your camp, you are unlikely to have all members of your group still with you when you arrive. If you leave your home in a hurry with your bug-out bag – you have 72 hours at the most to find your bug-out location.


There is no point working hard for days, weeks, and months getting your bug-out location established and running efficiently only to have another group come in and kick you out and keep it for themselves. You need to be able to defend your camp when necessary. Ideally, you want as few access points to your camp as possible. It is also very helpful if your camp is on higher ground so you have a clear view of all sides.  This will allow you to be able to see any potential threat very early on and get prepared for it. High fences and walls will provide protection, as will cutting down some trees to partially block access routes to your camp.

Access to food

You will need to make sure there is plenty of wildlife and edible plants local to your camp location. Growing your own food is great but it will take a fair amount of time before you have your crops established and producing enough food for everyone. Until then you will need to hunt, forage and scavenge for your food.

Waste disposal

You need to have the ability to dispose of both human waste and rubbish from your camp. You need to ensure you have an area where you can dig trenches and a large area where you can burn any waste that needs to be destroyed. Ideally, this area needs to be relatively covered so your fire is not visible to other groups. A great situation to be in would have suitable land available where you could look to set up some kind of sewage system that takes excrement away from your camp.


If things have gone horribly wrong with society. For example, if there is a near-total melt-down in play, you need to adapt to the situation. For this kind of situation, there are a number of locations that – with a bit of work – can be adapted to sustain a survival group in the long term.

Here are some places to consider that may meet most or all of the above criteria:

A zoo

These are designed to keep very large and very dangerous animals enclosed. This means that they could keep bad guys away from your group. The bigger zoos will have a large water source in the form of a lake or aquarium area. It may not be a nice thought but you also have access to a huge food source. The animals will already be in an enclosure that zoo staff would have had access to. This means you will be able to get fairly close to the animals, which reduces time spent on hunting. The zoo will be split into a number of areas so it will be easy to allocate food areas, sleeping areas, toilet areas, etc.

One disadvantage of using a zoo as a base camp is that they are usually in well-populated areas. They have easy access from a few routes; customer entrance and exits, delivery areas, staff entrances, etc, so all of these will need to be protected and secured.

A prison

Similar to a zoo, these are designed to keep bad people in and to stop others from being able to enter. As a BOL, this is exactly what you need. Your group can secure the prison easily with what is already in place. All of the entrances and exits will be secure and defensible. Different cell blocks can be used for different purposes. You could isolate any sick group members in their own block to help prevent infection of other people. Water and food sources could be a challenge once the prisons canteen supplies have been used up. The area surrounding the prison will need to be utilized providing it is suitable.

A garden centre

In terms of food sources – a garden center should have enough seeds and edible plants to keep your group going for a few months. They usually have a good amount of stored water which they use to care for plants. This can be filtered and used for drinking and cooking. It won’t be as secure or defensible as the other two options. However, lots of garden centers have a high-fenced outside area and a more secure delivery area with a lockable gate. This is usually at least the height of a delivery truck.

These are just a few ideas of facilities that could be used as a bug-out location. It is worth making a plan of where you would head if the worst happened before it actually does happen. This way you will get a head start over anyone else who may be heading to the same place!

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