where to buy land

Let’s say you were a paranoid type, and thought that the end of American civilization as we know it might be at hand… Where would you want to be, geographically speaking, when the shit hits the fan? (Be sure to factor in the effects of global warming, the inevitable collapse of our oil-based economy, the availability of water and other resources, relevant regional history, political/religious landscape, etc.) I have my answer, but I’m curious as to what you think. Here, to help facilitate our conversation, is a map of the United States (in case you decide to stay somewhere within its borders).

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26 Comments

  1. Posted April 25, 2005 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m thinking Montana. (A little post-apocalyptic subsistance flossoculture?) In my experience, the small towns (like, 500-1000 people) in MT are decent people, and also probably hard enough to take care of themselves after the fall of civilization. I’d prefer the climate/terrain west of the Rockies, but that part of MT would probably be at the absolute upper limit of workable population density.

    I *would* want a small community, and not just a little personal or family compound somewhere.

  2. Posted April 26, 2005 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    i’d buy 5,000 pair of jeans from india and take off for st. petersburg for an old fashioned ‘king of the world jeans sale.’

  3. Ken
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    I would think you would want to be somewhere that doesn’t have snow when it is almost May. Heat is going to be hard to come by after the wells and mines stop producing. There is always wood. So nice it warms you twice, once when you chop it and once when you burn it.

  4. dorothy
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    hi mark, i’m pretty happy where i am in pa. right now, but come the winter, or the revolution, whichever comes first, oklahoma wouldn’t be too bad. we lived there right after we got married and i don’t remember the winter as being too bad. oops, i forgot about the tornados—never mind.

  5. mark
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Proximity to farmland with sufficient rainfall, I would think, would be key. I’m also of Murph’s opinion that you’d want to find a small community with some history of self-support. And, the coasts, I think, should be ruled out given the probability of erratic/dangerous weather in the longterm. For my money, I’d say the upper midwest.

  6. john galt
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Collapse of the oil economy is the least of your worries, Nibiru is comming in 2012, makes long term planning easier I guess.

  7. Dave Morris
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of living out on the Olympic Peninsula. The peninsula is about the size of Connecticut and is about 50% National Park. There are also a number of wilderness areas, national forests and remote indian reservations. The Olympic mountains contain a rainforest that acts as an enormous sponge that feeds over a dozen major rivers. The annual rainfall in Forks ( on the west side of the mountains ) is 121 inches ( 40 inches more than the Amazon ). The rainfall in Sequim ( pronounced Squim ), which is on the northeast side of the mountains along the Strait of Juan De Fuca, only gets 15 inches a year because of the “rain shadow”. Sequim gets about 300 days of sun each year and the temperature remains mild throughout the year – perfect for farming and greenhouse growing. It also has over 97 miles of irrigation ditches connected to the Dungeness River – a nearly guaranteed source of naturally filtered fresh water.

    I had considered, at one time, property at Ebey’s Historic Reserve on Whidbey Island because of the soil, established farms, and the rain shadow, but most of the irrigation is done with ground water and the water tables are getting low- after which they have no workable plan.

    With all that said, I am pretty happy with Seattle and would only be buying property with the intention of small scale organic farming later in life. The city has so many friendly and creative people that I am sure that they will adapt to change gracefully. Besides, I don’t think I can go more than a week without poking my nose into a used bookstore or a library.

  8. Posted April 26, 2005 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Mark,

    What makes you think private property will be recognized when things really get rough? Why not start your militia now so you can secure whichever resource(s) seem appropriate? =)

    I hear the Keewenau (sp?) in the UP has a pretty long growing season and land can still be got for cheap up there.

  9. Posted April 26, 2005 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Well, Scott, you buy the land now, and the guns now, and then you have something to defend when it all goes down. If you don’t buy the land first, you don’t have anywhere to build your stockade, and then you have to go storming someone else’s when the time comes–and being the defender is always preferable.

    You’re not really buying land so much as buying a tactical advantage.

  10. Teddy Glass
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I think that I’m probably like most readers of this site when I say that I’d prefer not to be in a position of defending what’s “mine” from my neighbors. If history is any guide though, we may all find ourselves in such undesirable positions once the oil starts to dry up. It’ll suck. I’d much prefer to think that I’d find my way into some kind of idyllic little hamlet somewhere completely shut off from the rest of the world, immune to looting and such, where people don’t react in fear, but think things through as a community. Could such a place possibly exist though?

  11. Tony Buttons
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I’m planning to dig a big hole, drive an RV into it, and then cover it up. I figure me and the family can live on algae and mushrooms for a few years, or at least until someone up on the surface kicked a rock into the mouth of our air hose. Maybe I could even run down and bundle of fiber-optic cable to pull some sunlight.

  12. Posted April 26, 2005 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Wow, you guys are all staying in the ‘States? I am debating between Sicily and Costa Rica. My Italian is a lot better than my Espanol, but Costa Rica’s less likely to be attacked.

    How do you think America is going to end, anyway? Oil shocks or something more sinister?

  13. Dave Morris
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    technical incompetence. all the engineers will eventually fade away and we will be left trying to figure out how all their elabotrate tools work. we won’t be wiped out by nuclear bombs, but by slow leaking nuclear waste facilities, chlorinated hydrocarbons in our soil and water, and other such things. stupidity is more likely to be our undoing than a jihad. the war will take place at the level of our immune systems.

  14. Posted April 26, 2005 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m a firm believer in peak oil, but a world without oil wouldn’t be such a terrible place. People will have to return from car dominated suburbia to cities or they’ll have to return to the hinterlands and visit the city every so often to trade and load up on goods. The trains will have to be revived. I suppose that will be be an apocolypse of sorts for people that buy a lot of cheap plastic from mega corporations at strip malls and drive around alone. The sooner people wake up from the American Dream and return to their communities the better.

    As to where to buy land, real estate is an inflated market right now and I would wait 2 or 3 years if you plan on buying in the UP. We’re thinking about buying lots in Detroit. $250 each last time we checked. All those people from the suburbs are going to have to move somewhere and there won’t be jobs for the majority of them on the farms.

    Detroit votes around 94% Democrat these days. Locally we’ve heard about anarchists and socialists, but not Republicans. Water is plentiful and it’s supposed to warm up in the coming years. We hardly get snow as it is. Steve and I were just talking about putting solar panels on the roof before the tax incentives are elimated.

    I am a little concerned about the riot that will erupt when GW reinstates the draft though. 1967 was a tough year for Detroit.

  15. Posted April 26, 2005 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Mark, at least Washtenaw county will be virtually undefended. You could probably secure Meijer with a mere handful of basement-stamped AKs.

    Of course we’ll be communicating via packet radio when it all comes apart.

  16. Posted April 26, 2005 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m hoping I’m the last guy on earth–it will increase my chances. . . well, not according to some women, but it can’t hurt. Mark, where are the babes at? Where is the woman-to-man ratio skewed maximally to larger numbers of women?

  17. Stella
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I hate this game, having lived in a family that played it for real, but I’ll take a turn.
    To buy a property in any realistic way it needs to be accessible to you NOW in order to develop your necessities on site now, so they’ll be in place already should you need them. Thats why in the 70’s my Dad the urban planner/utopian studies specialist bought 40 acres in Hillsdale.
    His thought was, the masses would not flee from the urban areas towards other urban areas so purchase in the middle of the three or four urban centers. It was also close enough to go to every g–d— weekend and begin to develop the resources. Oh and Mark, we certainly did have our Foxfires with us constantly.
    His other bright idea was to hoard hundreds of rolls of aluminum foil of which we used the last of in 94.

  18. Brian
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I’d say north of Fairbanks, Alaska (close to the Yukon river) is where you’ll find me. Close to water, small towns, the ability to farm (hopefully), and hunting (hopefully).

    Now I just need some oxen and I’ll be all set.

  19. mark
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Brian – I like the Alaska idea. It’s on my list, but never having been there, I worry that I might not fit in. (Maybe I was just scarred by Northern Exposure and the way they picked on that poor doctor.)

    Stella – Does your family still own the land? And do you still know where the canned goods are burried?

    Dirtgrain – It hadn’t occurred to me, but we could just go with the plan put forward at the end of Dr. Strangelove. I forget the specifics, but I think there were ten young, beautiful women to every man… We could go down into the salt mines beneath Detroit and start a new civilization.

    Steve and Hillary – It had occurred to me to go right into the heart of Detroit, but then I remembered The Omega Man and I lost my enthusiasm for that plan… That and the fact that the soil is toxic.

  20. mark
    Posted April 26, 2005 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    As for buying jeans, Travis John, it’s also not a bad idea… Clearly we have to do something in the short-term to amass great wealth, so that we can afford to buy the oxen, looms, water wheels and grinding stones… I know it’s illegal, but what if we started selling crack? Or, maybe we should just pool our money, invest in defense contractors, and then cash out after our military moves into Iran and the profits spike. Or, we could design some nice “W” products, like cigar cutters encrusted with diamond “W”s, and advertise on Rush’s show… So many ideas, so little time.

  21. Posted April 27, 2005 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I grew up in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farms, so The Omega Man scares me in a different way, I guess. Yes, Detroit is contaminated. We live in the 2×6 block area of Hamtramck not classified as an EPA brownfield. But the DEQ just decided to revoke the permits for our medical waste incinerator and sites are being cleaned up all the time. It’s only going to get better.

    I don’t intend to grow my own food anyway. We live within 15 minutes of the Eastern Market by bicycle. I’ll buy the produce you and your farming neighbors send in on the train and preserve it for the cold winter months. Maybe I’ll buy extra and sell your produce to my neighbors in our old tea shop.

  22. Posted April 28, 2005 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Mark- Just grow a beard and move to Alaska. You’ll fit in fine.

    My second choice is to move to Lawrence, Kansas and fight for survival ala The Day After.
    I think I could take Jason Robards in a fight.

  23. Bodhi
    Posted June 16, 2005 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I’m thinking greenhouses just west of Ann Arbor, MI. One for growing personal food hydroponicly, one for living, and durring the normal growing season (if such a thing exists after all that bloody global warming) I could grow food outdoors for sale. Plus if the coming economic crash never comes, when A2 spreads a few miles closer to Jackson MI, my property values would SKYROCKET!

  24. Husayko
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Michigan is the right state, for all of the reasons mentioned. It’s just a matter of where.

  25. Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    The map is gone. I have no idea where to buy land now.

  26. Eel
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the map of the United States has changed all that much since 2005, Peter. Congressional districts may have shifted a bit, but the boundaries should be about the same. As for end-time locations, I’m thinking that Washington State might not be bad. If we each contribute $50k, we could probably start a nice little MarkMaynard.com commune somewhere on the outskirts of the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.

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