8 Best States for When SHTF: The Best State for Preppers

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

By Joel Jefferson •  15 min read

Disaster has no appointment and it certainly does not have sympathy. If you are a prepper like myself, or even just a person wanting to play it safe, then you definitely do not want to live in a state like New York.

Best States for When SHTF

States like New York have tens of millions of people that could negatively impact your survival, either by thieving or taking away important resources vital to sustain life. New York also has very liberal laws that are not especially helpful during a SHTF scenario.

If you want to be cautious and have better chances of survival, both short-term and long-term, picking a state that is better suited for a SHTF scenario is crucial.

These states should have the perfect mix of people, natural resources, low crime rate and be less of a target zone than others. Let’s use an example.

If you lived in New York during a time of war, you’d be much more likely to become a victim of a missle strike versus those living in less populated states. You don’t want to live in a state that causes you to take two steps back after disaster, but one that assists you in taking two steps forward.

Now let’s take a look at a few important factors, then look at some states that would net you a good survival rate, while providing plenty of resources for living.

Let’s Consider These Important Factors For SHTF States…

Population Density

World population density map

The most important thing that determines whether or not a state fits the proper criteria for a good SHTF location, is the population density of the state. States that have a high population density may in fact lead to disaster.

In a real SHTF situation, many people may flee from the larger cities to seek shelter in the woodlands. Obviously this is not a good thing, especially if you plan on seeking shelter yourself in the woods.

This is why a low density state is extremely important when considering all your options. A state with a high population density may also make it much harder to flee yourself due to excessive traffic and pedestrians.

Land Prices

If you plan on living a way of life that is beneficial in a SHTF scenario, you’d want to find a place that is at least comfortably affordable.

This way you have more funds to invest into your survival gear and lifestyle. Many states like California, New York and Florida have astronomically high land prices, some going into the millions for just 25 acres.

Luckily, there are a few states that offer extremely competitive prices for both housing and land. These states often have large plots of land with essential elements for rock-bottom prices, which will be covered shortly.

Natural Resources

Arguably more important than population density is, natural resources are very important to our survival in a SHTF situation.

Finding yourself fleeing to the woodlands, only to see that there is not an adequate supply of food and water is probably the worst situation you could hope for. This is why moving to a state that has plenty of natural resources spread throughout the state is crucial to sustaining life.

Creeks, ponds, rivers, vegetation and the ability to hunt if needed are all important sources to have available, just in case you run out of stored food and water.

The Climate

Climate change

This is another major aspect to consider, especially depending on your particular skills. Some states may have a lot of snowfall, while others may have very hot summers and droughts.

For example, if you do not think you could handle extremely low temperatures with excessive snowfall, such as in a state like Alaska, it may be a good idea to reconsider your new location. You should also factor in various other natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding.

Any of these phenomena may destroy your current setup, or make it difficult to sustain in a SHTF scenario. However, in a state with lots of snowfall, there would likely be less people fleeing to the woodlands, one possible pro.

Gun Laws and Crime

gun and crime rate

When choosing a new state to call home, you should always consider the laws and crime rate there beforehand. This is particularly important when considering a place to live if you are preparing for SHTF.

States with high crime rates will raise your chances of becoming a victim of theft, violence or worse. Even if the state has a low crime rate, it’s also a good idea to consider weapons to protect you and your family.

This means that if you’d like personal protection weapons, or the ability to use them for hunting, you’ll need to understand the gun laws and whether or not they fit your needs.

Now Let’s Take A Look At The Best SHTF States


Medium Population Density

Best States for When SHTF

Famous for its strong traditional way of life and classic culture, Texas would be a great state to reside in during a SHTF scenario.

Texas is one of the largest states in America and has a medium population density in most locations. It also still has many good old Americans, a lot of them having an interest in preparing for SHTF themselves.

Relaxed Gun Laws & Affordable Land

This means that as long as you do not reside in one of its larger cities like Houston or Dallas, you’ll have plenty of land to choose from, both for buying and fleeing to.

Texas also has a low crime rate, and does not have strict gun laws. That means the potential to be victimized is low, especially since you’re lawfully allowed to own just about any weapon you’d like.

Generosity Towards Preppers & Decent Natural Resources

Its government is also very beneficial to us preppers, lacking harsh land laws, like intense zoning. Let’s not forget generosity towards gun owners and a plethora of natural resources either,

Although it should be noted that you’ll want to stay towards the east side of the state if you want or need easy access to water. You could consider the west side, so if this is the case, considering purchasing water storage.


The State Will Unlikely Be a Target

If you’re surprised, you shouldn’t be. Alaska is, by far, the safest state when it comes to a SHTF situation; not necessarily just because of the incredible resources available either.

It’s more about the fact that it’s away from the more important targets to other nations, which are thought to be cities near Washington, New York and California, to name a few. This alone makes the chances of a truly devastating disaster happening to drop significantly.

Tons of Natural Resources, Fantastic Terrain & Great Gun Laws

As for the natural resources, it’s simply king in this aspect. I’ve always appreciated Alaska for this very reason. You’ll never find a state that has as many large mountains, rivers, creeks, ponds and wildlife as Alaska does. Alaska also has some of the best crime rates in the nation.

Speaking of crime, you probably won’t have a reason to use your newly purchased weapons, because Alaska has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country.

Low Population Density, Cool Climate & Awesome Land Regulations

The population density is considerably lower than most other states. Land regulations are simple and the prices are cheap too, likely due to the massive amounts of land available.

With that said, the climate is definitely cooler than the other states listed here, so this should undoubtedly be considered. While this isn’t a bad thing in all cases, it should be noted that the climate in Alaska calls for an entirely different prepping lifestyle.


Low Population Density & Prepper Friendly Gun Laws

It may be an unpopular destination for many due to its lack of major cities and vacation destinations, but it certainly is a great state to reside in if a SHTF scenario were to happen.

Ohio has a low density population in essentially all locations, and actually has great laws that are beneficial to preppers, especially in regards to land and gun laws.

Lots of Amish, Plenty of Natural Resources & Cheap Land

Something that I thought was neat about this state, is the fact that more Amish communities reside here more than any other state, which leads me to believe there must be a reason for this.

If you look into the land of Ohio itself, you’ll notice it has a plethora of cheap land available, especially if it’s outside of the cities. The land also has an adequate amount of natural resources available, while also being extremely easy to navigate.

Cooler Climate But Manageable

The climate is a little cooler than some of the other states listed here, so expect more snow during the winter months.

It’s definitely not something that would lead to devastation if you’re not skilled in these types of conditions, but it’s certainly something to take into careful consideration.


Natural Resources Galore, Relaxed Gun Laws & Lenient on Land Regulations

Tennessee is widely known for its abundance of natural resources, such as rivers, creeks, vegetation, and, of course, animals like deer and squirrels; and that’s just the short list.

The state government is also very flexible in terms of gun laws and they’re not usually strict in terms of what you’re allowed to do with your land.

Affordable Land + Plenty of Natural Resources Available

Speaking of land, Tennessee has a great selection of listings to choose from that would be great for maintaining life during a SHTF scenario.

The land is exceptionally cheap as well, and often features beautiful mountains and creeks throughout.

Moderate Population Density & Ease of Bugging Out

The population density is moderate, but Tennessee is a state that would have a much better reaction towards a SHTF scenario versus other states.

I personally believe that bugging out to the woodlands if you reside in the city is completely reasonable, as long as you prepare accordingly. The climate is very average, featuring moderate snow and rain, and a reasonable amount of sunlight.


Lots of Natural Resources & Relaxed Gun Laws

Oregon is a blue state, yet it’s actually quite accepting of preppers needs in terms of gun laws and regulations. I wanted to add a state towards the west coast for two reasons.

One of those reasons is that it’s close to California and the other is the fact that it’s simply beautiful. It has many similarities to that of Northern California, featuring large trees, moderate mountains and a plethora of natural resources.

Fallout Filter, Low Crime and Manageable Population Density

The mountains would obviously be a great place to take shelter quickly. It should also be mentioned that mountains help to filter out fallout, buying you valuable time before the conditions become unlivable.

Oregon has a medium to low population density too, so it would be great in terms of bugging out quickly and safely. Their crime rate is moderately low as well, which means this doesn’t have to overshadow any SHTF scenario you may find yourself in.

Great Land Prices & Average Weather + Plenty of Wildlife

I took a look at property listings there, and I have to say that it’s surprisingly affordable for a west coast state, especially if you choose to buy on the outskirts of town. One great thing about Oregon is the absence of most severe weather.

There are never hurricanes there and tornadoes are extremely uncommon. As far as wildlife for sustainability purposes, there are plenty of deer and other animals, if needed for survival.


Abundance of Natural Resources + It’s Under The Radar

This state often runs under the radar, likely because it doesn’t have many large cities within the state, and lacks highly populated states surrounding it.

This is great, though, because that simply means we get to take advantage of all of the natural resources available there for ourselves.

Tons of Wildlife & Great Terrain

The state has a slew of large mountains, and as mentioned before, they provide some of the best natural protection available for fallout.

In addition, it’s also packed full of rivers and creeks. The wildlife is definitely in abundance too, with antelope, deer and elk scattered throughout.

Conservative Gun Laws & low Crime Rate + Low Population Density

After looking through their gun laws, it appears that they’re pretty relaxed, only requiring a permit to carry. This is great to hear, especially since their crime rate is some of the lowest in the country.

It should also be mentioned that the land is considerably affordable, probably due to the state’s low population. It’s definitely worth checking out, if anything for the overall quality of life.


Rocky Mountains

When I’m looking for a state to benefit my needs, I always make sure that I evaluate the benefits I’d gain over other states; with Colorado, this step is easy.

Known for its beautiful Rocky Mountains, Colorado would provide an exceptional place to settle down and provide most things that are needed to sustain life during a SHTF situation.

Plenty of Wildlife & Many Natural Resources

It has natural resources available in every corner of the land, including tons of water throughout the state, plenty of sustainable wildlife and a large array of mountains for shelter.

I should also mention the abundance of vegetation that is suited for food. The climate is nearly average, though you’ll find that the winters do drop a mild amount of snow.

Lenient Towards Gun Owners & Lack of Harsh Land Regulations

The state government of Colorado is actually pretty lenient towards gun owners, and gives a very conservative approach in regards to land regulations, which I highly appreciate.

It’s certainly low in population density as well, which is, again, a very important factor to consider. As mentioned before, overpopulation could wreak havoc after SHTF.


Mississippi River + A Plethora of Natural Resources

I’ve personally lived in a few of the surrounding states of Mississippi, and I’ve driven through the actual state of Mississippi many times.

Something I’ve always noted about this state is that it has a large portion of the Mississippi River running through it. This adds a huge edge to survival over other states, as this unlocks a huge amount of natural resources and acts as a guide in terms of mapping.

Prepper Friendly Land Regulations, Relaxed Gun Laws & Average Climate

The state also has relaxed gun laws, but you should note that the crime rate is moderate, although it’s not too concerning in the outskirts of town.

Land prices are average, and as far as the climate is concerned, expect hot and humid summers, with damp and cool winters. The land regulations are very friendly to those of which would benefit us preppers.

Great Culture for Preppers

This means that if you have an itch to build a bunker or a disaster shelter, you won’t be required to jump through a hundred hoops to do so.

I should also mention that the culture for government/citizen freedom is uniquely present, which helps feed the already existing culture for good old American freedom. Overall, it’s a pretty good option considering all things.


One of the most important factors that ensures a better chance of survival after a SHTF scenario is residing in a state that helps you move forward, not backwards.

There are 50 states available for choosing, and it’s definitely complicated to understand the important aspects that determine a state’s worthiness of moving to. Many people may think that a state like California would be beneficial to us due to the overwhelming amount of government support.

However, the sad reality of this, is if an actual SHTF scenario happened, the government would be limited to what it could do, and that’s assuming we even still had one post-SHTF. You’ll need to sacrifice a few things to determine which is best for you.

These include climate, terrain or costs. Alaska may be better suited if you’re accustomed to colder weather, yet Tennessee may be a better choice if you’re more accustomed to or skilled in average weather.

Take a look at each aspect of the different states, because they each have pros and cons. Mountains are great for cover, but require energy to travel; and that energy may not be a strong suit during a panicked SHTF situation.

Nonetheless, I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed this read, and if you’re ready to learn more about prepping for an SHTF scenario, view even more of our articles here. Cheers!

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.