Post-SHTF Local Circle Around Your Home

This is another food-for-thought exercise. It has to do with Level 4 Preparedness and a scenario (pick your own hypothetical) which results in true SHTF survival. A time when your world will become very local. At least until rebuilding on the ‘other side’.

For those who have downloaded ‘Google Earth’ (mapping software), first select your home address. Then choose the ruler tool. It has a circle option. Expand a circle around your home. Set it for a 1 mile radius (2 mile diameter). Have a look inside that circle. You might say that this will be your immediate world after SHTF.

Obviously you could choose any diameter. A half mile radius for a 1 mile circle, or several miles…whatever. But a 1 mile radius seems reasonable enough to get the point across. Your post-SHTF living will be in proximity with these people.

Do you know any of them? Do you know what they do? Are any of them assets to the situation?

While using Google Earth, it’s quite easy to zoom in on these locations. It will provide insight. For example it may reveal farming (big or small). Water sources. Congestion. Routes of travel. Those with more land than others. What’s in people’s yards. Buildings. All sorts of observations. It will also provide a pretty good representation of your local population density – which may surprise you…

Why It All Becomes Local After SHTF

I’ve defined Level 4 preparedness as ‘self-sustaining’. Maintaining or able to maintain oneself or household by independent efforts, best coupled within a like minded self–sustaining community. A time when there’s little or no external inputs from far away (e.g. today’s modern long distance distribution channels).

When thrust into a widespread long term SHTF, you might say that what you have will be all there is for awhile. Maybe a long while. However one’s local community may be able to come together to some extent to mitigate this. Although the level of cooperation may be uncertain at best – given human nature (this will highly depend on where you live and your local relationships).

No more long distance trucking (or any at all). No more grocery stores. Operational gas stations. All the things right out of a SHTF survival novel…

Your Local Circle

The average walking speed is about 3 mph or a tad less. A person a mile away from you could walk there in about 20 minutes. Most reasonable healthy people could walk farther than that too – though most people these days do not seem to be reasonably healthy, so who knows…

Those unprepared for Level 3 or 4 preparedness will begin walking in search of what they need. And most everyone is not prepared for this level of SHTF. So these people in your local perimeter will be who you may have to deal with. Plan for that however you may.

The time to establish neighborly / community connections (with those who would be like-minded assets) was yesterday. But it’s never too late. It’s going to take some level of cooperation within your local circle in order to get through the timeline.

The issues of concern will begin with the very basics. Security. Water. Food. Shelter. Then, the sustainability part. Without channels of distribution, the community will need to produce more food. How’s that going to happen? Farming. Gardening. Livestock. And all that goes along with making that happen.

The big problem with the hypothetical of long term SHTF survival is this… If it’s that bad, this means that the nation has essentially fallen. When there’s a power vacuum, something will rush in to fill it. Will that be another invading country? Regional warlords? Remember the TV series The Walking Dead?

Anyway, it’s more food for thought. If and when it happens, it will no longer matter to you what’s happening anywhere except where you live. Think about that.

[ Read: Timeline Of Events Following A Long Term Grid Down Catastrophe ]

[ Read: Without Rule of Law ]


  1. – Approximately 4 years ago, we had a hurricane stall out overhead and dump 11 inches of rain in our area. our community found itself cut off by flood waters for about 5 days. We did still have electricity and water available, so not any SHTF scenario, but just cut off for the French toast brigade. Our entire small community was confined to a 5-mile radius. I asked my friend who is the manager of our one store if they had had any incidents or shortages. Nothing, not even a pair of batteries over and above normal weekly sales. No shortages of milk, bread or eggs at the time. All I can say is, sounds good to me.
    – Papa S.

    1. Sounds like most people were prepared for their Level 1 event. Looks like you’re in a good community in that regard.

  2. “If and when it happens, it will no longer matter to you what’s happening anywhere except where you live.”

    That statement right there is how I plan/prep my survival. All this other stuff in the world? Not gonna matter. Fortunately, I’m prepared as much as I can be, although I do prep everyday with/on something. Prepping has become a lifestyle for me.

    It’s gonna happen, no stopping it now…

  3. Several days into a shtf, the people that have something in their tank will be mobile enough to cause a lot of problems, if they are able to steal gas somewhere even more so.
    I would think someone would put an end to that but the cost before they are stopped ?
    Thankfully the nearest city to me is over 1/2 hour away at highway speeds.

    Anyone traveling in a shtf situation at night would be suspicious enough to raise alarm.

    Circle one mile out.. I think that includes about 20 houses +/- 3 mainly older people like 50’s +
    A few professions, most retired nearby.
    Saddle maker, doctor/gun smith, mechanic, veterinarian, farmer, welder those are the ones I know of- all armed.
    Guy across the road and down a bit is on the town board.

    This all was great planning, thought experiments ect.. it’s not supposed to be real.

  4. As a retired LEO with 30 years experience, I can tell you that in a SHTF scenario, your worst fears will come from your own neighborhood.

    1. Joe Friday – Do you believe this to be universally true? That is, will rural neighbors turn on each other the same as suburban and urban dwellers? Thanks for your warning and for your insight.

      1. Tmac,
        Probably depends on who or what is in that community. Unfortunately, a vast majority of people out there are unpredictable these days, a veritable tower of babble salad

        1. Tmac,

          Ever wonder why a little spot in the road community with only one grocery store and maybe two service stations…has two, maybe three Baptist Churches and a non-denominational church? Our far-flung community does, and we don’t even have a grocery store or a gas station.

          Is that a sign that folks are really religious in that little outback location…or a sign that folks who claim Christianity as a bond have had problems getting along with each other in the past?

        2. Dennis,

          If I draw a three mile circle I see 6 different churches, 2 gas stations, and 3 stores.

          I have issues with one unnamed fundamentalist denomination whose members (most) seems to think it is okay to steal, lie, or cheat you if you don’t go to their church because you are going to hell anyway. Leaves a bad taste in your mouth, so I think church membership has little to do with how they will react to a $hit fan scenario. Their character will mean all.

        3. Deep South,

          You would have to draw a 15 mile radius (20 mile diameter) circle around my house to include the closest store that has a few grocery items and two pumps (one gasoline/one diesel). I’m guessing, but would estimate at least 10 churches inside that same circle.

          That single store, while close to 15 miles as the crow flies from my house, is right at 25 miles away by road. Not a bad thing (the number of churches)…just pointing out the anomaly.

      2. I have to agree with Joe. The rural areas have a disease called meth that is far more wide spread than people want to admit. I was selected for Grand Jury and was amazed at what was going on in our tri-county area that no one ever hears about. It is eating away at the 18-45 year olds and they will rob, steal, kill to get it. They will be the first threat.

        The second comes from city folks that have retired to rural areas, have acreage but they were not raised in the country so they don’t have the skills, knowledge or tools to survive in a long term SHTF situation. Little McMansions with fantastic landscape but no garden in sight. Real country folks know who belongs in their area, they usually have close family members near by and they will band together. I’ve lived in the North GA mountains for over 22 years and I am still considered an outsider. People are friendly and I know a few farmers but they know you’re not from here and I realize and can appreciate that I will never be considered a local.

        1. Romeo Charlie,
          You’re correct on the meth. It’s out there. Fortunately, it will be a short-term thing. Violence and/or cold turkey for most. It won’t be pretty for a week or two. Call me cold-hearted, but good riddance to the tweakers.

          Most will band together at first (socialism). The unprepared looking to share in what others have stored. I would think a case by case thing. Close-in comms will be a huge thing; CB, gmrs, ham, etc. Quite an advantage to know what’s coming down the road. Mutual defense of the area is likely. Most here are relatively well prepared. Even so, we’ll need help with defense. We all have to sleep sometime.

          I don’t want shtf to happen, but after watching the prez. I doubt anyone can stop it.

        2. Plainsmedic,
          Knowing what is going on in a particular area and the reliability of the information will be a huge advantage. We have a lot of mountains which reduces comms depending on your location so HAM club conducts simplex only tests twice a year so we know who we can contact and who we can’t if the repeater goes down. We just installed a UHF repeater but it is directly in line with a mountain range so I can’t hit it. Good info to know.

          We all keep a simplex callsign list as well as maps with accessible mountain tops we can go to remotely if needed. Don’t want to be trying to figure this out after the SHTF as I believe we will be very busy in the first 4 weeks just defending your property.

          BTW. An older lady (widow) that I help when she needs a hand (usually snake removed from her porch) lives down the road in a very nice big house on 12 acres called and told me if I see her youngest son in the area to call the sheriff. She had to take out a restraining order because he’s strung out on meth and had broken into her house when she went to town and was looking for money to buy meth. You would never expect it but things may not be what they seem and this information is very valuable.

        3. RC,
          Sounds like you’ve done your homework with comms. You won’t regret any of it. I know you already are aware, but establishing a relay network with other hams can help out in certain terrain/situations. It’s excellent practice ahead of need.

          So many are neglecting this important prep. Oh well.

        4. SS,
          I have helped quite a few over the years when they needed it (cutting up down trees across a driveway, checking on folks and keeping the road open after a storm, etc.) so they know I can be an asset and not just an ass. 😄
          I look at it as an investment that may pay huge dividends in the future.

          Sounds like you have done the same with the good Amish folks and that is a valuable asset for you and providing an “over watch” would be a valuable asset to them. What you know, who you know and what you can do will be the “currency” after the doo doo hits the oscillating device.

        5. Romeo Charlie, We first moved from the city to Southern MO. We bought a farm. Most around us were related. Within six months, we could work cattle, round them up on horseback ( we knew how to ride) Milk a cow and goats by hand and use the milk in about six ways. We could pull a calf, raise a big garden, fell a tree, cut and split wood. Two women came over one day to ask how I kept my bottle calves from scouring. Everyone was friendly, helpful, but we never really belonged. They were sorry to see us sell, but they had each other and their friends from grade school. My point…City kids (in our forties!) can learn a lot in a hurry, if they really want to do it. Yes, we could shoot.

        6. Ariel,
          Didn’t mean to paint all folks who move to the country with the same brush. I know what you mean. I grew up on a farm but went into the Navy got out and then had to move to suburban areas due to my career. Just before retiring we moved up to the mountains so most of the locals thought I was just another “city boy” until they got to know me.

      3. TMAC… friend, that is the question, that I often contemplate………maybe it will be a matter of boundary limits by each family or individual, no one will get past your boundary’s unchecked hopefully and the “good fences make good neighbors” will be the new free fire zones of protection. I would love to be in a survival group again, but honestly and truthfully there are only one or two who I would allow in. Hard times will demand hard choices, and one mistake will mean game over. James Rawls nailed that premise in his book ‘patriots’.

    2. Probably from just across the street..or directly from next door…from those who already know how many live in your home…and what age they are…giving them a greater confidence to breach your abode.

      1. Ision you are so right. We are working on gathering the flock to some extent. We hope they can get here. Grandkids are only interested in part of what it will take to survive in these conditions. They say they understand the concept, but I watch as they pick and choose what they want to learn. We are not getting many takers on chicken harvesting, coming soon. They love to stay up late, so can do night guard duty, since they won’t have iPhones. It’s a slow process to build a small village. Their interest might peak after five days on just rice and beans. If you don’t raise it, process it or hunt it, you don’t get to eat it.

    3. Joe Friday, ditto that….locals by their own lazy nature, will be the first problem, after a period maybe weeks, if we survive that then any residual scouring rovers (outsiders) will be the next challenge. Whatever unfolds in a SHTF, human life will be the cheapest commodity. Today thinking about this, helps me to be closer to my lord.

    4. As a retired jack of all trades, mostly LEO, I stand with you on that…… if you survive the locals, then you will be forced to band together with who is left in order to survive the alluvial fan of degenerates that show up on the scene afterwards. Don’t know which variation of shtf will happen, but most will be many times worse than we in the current mindset could ever imagined would take place. Not being negative, I am being the “realist”.

  5. Good article. I’m gonna miss dipnetting. I only fish one day each year, but my fishing spot is 300 miles away. Fishing is harvesting, not a sport. My brother and I have dipnetted nearly 1000 pounds of salmon in 4 hours. We fish on the side of a mountain and rope ourselves to a tree so we don’t fall into the river. We then carry the fish a couple hundred feet up the steep side of the mountain to the four wheelers. Then several miles back to the truck, and 300 miles back home. Then a half day cleaning the fish. Obviously, none of this will be possible in the scenario described by this article.

    1. Old Alaskan,
      It would be a shame to not continue that, is a tradition and depending on your lineage a birthright,
      Malama ka ‘aina i ke kai

  6. A one (1) mile diameter ain’t much but it’s okay. I would make it 3 or 4 miles. The people/neighbors within my circle are all at least level 3 prepared and we are a close-knit bunch. But things could get strange nevertheless. My concern is people from the city coming into our area. The nearest metropolitan is about 200 miles which can be traversed in 2 or 3 hours. These are the people who would be the most problematic – they take without asking and are generally rude. I can’t imagine their attitude during a crisis but I am prepared for it.

  7. Good morning folks. Just spent about two hours visiting with a friend who stopped by on his four wheeler. He’s one of my part time neighbors who owns land about a mile away. He is a wide-awake prepper, his cabin and 80 acres is his destination when things go south…as he fully expects to happen.

    We talked of the progress he’s making on making his place ready. We talked improvements to his GMRS capabilities to include an outside antenna. Told me of a group of six friends of his who have cabins about 3 miles to my west as the crow flies (over 20 miles by road) and how he had introduced them to the capabilities of GMRS radios (I had introduced him to GMRS), hoping to expand our net of communication. He told me of his recent purchase of a water storage tank, how he bought the exact same tank as mine after seeing it.

    I gave him another box of his favorite rifle cartridge that I had recently reloaded for him. He gave me another box of .223 brass for reloading for myself. At a little over 20 years younger than me, I will be depending on him and a few other younger men on the mountain to help me out…I’m smart enough to know I’ve got limitations.

    Building bridges now…hope I never have to cross those bridges…but they will be there if I need them.

    1. Dennis,
      Maybe get him interested in doing the ham thing, as well as the gmrs. It would benefit ALL the like-minded folks to have at least one ham in the mix. If there is a group of you, maybe a collection for one good radio??? Options, always options. Better to have ’em than not have ’em. Though there’s nothing difficult about it, the rewards are far more than I ever envisioned. Things I hadn’t even considered before getting involved. Just a thought.

    2. Dennis
      That’s called, Level 4 preparations. People on the same page. Your not afraid to talk tp them about preparing. Knowing we will all need help. sooner or later.

      Well done my Friend, well done.

  8. Nighttime. Put your head down, and shoot anything that moves. Gonna be a different world.

  9. Speaking of Meth, a neighborhood grocery store in my city is opposite a school and next to an apartment building with mostly retired people, thus two at risk populations. Several employees of the grocery store along with some truck drivers delivering food were charged in two large drug busts trafficking at the kilogram level. Meth was one of the drugs seized. One of the store employees charged with trafficking was taking a college program in addictions. Totally unbelievable, age range 30s to 60s.

  10. Lachlan, re “How will we make contact, let alone form a community when other survivors are far away, when mistrust became a norm and the last of electronics stop working?” Your question seems to include your answers. When? Not then; do it now. Check out your local vicinity. Get to know your neighbors. Develop a knowledge base of local resources. Find or create your mutual assistance group before it’s needed. Do it while we have the ease that our technological tools provide. Live the preparedness lifestyle.

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