More Important Than Preps And Skills…


Truly, your ability to survive in a world that has been turned upside-down — a world which has been thrown into severe hardship and social chaos — a world in which the ‘wheels have come off’ — a SHTF world, will to a large extent, depend upon your proximity to the this…


Population Density

Life existing within today’s modern civilization, is a life which is in all probability, ENTIRELY dependent upon a complicated and fragile set of systems, and is a life which exists precariously close to the edge of a very steep cliff (although most people don’t see it or know it).

As has been written here many times before, our cushy existence depends upon many systems coming together in synchronicity to provide us not only with our life’s luxuries, but even our most basic needs for survival. Think about it. Most of us would literally die without these basic needs being available for us every day (grocery store food, electricity, clean running water, our jobs, security, etc.). We take it for granted.

As our world grows in population, as our energy sources are consumed, as more strain is put upon the (debt based) financial systems that have enabled the apparent growth of our modern civilization, many of us have recognized the systemic risks and dangers which we face together, and are doing the best we can to prepare for a time when life may not be so pleasant and luxurious as today – a time in which there may be partial or total collapse.

In fact, life as we know it could turn downright awful.

You’ve probably heard this before, but desperate people do desperate things. During a systemic SHTF collapse your preps could be stolen by gangs who will rule the cities. ALL of your things, your security, will be at high risk due to the simple fact that there will be large numbers of desperate people all around you – many of them hoping for government rescue while many others will be starving and angry, and will be turning to desperate and dangerous means to survive. There is always a bad element, but during collapse it will be greatly magnified.

Consider the population density of where you live.
(Please read that sentence again)

While no man is an island, and no man can truly make it on his own (except for a very rare few), during a time of social chaos and collapse when the luxuries of today have vanished from the population at large, there will be power in numbers. This is both good, and bad. For the right people with the right preps and skills, and if you have the right ‘group’, you stand a better overall chance of a more comfortable survival. But there will also be bad groups – those who have not prepared and those who will be willing to fight and steal from others.

The common denominator will be population density. It may be difficult to ‘make it’ in a population dense region. It’s possible of course, but will require planning for it.

It stands to reason that the higher the population density, the higher the probability of danger in a time gone bad.

On that note, I have copied a population density map from of the United States – by County, which illustrates your region where you live. Have a look…

Do you live in an area where there are 250 or more people per square mile (red)? Or close by? If you do, this is a worst case scenario for you, and one you had better seriously address in your planning.

If you live within the 50-250 people per square mile density (orange), you are at similar risk unless you live near the ’50’ end of the scale. However it is likely that you could be overrun by danger from the red zone next door.

It seems to me that the 10-50 people per square mile density (yellow) is desirable, provided that you have enough support via your preps, skills, and a minimal infrastructure.

The least dense zone, less than 10 people per square mile (beige), will certainly require that you have the ability to make it on your own to a large extent. While these regions will provide the most distance between you and the Zombie hoards or roving gangs, you will also be at risk in other ways by being very alone with little support infrastructure around you.

U.S. Population Density (by Counties)


If you live in the red zone, or even the orange zone, your best long term solution (prior to SHTF) for survivability will be to move to the yellow zone. If that is not possible, then you may consider a bugout plan to a yellow zone location where you’ve established an agreement with someone you know living there, or have your own bugout retreat there ready-to-go.

While it may seem like there’s little likelihood that things will ever get so bad that the red/orange zones will become dangerous places to live, don’t let your normalcy bias get in the way of critical thinking. Don’t assume that you could not get a job in the yellow zone and therefore an excuse not to move, etc. Perhaps you could choose to pull back your high-cost lifestyle and live a simpler life out of the red zone…

You could choose to stop thinking about the reasons why you “can’t” move, and start thinking about the “can do” things which will eventually help you move. If you want to badly enough, you WILL find a way. You may have to give up some things in your red/orange-zone life, but you will gain other things in your yellow-zone life.

While there’s more to it (survival and preparedness) than simply population density, it is a very important consideration and it’s something to think about. I thought that this map would be useful for some of you to examine where you live, and to be aware of how many people are around you.


  1. I don’t disagree. This is absolutely correct. But what isn’t said is that if it gets so bad that all population centers are ruled by gangs and there is no law and people are being killed and abused by the tens of thousands then where do you think everyone will try to get to? It would be a mistake to assume that gang members, common citizens and virtually everyone doesn’t know that the rural and unpopulated areas of the country will be safer and offer more opportunity to survive. By the time it gets to the point were millions of people are fleeing the cities they will have been desensitized to violence and in dire need of food and necessities and ready and willing to take what they need. In other words it will be the zombie movies in reality.

  2. Those of us in the beige also own a lot more firearms and ammo then those in the red.

    1. Don’t count on that. I live in an orange area completely surrounded by red. However some people that I know that live in the red have enough firearms and ammo to arm a small army.

      1. Agreed. I’m knocking on the door to a red zone in the worst area of the country and I could arm my block if need be. :)

  3. Ken and all,

    I’d be interested to hear your opinion on being 40 miles from the start of the red area and about 5 miles from a yellow area. Are we still okay? We have a decent self-sufficient property started. We are 60 miles from the nearest metropolitan area and are in prime agricultural land, and very large rivers (like the Mississippi) would have to be crossed to get to our county. Thanks everyone, this website is a wonderful source of information!

  4. We used to live in Redondo Beach Ca,until 2007. When the Rodney King riot happened I sequestered all my hospital staff since all the freeways were compromised. The National Guards M16 ammos were 300 miles North. I had various LEO’s stayed at the hospital since they were undermanned and lacked specific orders from superiors.
    Now we lived in the Texas Hills country since 2007 which is part yellow. To be relatively safe from the horde only two things can provide one a modicum of survival:
    Have a Platoon size US Marine that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan or live in a very remote area, such as Terlinqua in West Texas.

  5. Depending on the scenario and topography, 20 miles away could be enough. Our rural area is only accessible by a few bridges. These bridges are already off the beaten path and may go unnoticed altogether. They could also be barricaded or destroyed. Finally, many…. not all, but many city dwellers that I know are fearful of the country side. Most are ill prepared. They will sit and wait like Katrina or go where they are told. Then they will loot, riot and pillage. Most will be dead by the time they realize they need to leave. The ones who have already left will have been the ones smart enough to know what is coming. They will not initially be a threat, until they realize they are only welcome if they have skills to offer.

  6. Up in the Adirondak mountains people live a simple life . Most of my friends are self sufficient and the people I know are constantly preparing for whatever. The world is so messed up that the only thing that can save it is a total loss of the world’s power grid No bombs no pollution no invasions. Lets get back to basics.

  7. Socal is definately red but to the east of us is definately not orange, more like light yellow- it is desert, the harshest environment to survife but definately not a lot of people, great place to hideout if well prepared. Anyway u have it as orange which it is not.

    1. The resolution (of the colors vs. density) is not high resolution. It simply takes into account the population per county. The orange areas there may be closer to the 50 rather than the 250 per sq. mile (the range within the orange color).

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