Rehab A SHTF Prep Shack

When I was a kid growing up in Southeast Missouri, my dad bought a lot at Kentucky Lake outside of Murray, Ky.   We started Bug Out House SHTFcamping there in a big tent then later dad traded an airplane for a house trailer and boat from a manufacturer in Elkhart, Indiana.  That’s another whole story for another day.  The boat riding, skiing and fishing was great.  Anyway on the drives over to the lake in the back seat of the old sedan we would always pass by numerous old ramshackle shacks falling in to the point of total disrepair.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Dad would always say, “Hey, now there is a fixer-upper if I ever saw one.”   We would then begin a long discussion of what we could do to the old house to make it livable.  It sure did pass the time on the long, hot drives to our lake campout site.  This got me to thinking recently when I passed by an old rundown shack like the ones we used to spot on our way to the lake.   Maybe preppers could acquire such a property for an escape bug out location.  What would it take to get such an old place back in decent shape to create an alternative site to outlast a SHTF situation?

Conduct a Bug Out Shack Search

For many preppers around the country finding a good “fix it up” house, barn or other structure on a piece of land might be easier survival shtf housesaid than done.  It is certainly going to take some dedicated research to locate just the right place for just the right deal.  Those living in more rural small towns or mid-sized cities can often escape to the country easier than those living in huge metro complexes.  Still finding a little piece of land with an existing structure can be done.  Start by studying the web sites of real estate agents in prospective targeted areas.  Eventually plan to visit these areas for a firsthand inspection.  If there are farm or rural newspapers available in your region, these often list such properties for sale or even rent/lease or lease to buy.   You just have to start the process and be prepared to make your move when the offer is right.

Points of Access

Wherever you buy or locate a potential bug out spot, determine your own comfort levels with how easy, difficult, open, or hidden bug out housethe access points are to the property.  Where are neighbors located, essential services, supply outlets availability, utilities, water service, and other critical issues to consider for a secondary SHTF residence?   There are many factors to take into consideration when selecting a potential bug out shack.

Also Read: Campground Bug Out Location

Even with a prepper bug out shack the bottom line is still location, location, location.  What that means for preppers is the degree of relative security for the area.  A bug out shack does not have to be at the end of a long gravel road lost out in the country somewhere.  It just has to have potential for some elements of security, isolation, and protection considerations.  Avoid buying something that sits right on a highway or even a rural road in plain view of the public passing by.  It would be best to have a house out of sight down a driveway where a sturdy locked gate could be erected.  Again, ideally the lot would be wooded.  This could not only be a source of firewood for the house for heat or cooking but also a habitat for game that could be harvested for food.

Related: 4 Types of Bug Out Camps

A prime property would have established trails or ones easy to make as well as observation points to the outside.  If things really go down the tube, then marauders will be out searching for anything they can steal (heck, they do that now).  Don’t make it easy for them to simply drive up to the front door and bust it down.  Seclusion and security will be paramount.

The Austere Approach

Your SHTF bug out shack need not have all the elements of refinement like your primary residence probably has.  You might be Best Bug Out Houselucky to get electrical power, good water, and sewer or a septic tank.  If not, then preppers can certainly improvise what they perceive as their most necessary needs.  Power can be supplied via gasoline generators, water wells can be created, and an old fashioned outhouse can be built as well.  During a SHTF event, prepper-survivalists may have to live by wood heat, candle lights, and other very basic living conditions.  These are just circumstances that preppers need to be prepared for whether bugging out or in.

Fix Up Skills

I can do a lot of damage with a hammer.  If you do decide to buy a self-fix it up place, survival_shtf_teotwawki_food_storageyou’ll need carpentry or home repair skills for sure or a team member that has them.  You might have to do roofing work, inside flooring or walls, plumbing repairs or many other repair tasks.  Remember to have the proper tools purchased, too.  Besides buying or leasing an existing structure do a pre-deal assessment of the work needed to make any potential shack inhabitable and as comfortable as possible.  This expense may be more than an RV or a large camping trailer.  Keep all your options open.  If you do not possess the skills necessary to rehab a place, then don’t take on more than you can handle or afford.  Dreams are dreams, but don’t be foolish in the face of reality.

So, this is just one more option to consider for a suitable bug out domicile.  It does not have to be a castle, but it has to be sound, secure, and livable.  It may not have or ever have all the ideal amenities, but then improvements and enhancements can be done along the way, too.  If you are definitely leaning toward a bug out to an alternative site then consider the search for a SHTF prep shack.  It may just be the option you are looking for.

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12 comments… add one
  • Doc Montana April 27, 2016, 9:55 am

    Nice read John.

    Around here we have realitors who specialize in bug out property. The land goes by the softer name “retreat property” but the use is the same. And when discussing that particular type of real estate with the professionals, the term bug out is appropriate as long as you understand that all financial transactions will be most decidedly pre-bug out.

    As the owner of a retreat property literally at the end of a long gravel road, I can attest to you that there are many folks out there, let’s call them mauraders, who also monitor the real estate listings for a similar purpose except without the baggage of titles, deeds, and the exchange of any money. If you catch my drift.

  • Karen April 30, 2016, 10:21 am

    Very well written and thought out . . I have considered this option and can offer the tip that you can find many such properties available for a song from your local tax sale list. You’d be amazed what is in that sale book!!

  • irishdutchuncle April 30, 2016, 2:12 pm

    darn. dreams were all I had room left over for in our budget.

    • irishdutchuncle May 2, 2016, 3:26 am

      one thing that I worry about is the previous owner.

      if at all possible, they should be ecstatic that you have taken that property off their hands, and will not be resentful about it later, after SHTF.

      • irishdutchuncle May 7, 2016, 6:28 am

        …another thing to worry about is termites.

  • BamaMan May 5, 2016, 10:07 am

    I am torn on the idea. Personally i think a group of four or five “shacks” with like minded friends, long term friends, is the way to go. Leaving a populated area and going to zero population is hard enough to supply yourself and in reality you are basically defenseless.

    • irishdutchuncle May 13, 2016, 4:29 am

      these are pretty common, actually. up here we call them
      “55-plus” communities…

  • Elise June 22, 2016, 10:29 am

    in look at a specialize in bug out property, take a very good look at water! The water may not be very good even in Montana! I live in Montana.

  • Michael Smith July 18, 2016, 2:50 pm

    I’ve been considering this since I read the book Patriots.
    It sounds sort of romantic I suppose, but if it were a ban where the military or NATO gets involved, I think it is just that a romantic day dream. After the city folk have been rounded up and sent to camp, a gun ship or drone wouldn’t have to worry about you for collateral damage out by your lonesome, just a quick fly over and your shack would be s&%&!
    Reality sets in. Unless the U.S. military joins the ranks of liberty, well the big boys got all the big toys.

  • JF August 16, 2016, 5:21 am

    Folks may want to consider looking at a few of the “Tiny House” websites or TV shows. Especially interesting to me were the shipping container conversions. Our family cabin was broken into regularly when I was a kid. There was a hunting cabin built by someone with the same issue, no windows or doors except for when the shipping container’s doors were unlocked. If you don’t mind sifting through the granola these guys have some decent designs & ideas to leverage.

  • DR in TN April 6, 2018, 5:30 pm

    The shack search is a good idea, but if you’re not local you need to use extreme caution. How about the other side of the coin. Once a survival retreat owner has a homestead established and has been living the off grid life, they realize that age has caught up with them and off grid living is becoming way harder than they remember when they were just 50! It’s a unique opportunity for the smart young prepper family who may not have a big bankroll. Offer to hire on at the retreat and do chores for the owners in exchange for a stipend and/or a future piece of the acreage. A mutual aid situation. You can learn more at Point is…very few of us consider an age-related exit strategy when we embark on the off-grid homestead lifestyle.


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