Washington State Prepper Profile – Thoughts Wanted

So you’re wondering if you won the 90 Serving Supply of Dehydrated Survival Food. Well rest assured, you didn’t … not unless your name is No ME Preppy! No, I’m not playing favoritism to Maine residents. In fact, it’s the first Mainah to win a prize here. I just count up the number of legit comments and go over to random.org for a random number.

Contact me, No ME.

Thanks to everyone that entered.


Readers, often newer readers, contact me once in a while asking for advice on their particular preparedness/survival scenario. Sometimes their questions are precise, other times they’re more open ended and general. Sometimes I ask their permission to use their scenario as part of a blog post, as part of a …. PREPPER – PROFILE!

Yeah, baby.

Today’s Prepper Profile comes to us straight outta …. THIS STATE:

Random Washington State Anonymous and Aspiring Survival Samurai writes:

I am a new prepper and I find your blog invaluable. We have a 6 month food supply and my hubs handles all the guns and ammo (I don’t know how much we have, but it’s a lot). We recently moved to the country with our two young children.

We are renting a home in a small retirement/summer vacation community. About 10 miles away there is a city filled with people living off of food stamps and lots of government handouts. Half the population are migrant workers from another country. They come and go, but several thousand stay throughout the year. There is a real difference between rich and poor in these two communities: the city and the retirement community.

Should we live in the community of which we have several good friends with similar thoughts of SHTF or move out to a 5 acre lot much more isolated?

People are either young, wealthy and ill prepared (the seasonal folks) or are extremely prepared, but old (the year-rounders). The retirement community is less than a 10 minute walk away from the river while the 5 acres are several miles away from a natural water source. The 5 acres is closer to the city. The retirement community is farther away, but everyone knows there is wealth in there. In the retirement community we are not allowed chickens, but we can have a garden whereas the 5 acres we could have and grow pretty much anything. One last note, hypothetically speaking, say one member of the family works in law enforcement and routinely arrests within the communities.

Thanks for the comment, Random Washington State Anonymous and Aspiring Survival Samurai. Your question is not an easy one to answer, and it’s why I’ve brought it to the SHTF Blog reading masses, to help me help, to help .. wait for it .. each other – “Awwww! Group hug everyone!”

*bear hug*

I guess my first question would what is it you’re planning to prepare for? Based on how you’ve structured the question, I’m inclined to think you’re asking about a “true” survival type scenario where unprepared city dwelling zombies invade the countryside looking for whatever they can get to help them survive – yes? If I operate from that perspective, I’m inclined to favor the 5 acre parcel. I say that only because you can then have more liberties in terms of what you can grow/keep on your land. You’d also not be part of what will clearly be a targeted community WTSHTF.

Being more isolated has its pros and cons, however. A more isolated 5 acre parcel of land with a nice garden and chickens near a large, unprepared city won’t be isolated for long. Without an ability to rally people around you when the zombies invade, you’d have a hard time making a go of it unless you and your family could just *poof* up and disappear, go underground for 6 months or something. If you have like-minded people where you’re living in the retirement community, that could go a long ways. You could then collectively prepareHolding Your Ground style.

I’m probably not answering your question very well. There are other ways to think about it. What scenario puts more monthly money in your pocket to increase savings or reduce debt? What location makes you feel happier? What feels right from a non-prepper perspective?

What do others think?

– Ranger Man

16 comments… add one
  • Odd Questioner September 7, 2011, 9:50 am

    Hello from slightly south of there! (near PDX :) )

    A few thoughts… mind you, just opinion:

    * I’m not 100% sure where in Washington she lives, but: East or West of the state? Believe it or not, this makes a *huge* difference – Eastern WA is often as dry as a bone, desert-like, and water becomes a huge hassle/headache there. Western WA on the other hand has more rain and water than you can shake anything at. This radical difference in rainfall means there will be differences in growing food, getting fresh water (digging a shallow well by hand vs. having a pro sink a really deep one before SHTF), and population (things tend to be a bit more sparse in the country as you go east).

    * If that 5-acre parcel is in Pierce County, IMHO forget it. The whole damned county would become Zombieville in very short order. Same with the Vancouver area (The southern one across from Portland, not the BC one). The fact that Pierce is on COPS half the time is evidence enough, no? :)

    * Ditto for SeaTac (King County) and around the Sound, but for a different reason: population is too frickin’ enormous. Good news there though, is that most of them would try to high-tail it for Vancouver BC.

    * Personally, I’m trying to put some distance between myself and PDX down here, but I have to keep it within roughly an hour’s drive, or between 60-80 miles away from metro. But the reason why may be somethign you’ll have to consider: That should be enough distance to keep the zombies at bay, but still close enough to get to work a couple days a week (I can telecommute), or even drive it five days a week if necessary (my econobox car gets 32mpg means it would cost $30 at $5/gal to drive the 160 mi round trip. Don’t ask about the Jeep … that beast would eat all the gas and demand more :) ).

    * Here’s a thought – why not sell the acreage near the big city, buy some cheaper acreage to your liking further out, and use the profits/difference to improve the preps?

    * Whatever you decide, do it within the next couple of years. :)

    • Jim H September 7, 2011, 12:56 pm

      Really, there are only two considerable options:

      1. Mild economic depression
      2. Zombied Apocalypse.

      Who was it that said “Plan for the Worst, expect the best”… dunno, but planning for one definitely sets you up for the other, planning for optimism is a no-win.

      Stay where you are.

      The 5 acre parcel always SOUNDS like a great idea, but without a neighbor support system, you’re like a lamb in the middle of a field of coyotes. yeah, the lamb may have a fully loaded FAL, but the lamb has to sleep sometime.

      the biggest problem you face is manpower in a ZA (zombie apocalypse). When working on any particular thing you might notice that you tend to concentrate on it, it SOUNDS reasonable that while pulling weeds you can scout about for zombies, but the truth of the matter is that they’ll sneak up on you – it’s just what zombies DO.

      Being part of a “community” has benefits you can harvest, especially a community full of whining senior citizens who seem to get MORE government attention that your standard citizen.

      Use your time in the community to obtain skills that you do not have now. Gardening is HARD WORK, not just physically, but planning and excuting a garden not only takes time – but the learning curve is slow – it may take up to three years before you get the soil in a particular garden up to snuff to support plant life. Just when you think you have the answers, something new will zap you – gain all that experience NOW when a failure wont set you back so far. Now is the time to educate yourselves. You mentioned your hubby doing the gun thing and you knowing little about it – that needs to change. He probably don’t know nuthin’ bout birthin’ no babies either. Point is that there are training classes put on by lots of agencies and non-profits that will give you the skills to utilize a five acre plot more efficiently.

      IF you can, I would buy the plot now and do minimal improvements, improve the soil where you plan to garden (spread gigantic amounts of horse manure). Drill a water well and install it in a pumphouse. Improve the fencing. Stockpile certain raw materials, like large river rock and 2inch steel tubing. Until you’ve had wildlife eat your chickens or goats you wont appreciate a steel tube enclosure (yes, the ceiling too).

      learn to weld, learn masonry, get in touch with the local mormons and learn to can, LEARN things before you plunge into a money pit. First-responder classes may be a slight waste in terms of training, but they put you in an information loop that MIGHT give you warning and certainly WILL get you a pass that can get you through roadblocks and the like if things go ugly.

      Get your children through the “optional” stuff, like wisdom teeth – at the FIRST potential sign of appendicitis, insist on removal – find a doctor that understands you’re doing this in case medical services become unavailable. Appendicitis if you can’t get surgery is DEATH sentence. Vaccinate yourself again. Find new clothing and break boots in.

      SAVE MONEY. At this point buying and keeping silver is not as important as other things, unless your income warrants it.

      There are SO MANY things you need to do before going country it’s not even funny. The world is full of stories of families that move into a remote area, but have such a tough time of it they might as well have stayed in the city because they’re always going there to get things and do things.

      Before astronauts go to space, they train for every conceivable problem. Once there they are all they have, and once on your farm YOU will be all your family has – you have an obligation to be everything you might need to be. NOW is the time to train, while you have the leisure.

  • sput September 7, 2011, 2:24 pm

    Don’t discount the value of the old prepared folks. They are the ones who would teach you the skills you need should TSHTF. And round out your preps, the stuff you haven’t even thought of. Young newbies with 2 small kids on five acres won’t last long, unless you have several years to really prepare, and recruit a good team to cover your butts. You need to increase your food supply to a year or you will starve in month 7.

    • Jim H September 7, 2011, 3:15 pm

      By FAR the majority of old folk have no prep, no prep intention and no idea what it takes to survive alone. The depression era “old folks” are nearly all passed away – leaving the baby boomers and those born after WWII. Equipment and tools are nearly all cheap stuff.

      I work near a few very large retirement communities, I have opportunity to enter a lot of their homes – by this point in their lives they’ve done the “get rid of things” phase of their lives. The vast majority near any urban center are all retired workers (for someone else). I’ve yet to meet a retired farmer who chose to move to an urban center. IMO, there are few skills in a senior community that would be of use outside of a will to win or work – and few of those who would have the will to work, are able to.

      I’m getting older all the time, not young anymore, and those around me getting old with me don’t give me much hope. Yeah, sure old people are “cool” but they’re not made of the stuff of the WWII/depression era people, for the most part they lived from the 50’s through the 90’s in relative comfort.

      It’s my considered opinion that old folks that have any prep skills have chosen to NOT inhabit senior citizen communities, the older people I know that I’d trust to contribute to any prep/survival effort live independently and plan to die that way.

      • Odd Questioner September 7, 2011, 5:07 pm

        There’s a solid point here.

        The baby-boomers/hippie/hard-left of the 1960’s are just now entering retirement, applying for Social Security, and the like. Most of these folk have never learned to do on their own (with few notable exceptions – e.g. the folks who live by the likes of The Mother Earth News). Most of these people have grown up, as stated, in comfort and in plenty. Very, very few of them have had to go without. Most of them feel the government ‘owes’ them something, and the government goes out of its way to insure they continue to feel that way.

        Sorry, but that saying back in the 1960’s that went “never trust anyone over 30” should apply to the very same people who were chanting it back then.

        • Michael September 7, 2011, 9:09 pm

          “that saying back in the 1960′s that went “never trust anyone over 30″ should apply to the very same people who were chanting it back then.”


  • Steelheart September 7, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Since the 5 acre parcel is towards the City I would not consider it a likely option. The distance is too short for comfort. IF some sort of “event” happens you’re within reasonable walking distance for anyone who chooses to flee or just go out to cause trouble. I agree with the idea of selling it and purchasing something farther out.

    Living in the community of relative wealth isn’t a great option but it’s much better than the acreage. With a bunch of old timers around you’ve got much better odds.

    I also agree with the above idea that you NEED to learn the functional aspects of firearms to include having your own (even if hubby pays for them, lol). You don’t need to know all the details but you must be able to use one if required.


  • noisynick September 7, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Coming from the country I would tell you to opt for that option. It will take sometime to get established whichever way you decide. to build friendships and relationships to support one another in tough times…..
    There are so many things to address in the scenarioos your talking about.
    WTSHTF if its a national or global type thing it will move fairly fast or will fizzle out the fizzling is what you hope for. Remember those coming to plunder you in the country aren’t country folks, hiding in plain sight might be easy for someone who is familair with there AO. Also you will have some advantage to plunder them they won’t come totally empty handed although what they bring may be of little use.
    Training is very valuable skills that might often be overlooked will become very valuable to you for example filing a saw, to cut wood be it a chainsaw or a crosscut or an axe having a file for these skills and usin g it will make your life easier and you will be able to cook and stay warm.
    Hunting and trapping skills for small game without firearms, primitive weaponry skills, when your out of bullets a gun is nothing short of a club and not that good of one really.
    Making ropes and lines from natural materials often frogotten skill but quite handy if you need to pull water from a well.
    Learn to replenish your supplies thru gardening or become a hunter gatherer, indigenous people to that area 1oo plus year ago learn some of what they knew on survival skills they had many and had few modern tools.
    Become independent of everything and everyone that you can. Become that rugged individual dependent only on yourself and immediate family.
    Americans be came Great becasue of there rugged individualism and built a wonderfull country. Our survival is based on choices built around individual needs and desires we have it in us to be that way, you do as well.
    Allow your mind to work these things and all your questions will be answered don’t be a follower act independently and you and your family will survive and even prosper what ever comes…………

  • pinktlb September 7, 2011, 3:26 pm

    I agree with Steelheart. I live in a small retirement area (I bought my retirement home early, because my mom lives there and has been sick) On their Bingo night, I think I am going to spearhead a “starter” discussion on “what if”? scenarios and maybe getting these people to start thinking and I know it will be better to stay there and we could survive together, because they have no options and we do live out in the boonies, and also, older people are wiser and have much more knowledge and about how to live off the land, because most had to back in the day. It is a small community of about 30 houses, with a large creek running beside of it and it is about 1 hour from a any city. Sometimes the best options are the ones you are given. With some organization and pre-planning and finding out who knows what, you will be surprised that you are around people who know alot more that you.

  • Michael September 7, 2011, 4:04 pm

    In most of E. WA I wouldn’t feel comfortable without a solar powered well with good access to water. In W. WA you could go with a catchment/cistern system using your roof. A retirement community might frown on solar panels and you’re stuck using whatever water and sewer system they provide.
    before going with the retirement community I’d ask about:
    How water and sewer are handled?
    Could you put up solar panels?
    Could you put up a clothes line?
    Can you have a wood stove?
    What level of vacancy can they have and still afford to keep the place up and meet all their obligations? You might end up living in a slum or having bigger and bigger home owners association fees.

    If the retirement place can be run in a low/no power situation it might do OK. If your sewer system is going to back up without 24/7 access to power, your looking at wide spread dysentery and the like. Ick.

    Rivers are easily contaminated and a good way to travel from point to point. I’d stay away from them and not rely on them for drinking water.

    I’d echo Odd Q. comments about the Puget Sound basin, I’m in the process of moving out of it. Too many people, too little farmland.

  • Michael September 7, 2011, 4:47 pm

    Ooo… One last thing. We have a few “retirement communities” that are in scenic area’s that wouldn’t make very good TEOTWAWKI/Peak Oil/World Made By Hand/ because they’re high up in the Cascade Mountains. Cold winters with lots of snow, short growing seasons, and poor soils. That would be a bad choice. I’d say if you’re in central WA (I’m guessing you are) and you’re higher than Cle Elum (1,913 Ft) you’re probably too high.

    Regardless of where you’re at, I’d check the soils and growing season.

  • Jason September 7, 2011, 6:58 pm

    Congrats No Me Preppy!!

  • backwoodskidd September 7, 2011, 8:33 pm

    Hope you don’t mind a few comments from backeast. My parents grew up during the depression and i learned to garden and can at a young age and continue today. Seniors have a wealth of information on how to get through hard times, especially those that grew up in the country. Unfortunetly now they are just an unrespected mark for preditor zombies. Please learn to shoot. I know you said hubby will protect you but you need to learn to be able to protect youself. You will ease hubby’s mind if he knows you can shoot…. And think about it, someday you can say ” I got your back” and rack a round! I also share that hypothetical situation of being in law enforcement and being from a small state, De, I have run into those zombies that have been behind bars many times. Now it’s all about being pepared and IPC skills. When things fall apart, there might be a different response. I would be looking for another like minded family to pair up with. Safety in numbers will never be truer than with TSHTF. Take care, be safe and keep on prepping. :)

  • gat31 September 7, 2011, 10:13 pm

    As a person living in a state surrounded by retirement communities, l would say get on the acreage. Once you are in a “community” you are subjected to all their rules and everyone into your business. I think you could find ways to glean information from them without living with them.
    However, like others, l would definitely check on the soil and water available with the acreage. Having the ability to have a garden, chickens, farm animals, etc are always better to long term survival. If you’re concerned about the “zombies” pshtf, maybe you can approach it differently. One, learn to shoot and be prepared to do so if necessary.
    Two, maybe make 2 gardens. one for you and your family near your home, and then maybe a second one closer to your edge of the property for “zombies”. This second garden could benefit neighbors (good way to meet people is with a basket full of fresh veggies) and even maybe get local kids to help you with it. I think if l was a “zombie” l would much rather get a few veggies to feed my family with, then a body full of lead.
    Now l don’t know what kind of area and what kind of people you will be dealing with, but l know l have one child who will starve to death in a house full of food because she would have to turn on the stove. Many people that live with other people providing for them, have no clue how to do for themselves.
    Of course ideally if you could find a piece of land further out of town with a stream or spring then by all means go that way, but land with animal and gardening options are always better than a closed up community with people who are past their prime to help do chores and do without the luxuries that they have grown accustomed to. That’s my 2 cents worth hope it helps.

  • Anonymous ;) September 8, 2011, 8:22 pm

    I’m feeling the *hugs* and thank you for responding to this post! One thing for sure, I am glad we are out of the West side. I am learning to use my personal firearm, though I am terrible at shooting. I think we are going to stay put in the retirement community for now. Jim H, I especially consider zombies as a concern one day so the more people watching the better. Thank you again for the great advice and luckily we have several community friends (several senior citizens, so they aren’t all soft) who still hunt, garden, and can. We actually have some solar paneled buildings around here so I know the association is at least a little bit flexible. In the end, as Odd Questioner mentioned, water is the main issue and the 5 acres would be too far away from the river and too close to the city.

  • Aubryn January 27, 2015, 11:03 pm

    My answer depends on how close to me you are ;) I am on the peninsula. I think you are concerned about the city on the other side of the bridge. Am I right?


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