Homestead Evaluation Criteria

Homestead Evaluation Criteria

Yesterday we introduced some of the Jackson family’s ideas about Finding Your Prepper Homestead.  Today we’re going to cover the homestead evaluation criteria we developed as we searched for The Hermitage in the hopes that it helps you develop your own evaluation criteria as you look for the perfect place for your family to live, survive and thrive.  We call our full time retreat The Hermitage but the goal isn’t to leave society but to have a safe place to live within society before, during and after local, national or international societal upheavals or natural disasters that also provides for as many of our needs as possible.  Below is the criteria I developed to help us choose The Hermitage and I hope that it helps you in evaluating your prepper homestead as well.

Full Spectrum Preparedness OverviewLike most preparedness topics we eventually approached the selection of a homestead/full time retreat using the Full Spectrum Preparedness Doctrine’s (FSP) fundamentals…wish I’d developed FSP much and taken that approach much earlier and we’d have found our home in a fraction of the time.

Evaluation Criteria for The Hermitage


  • Safety:  A place we could feel safe.  Today and during any conceivable tomorrow.
  • Perimeter Security:  Fenced to deter casual trespassers and gated or gate-able to control high speed avenues of approach.
  • Hardened:  I preferred an Earth contact or masonry home but this is an area we were willing to compromise on to achieve other goals and maintain marital bliss.
  • Discreet:  We preferred a home, home site and outbuildings that were not easily noticed from the road or adjoining properties.
  • Off the beaten path but not excessively remote (see Health, Transportation, Financial & Family and Community goals below).


  • Fire safe:  Metal roof, non-flammable siding, set back from surrounding brush, etc.
  • Flood safe:  Above the 100 year flood plain with good drainage that doesn’t require a sump pump.
  • Good Storage:  Preppers tend to require more storage than the typical household and useable outbuildings would be a tremendous benefit.
  • Basement or Tornado Shelter:  Living in the Midwest this always a concern.
  • Guest House or Secondary Dwelling:  Not required but would be a ‘plus.’
  • Alternative Energy:  An existing system would be nice but the ability to develop solar, wind and/or hydro power is also desirable.
  • Multi-fuel Heating:  The more heating options the better with at least the ability to develop a wood heat option.
  • Energy:  Serviced by utilities even if no home currently present due to the excessive cost of running electrical lines long distances.
  • Shooting:  Outside city limits so that I can practice shooting.

Health & Medical

  • Within a Half Hour Drive of a Level 1 Trauma Center:  Because stuff happens and time isn’t just money, it can also be life and limb.
  • Within 15 Minute Drive of a Primary Care Clinic:  Preventive care is important especially as Preppers begin to reach a certain age.
  • Grinder Pump Free with a Functioning Septic System:  A sanitary system not reliant on anything but gravity to function.


  • Driveway Served By All Weather Road:  Because I want to be able to get home and to work even in the dead of winter.
  • At Least 2 Ways In & Out:  There are a number of otherwise suitable properties that we looked at which were flooded in several times during the year.  A train wreck, auto crash, road construction or flood shouldn’t keep you from getting to work, the hospital, the doctor or a friend in need.
  • Close To Work:  Within 20 minutes of work


  • High Speed Internet:  Affordable high speed internet service.
  • Cell Phone Service:  As attractive as living outside the cell phone service area is there are professional and personal reasons to have working cell phone service at the retreat…and it means we don’t have to pay for a land line.


  • Maintain Income:  Proximity to work.  See Transportation above.
  • New Income:  Ability to develop additional steams of income from farming, logging, mineral rights, CRP payments, etc.
  • Affordable:  Able to purchase the home within our planned housing budget.
  • Loanable:  Property that a local bank is willing to loan money on.


  • Huntable:  Presence of large and small game for hunting.
  • Fishable:  Presence of or ability to develop a fishing pond or lake.
  • Farmable:  We wanted a property which we could develop using permaculture techniques.


  • Municipal or Rural Water:  Serviced by municipal or rural water.
  • Surface Water:  Year round creek, pond or lake within 1,000 feet of home or home site.
  • Subsurface Water:  Working well within 1,000 feet of home or home site.
  • Water Harvesting:  Existing or capable of easily installing a rainwater harvest system…metal roof on at least one building and existing gutters are a plus.

Family & Community

  • Church:  Within 15 minutes of church.
  • Family:  Within 1 hour of key family members.
  • Friends:  Within our existing social network’s geographic footprint.
  • Wife:  No matter how perfect a potential homestead is…if it doesn’t make the wife happy than it’s a non-starter.


  • Lifestyle:  The house must meet our lifestyle needs.  For instance we wanted a smaller home than we currently had, room to entertain up to 6 people inside and dozens outside while also allowing the wife and I to each have our own hobby space.
  • Vision:  We can picture ourselves living there and being happy.
  • Recreation:  A home and land that allows us to pursue our hobby and recreational activities.

Final Thoughts

Evaluating you and your family’s needs and desires is the key finding the right Prepper homestead or retreat.  By creating evaluation criteria to search for and assess potential properties you’ll be much more likely to find your property because you will maintain an open mind rather than picturing the ‘perfect homestead’ and looking for a real property to match the one you hold in your mind’s eye.  When searching for The Hermitage we anticipated that we’d end up with an old house with good outbuildings and would have to expand or rebuild the home…when we found our property it turned out that the house was easily livable but the outbuildings needed to be built and/or moved in.  Because we were open minded we also ended up with about three times the land we anticipated buying and it was much closer to town, work, family and friends.  The tradeoff was that we had to do a lot of trash hauling and clean-up from the previous owners but we’re happy with the results so far.  Good luck developing your own homestead evaluation criteria and finding your own Prepper homestead or retreat.


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