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The state of Virginia is a natural beauty that is filled with some of the most incredible history of early America, the Revolution and Civil War.
Few states can take you from the peaks of the Appalachian mountains to the beach in a matter of hours. Virginia’s blooming cities are filled with culture and employment.
THE QUESTION: Is Virginia a safe haven for preppers?
The Virginia Prepper’s Guide
State Population: 8,517,685
Land Mass in Square Miles: 39,490.09
Median Household Income: $68,766
Regions: Coastal, Appalachian, and Agricultural
- Nations Capitol
- Coastal Hurricanes
- High Population Civil Unrest
- Nuclear Power Plant
- Military Bases
The Nations Capitol
While not actually Virginia, Washington DC is the nation’s Capitol and is nested in the most populated area of the state. The population of NOVA or Northern Virginia is around 3.5 million. Nearly half of the state’s total population!
To many, NOVA is truly a nightmare.
Along with the high population density you have the president’s home, many top officials, congress in session and important government buildings like the pentagon, all in one area.
Of course, this is a massive threat because it is one of the greatest targets in the nation. Proximity to Washington DC is going to be a concern to any prepper.
The coastal region, and as far inland as Richmond, can be decimated by strong hurricanes. There have been several occasions over the last 40 years where the capital city of Richmond has been flooded and power lost for as long as a week, or more, in some areas.
Hurricane Irene, in 2011, literally transformed me into a prepper. I had a newborn son and the power was out for days, the wind blew for two days straight. I was literally faced with the frailty of essential services and the supply chain.
The storm changed how I looked at hurricanes in the state of Virginia. Hurricanes are a legitimate threat to many of the highly populated areas in the state.
High Population Civil Unrest
With an area like NOVA and 3.5 million people in the nation’s capital, there is a serious risk for high-level civil unrest. Interestingly enough we haven’t seen anything like that.
We are headed for very interesting times.
Even cities like Fredricksburg, Charlottesville (as we have seen) and Richmond have the potential for serious civil unrest. When you talk about dealing with civil unrest in two or three cities, there aren’t enough police to deal with that.
With the 2020 elections on our heels, all preppers are thinking about civil unrest and its effect at home and in the surrounding localities.
This power plant is about an equal distance away from Richmond, Fredricksburg, and Charlottesville. Its nestled on the banks of Lake Anna.
Naturally, any nuclear powerplant has to be considered a threat because of things like earthquakes, terrorism, and even human error.
We have seen very light tremors in Mineral, Virginia which is in the same county as the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant. You can follow this link for reactor status, diagrams, and any other major info on the North Anna Power Plant.
Hampton and Norfolk are studded with military bases. Not to mention we have the coast guard and the bases that surround the capital of the nation.
There are lots of states that have a large collection of military bases. Virginia has some pretty big ones and some major headquarters.
In terms of threats and targets, it’s hard not to consider places like Fort Picket or Quantico.
Resources – Food and Water
Virginia is a state with ample fresh water. There are a number of large tidal rivers that flow deep into the state. Tributaries abound and touch most of the state in one form or another.
Water and your ability to travel so deep into the state had to be one of the reasons Jamestown was settled.
The waters of Virginia are teeming with a variety of fish and its one of the reasons I love this state! I came to the James River for the smallmouth and I was introduced to the blue catfish.
Blue cats are delicious when they are young. They are gluttonous and can reach over 100lbs in Virginia waters. These lakes, ponds and tidal rivers support an array of game fish and most are delicious!
Virginia deer populations are suffering from CWD. Chronic wasting disease is negatively affecting deer populations but they are not the only wild game in the state.
Because of the water sources, there are ample opportunities for waterfowl like geese and ducks.
Small game abounds all over the state and things like squirrel, chipmunks, and fox are plentiful.
There are also bear populations to be hunted and in the far southwest, you can even find invasive pigs starting to take hold. Suburban areas see plenty of raccoon, opossum, and coyote.
Virginia’s number one industry, by a lot, is farming. Agricultural land covers some 8 million acres. Popular crops are corn, peanuts, tobacco, and cotton.
A state with 8 million mouths to feed has tremendous access to water and a variety of food sources. The lands and waters of Virginia are fertile.
Of course, all those square miles of wild game and fish could never sustain 8 million people for the long term. The good news is that most of Virginia is pretty lenient on legislation that promotes growing food and keeping animals of your own!
Major Ports and Highways
Preppers know that roads equal death in a collapse. However, if there is a concerted effort in terms of recovery from the US government or the world governments, that aid will come via ports and highways.
Aid will likely arrive to areas that are open to taking it (i.e. not fallen into total chaos) and provide easy access.
While we shouldn’t be depending on government aid there is something to be said about being near areas where resources can easily be shuttled to and fro.
Virginia was the capital of the confederacy, among other very important things regarding US history. There is a long history of rebellion in this state. That culture runs deep.
As near as I can tell its a culture that appreciates self-reliance and independence. This bodes well for preppers all over the state.
There are some major universities in the state as well, and they have an effect on culture without a doubt. While it’s not completely a negative effect there are many elements in this university culture that are counterintuitive to preppers.
The revitalization of struggling parts of the smaller cities in Virginia has brought a focus on things like art, food, and diversity. These revitalized areas are beautiful and are a step in the right direction.
They often support farmer’s markets and the idea of sustainable and even off-grid living practices.
The state has recently changed from red to blue though that is not always an indicator of a good state for preppers. Virginia, like most places, is changing. In many ways, it’s changing for the better but there are some battles for preppers on the horizon.
The tactical, self dense, concealed carry side of prepping is going to face the brunt of the issues from a growing counter-culture. While the off-grid and the urban homesteading side will be lauded. I hope we find some sort of balance in it all.
How does Virginia size up in terms of laws that favor preppers? Laws that affect our ability to teach our kids, raise our food, protect ourselves and unplug from systems and services we don’t trust are always an important consideration.
Homeschooling is an important part of the equation for many preppers.
For some preppers the ability to live 300+ miles away from major cities is essential and quality of education comes into question. Then again, living in a city could be even worse.
If you have the time to assure your child a quality education, that is big.
One of my son’s friends is homeschooled by his father. Not only is he a smart little guy, but the family also has a collection of materials they use to teach with. They will be able to teach kids and use those materials even if schools are gone in some SHTF scenario.
The legality of homeschooling is coming into question all over the nation. There is a very real desire to control what our kids are taught year over year. It’s a great risk for parents to depend on public school.
Here in Virginia the homeschooling legislation and culture are favorable to preppers and homesteaders.
In 2012 a group called Chickunz was meeting here in Richmond, Virginia.
Their Goal: To change old zoning laws that would allow people to keep backyard hens in the city.
It seemed like a tall order considering the zoning laws were so extreme that almost no one in the city had the land to keep hens of any kind.
As a prepper, I joined Chickunz to further the goal and assure that my kids could one day head out back for eggs rather than into the market.
After several appearances at the city council, the zoning law was changed and permits for backyard hens became available. It was a big deal for Richmond. We can only have 6 laying hens but that makes a world of a difference.
Upon inspection of my chicken coop, by animal control, the man doing the inspecting leaned over and told me something that is a bit of a punchline in this whole story.
“Ya know, you can have a goat without a permit or anything.”
After months of struggle, I had my four hens but we could also get a goat right here in the city, well, that was interesting and worth a laugh.
The surrounding counties are much more lenient on zoning laws for livestock. Places like NOVA are going to be more of a struggle to establish an urban homestead.
Still, most of the state, including its capital city, are open to all aspects of urban homesteading, even beekeeping! My neighbors keep bees 2 doors down.
If the lights go out we find ourselves in a serious survival situation, I will not be engaging every target in my field of vision. Avoiding conflict in most any aggressive physical situation is always your best defense.
Here in Virginia, you are in pretty good hands when it comes to self-defense laws and protecting yourself.
There are two highly controversial pieces of legislation SB16 and SB64 that could radically change that. As a resident, I don’t think these will see the light of day as law but you never know!
The collection of rainwater was a bit controversial a few years ago. Things like composting toilets and off-grid energy production all need to be considered when it comes to Virginia being a state for preppers.
You will need $40 for the permit fee and there is no guarantee you will be able to drill a well on your property but private wells are drilled all over the state. An off-grid water source is a huge bonus.
There are no laws that stand in direct opposition to any of the off-grid living essentials listed above. Of course, highly populated cities and HOA regulations could have an effect on things like the approval of permits or your ability to have the urban homestead you desire.
We cannot assume that any state is perfect or that you can weather the storm of any situation just because you are physically prepared for it. There are threats that can outpace us all and the only option may be to retreat.
Many preppers in Virginia are depending on the mountains between Virginia and West Virginia for their bugout location. West Virginia could be a great place to set up a bugout location or invest in a cabin or survival retreat.
Tennessee would be another great state if you had to escape Virginia to the west. The great smoky mountains are incredible and there are many small towns that surround them.
Whatever you do, don’t run to Maryland in times of chaos.
North Carolina is about the best state on the East Coast for preppers. Having North Carolina to the south is a huge asset for Virginia preppers.
There is only one state I am interested in further south. That state is North Carolina. If we move again, likely not happening, it will be to inland NC!
On the whole, Virginia faces some serious threats under certain circumstances. From a threat analysis standpoint, it is very easy to write VA off as a state that would be too risky for preppers
There is a cultural movement in the well-populated areas that supports the neo pioneering lifestyle of many preppers. However, things like religion and self-defense are under a radical microscope, right now.
Virginia is a state of many natural resources and that is certainly a huge benefit. Its waterways and agricultural areas are probably some of the biggest resources to preppers. Its food and water!
In a nationwide collapse, we know that the state has resources to care for its own.
The northern part of the state is a nightmare. Stay away from that place.
From the standpoint of law as an impediment Virginia is prepared to take in preppers with open arms. There is even proof that laws standing in the way of things like urban homesteading can be questioned and overruled.
While far from a perfect state, Virginia has some serious perks for an east coast prepper. Worst case scenario you have a few great states around if you need to make your personal exodus!