Real estate agents quip that the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. In a lot of ways, this is more true for security than for real estate in general.
Weather and Geology
There are many ways in which Mother Nature can ruin your day:
The presence of each of these items can be, and should be, researched before you choose a location as your home base. Earthquake information can be found at the U.S. Geological Service Earthquake Center. Most of the other events can be researched by searching through old news items.
In addition to these extraordinary events, it is smart to consider simple everyday weather. My wife suffers from Raynaud’s Disease and has had skin cancer twice. As a result, we prioritized living in a warm area without strong sunlight. Every year, thousands of American men suffer heart attacks from shoveling snow. In the European heatwave of 2006, 60,000 elderly people died from lack of proper air conditioning.
It is politically correct to say “people are the same all over”, but it is not very true. If you drop your wallet in Idaho, it will likely be returned to you. If you drop your wallet in Newark, I hope you have a backup.
The FBI publishes Uniform Crime Reports for states and large cities in the U.S., but the data isn’t nearly granular enough to be useful. Crime statistics for your zip code are generally more useful than city-wide or state-wide data. MelissaData has a decent lookup y state and town — including small towns. RelocationEssentials provides a cute lookup by Zip Code.
With crime, it often comes down to comparing the risks of urban life (robbery, burglary, etc…) with the risks of rural life (safety while driving, distance from advanced medical facilities, etc…).
Government decisions can create significant risks to your safety. In the 20th century, governments murdered 262,000,000 of their own people. Choosing to live with the Branch Davidians in Waco Texas during the Clinton administration was a fatal decision for many Americans.
The United States is digging itself into an untenable debt situation which, if left unchecked, will lead to massive social breakdown and chaos — and possibly to complete government failure and civil war. Many smart Americans are choosing to relocate overseas to more well-managed nations. The expat lifestyle isn’t an option for everyone, but if you can afford to move overseas you can significantly enhance your security posture. Personally, I have relocated to a small but stable nation to escape the poor decision making of the U.S. government.
No location is perfect. Once you have chosen a location, identify the risks associated with that location and plan for them. If you live in a forest, clear the trees near your home so as to provide protection from a forest fire. If you live in an earthquake zone, make sure your home meets current earthquake resistance standards. If you live in a hurricane zone, make sure that your windows has appropriate storm covers. Whatever the risk, you can lessen their effects through proper planning and proactive preparation.
Once you move into your new secure location, meet the neighbors. You may identify some as security threats and you will have to plan for those. Others will, hopefully, be people you will eventually be able to rely on in emergency situations. Most though will be people you will have to deal with in an emergency situation. It’s a lot easier to deal with panicking people if they know and respect you ahead of time.