Los Alamos, NM - A Safer Place to Ride Out the Storm?

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SteveR's picture
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Los Alamos, NM - A Safer Place to Ride Out the Storm?

The other day Mish pointed out that certain government-heavy cities have very low unemployment rates, which got me to wondering if relocating to Los Alamos, NM might be a good idea.

Los Alamos is a small, remote, fortress-like city built on a mesa about an hour outside Santa Fe.  Most of the population of 12,000 works for the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a beehive of engineers, physicists, chemists, etc. who, among other things, maintain our arsenal of nuclear weapons.  It's known as a very safe place, with good schools and a current unemployment rate of 2.9%.

To me, one of the worst things about a societal collapse would be the physical danger (i.e. crime), and I am very concerned about protecting my family.  However, Los Alamos seems like one of the safest places around, with a peaceful, educated populace and no "hood" to speak of.  And with such sensitive national interests there, I could envision access to the city being tightly controlled, which is easy to do since the damned thing is basically a mountain fortress.

One big downside is that all food must be brought in from a considerable distance.

Does anyone have any input or thoughts on this idea?

S Schauermann's picture
S Schauermann
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Re: Los Alamos, NM - A Safer Place to Ride Out the Storm?

My brother lives in Taos and he said they had to evacuate Los Alamos during some forest fires in and around the town because the smoke was very radioactive. Something to consider if you value your families' health.  Also, IMHO the "hood" will probably morph into a safe place to be post SHTF as the people are survivors, can make due with less, and tend to have a strong sense of community. 


JAG's picture
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Re: Los Alamos, NM - A Safer Place to Ride Out the Storm?

 When I was a pre-teen, my father worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory during our summer vacations. I fondly remember many summers in Los Alamos, filled with hiking, great "new" mexican food and green chile sauce on everything you ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I haven't been back for about 5 years, but the last time I visited I was amazed at how much things had stayed the same in Whiterock over the decades. 

I would be hard pressed to conclude that Los Alamos would be a good or bad place to live in a Great Depression. I guess it would depend on a person's needs to judge that effectively.

Sorry I couldn't help much. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, though.

pwoody82's picture
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Re: Los Alamos, NM - A Safer Place to Ride Out the Storm?

There are both advantages and disadvantages. At over 7000 feet, it is cold in the wintertime although mild in the summer. It is dependent on transmission lines through rough terrain for its electrical power, having no generation facilities of its own. Similarly, natural gas is piped in from a distance well away from the main pipelines. Hence this community is dependent on the survival of the state's Electrical grid and Natural gas pipeline system. A disruption in the central part of the state would cut them off, a bad situation in winter. There is wood that could be obtained, but I am uncertain about how many houses/businesses could heat with it. One would almost certainly have to have that capability in tough economic times.

One advantage of Los Alamos is that it has only two main roads by which to get there, one from Santa Fe going through Pojaque and the other from US 555 to State road 4 through Jemez Springs and over the pass (8500 ft) at the Valle Grande. This would certainly be an advantage if one wished to control access from the outside. It's remoteness would also be a problem if food became a problem because the limited access could work both ways. Gas and diesel are expensive there and there are only a few stations, and as far as I know (living in Albuquerque), there are no other storage facilities so the community could run out fairly quickly. There is another smaller community with the same access restrictions called White Rock, but the problems at LA are almost the same there. There is little or no agriculture.

Their water and sewer systems are reliable (in the presence of power) since they were developed early on and have been maintained and expanded by the municipal government. There are only a few stores, shops, and restaurants. I think they would probably run out of food quickly if deliveries were cut off, hence the requirement for personal food storage to last for 3-6 months (or more).

I have been considering places here in the state that I could go to in tough times, but LA is not one on my list. I want to find someplace in a small community that is at a low enough altitude that heating requirements are less critical, near a major pipeline or bottled gas facility so I could both heat and light with gas (as well as with wood). Where I could have a well where I could pump water by hand if required, and could have a little plot of land for growing vegetables. I would like it to be off any major US highway or the Interstate but be close to a town with a population similar to that of LA. I have not yet found what I think is the ideal place.


NMNJGRL's picture
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Re: Los Alamos, NM - A Safer Place to Ride Out the Storm?

 I'm to the south in Las Cruces.  Look into it.

Moved here 10 years ago from NJ.  Haven't looked back!

Mr. Fri's picture
Mr. Fri
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Re: Los Alamos, NM - A Safer Place to Ride Out the Storm?

I've only been there once for a job interview.  I really liked the town.

One thing to consider is that people, regardless of their education, are still people.  If times get hard and people are forced to steal to feed their families, some (but not all) will.  Highly educated people don't have higher morals but they will have very creative ways to rob people. Many years ago I read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)."  It's a series of interesting stories in the life of Richard Feynman, who was one of the top scientist at Los Alomos during WWII.  I really enjoyed it because  was able to relate to his thinking but it also alerted me that brilliant people don't always have good morals and their "jokes" often are against the law. 

The town might be peaceful and law abiding now but who knows when tshtf.  I'm not saying that people who work/live at Los Alamos are bad people but they are human.  And, as creative thinkers, they're going to be more creative in both good and bad deeds.  Hopefully this gives you another perspective to think about.


pwoody82's picture
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Re: Los Alamos, NM - A Safer Place to Ride Out the Storm?

The problem I see with Las Cruces is its proximity to the Mexican border and the probability that Mexico will crash prior to the collapse in the U.S. The border down there is pretty much a sieve, lots of stuff gets across. If a large body of people attempted to cross at once, I do not see how it could be held back. In my view, it's just too close to Juarez, Mexico where there is so much violence at present. Other than that, LC is a good place to live. It has good medical facilities, a College, lots of businesses, and reasonably priced housing. The climate is nice also, having snow no more than a couple of times a year with it melting the day it falls. It is usually above freezing in the winter and gets to 100 degrees in the summer frequently. Since it usually has low humidity, high temperatures there are not as tough as the same temp in a high humidity location.

It is on Interstate 10 and mile zero on interstate 25 so it is a transportation pipeline. The truck traffic on I-10 is very heavy, and it also has a transcontinental railroad running through it. Again, for me, it is too much on the beaten path for me to like it as a refuge. For me, places like Silver City, Artesia, Portales, and Clayton have better potential being further from the Interstates and being on only one or two US highways. Artesia and Portales are in areas where there is some agriculture, Clayton has ranching, and Silver City is in rough terrain where there is little or no agriculture. For me there are both advantages and disadvantages to any of the places, so I am not happy with any of them. Sometimes I think that someplace further east, like east Texas or Arkansas would be better since the population density there is not much greater than here but there is agriculture and more rain.


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