The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse may symbolize Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, but in the United States, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fire, and hurricanes are more pressing concerns. In OFFGRID Issue 2, we outlined the heavy costs, both financial and human, of natural disasters over the years. You may not be able to control or predict when a natural disaster might hit, but you can choose your place of residence accordingly. The real estate website Trulia researched reams of data on earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes, calculating which cities faced the lowest risk of these natural disasters.

Perhaps not surprisingly, with hurricanes and flooding in the Southeast, earthquakes and wildfires on the West Coast, and tornadoes in between, Trulia's top picks are in upstate New York, Ohio, and elsewhere in the Northeast and Midwest. They are also quite affordable, with home prices averaging around $100 per square foot, as compared to ridiculously expensive (and disaster-prone) areas like California, Hawaii, and New York City (with pricing of $300 to 500 per square foot).

Before you start packing the homestead, don't forget that there are other considerations as well. These areas may be at relatively lower risk for natural disasters, but many face tough weather with very harsh winters — not to mention other potential challenges, whether economic (e.g. job growth, appreciation of home prices) or otherwise (e.g. misguided political leadership). But as always, arm yourself with good information and prepare accordingly.

Top 10 Safest Cities from Natural Disasters
RankCityPleasant Days/YearAverage Home Price/Square Foot
1Syracuse, NY53$89
2Cleveland, OH65$80
3Akron, OH48$81
4Buffalo, NY73$93
5Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD52$174
6Dayton, OH51$72
7Allentown, PA-NJ54$109
8Chicago, IL74$113
9Denver, CO37$129
10Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI65$94

What's a Pleasant Day? Software engineer Kelly Norton crunched 23 years' worth of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to determine the average number of so-called “pleasant” days a year. His definition of “pleasant” was temperature between 45 and 85 degrees with no significant precipitation. None of the top 10 safest cities come close to Norton's top-ranked Los Angeles, with a 183 pleasant days, but they also outstrip the least pleasant — McAllister, Montana, with just 14.







Trulia >
Kelly Norton >
National Climatic Data Center >
Federal Emergency Management Agency >
U.S. Forest Service >
U.S. Geological Survey >
California Geological Survey >

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