Your mission, whether or not you choose to accept it, is to design the perfect refuge from the zombie apocalypse.

Starting assumptions and constraints:

  • The zombies will be slow (walking) zombies (aka The Walking Dead zombies) and not runners (aka 28 Days Later zombies).
  • The refuge should be able to achieve self-sufficiency during or shortly after the apocalypse.
  • It should support a minimum of 50 people but something over 500 would be preferable.
  • Ratio of kids to adults is 1:3.
  • Zombieness is transferred by bites only.
  • You do not need to worry about humans attacking your perfect refuge.

The question: What sort of refuge could stand up to a sustained zombie mob, keep the normal humans safe, and provide fresh food & water?

  • Bonus points if it's possible to build your refuge after the apocalypse starts.
  • Bonus points if it allows the human survivors to eliminate any zombies that come near.
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    $\begingroup$ If I've learned anything from The Walking Dead, all you really need is for people to stop leaving the front door open. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ You need a nuclear submarine. It's able to stay under water for 20 years. $\endgroup$
    – Marc
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ You do not need to worry about humans attacking your perfect refuge. why not? $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ I'm amused that you mention The Walking Dead, when they have a whole season revolving around precisely this sort of perfect refuge. On top of that, the only reason it fails in the show is neutralized by your stipulation that humans won't attack. $\endgroup$
    – Superbest
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ I recommend the book The Zombie Survival Guide, my Max Brooks. It covers everything related to zombie defense. $\endgroup$
    – Davidmh
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 8:44

20 Answers 20


Well as I see it you have two potential options.

  1. Buy a Caribbean island and relax away the zombie apocalypse on the beach with rum and grass skirts.

  2. Build a massive fortress.

While option 1 is far and away the better choice it isn't very interesting...

So. What would this fortress need?

  • Where?

    • Geographically isolated...the farther away from "civilization" the better.
    • Ready, internal access to clean water, either by spring or river (walls over the river with steel grates
    • Seaside. Zombies don't usually swim. If somehow they make it in, having docks and ships on which to escape would be good.
    • Arable land. You want plains or forests or both, gives you raw materials and access to natural resources.
  • Walls. Big, thick steel reinforced concrete walls...or stone depending on what's available.

    • The walls should enclose not only the living spaces but farmlands as well.
    • The areas near the wall should be napalmed every summer to keep plant growth down so nothing can sneak up on you
    • Layers. At least two layers of walls. Should zombies somehow make it into the external layer of the enclosure you can close off and survive in the inner area.
  • The compound. At the center of the space should be a hardened, impregnable fort. The fort should contain:

    • Food storage...and lots of it. Enough space to store food for at least one year, preferably two.
    • Living space for everyone.
    • Armory. You want to kill zombies, you need weapons.
    • Basically all other facilities to keep people alive. Medical, entertainment, kitchens...so on and so forth.

So basically this:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ The Caribbean island plan won't work; your survivors will get all soft from their cushy lifestyle, and be completely unable to cope with the first zombie that washes ashore. $\endgroup$
    – user2781
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 2:22
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    $\begingroup$ Are steel-reinforced concrete walls really necessary? I don't think decaying flesh slapping your outer walls at 2mph is really going to do much damage. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 7:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl Zombies can not swim in they walk along the bottom of the sea. so all you need to do is make sure your island is surrounded by water deep enough to crush them. Zombie sharks might become a problem $\endgroup$
    – Sibster
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ Basically you end up with the setting of the Attack on Titan anime : 3 big concentric walls with a lot of arable area inside. Just adapt the wall size. Or keep it as is if you expect zombies to pile up on each other (think WWZ in very slow motion), though you should be able to kill them or at least prevent them from reaching the top of the walls since they are slow. $\endgroup$
    – Autar
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ Your island idea will simply not work! Zombies don't need to breath and can, apparently, traverse the bottom of the sea. youtube.com/watch?v=3thbT3wq7JE $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 13:44

This is my solution, right here:

The Home Depot

Preferably in a rainy area of the country, like Seattle. But even somewhere like California, that actually receives enough rainwater to resupply itself but throws it away with flood control would probably work well enough if you were willing to ration.

Consider the needs:

  • Construction supplies for fortification and for comfortable human habitation (you are going to want a chair to sit on if you are living somewhere with a concrete floor). It goes without saying that Home Depot is already a concrete building which is fairly well fortified, but you can also make it stronger...with what you already have in Home Depot. Plus most of them have an outdoor (but fenced in) gardening center, meaning you gain critical sunlight and land space in a protected area.
  • Plenty of space for exercise and survival: Home Depot Stores average 105,000 square feet. The Massachusetts government recommends 15-20 square feet per person. That's a lot of people (about 5000, which is ten times more then the max listed in the OP).
  • Weapon Supplies: Some 400,000 people are sent to the ER with power tool related injuries every year. Power nailers alone casue 37,000 of these yearly. In 2010 there were only 73,505 non-fatal firearm injuries. So you've already got the gun store beat.
  • Power, for a while: Aisles full of batteries (including car batteries) means that you will have lights, at least, for a while. Drain the cars in the parking lot of all of their fuel...and you can power the portable generators and the power tools for a while longer then that, too. And if you find the RIGHT Home Depot...there might even be a gas station in the parking lot (this would be ideal). This will last you long enough to use the Home Depot supplies to build yourself a nice Solar Power factory on the roof.
  • Food: The biggest problem is going to be food. At our lowest number of 50 people and with careful rationing, what you can find in the home depot can probably last you for a short time. But the real power of the Home Depot Zombie Survival Center comes from the gardening center. Not only is it stocked with seeds, but it also has some near-fully matured trees. You will be able to cultivate and grow your own crops, indoors if the climate does not permit year round growing, out doors if it does to use more of the natural sunlight and avoid having to cut holes in the roof. Radishes, Green Onions, and Cucumbers can be harvested after just a month of a growth. It's getting through that first 30 days that is the challenge. After a year, you can produce fruit from all except the apple trees - and after two years, the apple trees will produce as well. And that assumes none of them are close to maturing (which some of them will be).
  • Water: You have hundreds of trash cans, rain barrels, wheel barrels, and the ever ubiquitous Home Depot Project bucket with which to catch rain water, and for a short time, at least, you can probably get water through the existing plumbing fixtures to build a small stock pile. Harvesting rain water should be enough to supply a 50 person 'society' with enough water to survive, again, with rationing. Houses get around 100,000 liters a year, commercial buildings obviously more, and the average adult male needs 3 liters a day to survive. At 50 people, we can meet this need annually. We actually get enough to support twice that number (Our theoretical Home Depot is 42 x the size of that house but covers about 60% more space, so probably about 160,000 liters annually). You certainly have the piping you need to be able to build a system to capture and filter the rain water, as well as plenty of pumps for moving the water around.

Regarding the OP requirements:

  • This can stand up to the Zombie mob (and be reinforced if it starts to break down).
  • This can keep the normal humans safe (except for those power tool accidents)
  • This can provide fresh food and water
  • This can be established after the zombie apocalypse starts
  • This can achieve self-sufficency immediately if some supplies are brought for the short term and/or basic services remaining functioning long enough to stock up.
  • This can support 50 - 500 people, including children.
  • This will allow humans to build traps and arm themselves to fight off any Zombies that approach.

So you can have your ancient castle - I'm sticking with the Home Depot.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The key problem with this solution is that everyone and their mother will be going to home depot or some store like it. The home depot would be a blood bath. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ I read this answer, and realized Home Depot has an additional virtue: Those shelves hold literally tons of goods; converting them to living space would be minor. Then when there's a zombie attack, pull up ladders -- and all noncombatants are relatively safe. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ @CodeswithHammer Yeah sadly, the limitation is water, and also the initial startup of the society. You have to wait for the plants to be harvestable, so you'd need to have a 30 day or so stockpile of food, and then you can't have more then about 50 people. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark: The limitation is ALWAYS water. When the water supply runs out, the refuge falls. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 16:22

This is really more of a comment, but since I was interested in sharing the picture, here is a building considered to be "the best" zombie fortress: an elevator structure over an abandoned Japanese coal mineenter image description here

The structure has most of the attributes of a fortress, including being strongly built, in a relatively isolated location, and has the added bonus of being on "stilts" to make it harder for zombies or other "undesirables" to enter. Being made of concrete, it is fire resistant and proof against most primitive weapons and even small arms fire.

The superstructure is also large enough to hold a fairly comprehensive supply depot for the survivors, has clear fields of fire in most directions and room for a fair number of survivors (as well as room for people to get away from each other for a while, since being cooped up with people for long periods of time while under stress could lead to confrontations and fighting among the survivors).

About the only weakness of the structure is the lack of water, although a fairly large collection area on the roof could be used to capture rain water and a portion of the structure could be converted into a water storage tank (or tanks, for safety)

The real issue would be getting there in the first place when the zombie apocalypse happens, and being able to stockpile the place either before or during the event without either attracting the attention of people wiling to steal your stuff, or being eaten while trying to scavenge caned goods from abandoned grocery stores. You certainly could not build this during the zombie apocalypse, and getting a building permit in the here and now might be...problematic.

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    $\begingroup$ Not much area to grow food either... which could be important for long term survival. Cool building though! $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Can zombies climb that green stuff? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ @RedGrittyBrick If it's really fire resistant, I guess you had an option to get rid of them without much work. $\endgroup$
    – user23013
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ @user23013 but what do you use for fuel? $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ Due to lack of food could never fulfill "The refuge should be able to achieve self-sufficiency" $\endgroup$
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 13:21

I think the best location to be during a zombie apocalypse is on a ship. Not your average yacht, but something more respectable like an aircraft carrier.

Advantages of an aircraft carrier:

  • Although the minimum of 50 people in the question probably won't be enough to run a carrier, you don't need to worry about more people soon. For example a Nimitz class aircraft carrier has over 6000 personnel on board.
  • Usually zombies aren't able to swim, but maybe because of evolution and a strong desire for brains they will learn how to swim. But when they will reach the carrier they won't be able to climb on board because of the angle they need to climb (most parts more then 90 degrees), they'll simply fall of. Do remember to refrain from dropping the anchor, they might climb on board via the chain.
  • You're free to go wherever you want, 71% of the earth is covered by water so you can go cruising around the world if you're bored.
  • Many big cities are close to seas and oceans. Big cities means lots of resources. So if you're low on for example munition, clothing, spare parts, and so on you could sail to a city, get in your helicopter and scout the area where you need the resources from. If you've scouted the area, plan an expedition to retrieve the resources you need. Most likely there will be attack helicopters on a carrier so you could use those as air assistance. You're (self-trained) ground troops should be dropped by a transport helicopter, clear the area, retrieve the goods you need and ship them back with the transport helicopter. This way your carrier stays safe and the ground troops are the only ones who take risks.
  • Same applies to gas and oil of which you will need quite some. Although the ship is nuclear power you will need oil and gas for the operating of the ship and helicopters and so on. Most refineries are in big harbors, so you need to dock every now and then to get some fresh oil and gas. Given that the world doesn't need any gas and oil any more there should be plenty for a long time in the refineries. The ideal solution in this situation would be to find a fully loaded oil tanker somewhere and use that as gas station.
  • In aspect of food you need to reserve quite a lot of flight deck for growing vegetables and other plants for food. With a length of almost 1100 feet and a width of around 250 feet you will have around 275,000 square feet of deck. Let's say that you can use around 200,000 feet of it because the helicopters need to launch and you need to be able to move around. In the case of 5000 people on the carrier you would have 40 square feet per person. It's not much but with additional food scavenged from land raids and fishing you would be able to survive. And because you're on a ship you're able to sail to the perfect climate where your crops will grow the best. Although you need to get a lot of soil on the carrier first, let's say on average 2 feet deep, that means that you need 400,000 cubic feet of soil which weighs around 600 tons...
  • In aspect of water you would be able to turn seawater into drinking water with the equipment of the ship, so you don't have to worry about water.
  • For close range defense you can mount .50 machine guns all around the ship for protection during visits to dangerous places close to the coast.
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't gasoline go bad and therefore won't be available as a long-term resource in a post-apocalyptic scenario? $\endgroup$
    – Random832
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ Didn't work out so well in Omega Days - Ship of the Dead. Cleaning out the ship is the hard part. Basically like cleaning up a city. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelF
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Random832 This is true, but a Nuclear Powered Aircraft carrier only uses fuel for it's air-wing and it's escorts, it doesn't power the ship itself. In that case, you could cruise around for quite a while. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ AKA the "Rivet City" option. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ Aircraft carriers generally carry fixed wing aircraft with only a small number of helicopters (generally outfitted for ASW and SAR work); what you would find more useful is a Marine carrier like the USS America which has much of a helicopter wing aboard for transport and air assault. The downside is mots of these ships are powered by conventional engines so would require huge quantities of fuel, in addition to the aviation fuel for the air wing. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 19:45

When I lived on the southcoast of the UK, I had my perfect Zombie defense refuge a few miles away, in the middle of the Solent.

Previously built as a defensive structure, it has been subsequently converted into a luxury hotel.

An ample supply of fish around, well stocked kitchens - no zombies are getting in here!

Spitbank Fort in the Solent UK



All you need to build the perfect base (against infected) are industrial docks.

enter image description here

As you can see you are surrounded on three sides by water, this mean you only need to worry about the entrance which is explained lower down. You can use the water as both a drink source (combined with rain collectors) and an escape route. You can (though it's hard work) bring in soil for farm animals and crops.

Now for sleeping and defense you only need the shipping crates and a crane (or strong forklift). Stack two crates for rooms; the top is for sleeping in case the perimeter is over run in also cannot be reached without a ladder or rope. and the bottom is for storage. As for defense, simply make two rows of crates against each other with the first row having another row on top of them. kind of an L shape.

enter image description here
Like this but one block shorter. You can blowtorch doors and windows in them to make them into quick metal buildings.

With enough people you can get one dock done in a week. then repeat with the other docks and connect with boats that have planks holding them up.

  • $\begingroup$ zombies don't go on/under water? $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ classic zombies don't $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ And what about hydroponics and fish farming for food? I hear fish is good for brain delic^Whealth. $\endgroup$
    – kojiro
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ I thought about fish but what fish gather around industrial docks? $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ @njzk2 They often do, but your classic shamblers probably aren't coordinated enough to climb vertical surfaces. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 8:29

How long term does it really need to be? If you're in a cold enough climate they should all just freeze in the winter and rot unto uselessness during the subsequent thaw.

Virtually any community above the permafrost line would carry on practically as usual in this zombie apocalypse.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ None of the other questions mention cold as a zombie deterrent. One of them even recommends setting up in California (?!?), as ideal an environment for zombies as you can imagine. IMO, any zombie apocalypse survival strategy will involve sub-zero temperatures. But hey, I'm from Minnesota. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ Using logic to answer the question of a zombie outbreakis cheating! $\endgroup$
    – Vorac
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 9:40
  • $\begingroup$ Yup same as mentioned in the World War Z book. Canadians just stroll around when warmer temperatures arrive, and bash in the head of any zombies that start appearing (still frozen) under the snow. :D - the only difficulty from northern cities is the complete stoppage of trade etc... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 14:35


A super-yacht is by far the best refuge in which to weather a zombie apocalypse. Super-yachts are upwards of 150 feet long and easily sleep 50 people. But this is based on the tricky assumption that you can acquire a super-yacht before the apocalypse breaks out, or make it to, and de-zombie the super-yacht of its newly zombiefied oligarch owner, entourage, crew and dancing girls after the dead rise. Assuming that you can, you will have a great place to chill while the world tears itself apart.

A super-yacht of sufficient blinginess can make its own fresh water with on board desalination and can run for months on end on the gargantuan fuel tanks - provided you don't move around too much. At anchor you would only need fuel to run the generators, not the main engines themselves, and the only weak point in your luxury fortress would be your anchor chain.

Zombies can walk on the seabed and may spot the lights and hot tub antics of your crew of survivors from the shore. So you would need to be prepared in case any head over and try to climb up your anchor chain. But the larger your yacht, the more easily defensible this point will be. The chain usually enters the boat through a smallish hole some distance down the side of the hull, if this is too small for a zombie to squeeze through, your'e golden. If not, you may have to put someone on watch with a spear gun. If the chain gets swarmed, simply raise the anchor using your yacht's powerful electric windlass, the zombies will get mashed to a pulp in no time at the touch of a button.

Most yachts in this category come equipped with remote controlled submersibles designed to examine the seabed for good anchor holding, (I have seen one of these first hand) so you could put your sub to good use spotting zombies.

Super-yachts are by nature extremely self sufficient, and are designed to spend extended periods at sea with all mod cons. All your needs for power, light, heating, cooling, refrigeration, entertainment and ice-making would be taken care of as long as you have enough fuel to run the generators.

Fuel – you would need to invest some time identifying a suitable fuel barge from which to refuel, these are often found moored near commercial shipping hubs, or deep water harbors suitable for super-yachts. Alternatively you could refuel from a fueling pontoon – in both cases you may need transfer one of your yacht's portable generators (believe me, your boat will come with everything you could want), connect up the power to the fuel pumping apparatus and fill up. Your tanks will be huge though, so this could take some time. On a pontoon you will have a single gangway ashore to defend, these are often already equipped with impregnable security gates that your determined zombie (and let's face it – there is no other kind), will find difficult, though not impossible to overcome. Not the worst situation to be in, but be prepared to beat a hasty retreat and/or defend your position with your yacht's water cannon.

Food, your super-yacht will be equipped with a stunningly well appointed galley, including all electric appliances under the sun, hobs, ovens, industrial fridges and freezers to store food, either pilfered from shore or, more promisingly fished fresh from the sea. Your yacht will be equipped with all manner of fishing equipment, don't worry. So get used to living off the fruits of the sea, far easier, more nutritious and tastier than trying your hand at farming in an apocalypse, or eating army rations.

Your yacht will also have a fearsome supply of booze already on board, you might want to try growing a lemon or a lime tree somewhere because what is a superyacht without sundowners? Oh, and to ward off scurvy.

Piloting and communications. Superyachts are designed to be operated safely by very few personnel, everything is done at the push of a button, however it’s possible GPS would be offline during the apocalypse, although it's quite possible the that GPS satellite network would be unaffected – unknown. In any case knowing your exact position could be an issue, so I'd suggest moving the boat around as little as possible or digging out the emergency sextant (your yacht will have one), finding the relevant book in your yacht's library and learning to take star sights – it's not easy but you'll have plenty of time to figure it out. Should the apocalypse come to an end and humanity restore itself, you will have all the comms equipment on board you can shake a stick at to monitor and communicate. No chance of you missing the end of the end of the world, and staying locked up in you bunker unnecessarily.

Laundry. Yes superyachts have washing machines and tumble dryers, also ironing boards and shoe polish. No need to look like a zombie if you don't have to.

Maintenance. Inevitably your yacht will go wrong at some point, this might be minor, or if it's the main engine, generator or air-conditioner - major. On the plus side, superyachts are maintained to an exquisite standard by armies of engineers, technicians and deckhands in normal use, so disrepair should take a while to set in. When this happens - move to the next superyacht in the harbour, kill the zombie skipper for his keys and fire up the engines. I would suggest that St. Tropez or Monaco would be good places to do this, and preparing some sort of yacht transfer drill for your 50+ survivors will be the best way to minimize casualties.

Creature comforts. This is where the superyacht approach really owns it over your disused mining structure, or underground missile silo approach. You will be sleeping in 1000 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, you will have a commanding view of your surroundings from your various, comfortably appointed relaxation decks, you will wash in one of many heated, lit and surround-sound equipped hot tubs, or gold encrusted bathrooms, you will have, a gym, a dining room, books, movies, music, expensive cutlery, lead crystal glassware, vintage brandy, Cuban cigars – in short, every luxury you can think of, as well of plenty you didn't even know existed. The apocalypse will be a blast.

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    $\begingroup$ Now I'm really looking forward to Fear The Walking Dead season II. $\endgroup$
    – JaBe
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 14:44

Rural Siberia. Preferably, a small village that can only be reached by air (no roads). The locals could help newcomers survive without civilization.

Even if zombies try to traverse the taiga, they are likely to break limbs when going without roads, get lost, sucked in swamps, frozen, or/and eaten by wolves or bears. (Please, disregard this answer if the bears can be infected.)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ but you will need to be very careful every-night to don't shoot drunk Russians coming back from work to the base camps, walking like dead zombies. youtube.com/watch?v=_gDZCI6khHQ $\endgroup$
    – JinSnow
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 15:38

In establishing a secure location, a fortified settlement there are three basic things you need to consider: First, the location. Second, the location. And third, the location. The relative order of importance might vary.

The location must have adequate logistics. There must be a water supply. Food must be available. This means either good transport connections or some secure farm land attached. In modern times fuel and ammunition would also be considered vital supplies. These can't be produced by opportunistic farming, so the refuge should be near a major city or a military base that has significant stores of necessities to scavenge regardless of whether it is still in operation. A military supply depot would almost by definition have everything you need to survive hostile environment.

The location should have some strategic value in either operations against the enemy or preventing the enemy from operating. In context, this would mean it should have enough space for a growing number of refugees to protect from zombies and near to areas with lots of refugees and zombies. Near here means that you want an ability to conveniently go in a truck or boat, kill a horde of zombies and save some grateful maidens. (Or whatever the equivalent modern cliché is.) Ability to return from your sortie safely with the refugees would also be a must.

The location should be physically secure. It should be impossible to the enemy to simply come and take the site. It should require significant preparation and concentration of force. Significant here means that defenders should have time to retreat in the time between the actual attack and noticeable preparations for attack.

And yes, having a location that allows a safe retreat is a fourth aspect of location to consider.

A location meeting the requirements would be a coastal island without significant population near a large city and a military base.

Most supplies can be scavenged from mainland and transported by boat, but a water supply should be available. Fishing and gardening can supply fresh food in addition to scavenged food. Similarly since zombies are not really interested in vegetables, other islands and even the mainland can be farmed. Farmlands tend to be open enough for reasonable safety. Coastal cities and bases can be assumed to have support for water transport, so as long as you have boats logistics would be secure.

Slow zombies have no real way of stopping boats, so you would have ability to kill zombies and rescue survivors near the coast with minimal risk. Generally slow zombies are presumed to be attracted to human activity by scent and noise, and to have no survival instinct worth mentioning. Thus they would be attracted to the coast by all the activity and you would be able to shoot them safely from boat. Daily "clearing" sorties should have the nearby areas clear from zombies to the point that scavenging parties sent to raid storage facilities and supply depots would face minimal risk. Most zombie apocalypse survivors would be paranoid enough to handle such risks without issues.

Unless zombies can operate boats or ships, they should be incapable of the coordination needed to cross significant bodies of water with significant waves and currents. The exception is if they have magic lifesense that allows them to home on to live humans without needing to scent or hear them. You will still need to guard the shores for floaters. Some dogs, electric lights, and few people with shotguns should cover that. Motion sensors and such are of course available and can be looted from stores. And some beaches could be simply mined, if the country the base belongs to still stocks infantry mines.

An island with sufficient boats (and you can and should gather all you find) can be evacuated without the zombies being able to even slow it down.

The solutions for inland and metropolitan areas are obviously different, but they are not as good, so not relevant to the question.


This is a slight variant on the "Caribbean Island" theme. The problem with this is solution is that currents may bring to your island a random zombie. After 50 years spent far from the world, you are not prepared to deal with it.

A possibly better solution is to find an island on a river. This has a few additional benefits:

  • By staying close to the threat, you are effectively keeping yourself sharp. Of course fortifying the island is a good idea in order to avoid washed-up zombies, however you can still keep a small port downstream. The more current there is around your island, the less likely it is for a zombie to manage to cross it.
  • Freshwater is always a good thing to have, and makes for easier irrigation. Also running water is a good sewer-system to avoid your population catching diseases. Also something along the lines of water-mills could allow you to keep making some electricity.
  • The best ways to get on land would be either by boat or using draw-bridges, and the usual tricks from the middle age would make good additional securities.
  • Rivers are a great way to move over large distances, making it easier to find resources and/or other survivors
  • Finally, by staying close to land, it is easier to drive back the zombies and expand your territory.
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking the same thing... An island in a river with a swift current. Fast moving water would probably sweep the majority of zombies down stream. $\endgroup$
    – apaul
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 2:21

Electric fences

In many ways, zombies are roughly similar to triffids from John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids: they are slow-moving, tenacious, not very intelligent, but will kill you if they get near you.

Towards the end of this book, the protagonists create a safe enclosure for themselves in a cottage in the South Downs. Their main defence against triffids is an electric fence, sufficiently high and well-wired that it's impossible to get over or through and sufficiently powerful to knock triffids/zombies flying.


  • It can be powered by a home generator, e.g. by solar or wind power, so no mains electricity needed.
  • It can surround a large area of land, so you can grow your own food and have a small self-sufficient colony within the protected region.


  • It takes time to set up.
  • It needs to be constantly patrolled for any sign of damage to the fence: if those wires give way, you're screwed!
  • $\begingroup$ I thought the cottage was on the Isle of Wight, not the south downs? $\endgroup$
    – SeanR
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 8:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @SeanR No, they go to the Isle of Wight right at the end to join a whole colony of others, but their own personal cottage was in the South Downs. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 10:16
  • $\begingroup$ Might not hold up to the pressure of a large enough horde. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ @DanHenderson Just make it REALLY strong, and keep strengthening it if necessary. You could even reinforce it with thicker and stronger pieces of metal than just wires, as long as they conduct electricity. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ It would be possible to dig under the fence and get through. Picture hundreds of zombies clawing at the ground digging a tunnel. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 21:15

To keep out zombies with mere walls you need some pretty tall walls. Think of the scene in World War Z where the Israeli defenses are breached--the zombies know there are brains on the other side of the wall, they blindly keep coming, climbing upon each other. (The movie got it wrong, though, it wouldn't be cooperative pyramids, just a mass.) Given enough zombies they can climb quite a wall.

Thus walls are far from an optimum defense. Instead, consider a star fort. When the zombies encounter the fort they'll proceed along the walls (doing so moves them closer to the brains inside) and come to the junctions. At each entrance place a tunnel--the tunnel has a floor that will drop away 1 second after a load is placed on it. The zombie falls down into something you have devised to be lethal to zombies--say, a giant-size wood chipper.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How big is the supply of zombies - how do you remove chipped zombies? Don't zombie walls have fewer moving parts and relatively low-maintenance? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ Knowing that walls can be climbed and that other zombies can be used as platforms really takes intelligence. Even clever animals don't do it often. It also requires the zombies underneath dont upset the apple cart. $\endgroup$
    – Oldcat
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat I'm not assuming intelligence, but rather the lack of it. They hit a barrier on the path to brains, they blindly keep trying to cross it anyway. The ones on the bottom don't upset the applecart because they're too squashed to move. While they don't suffocate some on the bottom probably die anyway but that doesn't stop the ones on the top. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat This happens often with invertebrates - creatures of much lower intelligence than mammals! $\endgroup$
    – SeanR
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ Invertebrates cross huge walls by forming pyramids? News to me. $\endgroup$
    – Oldcat
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 16:33

Just pick a regular set of farmland and town. Then you build zombie traps around it, out of sight/hearing from your settlement.

Zombies are really stupid, so this would just need to be something like a cattle pen. You have a minimally fortified central 'bait' area where humans make noise, emit odors, generally attract the walkers. They drive themselves into chutes, and are stopped by a nice fence from reaching the bait. But being zombies, they just sit there, so small groups in sealed shelters come out behind and drop a gate behind. Exterminate the Zs from a safe distance, rinse and repeat.

Eventually there won't be any left in the area.


Get your group to Mammoth Cave

Or any number of popular cave/cavern destinations. If you happen to be in Central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave would be ideal.

Survival: short-term

If you are already near a popular cave tourist destination, chances are there are going to be plenty of supplies in the nearby town, not to mention everything that is already on-site: food, clean water, camping gear, rope, lanterns, etc. Also, any cave entrances will probably already be secured by whatever park service ran the cave operation.

Take as much gear and supplies as you can inside the cave, and barricade yourself in.

Survival: middle-term

Tourism caves are already wired for electricity and lighting. With any luck, the power grid is still active when you show up. Otherwise, there should be backup power generators on-site. Either way, you'll need power.

Make sure the generators have enough fuel to last a while. When your jerky and Twinkies start running out, you're going to have to think of a better way to get calories. There may be some edible troglobites with you in the cave. If there is an underground river (ideal!), you might have some cave fish you can eat. Growing mushrooms is another obvious choice.

Every tourist cavern I've been to has some kind of underground water system, whether groundwater that drips and collects in pools (after all, this is how stalagmites and stalactites are formed), or a full-fledged underground river system. Maybe the cave entrance is only accessible from underwater. That'd be pretty cool. But regardless, you should have access to water.

Fresh air shouldn't be a problem. I don't know if popular cave destinations already have circulation systems, but even if they don't, there are likely several small holes that lead back above ground. That's how all those bats are still hanging around with you.

Survival: long-term

Okay, now you're going to have to think about some sustainable underground agriculture. Mushrooms, cave fish, and bugs aren't going to be enough. You also will need a way to make sure the lights stay on. You can't count on diesel forever.

I see a couple of options for power: geothermal or hydroelectric (if you have a waterfall or river to work with). I hope you have some smart people in your group to help you set this up.

With lights, you can grow other crops underground. Potatoes, other root vegetables, and legumes are good bets.

You also have probably been digging. Carefully, you should be able to punch small holes through the surface, for some extra lighting and air. If you can get your hands on it, large metal grates would be awesome, or some thick plexiglass for your roof. Then you'd be a lot less dependent on electricity.


If you chose a pit cave, then awesome! Likely the only way up and down is a rope or ladder - something zombies aren't going to be able to manage. If you don't have a pit, you could probably dig one out eventually.

This is good and bad.

Good thing is, in manageable quantities, zombies falling into your pit is an awesome way to take them out. If they aren't killed by the fall, you can have some zombie finishers guarding the bottom of the pit. If they aren't magically poisonous, their bodies would provide some excellent biomass for mushrooms and such. Otherwise, you'd have to burn them or dispose of them some other way.

Bad thing is, if a massive horde comes your way, then you might be screwed. My vision of the pit is just a straight shaft in the ground, and at the bottom, a single door to the rest of the complex. If the zombies come raining down uncontrollably, you can bar the door and let them pile up. Your door is probably fine, as most of the zombies will be incapacitated from the fall, and then you'll eventually have so many zombies that none of them will be able to get through the door. After the pit is filled up? I'm sure you can find some creative way to deal with them. You should still be safe.


Location: A farm near a river with a natural or manmade stream coming into the farm and irrigating the crops as well as providing drinking water. Should be a place with plenty of wind

Energy: Large wind turbines and solar panels across the area.

Security: high walls around the whole area, with deep ditches dug on the outside which are 30 feet or more deep and 15-20 feet wide. cut down all the trees near the ditches so that none accidentally falls and creates a bridge. all the walls have outward facing fans with sharp blades for fins which run on the electricity from the wind mills and solar panels. these will defend against any zombie that reaches the wall although we have made sure they cant, doesn't hurt to be safer.

Feed the batteries with a turbine running on the river water as well. Can't hurt to have more electricity.

The farm will produce food, we have water, energy, defence.


Location - Prison

  • Dictator - In charge when needed.
  • Survival Teacher - in charge of survival training and ammo manufacturing trips

  • Council - In charge when there's no major threats.
    Council members are each a leader of a certain "category" of jobs.

  • Head Doctor - in charge of health
  • Head Farmer - in charge of farming and livestock
  • Head Whisperer - in charge of supply runs
  • Head Security - in charge of guards, fence cleaners and regulators
  • Rationer - in charge of rationing and cooks
  • Architect - in charge of design and construction

Jobs -

  • Guard
    Watch for threats in guard tower and walk perimeter looking for weak spots, if weak spots found they report to head of security which is then reported to the architect

  • Fence Cleaner
    Kill walkers pushing against chain-link

  • Farmer
    Plant, nurture and harvest the crops and tend to the livestock

  • Supply Runner aka Whisperer
    You can only become a whisperer with they blessing of the survival teacher. A whisperer travels beyond the wall to gather supplies. They wear mask made from walkers as camo and when traveling in a walker herd they communicate by whispering

  • Regulator
    The "peace keepers" of the settlement regulate arguments and fights, they tend to have good showmanship to keep things happy but if they cant settle a fight they bring the people to the fight pit to settle it.

  • Cook
    A cook is given the daily rations and after cooking they feed the people and make sure no one gets extra because there only given the exact amount for everyone

  • Survival Teacher
    The survival teacher is the best survivalist and battle strategist. There jobs to teach a daily class. The teacher is the only person with the power to approve someone of becoming a whisperer which is only given after completion of all survival classes. In times of crisis the survival teacher steps in for the council as dictator

  • Doctor
    Tends to wounds and illnesses

  • Rationer
    In charge of rationing all supplies and mainly works with whisperers

  • Construction
    Builds the architects designs

  • Architect
    Knows a lot about construction and thinks of new ways to improve the settlements defenses

  • Bullet Manufacturer
    Travels to ammo factory once a month with advanced survival class students, survival teacher and some guards

Activities -

  • Library
    Abundance of both entertaining and educational books that were in the prison and scavenged by whisperers

  • Fighting Pit
    Used for either settling fights, teaching students or entertainment. When used for class or thrill there's walkers on chains surrounding the pit (secretly there teeth and nails had been removed).

  • Survival Class
    you spend time helping with crops, going to the library to read educational books, training to kill walkers in the fighting/melee pit, learn ammo manufacturing, how to use and clean a gun and helping in the med ward

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Lucas! If you have a moment, please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You'll also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods. Have fun! $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 0:18
  • $\begingroup$ Your answer looks like you've copied/pasted a part of the Walking Dead Wiki. Large chunks of text in list format is hard to read. Could you edit it for more clarity and tell us why do you believe it answers the question with your own words? Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – kikirex
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 0:33

You just need one of the fortified islands from the South China Sea. They have battleships (assuming your survivors know how to operate one). They also have guns and electricity making stuff and the zombies can't get to it because it is in the middle of the ocean.


What you want is a lagoon, one surrounded by mountains on three sides. Basically, you take a location that already exists and start fixing it up.

The lagoon's water will be blocked off from the ocean by "a reef or low sandbank"; that's not good enough. You need to keep zombies out of your lagoon, period, so install a metal fence or a stone wall to keep them out.

You'll probably want to shear the outward sides of your mountains, to make them too steep for zombies to climb. On the beach, you'll need to place a water purification facility, farms, and everything you'll need to survive.

If the apocalypse has already happened, this lagoon is still a good option. Walker by definition are shambling corpses; I'd guess the odds of them going up the mountains without being taken out of commission by the journey itself at a 100 to 1. Spikes, pit traps, and deadfalls will work wonders on the mountain slopes.

The natural barriers of the lagoon will help stop seabed-walking zombies, but for best results, you'll need to put down a different kind of barriers. A brick wall, fence, or even just heaps of rocks will do it for you.

For this to work, however, you'll need to be able to protect your crops from the salt spray (walls really are essential) and either a spring or a water-purification system.

That being said, this makes the cushy island lifestyle possible, but with just enough uncertainty that your apocalypse survivors can't (or won't) allow themselves to go soft.


How about an abbey?

enter image description here

Completely self-sufficient places. I would personally prefer Redwall, but considering that it doesn't exist, and it designed for mouses...

It doesn't takes too much effort to rebuild this place into a fort, just place the fences in between the trees.

Note: this place was large enough to be used as barracks.

And as you can see, it's reichdiculously easy to spot slow zombies from the bell tower.

Bonus point:

enter image description here
"I was an adventurer just like you, until I took an arrow into the knee."

I get that Americans are gun crazy, but as chainsaws run out of fuel, so do guns from munition. You don't have to face this problem if you're able to create more.

Other possible shelter locations:

  • The Pirate Bay's servers.
  • My school. seriously, it has a metric ton of computers, an effective moat, you just need to fill it with water. The place is large and is like a maze, also there are doors of unknown function, that are iron, and can be moved over the normal door, and then be locked. The place has Wi-Fi and a LAN network, and a machine that can create (possibly) swords for us from larger metal pieces.
  • A castle.
  • Far away from anything, Hungary's most abandoned places are too freaky, even for the zombies to enter. (Yes, welcome to hell, we accept payment in paper or plastic.)
  • $\begingroup$ Great job mentioning Redwall! That is likely the best zombie refuge that'll ever exist... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias Except that it gets sieged by looters roughly every generation. Remind me, how well did those walls work when it was Kotir? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, Redwall is regularly sieged. However, its walls have only been bypassed three times at the most, and that because there were intelligent being besieging it. Other questions have already proven that zombies can't get past castle walls, and since Redwall is for all intents and purposes a castle, it's essentially impenetrable to zombies. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 22:23

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