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Doomsday, USA: The Best and Worst States for Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

Between The Walking Dead leaving a trail of undead spinoffs and waves of similar shows and the CDC releasing a zombie preparedness guide, it’s clear that Americans still have a lingering taste for the fleshy subject of zombies. (Undergoing a global pandemic doesn’t exactly curb our fears, either.)

To find out where the best place to survive a zombie apocalypse was, we looked at the population density in each state, the gross receipts of farms per capita, and the state’s electricity percentage from solar.

Get ready to bug out—we’re taking a look at which hills you should head for in the event of an undead uprising.

Doomsday USA 2021 Map

The best 10 states for surviving a zombie apocalypse

When the blood turns bad, your best bets might be in the bountiful farmlands of the Midwest.

More farmlands with fewer people may help you from falling under whatever zombie-inducing disease is floating around. Plus, farming up your own food instead of relying on trading, hunting, or scavenging may help you survive longer.

Top 10 best states for surviving a zombie apocalypse

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RankStateScore
1North Dakota79.64
2Nebraska78.6
3South Dakota73.1
4Iowa71.2
5Kansas62.5
6Idaho60.6
7California59.2
8Nevada57.5
9Montana56.5
10Minnesota54.6
  • For the best potential farming, you should find your way to North and South Dakota, which have the highest gross receipts of farms per capita (followed by Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas). However, the Dakotas had the worst percentages of solar power provided across the nation—so bring your own solar panels!
  • Although California has the 10th highest population per square mile, it has better than average farmability per capita, and it’s the best in the nation for solar power. Make sure to avoid the major metros where more monsters will be mashing and mawing away.
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The worst states for surviving a zombie apocalypse

Some may see the surviving zombie apocalypse as a zero sum game, and those on the East Coast are far more likely to be right about that.

Eastern states are a lot more densely populated, don’t have nearly as much farmland, and the bottom 10 averages only 4% in solar panel electricity—which you won’t be able to enjoy if you’re getting bombarded by bloodthirsty-bodies anyway.

Top 10 worst states for surviving a zombie apocalypse

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RankStateScore
1New Jersey5.7
2Connecticut20.1
3Maryland26.6
4Massachusetts28.3
5New York32.6
6Delaware33.4
7Florida33.5
8Pennsylvania36.2
9Ohio36.8
10New Hampshire40.5
  • New Jersey folks are nearly 14 times less likely to survive the zombie apocalypse as those in North Dakota.
  • The population density in the worst 10 states, which are all east of the Mississippi River, is roughly 550 per square mile—that’s a lot of potential people to ward off or keep supplied and sane.
  • These states pull in only an average of $0.49 of farming money per capita—and most of that comes from Delaware and Maryland. Compared to the national median of $1.25 per capita, the eastern farms will likely go hungry when they’re not busy feeding the horde.

Ranking the best states for surviving a zombie apocalypse

Does your state stand a chance? Find out below where it falls in the (hopefully fantasy) feeding frenzy.

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RankStateScore
1North Dakota79.63
2Nebraska78.57
3South Dakota73.14
4Iowa71.2
5Kansas62.55
6Idaho60.57
7California59.22
8Nevada57.5
9Montana56.49
10Minnesota54.59
11New Mexico54
12Wyoming53.31
13Vermont53.09
14Arkansas52.76
15Hawaii51.94
16Arizona51.47
17Utah51.17
18Wisconsin50.99
19Colorado50.34
20Mississippi48.91
21Oregon48.68
22Oklahoma48.32
23South Carolina47.86
24Texas47.55
25Missouri47.25
26North Carolina46.74
27Washington46.05
28Maine45.88
29Alaska45.13
30Alabama44.95
31Kentucky44.92
32Rhode Island43.74
33Georgia43.68
34Virginia43.34
35Louisiana43.29
36Indiana43.23
37Tennessee42.81
38West Virginia42.09
39Michigan40.84
40Illinois40.58
41New Hampshire40.47
42Ohio36.79
43Pennsylvania36.18
44Florida33.52
45Delaware33.44
46New York32.58
47Massachusetts28.34
48Maryland26.56
49Connecticut19.96
50New Jersey5.74

FAQ

What are the signs of a zombie apocalypse?

Aside from seeing your dead-eyed friends munching other humans, you’ll notice more and more news reports of unusual activity, viral outbreaks, and strange crowds—possibly involving cannibalism. Based on the undead movies we’ve seen, these signs will be (mostly) ignored until it’s pure survival time.

What is the safest place for a zombie apocalypse?

In our ranking criteria, the Midwest stands out as being the safest haven when people turn craven. But in general, you want to look for less-populated areas, plenty of farmland, and ways to power up any devices or tools that may be useful when fighting for your life.

Which cities would survive a zombie apocalypse in 2021?

It’s hard to say which cities, if any, could survive a zombie apocalypse. But our bets would be the small cities surrounded by plenty of farmland—and hopefully some folks on the same survival page.

That said, you’ll probably be better off sheltering somewhere near Bismarck, North Dakota; Lincoln City, Nebraska; or Pierre, South Dakota.

Fan of Zombies?

If zombies are your thing you may want to check out our “What to Watch” guide. We update this page weekly with our favorite new show and movie recommendations. Zombie content is often high on our list. Or visit our Shudder review for even more frights and horror.

The methodology behind the mayhem

The zombie apocalypse usually comes in the form of some sort of disease spread through blood, bites, and barely recognizable undead bodies chasing down the living.

To survive the existential event, we analyzed the US for population density in each state, the gross receipts of farms per capita, and each state’s electricity percentage from solar.

Our ranking rationale? More (undead) people, more problems. You’ll need farms for food and trading with other tribes. And you might want to get some electric juice from a stable source like the sun, instead of the usual electric plants possibly overrun by cannibalistic corpses.

  • Population density (45% of score): A lower value positively impacts the score.
  • Gross receipts of farms per capita (35% of score): A higher value positively impacts the score.
  • Percentage of state’s electricity from solar (20% score): A higher value positively impacts the score.
  • We normalized the data by working with a 0–1 scale where 1 is better for staying alive (like if you had to pick one place to go farm for the future, it’d be North Dakota) and where 0 is worse for waiting it out (you’ll get zeroed out if you’re in a high population place like New Jersey).

We added these adjustment measurements together with the weight mentioned above to get a score out of 100. But if North Dakota, the best state in the US, got a 79—basically a B- score—we may be in trouble . . .

  1. Statista, “Population density in the U.S. by federal states including the District of Columbia in 2020,” Accessed June 4, 2021.
  2. USDA, “Farm Finance Indicators—State Ranking,” 2019. Accessed June 4, 2021.
  3. SEIA, “State-by-State Map — Solar Energy Industries,” 2020. Accessed June 4, 2021.