The 10 Best Cities for Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse

Good news, Houston residents! You have a better chance of surviving the zombie apocalypse than just about anybody else. That’s because y’all have a lot more gun shops, supermarkets, hunting outfitters, hospitals, and escape routes than towns like Shreveport and Jersey City.

When it comes to kicking zombies to the curb, the Lone Star State does pretty well overall: It has three cities in the top 10 (Houston, San Antonio, and Austin) and 21 cities total on the list of this study, published on

Why in the name of Daryl Dixon would a lawn-care company run an article about the undead? Because it’s their turn, that’s why. Pop culture bombards us with TV shows, books, movies, (overly) graphic novels, fanfic, and YouTube channels that detail the doings of the dastardly (un)dead. Why shouldn’t LawnLove join the chorus?

Besides, zombies are often shown clawing their way out of a graveyard or a mass burial site. See: Grass is involved! Sort of.

The author, Sav Maive, rated major population centers based on 30 metrics in five categories:

  • Supplies
  • Protection
  • Vulnerability
  • Hideouts
  • Mobility

Using data from FEMA,, the CDC, the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation, the FAA, and others, Maive calculated the odds of outrunning a shambling horde of flesh-eating fiends.

A total of 200 cities made the cut, so to speak. Here are the top 10:

1. Houston, Texas
2. New York, New York
3. San Antonio, Texas
4. Miami, Florida
5. Los Angeles, California
6. Austin, Texas
7. San Diego, California 
8. Las Vegas, Nevada
9. Chicago, Illinois 
10. Orlando, Florida 

California also scored well in the study, with two cities in the top 10 and a whopping 38 cities total on the list. The Golden State scored high on metrics such as walkability, good health, number of stores, and “firearms training facilities.” A gun won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use it.

A Few Takeaways

Miami beat New York for “number of hospitals per square mile.” Makes sense, considering how many elderly folks retire to Florida. Still, Miami has about 450,000 souls vs. New York City’s 8.8 million (almost 1.7 million in Manhattan alone). You’d think the Big Apple would have more ambulances.

Unsurprisingly, struggling cities like Oakland, Bridgeport (Conn.), Newark, Paterson, Glendale (Calif.), and Detroit had the fewest supermarkets. If you thought living in a food desert was tough in the everyday world, wait until you and other zomb-pocalyse survivors are duking it out over the last few packs of Slim Jims at the corner store.

It’s also no surprise that Salt Lake City made the list (No. 23) because it’s the site of the Mormon world headquarters. This religion requires its members to have a year’s worth of food stashed, which would be super-handy when the undead stand between you and the nearest Safeway.

You’d think SLC would rank higher on the list, but it’s pretty hot and super dry there in the summer. Then again, so is Phoenix, which came in at No. 12.

Boston, home to the Battle of Bunker Hill historic site, is rated No. 1 for “bunkers.” Hee hee. “Bunker” is Zombieland lingo for “basement.” Yep, you can turn the rumpus room into Prepper Central.

As for the “number of helipads” metric, you’d have to be wealthy to access a helicopter and a place to park it. Most of us will have to rely on our two legs or a bike.

Cities The Came in Dead Last

If you live in the bottom 10 cities, you’d be in for a world of hurt once the zombie virus began to spread. All hope abandon, ye who live in:

191. West Valley City, Utah
192. Garden Grove, California
193. Port St. Lucie, Florida
194. Detroit, Michigan
195. Surprise, Arizona
196. Pembroke Pines, Florida
197. Paterson, New Jersey
198. North Las Vegas, Nevada
199. Jackson, Mississippi
200. Miramar, Florida

For example, Detroit and Jackson have insufficient access to stores that sell food, outdoor gear, and medications. Those two also have higher-than-average numbers of homes without full kitchens or indoor plumbing.

After a while, that wouldn’t matter since you’d likely lose utilities that make it possible to receive drinking water or pump it from a well – and, more importantly, to flush the toilet. But you might have time to store some water until the city mains ran dry.

Some Grave Errors?

They say there are three kinds of falsehoods: Lies, (darned) lies, and statistics. Sometimes, the facts look good on paper, but the researcher needs to dig deeper. That’s why we’re pointing out a few grave (ahem) issues with this study.

For example, the article says New York City has many hardware, department, and convenience stores. But it also has a freaking huge population, which means the bodegas would run out of Pepsi and Aim’ n’ Flames mighty fast.

Maive also notes New York’s outstanding access to escape routes. Yet true zombie nerds know that the government will first blow the tunnels and bridges to try and contain the threat. (Didn’t she watch The Walking Dead: Dead City?)

Anchorage, Alaska, was No. 39 on the list, due in part to a giant military presence (both Army and Air Force). There would also be plenty to eat due to the number of moose and bears that live within city limits. But Anchorage is also far, far away from potential populations of survivors. Someone in Dallas can drive about 240 miles and be in Houston.

To get from Anchorage to Seattle would mean driving 2,358 miles – assuming that zombies haven’t taken out the gas pumps along the way, and that someone is still plowing the roads if it’s winter.

Minneapolis (No. 26) and St. Paul (No. 55) earned praise for their enclosed skyway systems, which let you get from building to building without stepping outside. But what if rotting ghouls appeared at all the exits? Those skyways would become plastic tubes filled with tasty treats – Pixie Sticks for zombies! Outdoors, you might have a slightly better chance of escaping.

In addition, both those cities get very cold in the winter, which would lead to many human deaths from hypothermia. “But wait!” you might say. “Sub-freezing temperatures would turn the zombies into frozen stiffs – problem solved!” Maybe.

But maybe not, according to the Zombie Research Society, which suggests that if the undead could produce glycoproteins (chemicals that act like antifreeze for the blood), they could just keep rollin’ along, no matter what the thermometer says.

Okay, we’re getting a little far afield here. But since you’re still reading, a little science won’t kill you. We’ll let the zombies do that.

Wait…what? Zombies aren’t real, right? 

The study asked several “warm-blooded” experts about the likelihood of a real-life zombie apocalypse.

Dr. Thomas Lee has a Ph.D. in epidemiology and teaches at the University of Hawaii; he is also a medical officer in the U.S. Army. He believes the emergency of zombies isn’t entirely out of the question due to medical advances (especially genetic sequencing): “As humans, we will forever push the boundaries and along the way there will be unintended consequences.”

Lee says your most valuable survival elements are a blunt weapon or weighted spear, comfortable shoes, and “good cardio.” He also suggested packing clean underwear.

Hana Akselrod, an assistant professor at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, also believes in a spear – plus a shield to go with it, to protect against physical attacks and airborne zombie snot. (She used the phrase “respiratory secretions flying your way,” but “airborne zombie snot” is more fun to read.) To stay ahead of the hordes, Akselrod suggested “Cardio, cardio, cardio!”

Thomas J. Dyszynski, an epidemiology educator from Indiana University, believes our fascination with zombies stems from our fear of an actual apocalypse, such as a nuclear disaster. Since that’s too scary to think about, we use zombie entertainment to “witness the end of humanity” in a safe way.

No worries, though: The educator says that a zombie apocalypse “isn’t likely to happen.”

Notice that he didn’t say that it was impossible? So did we. As David Grace, a longtime member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, points out, “scientists try to avoid using the ‘I’ word.”

Authors do, too: Grace says the possibility of a zombie apocalypse is “vanishingly small,” yet also notes that “highly unlikely, weird stuff does happen.” After all, “pathogens mutate all the time and viruses do jump into humans from other species.”

Sleep tight, everybody! And remember to start that cardio program.

Donna Freedman spent 18 years in newspapers before quitting to go freelance. She created the Smart Spending blog for MSN Money, and her work has appeared on many top personal finance websites. Her writing has won regional and national awards. Now she lives and writes the frugal life in Anchorage, Alaska.

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