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Best Starting Locations in Project Zomboid

Choosing the best starting location to establish your initial safehouse is one of the first challenges of the zombie apocalypse sim Project Zomboid. Provided you haven’t installed any of the numerous mods for the game, you’ll be presented with four locations as options.

In this guide, we’ll break down all four of these different starting spawn locations in Project Zomboid with pros and cons. We’ll also pinpoint a structure or two in each area that will work the best for starting your new life and surviving the horrors of a zombified Kentucky.

Ready to brave the horrors of Zomboid? Let’s get started!

Muldraugh (Default Design)

Muldraugh - Project Zomboid Best Starting Location
These are my crates! Back off! | Image: The Indie Stone via HGG / Nathan Hart

Muldraugh is the original starting location for Project Zomboid, available the longest out of the four default starting options.

Pros

One of the most appealing things about Muldraugh is that it has a lot of warehouses full of various tools. This makes it one of the best places to get a quick start, as you can gear yourself up with a lot of good equipment like crowbars, axes, and saws. You can also find metalworking equipment inside crates in these areas, letting you get started on higher-level barricades earlier on.

Cons

In exchange, it can be really tough to get early skill books since the school and library are deep in the undead-infested territory. Additionally, If you are starting on one of the normal difficulty settings like Apocalypse, you’ll find Muldraugh to be more populated with zombies than most of the other starting areas. However, while it is heavily populated, the infected are largely centered around the urban core of the town rather than further out in the more rural farmlands. 

Tips

Close to the center of town is a large urban warehouse sharing a fenced-in lot with a self-storage facility. This is an excellent place for looting some of the tools above while also being a fairly defensible location. When you’re looking for a new safe base, you’re going to want at least two entrances/exits with minimal windows. Any windows you do have, you’re going to want to barricade. That’s so the zombies get stuck outside banging on wood or metal panels instead of being able to break the window and eat you while you sleep. If you can get into the storage facility, you have a chance at finding a generator or other valuable loot.

Well, well, well...
Well, well, well… | Image: The Indie Stone via HGG / Nathan Hart

Muldraugh is also a great place to find a car and get it working again since there are gas stations on both ends of town. Once you’ve got a car ready (look towards the south end of town), a good alternative to the warehouse as a base is heading out west until you find the farmland with a well. Make sure you have plenty of gas, as you’ll be driving around in the backwoods areas for quite a while until you find it. These farmlands have some huge advantages over other bases, with the well, in particular, providing you with an infinite supply of water for drinking and cooking.

Nearby you’ll be able to find a huge stash of food with seeds and plenty of available farmland. The downsides to this base are the remoteness (driving into town for loot runs is an all-day ordeal) and prep work (fencing the place in requires lots of materials and time). But, it can be a long-time base if you want it to be. Farming is tough but rewarding in Project Zomboid, and this base provides plenty of room to be able to farm to your highest potential.

The farmland outside of town is bound to become even more valuable and sought after in future updates when the developers plan to add farm animals to the game. You can already see the barn that you’ll be able to use to store cattle and the chicken coop alongside your farmhouse. With numerous small warehouses placed far apart from each other, the farms in the middle of the map are the most stable location for looting Muldraugh long-term before you start to expand outward into other parts of the map. This can also be a fantastic location for a big multiplayer base, as it’s far enough from the main looting pathways that you’re unlikely to be attacked at random.

Riverside (Safer Start)

Riverside - Project Zomboid Best Starting Location
Image: The Indie Stone via HGG / Nathan Hart

Riverside is arguably the safest starting location in Project Zomboid, as you always have a river barrier to your north.

Pros

If you’re ever in trouble in the town of Riverside, you can run to the eponymous river and find sweet relief from the zombie hordes. The river is also an endless source of fish, and the riverbank is a great place to start a farm. Numerous houses exist in Riverside, with the eastern part of the town having tall, unbreakable metal fences surrounding a gated community. The flowing river nearby also provides you with an infinite supply of water, provided you keep enough wood on hand to light a fire and a vessel to boil the water in.

Cons

On the downside, the town of Riverside has few opportunities for the guaranteed collection of weapons, with no military presence or heavy police armory. Your best bet for good weapons is to stick to baseball bats or other close-range weapons while also checking the bedrooms of the gated community houses for heavier firearms. The infinite supply of water doesn’t really matter at the very start of the game, given that the water supply generally stays functional for a while unless you get very unlucky.

Tips

There are numerous houses in the western chunk of town where you might spawn. These tend to be more defensible at first compared to the wealthier eastern side, so board one of them up to return to before you head to the gated community. The west side of town also has a fishing supply store with everything you’ll need to start catching fish.

The post office.
The Riverside post office is a great place to study your survival skills. | Image: The Indie Stone via HGG / Nathan Hart

If you don’t love the idea of staying in the slums or camping on the riverbank, you can also head to the Riverside post office. A very popular strategy for base defense in Project Zomboid is to use a sledgehammer to smash the bottom levels of a staircase after nailing sheet ropes to the windows above. These sheets can be ascended by human characters, but zombies can’t climb them at all. The post office only has one staircase leading upstairs, and it’s thin enough that you can smash it.

Additionally, early on in the game, you’re going to want to be spending much of your character’s downtime reading books. These give massive skill multipliers that only get better the more books you read. The post office has a huge supply of many different kinds of books in its backstock. Once you’ve got the second story set up the way you want it, you can sit up there and read all day long.

Riverside can be a great pit stop, but of all the starting locations, it’s difficult to stay here for the long term since you’ll eventually run out of tools. Riverside is a great place to get a bearing on how the game functions and how to sneak around big groups of zombies since they don’t get big enough to be real threats. Plus, you can always just run to the river if you absolutely need to.

Rosewood (Best Overall)

Rosewood - Project Zomboid Best Starting Location
Fog can be dangerous, but it can you get where you need to go. | Image: The Indie Stone via HGG / Nathan Hart

Rosewood is largely the best starting location for Project Zomboid in a lot of ways since the zombie population is largely concentrated in particular areas like the church or the penitentiary. This starting location also has the benefit of possessing a good balance and variety of different kinds of weapons and equipment, with no real major cons to detract from choosing it.

Near the southwest part of town, you can find a huge service district with a fire station across the street from a huge police HQ. Not too far south from the fire station is a huge lumber yard full of pre-chopped logs for all your carpentry needs. There’s also a good chance you’ll find some valuable leather gloves.

Tips

This fire station is one of the best and most popular safehouses in the game, especially in the early game. It’s relatively easy to clear out, and you’re guaranteed to find a good variety of helpful equipment. The back storeroom of the main garage area is full of tools and axes, and right next to it you can find a small medical room full of bandages, antiseptics, surgical supplies, and plenty of different kinds of pills. 

Meanwhile, upstairs you can find more lockers full of some of the most powerful armor in the game — the firefighter’s jacket and pants. While these slow you down and heat you up immensely, making them almost unwearable during the hotter months of the year, they also make it a lot more difficult for a zombie to break through and deliver a fatal bite. You can also find a full kitchen up here, complete with a coffeemaker, and a rec room with a television so you can get all the early-game skill boosts you need to succeed.

Trying to find a car.
Tough to find a car in this good of shape in the apocalypse. | Image: The Indie Stone via HGG / Nathan Hart

Right across the street from the fire station is a huge police department. Bring a hammer and screwdriver in case you can’t open the security doors in the back of the building. If you’re in a rush and willing to make some noise, an axe works for breaking down doors too, and you’re sure to have plenty of them from the fire department. Far in the back of this police station is a small armory, potentially full of very powerful guns and plenty of ammo.

Another great spot to shack up in Rosewood is the northmost gas station. It has a single staircase leading upstairs, making it possible for you to demolish the only zombie-accessible path upwards. It’s also right next to the highway and the woods, so the population of zombies isn’t too hard to clear through. This spot is better to take over once you’ve already got a working car since it’ll let you top off the gas tank often.

Luckily, the gas station is also very close to a small mechanics shop. Once you’ve done enough scavenging to be able to repair a car, you can find a lot of the other resources you’ll need inside this mechanics shop. Being near the highway means you’re able to get out of your starter town as soon as you’re ready. Just make sure you bring enough canned food and a few extra axes to boot! The last note about Riverside is that it can be a lot easier to find a generator here compared to other starting locations.

West Point (Dangerous Start)

West Point
After all, this is a story of how you died… | Image: The Indie Stone via HGG / Nathan Hart

By its nature, Project Zomboid is a sandbox game built to let you envision a gritty, bleak, but rewarding end of times for humankind. And one of the ways this is evident is by the simple fact that the game lets you start in West Point with its colossal zombie population and minimal cover. West Point is by far the most dangerous area of the game if you don’t count the city of Louisville to its northeast. Clearing West Point is excellent practice for sending your beloved survivor into the blighted urban hell of Louisville.

Tips

West Point is incredibly difficult for a newer player, and we’d only recommend selecting it if you want a significant challenge. You could also consider it if you’re on a multiplayer server that’s already been active long enough for some other team of players to clear the majority of the zombies away from the area. Just like Riverside, West Point is bordered by a river to its north. However, the population of zombies means running up there for cover is more likely to get you surrounded rather than being a safe getaway plan.

West Point does have a gun shop in its city limits, and while it usually has an alarm active, breaking into it can often help you get ahead early on (or at the very least, it might help you replenish the ammo you spend trying to take the town center). Far to the west end of the town, you can find some solitary mansions with huge metal fences, all of which are flanking a lake where you can fish and gather fresh water.

Conclusion: What is the Best Starting Location in Project Zomboid?

Conclusions - Project Zomboid Best Starting Location
Fire away, but watch your back! | Image: The Indie Stone via HGG / Nathan Hart

Out of all of the starting locations, Rosewood or Riverside will likely be your best starting location as a first-time player in Project Zomboid. Muldraugh will be a little tougher for less experienced players, and West Point is a death wish for all but the most experienced players. Don’t forget your character can always visit all of these places in time, as they all exist on the same map. Whether you’re alone out there fighting for survival, or you’ve found a clan to help you tame the newly wild suburbs of Knox County, this guide to starting locations can help you take the high ground.

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We hope our guide on the best starting locations in Project Zomboid help you establish a successful start to your desperate struggle to survive. Let us know what you think about our choices in the comments below.

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