Built sometime in the 2070s, Sanctuary Hills was a friendly suburb of Concord, located on a small island about a mile north of the town and accessible only by a wooden bridge, consisting of 14 prefabricated homes. Before the Great War Sanctuary Hills was the home of the Sole Survivor, who lived in the House of Tomorrow with their spouse Nate/Nora, their son Shaun, and their robot butler Codsworth.
On Saturday October 23rd, 2077, many families were just beginning their weekend mornings when their radios and television sets began reporting nuclear detonations in New York and Pennsylvania at 9:42 am. At 9:47 am, Boston was hit by one atomic warhead, and Sanctuary Hills was hit by the subsequent atomic blast seconds later. Select citizens that had spaces reserved fled to Vault 111, just through the woods surrounding the community, to escape the atomic fire. After the war Sanctuary Hills was largely left to decay, with several of the original homes collapsing and the others falling in to various states of disrepair. Its only residents during the post war era were radroaches, bloatflies, Codsworth, and the Vault-Tec rep for a very short period of time. Upon return to the town following cryogenic stasis, Sancturary Hills will often become the first settlement in The Commonwealth to fall under the Sole Survivor's control.
Sanctuary Hills is accessible by a small footbridge from Vault 111 and original main road over the larger bridge crossing the Misty Lake river, leading to Concord, via the Red Rocket fueling station. The village itself is built along a single road, which ends in a cul-de-sac. The site is populated by several houses which, by 2287, are in various states of decay.
To the west of Sanctuary Hills the Misty Lake is located and is the source to the two rivers surrounding the small island of Sanctuary Hills.
There are multiple safes and lootable items to be found in Sanctuary. Starting from the bridge leading out of the community, there is a floor safe (Advanced) hidden under a dresser in the blue house to the north of the road. In the yellow house at the curve of the street, there is a terminal (Novice) and a safe (Novice) with a makeshift bomb on the top and tension trigger affixed to the left hand side. In the blue house next to the yellow one is a Nuka-Cherry in the fridge, a first aid box in the bathroom and a locked suitcase (Novice) in the bedroom. In the Sole Survivor's house, the player character can find an issue of Grognak the Barbarian on the kitchen table and the "You're SPECIAL!" book under the dresser in Shaun's room. There is a safe (Advanced) in the house and a root cellar around the back of the following house down the street; just before the roundabout, containing multiple items and a locked safe (Advanced). The house south of the roundabout has a floor safe (Novice) hidden under the baby bed.
The root cellar is a shelter built under a neighboring property, two houses up from the House of Tomorrow in 2287. It appears that the owner was not able to reserve a space in a vault and so made his own shelter. The door can be found at the back of the house, just before the cul-de-sac in the northeast of Sanctuary Hills. It is next to a bush of wild mutfruit plants. There is a duffle bag containing leveled loot on the roof of the same house, accessible via the fallen tree to the rear of the house.
Attempting to leave pre-War Sanctuary Hills via any method other than evacuating to Vault 111 will result in the bomb being dropped instantly, resulting in an instant death.
There is a military vehicle on a small island southwest of Sanctuary Hills amid strong rads, with a medic box inside, a military helmet next to the dead soldier, a box of ammo hidden between waste containers and some glowing fungus.
There is a single raider with a small shelter to the north of the town, who usually has an attack dog and some loot. The raider respawns occasionally.
Sanctuary Hills is a useful place for an early settlement as it contains all the base game crafting workshops, of which all but the cooking and chemistry stations are near to the fast travel spawn point. The cooking station is on the driveway of the blue house marked 'Russell' on the mailbox, north of the bridge to the Red Rocket truck stop and chemistry station is behind the yellow house marked 'Hawthorne' on the mailbox. It is a good idea to move the cooking and chemical stations to a more desirable location instead of scrapping them as the second rank of the Local Leader perk is not readily available until level 14.
There are four mailboxes with the owners names painted on, 'Rosa' opposite the Sole Survivor's house, 'Hawthorne' on the first house still standing on the left coming over the main bridge, 'Russell' is on the ground next to its original post in front of the first house on the right as you come over the main bridge and 'Able.' However, in the pre-War version of the town, all mailboxes are generic, with no name painted on any.
Sanctuary Hills is referred to as just "Sanctuary" on the official location marker in the game.
There is a random encounter in which one can come across feral ghouls with the names of some of the pre-War inhabitants of Sanctuary Hills. This encounter is repeatable, even if the ghouls are killed.
Upon returning and "discovering" Sanctuary Hills for the first time, an acoustic echo from It's All Over But the Crying plays and slowly fades out, reminiscing about the place it once was.
The white picket fences found around the outside of the houses count towards the item limit. They can be scrapped, or stored if the appropriate Picket Fences magazine is found if this becomes a problem.
When Sanctuary Hills is under attack, assaults can come in via the south bridge, via the path north to Vault 111 and even from the east.
After exploring the neighborhood with Codsworth, he tells the Sole Survivor the directions to Concord. In his directions, he mentions the footbridge to the south. This is slightly odd considering there were cars and even an IFV that were in Sanctuary Hills, meaning the residents drove on a footbridge. However, as Preston Garvey states, the footbridge dates back to the American Revolutionary War. Meaning, it is technically still a footbridge, one that's over 600 years old.
The Concord water tower which can be seen in pre-War Sanctuary uses the post-War model.
The Chem dealers house in pre-War Sanctuary contains two large, blue shipping containers.
The Chryslus Cherry Bomb found in the driveway immediately to the right of the path leading to Vault 111 can be found rotated 180 degrees after leaving the vault.
The pre-War version of Sanctuary Hills is not truly changed by the nukes in the game files; instead, Sanctuary Hills (pre-War) is a separate location, and the player character is moved to the standard game map after the cryo freezing room scene, so one is not really missing out on seeing nuclear destruction. The original Sanctuary Hills may be accessed by using the console command coc PreWarSanctuaryExt01.
fo4nw Sanctuary Hills can become a target for the Nuka-World raiders to take over.
Interacting with Shaun's crib after leaving the vault will cause the Sole Survivor to say "I'm coming, buddy."
The following is based on unverified behind the scenes information and has not been confirmed by canon sources.
Sanctuary Hills appears to be set in the same location as the real-world Minute Man National Historical Park, as both are located northwest of Concord across what appears to be the Concord River, the bridge used to access Sanctuary in-game is nearly identical to the real-life Old North Bridge, and the location's map-marker bears a resemblance to the Minute Man statue adjacent to the bridge in real-life (Sanctuary also has a Minute Man statue, albeit adjacent to the wrong side of the bridge).
The houses in Sanctuary Hills are based on the real-world Lustron prefabricated houses, constructed after World War II in response to the shortage of housing for returning G.I.s.
ps4xboxone Upon fast travel to the settlement, the residents may appear on the roofs of some buildings—especially the one with the workshop — making dialogue difficult or even impossible. You can resolve this by either fast traveling again (sometimes 2 or 3 times to resolve), waiting for them to walk and fall off the roof, by building stairs up to the roof via the workshop and climbing up or, if you have already reached level 41, jetpack onto the roof with a modified power armor.[verified]
ps4 Occasionally, upon fast traveling to Sanctuary Hills, a lone Vertibird will appear over the settlement hovering for a moment. It will then suddenly lose control and crash, inflicting damage to the Sole Survivor if they are too close to the area of impact.[verification overdue]
Using the recruitment beacon at Sanctuary Hills may result in some bugged quests that will be impossible to complete from recruited settlers (unnamed settlers only, not from named settlers).[platforms tag needed][verification overdue]
There have been cases in which, upon finishing any potential Minutemen quest at the end of which you are asked to report to Preston Garvey, you will find that all the settlers, including Preston Garvey and Mama Murphy, have returned to the Museum of Freedom without any option of returning them to Sanctuary. Any companions residing in Sanctuary do not appear to leave however. [platforms tag needed][verification overdue]
When having trading stands, all the settlers may permanently stay near the stands without moving until the stands are destroyed. Fast traveling does not fix this bug.[platforms tag needed][verification overdue]
pcps4xboxone Checking the settlement stats on the player's Pip-Boy for Sanctuary Hills may display erroneous stats, such as 0 defense, 0 beds and/or 0 water. This does not affect the settlement in any way, and the stats should reset to normal by fast traveling back to Sanctuary Hills, except for the happiness level which may drop (especially if the Sole Survivor is away for a long time without noticing the glitch on the Pip-boy). That stat will take some time to re-establish.[verified]
ps4 There is an invisible maple tree for scrapping in the northern corner behind the yellow house that is next door north of the blue house with the cellar. It can't be seen normally, but in construction mode, the outline is highlighted in yellow.[verified]
Sometimes upon fast traveling to Sanctuary Hills, your settlers may become hostile. Simply reloading a save seems to fix this.[platforms tag needed][verification overdue]
xboxone Sometimes, during Minutemen quests given by Preston Garvey that are related to Sanctuary Hills, you will be unable to find the settler that you are supposed to talk with to start the quest. This results in the quest failing after a few in-game days.[verification overdue]
pc The buildable area of Sanctuary extends way beyond the green border in the northeast part of town, extending towards the east.[verification overdue]