Sunday, February 18, 2018

Best Advice for Preppers Stuck in the City/Suburbs

During and after any societal collapse, a productive homestead in a rural part of the country far away from any mega-cities will be a much safer and better  place to live than the large cities and their suburbs. But, many preppers complain that they are "stuck" living where they are at now and simply cannot move to a small town or rural area.* What can they do? 

My best advice for people stuck living in the city or suburbs: Connect with trustworthy, like-minded people near you and together start preparing and planning for difficult times. This concept is often called a mutual assistance group, or MAG, and can be as formal or as informal as you want it to be.

Working on a project (such as prepping) with other people provides for a certain amount of mutual encouragement and accountability, enabling you to stay on track. It allows all parties to draw on different experiences and skill sets. You can make and split bulk purchases, reducing costs for all involved. You can also split the costs of certain purchases for which your group only needs one - such as a ham radio. If the group is successful, at some point you may even consider going in together to buy a few acres of rural property to use as a bug-out retreat. 

Many skill sets need to be learned by all group members (examples: basic first aid & CPR, self-defense). But you can assign certain advanced or specialized tasks to certain members. "Sam & Emily, you'll be our medics so you need to get advanced first aid and medical training. John, you'll be our ham radio operator and communications expert, so get the equipment and training. Bill, you have the only pick-up truck in the group, so you need to get a hand truck and dolly and be available to group members for hauling. Mary, since you're already into sewing, you'll be the group's seamstress so make sure you have plenty of supplies to repair our clothing after the SHTF."  You get the idea.  

You should also plan how you will provide mutual aid to each other both during a disaster and after. Plan for both natural disasters and man-made disasters. Write down these plans and expectations to prevent misunderstandings. 

Who should be in your network? Well, I did say trustworthy, like-minded people near you. You're not looking for folks with certain skill sets (worry about skills later). Rather, you're looking for folks who share similar worldviews, concerns, and goals. Start meeting people and talking to them. Look first to those already around you - your neighbors, fellow church-members, friends, co-workers, and so forth. Look for clues as to their attitudes and mindset. The guy at work with a NRA sticker on his pick-up might be a good prospect. Your neighbor who still has the "Hillary For President" bumper sticker on his Toyota Prius, probably not. Once you pick out a prospect, start feeling them out. Mention watching a hunting show, or a rerun of Dual Survivor, or something similar, and see how they react. Negative reactions, move on. Positive reactions, keep the conversations going. It may take several conversations as both parties feel each other out before building enough trust to get into preparedness and survival topics. 

Religion and politics do make a difference. Someone diametrically opposed to your views on these topics will make a poor fit for your group. Have discussions on these topics early on. Believe me, you'll quickly figure out if they are incompatible with you. 

I also suggest that you need people who are physically near your location. Transportation with be difficult when the SHTF, and become even more difficult post-collapse as gasoline runs out and infrastructure breaks down. Absolute best is someone who lives within eye-shot  of your location. Next is someone within reasonable walking distance of your place. And expand outwards from there.

* I don't want to insult anyone, but we all sometimes need a swift kick in the pants: I put "stuck" in quotes because what most people really mean when they say they are "stuck" in the city or suburbs is that they simply aren't willing to make the necessary sacrifices to move, or otherwise don't really want to change their current lifestyle. In most cases, being "stuck" due to some reason supposedly out of their control (financial, career, family, health, etc.) is actually an excuse they use to justify doing what they want to do instead of what they know should do.  If you are "stuck" in the city or suburbs, I urge you to honestly examine your own motivations, but I warn you that such a self-examination can be quite difficult and uncomfortable. 

Of Interest: Country Land (Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin). This 32-page booklet is filled with useful information and tips on finding, evaluating, and buying rural property. Emphasis is placed on understanding a property's soil and water, which, next to location, will be the most important factors for most preppers to consider. This booklet was last updated in 1988, so don't expect any tips on hunting for land via the Internet, but for only $4 it is money well-spent for anyone ready to find their own homestead.


  1. since when is a MAG only for a suburban or urban situation? - you can live as remote and rural as you want and still have problems that only some assistance will cure ....

    your bias is showing guy ....

    1. I NEVER said a MAG was only for a suburban or urban community. Nor have I ever said that rural folks don't need community. You are obviously reading things into the article that I never wrote.

  2. On the topic of being stuck, Mr. Gamble to way too glib. There is something called loyalty and honor you dolt and there is no way I am leaving my burb while my dad lives. That's not an excuse. This was a man who sacrificed his entire life so I could go to better schools and grow up with green grass under my feet instead of asphalt. Also, what makes you such an expert on the suburbs if you are such a gung-ho rural dweller? You personify what's wrong with prepping: another condescending "expert." Oh, the footnote was nearly laughable "I warn you that such a self-examination can be quite difficult and uncomfortable." Thanks Freud. Go buy another can of #10 cheese and sit in it.

    1. Wow, I suspect that when the SHTF, if the preparedness community survives better than the rest, it will soon be rendered asunder by its own members, as the huge numbers of social misfits start blowing each other away.

  3. Appears I struck a nerve.

    Let me explain what I wrote: I clearly said "In most cases". That implies that there are *some* cases where there are legitimate reasons to stay. I don't know your particulars, so maybe you fit one of those cases. I don't care. I was clearly speaking generally, and you CHOOSE to take those comments very personally. Not my problem.

    Also, I NEVER suggested leaving family behind. You always have the option of talking to your Dad and getting him to move with you.

    I stand by what I wrote.

  4. If one is planning for an extended outage -- a "bug in" of maybe several months -- suburbs can be made tenable for limited-duration events. You can always lay in a year's worth of food and manage water (somehow). Due to density of population and structures, there are defensive disadvantages, but they can be mitigated with extra manpower.

    The problem would be if things stayed "down" longer. There's just too little arable land per population density to grow enough new food to feed your MAG. While 'unused' land from abandoned suburban neighborhoods might be available, it would be tougher to protect, given the higher population density, etc.

    A suburban prepper is really banking on a shorter-term event.

  5. I agree. I'll also point out that not all cities/suburbs are equally bad. Some are worse than others, some better than others. It might be quite feasible to ride out a shorter term (say, less than a year)crisis in some suburbs, especially if you can work together as a community, which is the point of the article. It all depends on how long and how severe the emergency is.