What is Urban Survival?

There has been a fair bit of argument going around when it comes to defining what urban survival is.

Many will say that it’s all about the “street smarts” you need to survive the day-to-day living in the city. Others will argue that urban survival is about the right set of skills and abilities to survive a major disaster for a prolonged amount of time or even a few days.

We say it’s the right mix of both urban prepping and street smarts. Why? Well, surviving in the city during a time of crisis will be different from surviving a disaster in the wild. In different situations and places, you will need different skills. You can’t exactly use your fishing skills in the city sewers now, can you?

But we also say it’s about having “street smarts” because you’ll need that if you want to make urban survival a lifestyle.

 Making It a Lifestyle

“Wait. What? Did I just read that right? Did they just say urban survival as a lifestyle?”

Yep. You read that right. The truth is, people are moving to the city to find better jobs or get better pay. You can’t exactly blame them for wanting a better life.

So the best way to get someone used to urban survival is to turn it into a lifestyle and incorporate it into everyday living. Hey, if people can turn eating only veggies into their whole life, then urban survival won’t be that hard.

Aspects of Urban Survival You Can Make a Part of Everyday Life

To get started, you’ll have to ease aspects of urban survival into your life. Some things will be easier to do than others, but the important thing is to start.

Here are some that you can add to your daily routine:

Survival Fitness

We’re all for being fit for survival but, most of us are not in the best shape especially for many who live in the city.

When SHTF, you might get less sleep and less nutrition. The sun might burn you to a crisp or the cold night might have you shivering — if you’re not healthy or fit, you’ll be easily affected by these factors.

If you’re not convinced yet that you need to get fit, maybe these reasons will. Getting fit for survival will help you to:

  1. Climb/jump over obstacles or cars
  2. Escape from dangerous people
  3. Lift water filled containers
  4. Carry backpacks weighing at least 30 pounds for hours
  5. Survive on less calories while still being able to physically demanding activities
  6. Run up a flight of stairs effortlessly
  7. Be mentally healthy and prepare

If you don’t want to be able to do that when SHTF, well then roadkill it is. But if all that is looking extra appealing to you, start adding a fitness routine to your daily life.

It doesn’t have to be anything extreme; remember, start small and work from there. Do activities that you enjoy. It could be jogging, running, or simply hitting the gym. Do it consistently, and make it a habit. It will definitely pay off in the long run.


Living in the city, you’re bound to get used to eating yummy food. Think burgers, fries, milkshakes, pizza, Chinese food. For a quick dinner fix at home, frozen nuggets will be perfect to heat in the microwave.

Now, imagine all that disappearing. The crazy thing is, when SHTF comes running around the corner, you will have to say goodbye to the fast food scene. No one is going to serve you up a Big Mac at McDonald’s when everything’s gone to pieces.

So what’s for SHTF dinner, you ask?

Canned goods, jerky, pasta, tomato sauce in a jar, your pantry basics that don’t have to go into the fridge.

If you want something healthy, then fruits and veggies it is, and not from the post-apocalyptic supermarket on the corner of the block — from your very own garden! Did we forget your city? Nope. It is possible to cultivate a garden in your home, smack dab in the center of a metropolis.

You can easily get into urban gardening, even if your apartment is small. There are a lot of different methods of gardening in the city that will work to your advantage. You can grow various veggies and fruits (ones you like), live a healthy life AND be prepared, food wise, for hunkering down at home during a disaster.

How’s that for readily adopting an urban survival lifestyle?

Daily Gear or EDC

Your day to day gear or everyday carry (EDC) is always an important aspect to talk about. Without the right gear, you might become as useless as tits on a boar hog.

We’re going to repeat it; what you carry in the wild will not be the same as what you’ll need to have in the city. A bolo might be alright in the woods, but when you’re trying to enter a bank, that’s going to be a sure red flag.

Think about the setting you’re in and adjust to it. What can you and cannot use in an urban environment? Do you need to bring a full set of mini screwdrivers with you, or can you swap it out with a wallet multitool that easily fits like a card in your back pocket?

The urban gear you pack matters.

For example, you might think to bring a power bank compatible flashlight with you every day, but did you know that flashlights can deter criminals or suspicious people away when you’re walking down a particularly dark alley or street at night? No one in their right mind would attack someone who can see their faces.

Having the right EDC can guarantee your safety and, at the same time, prepare you for a lot of scenarios.

Honing Your Knowledge of the City

This one’s pretty straightforward and easy to adapt to in your day-to-day routine. The only thing you need to do is to be observant of your surroundings, to take in all the useful info you can, run scenarios where those observations come in handy, and file it away in the back of your mind for future use.

Some things that you can look for are possible areas or safe zones where you can bug out if your home is compromised. Try taking alternate routes going home to see what’s the quickest way to take during an emergency.

It might seem like small stuff, but when you add it all together (knowing the safe routes, safe locations, possible water sources, etc.), it makes for perfect knowledge on your city and takes your survival chances to the next level. Plus, it’s not exactly something that takes a lot of effort to do; it’s very easy to incorporate into your urban survival lifestyle.

Honing your knowledge of the city is also an excellent step to becoming the ultimate gray man, someone who can easily blend in without attracting attention, becoming almost invisible for all the right reasons.

Becoming a gray man is something you want to achieve if you’re in the city and being observant takes you one step closer to it.

Other Useful Things to Add into the City Life

As much as we’d like to force things to be a part of life, especially the city life, there are just some things that won’t seamlessly mesh into your daily routine.

We accept that and we acknowledge it wholeheartedly. Hey, we’re not going to force anything that feels unnatural to you.

Having said that, here are some things you can consider adding into your urban survival lifestyle that is highly useful, though you do have to go a few extra miles to incorporate it.

Radio Comms

Podcasts, online music stores…with everything going digital, does anyone even use radios nowadays?

It might come as a shock to some, but yes, some people still use radios for communication and as listening devices. We like to think of those people as truly cultured individuals and top-notch preppers.

When SHTF, the last thing you’re going to rely on is your phone, especially when the lines go down. If there’s something significant going on, something catastrophic, call-flooded lines will overwhelm emergency personnel. You redialing on your phone over and over again to get help is going to waste precious time.

That’s where radio comms come in handy.

Granted, signal ranges on radios dramatically shorten in cities, but it doesn’t make it completely useless; don’t be deterred by that fact. Start off with a little research and get to know the best radios to use in the city.

Two-way radios have been a dependable mode of communication in the concrete jungle. With the right one, it can work well, whether it be for close or long-range comms. Meanwhile, the best frequency to use in this setting as well would have to be UHF frequency. UHF frequency stands for ultra-high frequency and is known to work well in and around buildings.

The key here is to do your research. Prepare ahead to find the best radio for your apartment and home, and it will pay off when the time comes.

Apartment Prepping and Home Fortification

You’re probably thinking about Home Alone and Macaulay Culkin setting up wired traps, huh?

We’re going to burst your bubble just a bit and say that we’re not exactly aiming for that but hey, if you need that for inspo, why not?

Joking aside, apartment prepping is something to think highly about. Booby traps might not be the first thing we suggest but getting extra locks for your windows and doors is a must. You don’t want any unwanted guests coming in so this should be top priority.

If you can’t, get your windows outfitted with security window film and get blinds that can really block out the view of your apartment from the outside. When SHTF, boarding up your windows won’t be a bad idea, either. Make sure you have a toolbox ready and some plywood for that.

Another thing to prep is a fire plan. This isn’t a home on the flatlands you got here; you’re living in a building with stairs and a lot of warm bodies. Plotting out your escape routes will ensure you don’t panic and do something stupid or head the wrong way.

If you’re living way up high in the sky, take a look into creating a backup window escape plan. The height might be scary but when the going gets tough, your window will look like a gift from god himself. A building escape backpack with a solid and safe window escape plan will help you through a tough time.

Lastly, if you’ve got the space, look into getting a fortified double front door. It might cost you a bit but money spent for peace of mind is money well spent. Double front doors will help keep you safe and will act as a sound insulator for your apartment so that you don’t garner any attention.

So to TL;DR, creating layers of protection works, appearances make a difference, and solid physical barriers will deter unwanted attention.

Final Thoughts

Living in the city doesn’t have to be a hazard if you’ve got the right mindset and lifestyle. If you can make a dietary change, then adding in routines that elevate your chances of survival is a walk in the park.

It’s not something you’ll get right away; practice makes perfect. But as long as you prep ahead and you know what you’re doing, then you’ll be better off than everyone else who hasn’t. That’s prepping for ya.

If you found this article helpful, make sure you take the time to check out the other useful tips and info we have on the site.