What Are the Differences Between Urban and Rural Prepping?

When you think of TEOTWAWKI, do you imagine yourself in a badass bunker filled with weapons for zombie-fighting?

Well, sorry to burst your bubble.

In reality, you’re either gonna be stuck in your downtown apartment or living in a place where animals outnumber people. Whatever that environment is, be familiar with it so that you’ll know what to prioritize when you get ready for SHTF.

So how are urban and rural prepping different? Here’s what you should know:

Urban Prepping vs. Rural Prepping

Before we get down to business, we want to emphasize that the point of this guide isn’t to prove that urban prepping is better than rural prepping or vice-versa.

The reason we’re distinguishing one from the other is so that you’ll have a better idea of what your situation will be like when SHTF. Remember, you need to factor your location in as you brainstorm your emergency plan

So without further ado, here are the ways urban and rural prepping differ from one another: 


Urban Setting

buildings in a city

Whenever you think of a city, massive skyscrapers, bridges, and a subway system are the first things that pop into your head. Everything you need — groceries, clothes, art and entertainment, gadgets — is within reach. While this convenience is great now, it can be an issue when the grid goes down, as many take it for granted.

Here’s another con: following disasters like a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, it will take a while to rebuild all those structures. Plus, since cities are already filled with buildings, there isn’t much room for producing crops or meat. Urbanites depend on farmers and ranchers for these.

Rural Setting

small town infrastructure

For folks who’ve lived in a small town their whole lives, it’s normal to live miles away from the nearest mall or to have a single restaurant that everyone and their mom frequent. There’s a lot of greenery and not too many buildings or bridges.

With food production being a major source of income for rural America, people living in these communities need better access to public transit and roads. The lack of infrastructure can also harm their ability to flee or get help when flooding or a freak winter storm ravages the community. 


Urban Setting

Big cities are packed with people. New York City, for example, has a population of over 8 million people. Guess how many live in Port Tobacco, Maryland? Around 15 people

You don’t have to be a math genius to know that difference is HUGE.

The reason why cities are so populated is simple: higher-paying jobs. Even folks who don’t live in cities are willing to travel to them every day for bigger paychecks.

Now when catastrophes like martial law or hurricanes happen, you might want to bug out and head for somewhere with fewer people. A large crowd equals a larger chance of falling victim to civil unrest or catching diseases. 

Rural Setting

Rural areas are less crowded than urban areas, thanks to the people who left their hometowns to pursue a life in the city. Since there aren’t as many folks living in the countryside, it’s not surprising that a lot of residents know each other by name. That’s how they know if someone is new to the place or not. 

A close-knit community is awesome because it means you can easily barter your services in exchange for your neighbors’ homemade goods. But if you get too familiar with them, you might end up signing your own death wish.

Think about it. If you’re known as the county’s resident prepper, expect to be the first one that people come running to for handouts. You can avoid this by keeping yourself and your home lowkey.  

Crime Rate

Urban Setting

With a bigger population, it’s a given that crimes are more common in urban areas. This will only increase when disaster strikes. As the unprepared get desperate, many will turn to violence, looting, and breaking into homes for a shot at survival. 

To keep your family and possessions safe, you’ll need to double — no, triple — your home security efforts. You can apply security film to your windows, get extra locks for your doors, and build a safe room (which we walk you through in this article). It’s smart to learn self-defense skills, too.

Rural Setting

You can’t escape crime unless you move to a deserted island, but if you live away from the concrete jungle, you’ll at least have fewer encounters with lawbreakers.

Still, you can’t be too confident. 

After they’ve exhausted the resources in cities and nearby suburbs, guess which place the horde will infiltrate next? Your remote location. Prepare your homestead by following easy home fortification tips like planting spiky shrubs and bushes


Urban Setting

Urbanites are often the first to know about what’s going on. If you’re based in the city, you won’t have a problem hearing about storm updates, evacuation orders, and other important news. News will spread fast. 

But if an EMP attack hits or a heavy flood knocks out power lines, you better have a radio prepared in case your smartphone stops working. Don’t go for the first one you see, though. It’s crucial to find the right comms system since buildings can disrupt some radios and their frequencies.

Rural Setting

More people are beginning to find off-grid life appealing because they see it as a way to disconnect from a toxic world. But here’s the thing: you can’t break up with your gadgets completely.  

Even if it’s tougher for criminals to reach your home, you still need to know what’s going on around you. Maybe a landslide devastates the next town and makes it difficult for you to deliver your produce, or a deadly virus wipes out your livestock…who knows? 

Definitely not you if you aren’t on top of the latest news.

We know that being unplugged from social media and technology in general sounds like a dream come true — that’s why you love rural living so much.

But with news taking longer to reach places outside the city walls, you can’t afford to be ignorant, especially when your life can be on the line. So to avoid unpleasant surprises, get a hand-cranked radio or a SAT phone if you can.  

Availability of Resources

Urban Setting

shelves in a grocery filled with products

When you’re an urban prepper, it’s easy to stock up on groceries. Buying stuff online is also a breeze. You can get MREs and survival equipment delivered to your apartment in a span of a few days. 

But in serious disasters, it’s tough for people to get basic supplies — even if they search the entire city for them. Looters ransack stores for food, water, meds, toilet paper, and every other thing you can think of. 

Start stockpiling ASAP to avoid running out of essentials. In case you haven’t heard, the global supply chain has been experiencing disruptions thanks to the pandemic. This means some in-demand things have been unavailable.

Right now, you may think that’s fine and that you can live without a certain flavor of chips for a few months.

But what if the disruptions last?

It’s high time you build a prepper pantry and consider planting a survival garden. It’s possible to have one even when you’re strapped for space. 

Rural Setting

vegetables growing in garden

Being a rural prepper means being limited in terms of commercial goods, making it more difficult for you to find quality survival gear and gadgets. You’ll need to buy them online and wait a while longer for the orders to arrive at your neck of the woods. 

The upside is that natural resources are right in your backyard. You can chop logs to fuel your fireplace, harvest all kinds of fruits and leafy greens, and collect H2O from nearby streams.

Needed Survival Gear and Supplies

Navigating the concrete jungle means relying on a different set of gear vs. when you navigate the wild or more rural areas.

You’re not gonna find a 7-Eleven in the forest, so why would you bring cash? Likewise, bringing a full tang knife to the mall will land you behind bars no matter how many times you explain that it’s for self-defense. 

Still, staples like paracord, duct tape, first aid kits, and fire starters will come in handy whether you’re an urban or rural prepper. 

Urban Prepping

Here are some examples of essential EDC gear for urban preppers:

Rural Prepping

Every rural prepper needs survival supplies and gear like:  

Needed Survival Skills

Water, food, and shelter are always gonna be top priorities, whether you live smack dab in the middle of the city or out in the backcountry. How you’ll find these essentials will depend, though. 

For example, if you’re trapped in the city when SHTF, you’re obviously not gonna secure water from lakes. You’ll need to be creative and source your water from swimming pools, water heaters, and the back of toilets.

Then, there are threats. There’s always a possibility of wild animal attacks when you live near the forest. Urban dwellers don’t have to worry about that much. Instead, the threats they have to watch out for are fellow human beings.

With that said, we’ve separated the survival skills urban and rural preppers need to know into two. You’ll notice some overlap, but there are also unique ones: 

If You’re an Urban Prepper

people rushing to their destinations

Bushcraft skills won’t save your life in the city but these urban survival skills will:

If You’re a Rural Prepper

red berries growing in a branch

The focus is on old-school skills like:

In a Nutshell

To wrap things up, here’s a table comparing urban and rural prepping:

InfrastructureSkyscrapers, bridges, and mass transportation; everything is accessibleNot a lot of buildings and forms of mass transportation; it takes a while to travel to shopping centers
PopulationMore populatedLess populated
Crime RateA bigger population = more chances of crimeLower crime rate
CommunicationPeople in the city are the first to know about important newsIt can take a while for news to reach those in rural areas, especially if they’re off the grid
Availability of ResourcesFolks are dependent on commercial resources, which may run out during disastersFolks have easy access to natural resources like rivers
Needed Survival Gear and Supplies – Steel water container
– Rechargeable flashlight
– Power bank
– Respirator mask
– Multitool
– BIC lighter
– Extra cash
– Water filter
– Bushcraft knife
– Ferro rod
Entrenching tool
– Map and compass
– Tarp
– Headlamp/flashlight
Needed Survival SkillsSkills like navigating the city, situational awareness, blending in with the crowd, and lockpickingTraditional skills like finding water, foraging for edible plants, and natural navigation

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you’re an urban or rural prepper. Disasters don’t discriminate.

You’ll face a unique set of challenges depending on where you live, but ultimately it’s all about prepping for them before S hits the fan. On that note, make sure to gather the survival gear and supplies you need and start sharpening your survival skills, too.

For more tips on prepping and survivalism, check out our other articles.

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