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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
Here are some examples of essential EDC gear for urban preppers:
- Steel water container
- Rechargeable flashlight
- Power bank
- Respirator mask
- BIC lighter or waterproof matches
- Pen and paper
- Extra cash
- Pepper spray
Every rural prepper needs survival supplies and gear like:
- Water filter
- Bushcraft knife
- Tactical gloves
- Ferro rod
- Entrenching tool
- Map and compass
- Two-way radios
Needed Survival Skills
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
- Finding, storing, and purifying water
- Navigating the city
- Situational awareness
- Blending in with the crowd
- Scavenging for food and other useful stuff
- Planting an urban garden
- Bartering and negotiating
If You’re a Rural Prepper
The focus is on old-school skills like:
- Finding, storing, and purifying water
- Foraging for edible plants
- Canning, fermenting, and dehydrating food
- Natural navigation
- Raising animals
- Hunting and trapping
In a Nutshell
To wrap things up, here’s a table comparing urban and rural prepping:
|Infrastructure||Skyscrapers, bridges, and mass transportation; everything is accessible||Not a lot of buildings and forms of mass transportation; it takes a while to travel to shopping centers|
|Population||More populated||Less populated|
|Crime Rate||A bigger population = more chances of crime||Lower crime rate|
|Communication||People in the city are the first to know about important news||It can take a while for news to reach those in rural areas, especially if they’re off the grid|
|Availability of Resources||Folks are dependent on commercial resources, which may run out during disasters||Folks have easy access to natural resources like rivers|
|Needed Survival Gear and Supplies||– Steel water container|
– Rechargeable flashlight
– Power bank
– Respirator mask
– BIC lighter
– Extra cash
|– Water filter|
– Bushcraft knife
– Ferro rod
– Entrenching tool
– Map and compass
|Needed Survival Skills||Skills like navigating the city, situational awareness, blending in with the crowd, and lockpicking||Traditional skills like finding water, foraging for edible plants, and natural navigation|
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.