While I believe that if you are living in an urban area, it’s ultimately best to be somewhere else when things go sideways and all hell breaks loose (which is why I live in a rural location), I’m also aware that not everybody is going to be able to simply pick up stakes and move, or set up a “survival retreat”. Some of the limiting factors being; money, time or even the desire to leave the city life and move out to the boonies.
For example; leaving a job and a steady income could lead to more problems than whatever you may face in the city or town you live in. Also, there’s your extended family, friends and support group to think of. In some situations, it might be more beneficial for everyone involved to stick together for support. Then, there’s the fact that not everyone is suited to a bucolic lifestyle in a rural setting. But the urban survivalist still faces their own set of basic problems. So let’s take a look at the options that you have if your plan is to dig in and survive in your rented apartment or house.
Most urban/suburban dwellers live in either single family homes, multiple family homes (duplexes, townhomes, etc.) or apartments. If you rent your house or apartment, you’re limited in what you can and cannot do there. A lot of landlords object to tenants hammering a nail in the wall to hang a picture, so they’re probably not going to be too happy about you building a bomb shelter or a panic room on their property. Besides, it’s not really in your best interest to expend all that effort and money in a home that you may no longer be living in at some point in the future.
However, if your landlord is someone who you interact with on a regular basis, you might want to try to get a feel for his/her views on big government, economic collapse, and other issues that concern us as preppers and patriots. If you’re careful to approach it in an understated manner, (e.g., don’t get up on a soap-box and rant about “conspiracy theories”) you might find that your landlord has similar concerns. They may also be amenable to certain semi permanent or reversible modifications, such as replacing doors and windows, or installing concealed compartments for hiding valuables, food, or other items you don’t want to be found. They may even be willing to deduct your expenses from the rent, if the modifications represent an overall improvement to the property
If you live in a commercial apartment complex or a high-rise apartment building run by some management company that only knows you as a monthly rent check, things can get a little trickier. The downside is; you can pretty much forget about winning approval for making any kind of significant changes to your apartment. Those rental agencies won’t even let you paint a room a different color, let alone allow you to make structural modifications. The upside is; as the saying goes: “forgiveness is easier to acquire than permission.”
Depending on the scale of your modifications and how careful you are, the management company will likely be completely oblivious to what you’re doing. Just bear in mind that there may be consequences if you’re discovered. You may be asked to pay restoration costs or you may be asked to kindly vacate the property. So weigh your decisions carefully and try to stick with reversible and/or easily concealed modifications.
Of course, in the event of TEOTWAWKI, getting your deposit back will be the least of your concerns. But if the S doesn’t HTF you might have some ‘splainin to do!
Below are some practical tips for apartment preppers to help them shelter in place in an urban setting:
Water is always your most precious commodity and it’s very likely that it will be one of the first things to go in a disaster or crisis. If you live in a building that has a gravity feed system with a storage tank on the roof. you may be able to get water straight from the tank. Yes, you can use the water from your toilet tank or from the building’s water heaters (if you have access to them), but that is a very finite source. Your best bet is to have a decent supply of purified water stored up just in case.
Two liter soda bottles are great for water storage. You can use one gallon plastic milk-type jugs too, but they’re not nearly as sturdy and I’ve been told that using jugs that used to actually contain milk is not recommended, as the fats and proteins that are in milk cannot be easily washed out and could cause sickness. Then again, if you thoroughly sanitize the jug with a bleach-water mixture, as well as add 16 drops of bleach to the water you’re storing – as recommended – I reckon that would take care of the problem. To err on the side of caution, though, I would only use old milk jugs in a pinch if you have nothing else.
As for food storage, many apartment of preppers often ask me: “Where can I possibly find space for a long-term supply of food??” It’s really not that hard if you approach it creatively. You can likely store a year’s supply of freeze-dried, dehydrated and canned goods in your bedroom closet. There’s also a lot of “dead space” that can be utilized under tables, beds, sofas, dressers, desks, in corners, walls, etc., You can also store food in stacked boxes and cover them with a tablecloth or something decorative and disguise them as end-tables. If you think beyond the kitchen cupboards, you should be able to find a lot of places to store a fair amount of food where it will be out of sight – or at least out of the way. Just make sure that where you store your food doesn’t get excessively hot.
For cooking that food, a wood stove will work just fine; although camp and backpacking stoves are small, reasonably lightweight and easy to use. Try to get one that is either dual-fuel or can be modified to burn 2 or 3 different types of fuel and stock up as much fuel as possible. Remember that burning anything will use up your oxygen and produce carbon monoxide, so make sure the area is well ventilated. Also, DO NOT use charcoal grills indoors. Used in an enclosed area it will simply put you to sleep… for good.
You might also want to find out where the chimney in your building is located. If your buildings central heating system shuts down, you could tap into the chimney and use a small wood or gas stove for heat. Vent the smoke right out through the chimney and no one will know it’s you.
Now let’s get on to firearms. For close range firepower or “street sweeping” it is hard to beat a shotgun. You can often find the Remington 870 Express model new for $300 – $350, if you shop around. which has to be one of the great bargains in the firearms field. The only downside of this gun is it is only available in 12 gauge, and many smaller or less experienced shooters might prefer 20 gauge. Regular 870s are available in 20 gauge, but they’re a little more expensive.
Other shotguns you might also want to look at are the Winchester 1200/1300 or Ranger models as well as the Mossberg 500, especially the Bullpup model that moves the action back just in front of the recoil pad and gives to the gun an overall length of under 30″ with an 18″ barrel or just over 30″ with a 20″ barrel. Get the longer 20” barrel as the added few inches will dampen the recoil and especially the noise or blast when compared to an 18” barrel.
For urban self-defense, I also recommend a handgun for portable, concealable protection.This subject can get a little finicky, depending on your personal preference. If you’re unfamiliar with handguns, I would recommend starting off with a .357 Magnum with an adjustable sight for the following reasons:
- Revolvers require less maintenance and are less prone to malfunctions
- A 357 Magnum can also shoot .38 Special cartridges, effectively doubling your choices and availability of ammo.
That’s not to say that I don’t like pistols, or that revolvers are better, or pistols don’t have their advantages over revolvers. This is just my recommendation for a newbie (and no, I don’t recommend a .22 pea-shooter for novices either. We are still talking about urban self-defense here). So if you were getting ready to send me an argumentative email on the subject, you don’t have to.
Now that you have decided where you are going to weather out the coming bad times, in your house or apartment, what you are going to eat, the year’s worth (or more) of food you have stored, and what you are going to defend yourself with, now what? What else is there?