City Dwellers or Country Folk: Who’s Better Prepared for a Disaster?

The word “prepper” hasn’t been a part of the American lexicon for very long, and yet millions now consider themselves as such. Emergency preparedness has become quite trendy, and people are stocking up on food, water, firearms and other supplies to minimize the impact an emergency will have on their lives. It’s as though a zombie apocalypse has arrived.

But is it possible to be a prepper and live in a city? Are rural preppers in safer locations?

City Life: The Benefits

Urban and suburban dwellers have the advantages of readily available services, products, and large support systems of emergency and medical personnel. When a crisis hits, help is less than a few miles away.

The city also offers more choices when it comes to employment and education. It’s no wonder that Americans have been flocking to big cities for a century.

City Life: The Drawbacks

The problem with life in the cities, though, is that it encourages and nurtures a dependent mindset and anonymity.

Even so-called “Doomsday Preppers” who are city bound must still rely on their city’s infrastructure. True self-reliance is all but impossible when you consider that your home’s only water supply comes from the city (which is vulnerable to contamination), and you share a sanitation system with a million other people.

Additionally, extreme hardship brings out the worst in people, and living smack dab in the middle of a city can increase your family’s vulnerability.

Consider, also, that virtually every product on store shelves is delivered via 18-wheelers. It doesn’t take much of an emergency to bring our trucking system to a halt.

To complicate matters, an evacuation is virtually impossible in most large cities.

Country Living: The Benefits

But is rural life that much better for a prepper family? Well, the answer is mostly yes, with a few words of caution.

A small town, farm, or homestead typically offers life at a slower pace and more opportunities to connect with neighbors who are more likely to have a similar mindset.

It’s easier to find a home with its own water supply and space for a large garden; and it can be reassuring to know exactly where your water and food comes from.

Country Living: The Drawbacks

The drawbacks of rural life center mainly on the element of isolation. If you’re five miles from the nearest neighbor, who will hear you scream? Who will notice suspicious characters skulking around your home while you’re away on vacation, or flames shooting from your roof? It’s one thing to have extra food and water stored and quite another to put out a house fire or battle a gang of thugs on your own.

There are fewer jobs available in rural settings and, as one homesteading friend said, “If you move to the country, get ready for your income to drop, dramatically.”

Life can also be surprisingly expensive when it comes to purchasing farm equipment, having a well dug, and caring for livestock.

Tip for city preppers

So, if you’re stuck in a city, is survival impossible? Not hardly. My no. 1 survival rule is, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”

Even a small apartment can accommodate a few dozen gallons of water and extra food (especially if you’ve thoroughly de-cluttered your living space).

Challenge yourself to learn skills of self-reliance, such as canning and basic home repairs. Network with other prepper-minded people via MeetUp groups, gardening clubs, and backyard chicken support groups. (If you’ve ever owned chickens, you’ll understand!) And get to know your neighbors. You need to know who you can depend on in a crisis and who will become part of the problem.

Tip for rural preppers

If you find yourself in a small town or rural area, continually build on your bank of skills and knowledge. Plan and save money for alternative sources of energy. Get your amateur radio license so you’ll have a way of communicating with others in the area if an emergency arises. If you depend on an electric powered well pump, save money to buy a manual pump because without water…there is no survival.

The reality is that, regardless of your current address, you and your family can survive everyday disasters and worst case scenarios with some planning, budgeting, and, most importantly, action.


Lisa Bedford, author of Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios, also blogs at