The main thread that seems to run through the prepper community, is that most preppers really want to get out of the cities and live a rural life. It’s easy to understand why. Most preppers rightfully believe that the cities would be the most dangerous places to be if society collapsed. Rural areas are generally safer, have less burdensome governance, and provide the opportunity to gain some degree of self-sufficiency.
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Unfortunately, making that transition away from the city is difficult. There’s a reason why the vast majority of the population in America lives in urban and suburban areas. That’s where the jobs are, and that’s where most modern conveniences exist.
So if for whatever reason you can’t move away from the city, the next best thing you can do is find a city that will give you better odds of surviving a SHTF scenario. I know, it sounds like blasphemy. However, not all cities are created equal and believe it or not, there are certain conditions that make some urban areas better suited for preppers over others, such as:
City Size and Density
The best cities for preppers are on the smaller size, with a slightly lower population density. And obviously, I’m not talking about one of those cities that is part of a larger metropolitan area. There are plenty of cities that range in size from 50,000 to 250,000 people and aren’t subsumed by a wider urban sprawl. Instead, they are surrounded by a few suburbs, small towns, or even just wilderness. If you lived in one of these places, you’d have the benefit of job security while still being just a stone’s throw away from rural areas that you could flee to.
I hate to sound biased. Though I don’t consider myself liberal or conservative, I have to confess that cities with populations that lean a bit more to the right are much better places for preppers. Aside from the fact that local governments and regulations would be less onerous, these cities are a lot more stable. The cost of living tends to be less in conservative cities, and there usually isn’t as much wealth inequality as there is in liberal cities.
That means there won’t be as many people dependent on the government and not as many people living on the streets. It means fewer people who are living at the end of their rope by the time catastrophe strikes. It means fewer people with a “kill the rich” attitude. So in short, living in a conservative city means that when the SHTF, there won’t be as much looting and rioting, and law and order won’t erode as quickly.
When you’re prepping in a rural area, it’s important to consider how connected you are to the rest of the world. Since you’re probably trying to protect yourself from people fleeing the cities, you don’t want to be living down the road from an interstate. However, when a prepper is looking for a city to live in, the opposite strategy should be employed.
Since self-sufficiency isn’t an option, you have to think about what will allow a city to recover faster from a disaster. I’d wager that the more connected that city is with the rest of the country, the faster it will recover. If you’re in living a place that is landlocked in the mountains with only one major road running through it, you might be in trouble. It’s going to be so much easier for that city to be cut off, which will make it harder for aid to arrive. It will also make it harder for people to flee. If you’re stuck in a city during a disaster, you want people to leave, and you want it to be easier for you to leave if need be. If society collapses, a city can only support a very small population, so the fewer people there are the better your odds of surviving are.
So look for cities that have plenty of ways in and out. Better yet, pick a city that is at least near a railroad that carries freight. We all know that if there was a nationwide disaster, the freeways would be clogged for miles in every direction. But railroads won’t have that problem. And if they suffered any damage, then they’ll be a lot easier to fix.
Are You Downwind?
If the grid goes down for a long period of time, there is a serious risk that many of America’s nuclear power plants could meltdown, so it would be wise to live in a city that isn’t downwind from these facilities. You should also be wary of any major military bases or nuclear silos. They will be prime targets if there is a nuclear war, and you certainly don’t want to be downwind from that.
You should also seriously consider what kinds of water resources are in or near your city. Throughout the 20th century, sprawling cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, have grown in areas where there is very little water. These populations are heavily reliant on water that is piped in from long distances. Should society collapse, these cities will die with it. So you should find a city that isn’t so reliant on the water that comes from hundreds of miles away.
And finally, consider how your city is powered. If the city you choose is near a flowing source of water, check to see if it’s near a hydroelectric dam too. In an urban area that is receiving at least some of its energy from a dam, it’s probably not going to take long to get the lights back on. Cities that are powered by natural gas aren’t such a bad choice either since gas pipelines are relatively stable. It may not take very long to make that infrastructure functional again. However, those pipelines could easily be destroyed during a war.
Cities that are powered by coal would probably be the worst choice because coal needs to be delivered by truck and train. This will be especially true for cities that reside further inland, where many miles of roads will need to be cleared before coal shipments can be delivered. In most cases in America, coal is delivered by train, so if you pick a city that is also near a railway then there are better odds that your city will receive power after the SHTF.