Suburban Survival – Prepping Overview for the Burbs!

The following is an article written by a favorite contributor a few years ago that remains one of our favorites. We also came across this article on the Ultimate SHTF (“Shit Hits the Fan”) Gear List that may also be of interest. Good luck making sure you and your family are prepared!

First Things First!

Right off the bat, you’ll need to know this is not an extensive article on specific, detailed information on an aspect of survival like “how to store gasoline for long term“.  This is an overview of what to look for when you start thinking of prepping for a disaster or emergency in the suburbs.

Much is written online about prepping and survival and honestly, the world does not need yet another such article.  However, less is said about surviving in the concrete jungle of our inner cities, and still less about preparing for disasters in the comfort of our suburban retreats with our medium-sized front yards, curbs, backyards with gazebos and a privacy hedge all around.

Can it be done?  Are you too close to nosey neighbors?  Does your home rely too much on municipal services?  Do you need more land to grow vegetables?  All good questions and I’ll do my best to help with some basic answers and tips to GET YOU STARTED!

Why Should You Listen to Me?

Well, it’s a free country and you can choose to ignore my advice, but in case you care, here’s a quick bit about my survival background;  I grew up in a suburban environment not far from Toronto, Ontario. 

My parents have always been “off-the-grid” in their attitude if not all aspects of their actual lives.  They always grew their own food and had at least a year’s supply of frozen food in the freezers or dried foods in the fruit cellar under the front porch.

I learned a lot about how to store what types of food, and how to access water, heat and power when the government could give me none of those.  The catch to all this is that even though we lived in the rural countryside, I was more interested in learning how to live successfully in an emergency situation – IN THE SUBURBS, because most people I knew lived in the burbs and even we had the same municipal services as a suburban household.

What Does Suburban Really Mean?

The “suburbs” cover a lot of different regions and types of neighborhoods. There are the suburbs immediately outside large cities, there are the suburbs outside the immediate area but still within commuting distance to the city. So, when I say suburban, I mean the neighborhoods outside the major metropolitan areas including the exurbs.

Urban – of city: relating to or belonging to a city (LA, Chicago, New York).

Suburban – relating to suburb: relating to, belonging to, or located in a suburb.

Exurb – a district outside of a city, especially a prosperous area beyond the suburbs.

Rural – outside city: found in or living in the country. 

Is it Possible?

Some say it can’t be done!  Surviving a long term emergency situation in the suburbs. They say:

“you must have land to plant crops, land to raise livestock, and woods to hunt. If you stay in the suburbs, your neighbors will be knocking down your door to get to your preps.”


“the hoards from the city will be at your gate in a day, you will not be able to defend yourself against thousands of invaders. And don’t even think about bugging out to the country.  You’ll be shot on-site, and even if you survive, rural preppers don’t have the resources they can or would like to share with you!”

So, is it really true? Can you survive a long term national emergency situation in the suburbs? The simple answer is, YES! …. but only with the right knowledge and planning!

Top 5 Tips You NEED to Follow to Survive and even Thrive in the Burbs

1. Priority ONE is to make your home secure and safe!

I have said it here before, and many smart preppers know that when the SHTF you are, in most cases, better off bugging in than bugging out. Unless you have a property you own or an agreement with someone who does, living off the land is not recommended. Most likely, the land you must resort to will be public land and you won’t be the only one trying to stake a claim. Now there is a distinct advantage to living on a homestead but that is not an option for millions of people.  That said, it’s possible to have a small square-foot garden that provides just enough raw nutrition for 1-2 people and you can keep it pretty hidden (roof, balcony, camouflage, etc.)

So, if you’re a poor schmuck like 95% of the North American population and you live with a house about 20 feet on either side of you, I have some good news for you and some information you can use!

Keep Your Structure Sound

Regarding your house, don’t put off needed repairs to the structure.  It’ll only make your house worth less at re-sale time, but more to the point, it’ll compromise your ability to keep it safe and secure during a national emergency. 

Older homes may be prone to problems with mold, damp, insects, rot and leakage.  Don’t let those problems persist or you’ll not have an adequate shelter for times of National distress.

Secure the perimeter

You’ve got to make things as secure as possible from forced intrusion into your home.  This may sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how many situations involved someone being taken hostage in their own homes (yes, it happens more than you’d think).

It might be best to get help for this security step from professionals who can help equip you with power for a security alarm and extra secure bars or plexi-glass, etc.

2. Can You Keep a Secret?

If you can’t, you’re screwed!  What I mean is that if you decide to prepare for a disaster of any kind (extra food, water, security, medical supplies, etc.) it would be extremely beneficial for you and your family to shut up about it …. to EVERYONE!

Why?  Well, simply put, the more neighbors (or even friends from across town) know about your preparation activities, the more likely you’ll have to break out your firearms and hockey sticks to fight them off.  But if they know you have supplies, it may be a life or death situation and you won’t be able to fight them off no matter how many guns you have!

It’s best to keep your prepping activities secret from nosy landlords and neighbors!

Kids have a tendency to blab about lots of things, and landlords have a curious fetish with knowing what the occupants of his buildings are up to.  In either case, you’re doing no favors to yourself or your family if you let the news out that you’re storing lots of useful supplies for emergency situations.

Please, keep your kids quiet (good luck) and don’t get too chummy with your landlord regarding any prepping activities.

Firearms are probably the one thing (if you had to choose only one) you will not want anyone knowing you have. There are many out there that would jump at the chance to turn in someone with a BB gun claiming terrorism. Remember, when you buy a gun, you are already on a list.  You don’t need to spread the news of your firearms beyond what the government already knows.

3. Make a Tiered List of Priority Items

When I tell people to make a tiered list, what I mean is that you need to know the basic things you need to start.  So, the first tier would look like this for example:

  1. Shelter
  2. Food
  3. Water
  4. Security

Then, in tier 2, you would expand on the details of each of them, so for example;


  • Window Tape for repairing broken glass
  • Extra plastic for emergency window and roof repairs
  • etc.


We highly recommend this food pack for your 4-week emergency supply.  It really does taste far better than survival MREs.



Make your lists as long as you can and then prioritize to get what you can afford and what is easy to move (if you’re renting) or easy to protect/hide.

4. Hone Your Skills

Yes, you need skills, not just “stuff” to get ready for Armageddon!  While skills like how to collect evaporating water on a plastic sheet are part of this skillset, it gets way more interesting when you explore it a bit deeper.

For example, your real skillset for urban survival would be something like:

  • The ability to verbally barter for goods while still maintaining your own personal safety and privacy (think Mad Max movies)
  • Filtering water from less than ideal sources
  • Picking locks to get into places not easily plundered after the hoards sweep through
  • How to deal with medical emergencies when you are THE ONLY doctor your family will see
  • Knowing how to siphon gas from abandoned vehicles (and having the equipment to do so)
  • Repairing stuff you didn’t even know existed (until it stopped working)
  • How to safely scavenge the ‘hood when others have disappeared
  • How to maintain a successful square foot garden in secret

Oh, and list goes on, but that gives you a basic idea.  We’ll be expanding a LOT in our other articles related to urban and suburban survival lifestyles, but for now, this is just an overview to “prep” you for the minutiae.

Square foot gardens are the easiest and best option for fresh food if your space is limited and you want to keep it secret!

5. Have Faith in God

Oh, here’s my favorite, and guess what?  It’s NOT A JOKE!  I’m totally serious!   We can debate the existence of God and whether he’s an invention of men to induce fear, guilt and control (like the medeival Catholic church practiced), etc. but this website is not the place for that.

I’ve grown in my relationship with Jesus Christ for over 50 years, and there is so much evidence for His existence and sovereignty over the affairs of mankind, that even most “atheists” actually know He exists, but they don’t like that idea, so they “suppress” the knowledge of God (that’s a direct quote from the Bible).

Suffice it to say, there’s approximately a 100% chance that God exists and that He will deliver you from sorrow, pain and anxiety (perhaps in this world but for sure after you leave it), so if you want to maintain some level of sanity in times of stress and crisis (and if you’d like to help others caught in your apocalyptic crisis) I’d open the Bible (start with the Book of John if you’re short on time) and get right with the creator and sustainer of the universe.

Trust me when I say that relationship WILL get you through any crisis, and it gives you the right attitude while going through it.

You are obligated to take care of your family first, but you can choose to show God’s love to others upon whom you can have compassion if you are prepared to meet the temporal needs of others.

Your guns are to be used VERY judiciously and only when there’s a VERY good chance you or a family member will be killed, kidnapped or abused in any way by an invader (stranger or “friend”).

Why do People Think Prepping is Crazy?

I have heard of folks who don’t prep just because they believe that it is futile when you live in the suburbs. That’s not exactly true. Don’t let the naysayers tell you that surviving long term disasters can’t be done in the suburbs. When you properly plan and prep there is no reason that you can’t make your suburban home your fortress.

Prepper Storage Space Challenge

Much of the advice I give on prepping in the suburbs relies heavily on the amount of storage space you have available. It is paramount that a suburban prepper makes use of every nook and cranny they can. Basements, spare rooms, closets and climate-controlled attics for food and water storage. Garages, sheds, and barns for gear, equipment, and non-perishable supply storage. Make sure everything you store is well protected from pests, varmints, and insects.

Many preppers recommend off-site storage rental, but this would likely only work for gear. Food and water will never survive unless your offsite storage facility is climate controlled. Unfortunately, in a crisis situation, the climate control facility could lose power or become compromised in another fashion. In a worst-case scenario, travel may be reduced due to weather, roadblocks or thugs. If you can’t get to your supplies, then your effort was worthless.

In Summary

The big question of whether it’s possible to effectively prep in the suburbs is an important one and we can confidently say “YES”, but only if you’re deliberate and methodical in your planning process.

The fact is, most preppers are currently living in populations that are not in a rural area. It is very possible to survive a long-term disaster in the suburbs. Don’t let the negativity stop you from prepping.

Determination and resolve are your best friends we encourage you to start this week with making your list and determining a budget.

We wish you the very best of luck and offer you our blessings as you begin!


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