Eight tips for prepping in suburbia and the city

If you aren’t already living on your dream acreage in the country, you may need to settle in for the long haul wherever you are. I’ve written many times about the importance of “blooming where you’re planted” – heck, I even created a course about it. But with our current economic situation, you may need to get serious about prepping in the city or suburbia if that’s where you happen to be.

I’ve lived a whole lot of places – way out in the boondocks, on a little homestead, in suburbia, in Europe, in Mexico, and currently, in an apartment in a large city. In each and every one of those homes, I prepped to the best of my ability.

And that’s all you can do. You have to be realistic and know that there’s only so much that you can manage. With that being said, here are my tips for prepping in suburbia and in the city.

Make the most of your space.

Whether you live in a suburban house or a big city apartment, you may find that your space is far more limited than our country-dwelling counterparts. That doesn’t mean you can’t prep, though!

If your home is on the smaller side, it’s important to make the most of every inch while avoiding making your place look like a bunker. Store things under, inside, and behind your furniture to get the most storage bang for your buck. Get some attractive containers to put on top of your kitchen cabinets and take your storage all the way to the ceiling.  Keep track of where you put things, however, so you can find them when you need them.

Grow what you can.

I’ve had everything from a small farm to a small patio in which to raise food, and the important thing is to do what you can. I’m currently growing tomatoes, jalapeños, bell peppers, squash, three kinds of beans, and lots of herbs on my tiny patio.

Clearly, I can’t grow everything I eat in this space, but I can largely avoid buying produce for several months out of the year. I also like to sprout in the winter and grow herbs and lettuce in my sunny windows. This is intended to be supplemental, not to take the place of other food. It’s awfully nice to be able to walk outside barefoot and grab some fresh, nutritious, organic produce every day in the summer.

Improve your fitness.

When I lived in the country, there was more activity in my daily life. I was constantly shoveling, lugging, digging, and walking. It certainly kept me fit without additional effort. Living in the city can soften you up if you aren’t careful. So can living in a suburban area that isn’t very walkable. If physical activity isn’t part of your daily routine, then you have to make an effort to add it.

Can you imagine being in a bad situation and being too out of shape to escape it? Or being unable to repair your home because you aren’t strong enough? No matter what your physical situation is, you can do things to improve your fitness.

If you aren’t suffering from any kind of injury or chronic ailment, try adding steps to your daily life. (Fitbits are great to keep you motivated!) Use the resources around you for fitness. If you live in an apartment complex, is there a pool or gym? Do you live near a school with a track for walking that is open to the public? What about a local park or walking trail?

If you are dealing with an issue that makes exercise difficult, look into seated exercises. DDPY Fitness has routines for people with mobility issues, including workouts from a chair or bed. You can also find stuff on YouTube. Of course, it goes without saying to consult with your doctor before beginning any kind of fitness plan.

Find your local resources.

Okay, so you don’t live in the Back 40 with acres and acres of wilderness surrounding you. That doesn’t mean there are no resources to be had.

I live beside a hipster office park. I often walk through the area, and I’ve located all sorts of things during my wanders. The companies nearby are big on “green space,” which means that there are a lot of different trees and plants. I’ve identified walnut trees, pecan trees, blackberry bushes, and all sorts of other edibles. In my particular area, it’s marked as a “no pesticide zone.” Be careful before gathering wild edibles in urban areas to be certain that they haven’t been sprayed with toxic chemicals.

There are also multiple fountains for nearby water sources and a couple of streams bubbling through the office park. Obviously, any water acquired there would need to be purified, but any prepper will have water purification covered.

And if things really, truly went sideways? If it was a situation in which taking unused resources from abandoned homes, stores, and offices was appropriate? City dwellers will be able to find an abundance of these things.

Consider a storage unit cache.

My family and I have multiple storage units. There is one near my daughter’s home and one near my home, as well as one in between. Each is set up so that in a dire emergency, a person could hunker down for a few days, and they’re  all stocked with food, water, and sanitation supplies.

This extra space can be essential when prepping in limited space.

Know that you might HAVE to bug out, regardless of your plan.

I have written about this before, but it bears repeating. Regardless of how well-stocked your home is or how good your plan is, in a disaster or emergency, these things may no longer be relevant. It’s hard to imagine this after carefully preparing for years, but you need only to look at the war in Ukraine to see how quickly things can change.

Even if it’s an absolute last resort, you need to make some bug-out plans NOW, as opposed to doing so when you’re in a panic. Think of all the reasons you “can’t” bug out and then figure out some workarounds.

Create relationships now.

As much as we may have fabulous plans about a prepper group at our retreat, chances are high that your neighbors are going to be your prepping group, whether you like it or not. Communities shrink during an emergency, and you may have to depend on those closest to you.

With that in mind, it’s important to get to know people well before disaster strikes. Who can you trust, at least to some degree, and who should you watch carefully? Be careful not to give out too much information when getting to know people, lest you regret it later. Also, don’t judge folks purely on whether or not they’re preppers. A person of integrity, a hard worker, or someone with valuable skills or knowledge can be an incredible asset during difficult times.

Skills are just as important as preps.

While we’d all love to be prepared for the ultra-long haul, it’s essential to recognize there’s only so much stuff we can stash. That’s where skills and knowledge come in.

Once your barter goods are long gone, and you’ve finished that last can of ravioli, you need to be able to acquire food or trade your knowledge. If you have medical skills, construction skills, or any other of a wide range of skills, you yourself are a valuable prep.

What are your urban/suburban prepping tips?

A lot of folks will say their best prepping tip for city dwellers or those living in suburbia is to “move.” But let’s be realistic. At this point in the economic decline of America, picking up and relocating is easier said than done. If you have a good job, you definitely don’t want to quit your job and pull up stakes, hoping for the best.

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