by Robert G. Yetman, Jr.
We talk a lot about survival prepping in this space. Admittedly, the discussions are principally oriented on those who are living in residential, detached homes in what might be considered “typical” neighborhoods. This has beckoned questions from those who live in apartments about they should be doing as far as prepping goes, and if they should be doing anything different with regard to their living circumstances. We thought it might be a good idea to take up that subject here.
One of the first issues to consider, as an apartment-based prepper, is the matter of mobility. Those who live in apartment dwellings tend to be poorer candidates for “sheltering in place” than those who live in detached housing that is many miles away from an urban setting. The plain fact is that, in many respects, those who live in apartments have more of an inherent vulnerability than do those who live in houses. For one thing, predators will find easier and greater “quick pickings” by trolling apartment complexes. For another, the size of a typical apartment means that it is more difficult to store what you need, and enough of it, in order to be able to last in place for an extended period. Additionally, it is standard that lease agreements come with all kinds of prohibitions regarding the kinds of modifications you might want to make in the interest of fortifying your unit. If you have spent much time in and around apartments, you know, for example, that doors are not typically very sturdy and door locks are not very good, but that replacing them with anything truly useful will likely be disallowed.
This means that apartment dwellers are smart to give greater consideration, at least, to getting out of Dodge when it appears that distressed conditions are about to set in. A lot of folks who discuss apartment prepping tend to focus on the economical use of space within the unit to store greater amounts of survival supplies, but I generally go in a different direction with this; I think that apartment dwellers should focus on owning a minimum amount of personal effects, with an eye to making an easy escape from their apartments, should circumstances make it appropriate to do so. Now, please don’t misread what I’m saying here – I’m not saying that apartment renters (by the way, I am distinguishing here between those who rent apartments from those who rent detached, “regular” houses – if you reside in a house, whether you own or rent, you enjoy the physical benefits of living there, from a survival standpoint) should have no emergency supplies or provisions to with which to help sustain themselves for at least a few days – they should. However, it is not a good idea for someone living in an apartment to make preparations to shelter in place for an extended period. In those circumstances, it is wise to instead focus on a refining your bug-out plan, taking steps to ensure that it is as seamless as possible.
So, what does that mean? As an apartment dweller, particularly if you live in a more urban area, the first thing to do is “dumb down” your creature comforts. When things get bad and your apartment is penetrated after you leave, you don’t want to lose a lot of expensive goods and furnishings in the process. My advice is that as long as you’re living in this sort of environment, have serviceable items in your place, stuff you can functionally use and enjoy…but nothing too fancy or expensive. The fact is that if you have to bug out on short notice, you will be leaving most of your things behind, and your expectation as an apartment dweller that your stuff will be as you left it, upon your return, should be minimal. In other words, don’t have anything you can’t feel comfortable walking away from in a relative handful of minutes.
Additionally, you should already have a GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag packed and set to go. When it looks like things are about to get bad, and you have decided it’s time to escape, you want to pick up your GOOD bag, get to your car, and make your move.
As for where to go, my advice is that you already have an established network of contacts set up to which you can flee as an apartment dweller. This will probably consist of friends who live in houses many miles away, but they might even be people who are themselves more rural and set away from society (even better).
My point here is that when it comes to prepping, the apartment dweller, particularly the more urban-based apartment dweller, is better off focusing on the bug-out rather than on sheltering in place. Even if you’re not overly concerned with your profile at the onset of significantly distressed conditions set in, apartment living is generally easier and less stress if you don’t have a lot of possessions about which to be concerned.