Here’s Why I Completely Changed My Family’s Long-Term Survival Plan

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By Daisy Luther

For five years, I lived the prepper’s dream. I lived on secluded acreage out in the boondocks, with a gate at the driveway to deter those who just wander past. I moved from the Canadian boondocks to the American boondocks (in foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California) and lived the life that all the prepping books recommend.

I grew food, raised livestock, and had hardly any neighbors, and definitely none close enough to be up in my business. I learned more about self-reliance during those years than I ever realized I didn’t know.

I scrimped and saved to be able to move ever-further out into the woods. I loved finally being able to have a small farm. But, then, I came face to face with two people who had lived through the kind of epic, long term SHTF event that we all prepare for and they both told me, based on their personal experiences, I was doing it all wrong.

Here’s the reason I changed my long-term survival plan.

When  I first began working with Lisa Bedford, the Survival Mom, on our live webinar classroom Preppers University, my job was to teach people the things that I had spent years learning. But I never expected our guest instructors to have such a profound impact on my own long-term survival plan.

The first seed of doubt was planted by FerFAL (Fernando Aguirre), the author of The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse,  who taught a class sharing his experiences during the collapse of Argentina. He commented that the people who lived more remotely were nearly always victims of horrific crimes. Their little homestead nirvanas were pillaged by criminals. The women were raped. The men were slaughtered. As ideal as their situations sounded, by nature of their very solitude, it made them the perfect target for those without morals.

According to Fernando’s experience, unless you have a small army with you, round the clock sentries, and unlimited ammo, living in the country might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

As a single mom with a teenage daughter, that gave me pause. I knew that we didn’t have the firepower or the tactical skills to fight off hordes intent on pillaging our farm. And I also knew that we were so isolated that no one would be around to help if we needed it.

I began thinking about all of the fictional apocalyptic stories. People quickly formed communities because there is safety in numbers. Think about the prison and Alexandria in The Walking Dead. Think about the town of Jericho. Think about the novels of A. American or the books Alas, Babylon and One Second After. In a truly dire scenario, I’m talking about grid-down, all-out collapse, your community becomes the people who live within walking distance of you. And if no one lives within walking distance, well, then, you are truly on your own.

But the final decision to change my long-term survival plan was made when I got a chance to listen to Selco.

Like I said, I began to doubt the wisdom of my plan after Fernando’s class, but then came Selco’s class. Selco runs SHTFSchool, where he teaches about his survival experiences living in occupied Bosnia. He survived several years living the life that we all plan for but none of us are truly ready for.

He talked about the crime, the desperation, and the outright brutality.

He talked about how families and groups of friends lived together in one home for safety. It was the only way to survive.

During the Q&A session, I told him about our own situation. That I was a single mom with a teenaged daughter. That we lived 40 minutes from the nearest town with any place with a Wal-Mart or bigger grocery stores and that our nearest neighbors were half a mile away. That we raised our own food, had off-grid water, and a big gate.

And Selco told me, respectfully, that we would not survive in a situation that was like his.

He reiterated that extended families and groups of friends had to band together for survival. He explained how small communities arose inside the walls of their city and how neighbors had each other’s backs.

This was real life, not just some imagined scenario in which we all feel invincible.

And maybe my plan wasn’t so great after all.

When my daughter graduated early from high school and our former state threw up a bunch of roadblocks when she wanted to go to vocational school, we decided to expand our search. Then, she got accepted into a prestigious private vocational school in a smaller urban area across the country, and I knew the time had come to head back to neighborhood living.

There is nothing more enlightening than talking to people who have been there, done that.


No amount of theory that I could write could ever compare with the real-life experiences of these two men. And being able to ask them these questions was absolutely invaluable.

I didn’t start running these classes expecting to be the student, but it turns out, I was. I learned something that could save the life of my child and myself. I learned that I was making us both horribly vulnerable should the situation in our country go horribly wrong.

While living in town has its own set of variables and concerns, creating a community in your own neighborhood can be a much more realistic way to survive.


Here’s more from Selco:

Stories from an SHTF Christmas: An Interview with Selco

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • I have read some of Selcos unimaginable stories.
    They also made me think that last living in the boondocks was a bad idea, unless i had an army.
    He spoke of seeing former neighbors who were now forced prostitutes, whose husbands were killed, eating mixtures of water and almost anything to try to stop hunger, living in buildings that had been hit by bombs. He said sometimes that was a good idea, find a decent, hidden spot in a blown up building so your less likely to be found. I remember he talked about using a man hole cover as a shield (like a headboard), to stop stray bullets while sleeping.
    Makes you really think about how unsafe most American homes are with vinyl walls,nothing much separating you from chaos.
    To many Shtf sounds like a glorified dream, Selcos reality proves it is a nightmare.

  • Preparedness is not a ‘one and done’ thing, it is more like a journey. You start wanting to be more prepared to help your family through difficult times. You eat and use up preps and need to acquire more. We need to be open to learn and do new things. Increasing our knowledge and skills should be a life long goal.

    Great speakers, weekly handouts, tons of information in the Prepper University library, and more. I took Prepping Intensive class, enjoyed it and learned a lot! As many of us know, prepping can sometimes be a lonely venture. Many people just don’t understand the need for it. Another big bonus is meeting lots of other preppers to share experiences and information.

    “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

  • Daisy,

    If you would like to use my (above) comment as a testimonial, please do.

    Thank you for all you do to help others become prepared!

    KY Mom

  • When I moved where I now live about three years ago I had, at first, thought it was the perfect place to be in an emergency situation. I had soon started noticing short comings about this area. Although we are very isolated, there are several ranches near by, with cattle that can be seen from the streets. My landlords run sheep, which can also be seen from the streets. Both equate meat to hungry people. Although there is little traffic, one person down the road uses day laborers, whom you see sometimes driving down the road looking for their place. I am sure those people notice the cattle and sheep, and in an emergency, when their kids are hungry, they will remember the meat on the hoof.
    Also, since I have been here, someone, and we think it is a neighbor, has poisoned at least three of the landlords’ watch dogs, and we think that at least once that had been part of an attempted home invasion. They live off the road enough that you cannot see their house from the road. They keep loaded guns on ready, but if their house was invaded during the middle of the night, I am not really sure they would get to any of their weapons in time to save their lives. And no one would likely be the wiser until someone went to check on them and found the bodies. I live on the same property, in a much smaller, run-down house. Two gates, kept locked but can be climbed with ease or the chains but, again with ease. I had been telling them for months I thought someone had been on my side of the property at night, and they kept telling me I was hearing voices since it is just so quiet out here that voices carry. Also told them I could tell someone had checked out my car, and even had money missing from the car. I am far enough from their house I would not hear anything from their house and likewise they would not hear anything from mine. I have to guess that whoever is interested in stealing has been able to tell I don’t have much worth bothering with, especially compared to them. Also, my small dogs inside the house let me know if anyone is anywhere near the house, even the landlords and I do not go outside at night for anything or anyone, nor do I answer the door at night unless the landlords tell me in advance they are headed over.
    I have also developed health issues that require medical care that is just not available in the area where I live. So looks like I’m headed back to the big city, probably to an apartment. Probably moving back to San Antonio, and have to admit, with Hurricane Harvey, was sure glad I live to the west of San Antonio right now, even though San Antonio was not hit as hard as they were expecting. We did not get one drop of rain out here. It is going to be hard, will have to give up some of my pets and most of my garden, but am looking for a place with a patio where I can at least plant container plants and keep some of my dwarf fruit trees.
    And, even without advice (I have read articles by both of the survivors who teach with your program, which I would sign up for if I had the money) I do want to live where I will have neighbors near enough that we can cover for each other, and band together if necessary. Plus, I’m 70 years old, know I’m not going to live forever anyhow, and am ready to go Home whenever the Lord calls me. No kids or grandkids to worry about, so that does not weigh heavily on my mind. Where I am now, if I were to be killed, or drop dead with a heart attack or stroke, no one would know until someone eventually got curious as to why they hadn’t heard from me and found the body, if the dogs or buzzards hadn’t picked the bones clean first.

    • Gena, how about a happy medium: live in a small town in the Texas Hill Country. Maybe Kerrville because of the medical services for older folks? San Antonio is not a place to live if things go bad.

  • So where would you get food and water in the safer urban environment during a collapse? Hungry people start to kill each other for food after 12 days.

    • Well, I’m not in an urban environment. I’m not talking about moving to Manhattan. I do have access to clean water very near my property, as well as rain catchment, a garden, and a large food supply. No place is perfect, as you’ve pointed out. I believe that for my daughter and myself, our options here are better than they were in the boonies.

  • Daisy, Thank you for down to earth post. I always thought those who say that they will move to an isolated place and shoot anyone who showed up,were full of crap. No one is an island unto themselves. I prep the best I can,stay on good terms with my neighbors,and keep my head low and powder dry. My one concern is I live near two main freeways.One runs north/south and east/west,about 3 miles from where I live.Though now living in the ‘burbs,,please keep posting,you are a voice of clear thinking sanity .

  • Daisy,

    The reasons laid out in your article are precisely why my wife and I sold our 28 acre Colorado homestead and moved to the outskirts of Kingman, Arizona (population ~ 30,000).

    It’s also why I wrote BUGGING IN : What To Do When TSHTF and You Live In Suburbia. Most other books focused on finding remote acreage and setting up a homestead. Mine focuses on setting up a mini-homestead at your own home and building a support group from your neighbors.

    I’m not posting this to plug my book, but to demonstrate how strongly I agree with your article and to ask your permission to reprint it in my monthly Dying Time Newsletter.

    Keep up the good work.


  • Daisy, Have been reading your site for a long time. Even though I don’t never comment, just wanted to let you know that this article hit home. I have cordial neighbors, and live in a medium size Ky. city near Owensboro. I’m late 50’s and my wife early 60’s . It does not matter where you live when the SHTF there will be no safe place. Prepping is not a location, i’ts a way of life. With our health we know that isolation is not the answer for us. I have a spare bedroom that I use for my preps. Many years of military. Will never be done, but do feel better about our situation. Thanks for a great read, and all you do. As for me I have to Bug In, in Ky.

  • Very interesting and thought provoking. I would like to add that I live in Australia, and as it’s the same size as the US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) but has 1/10th of the population, so I can safely find a 20 acre block of land that is so isolated that you need an airplane to reach your nearest neighbour.

    Remember, if you live in an area with a low population density (e.g. Alaska or Canada), then don’t forgot the boondocks, and even consider it as a possible option. Otherwise, thanks for the insight on the importance of community, especially in emergency situations.

    P.S Didn’t you already post this article?

  • So you have changed your whole ideology from isolated prepper to suburban prepper because your daughter is going to college and you attended a seminar which helped with the transition, to be closer to her. Since I am not a prepper it seems ok to me, but I have not written any articles or books to sell off the grid life. But as regular Joe, glad to see you preppers ‘ just like the rest of main stream society

  • I’ve taken some flack over the years as I’ve taught classes and supported the idea of bugging in rather than bugging out. I’m a firm believer that to survive a shtf situation, you need COMMUNITY.

    It’s nice to find some like minded friends.

    • One instance where you would want to live in the boondocks is like what happened to france during nazi occupation.
      Which coincidently is what we have going on in this country right now. In america you must think a certain way or you
      can be smashed in the face and called a nazi. What good will community do you when your community is filled with
      gestapo agents. Fool. The left plan on a society where your every move is controlled by computer. Guess who will be
      writing the programs? No. You are better off being more concerned with the government.

  • Very insightful post, thank you. I’ll share my gran-grandpa’s experience of living with his family in isolated place in Siberia close to the prison. As a result, they had escaped prisoners trying to come to their place once in a while. they had two Sheppard dogs that could warn them of the comers and a gun. At some point they got so used to the prisoners that every time they heard barking, he was coming out shooting in the air and going back to sleep. They did stay in that place for a few years without any accident until were able to move to a small city.

  • Whether to be somewhat isolated from others or to try and ‘survive’ with a group is certainly one of the significant dilemmas I have wrestled with as I have stumbled along the rabbit’s hole of self-reliance and preparedness. Absolutely no one can predict accurately how life might unfold when the complex systems we rely upon breakdown. A large unknown is whether things will ‘collapse’ slowly–giving people the opportunity to adapt to a new reality–or relatively suddenly–setting off a more ‘competitive’ scramble for resources.
    Having a post-graduate degree in archaeology and reading a lot about the rise and fall of previous societies/civilizations, it is certainly not a matter of if but when our current arrangements breakdown.
    In a somewhat cathartic attempt to deal with my internal struggles over this issue and others, I penned a fictional tale of this predicament. Should anyone be interested in a free ebook version of the first book in my trilogy, I would be happy to make it available via email ([email protected]). You can check it out at my website ( and on Amazon.
    Good luck to all.

  • Ms. Luther – I have a friend who claims that this article was printed before. Is this a reprint?
    Doesn’t matter, though. Great article and timely advice. I always maintained that the way to thrive in SHTF situations is to band together, not separate.

    • Yes – it’s an updated version of an article I published a year ago, before we moved. 🙂 I thought, now that we have moved and we’re pleased with the decision, that it was worth revisiting.

  • Daisy, I also think that you should talk about how your own health issues are impacting your survivalist prepper life.

  • Daisy,
    Our game plans change just as our lives do. What fits when your raising kids isn’t the same when their grown and you’re aging. I believe small towns works best where everyone knows their neighbors, has a good church network and can live a quiet life being as self sufficient as possible.

  • My recent experience with neighborhood living came to a crashing halt when the local gangstas had a couple running gunfights in front of my house, and the LEO’s wouldn’t even respond (to our multiple 911’s) for fear of restarting the St Floyd riots. We sold our nice old Victorian and scooted for the barrens. There’s criminal elements here, too, you can’t completely avoid them. But I’m less likely to have a BLM trained prosecutor skinning me for defending myself.

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