Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
A while back, when I was living in an apartment in North Carolina, I did a radio interview about prepping in the city. It was a live show, and we took some phone calls from listeners. One particular caller stood out in my mind. He was insistent that I was not prepped at all and couldn’t possibly be, since I didn’t live like him.
He told me about his acreage in Montana, Idaho, or one of those beautiful, spacious mountainous states. He said that he had a garden that was one acre in size, a generator he sustained with solar and wind power, two years’ worth of freeze-dried food, a cold mountain stream running through the land, and all manner of other expensive preparedness measures. He truly had an awe-inspiring set-up.
But he couldn’t wrap his brain around the fact that there are many different ways to be prepared and many different situations for which there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. He wasn’t an overly pleasant caller, but he did get my wheels turning a bit.
Actually, I thought of this fellow a few days ago when reading about the latest industrial accident that rendered an area at least temporarily unlivable. What happens to all that stuff when you suddenly can’t be there anymore for reasons outside your control? You can’t fight off an airborne threat the way you can potentially fend away an angry horde. You can’t outlast an invading army that drops a bomb in your area. There are always reasons that you might have to live your idyllic setup, and I’d argue that being able to survive without all the trappings is every bit as important as the trappings themselves.
But what this all boils down to is that there is not just one way to prep.
There are tons of variables.
We all have different budgets, different lifestyles, different homes, and different skills. Trying to say that there’s only “one way” to prep is honestly ridiculous.
We all have variables:
We don’t all have unlimited funds. We can say all we want about allocating our money carefully so we can afford to prep. Sure, skipping the trip to Disney or the luxury cruise can provide you with some extra cash for prepping. I think you should prioritize your emergency fund, your physical preps, and being debt-free. But we can preach that til the cows come home, and it doesn’t change the fact that we’re living through an economic collapse and people are struggling just to buy this week’s groceries.
Not everyone is physically capable of running a homestead. I’ve had a homestead, and it’s grueling work. I’ve lived off the grid in Canada, in the Algonquin Forest, and I did it without the luxury of a generator and all sorts of backups. I was 15 years younger then, and it was still utterly exhausting. I’m a single mom, so it was just me and a young teenager managing all this stuff. While both experiences were extremely rewarding and educational, they were not how I wanted to continue to live. There are many, many people who are not able to do it, physically, mentally, or financially.
We don’t all have a family who is on board. If you’re the Prepper-in-Chief in your household, you may have run up against the brick wall otherwise known as your spouse. You may have kids who think you’re crazy. You may be the person who stays home instead of the person who earns the money, and that means you don’t have access to the funds for a prepping free-for-all. You have to do what you can, discreetly, and not rock the boat.
Chronic health conditions may limit your options. If you or a family member is dealing with a long-term health concern, you may be in an area that is less than ideal in a survival scenario but allows you to be closer to the medical care you require. Does this mean you’re foolish? Of course not. It means that you are prioritizing the imminent crisis over the “maybe” crisis.
We’re all getting older. The things we did when we were younger are not necessarily things that are feasible as we get older. Once my daughter was out of the house, was I, in my 50s, going to run several acres, a bunch of livestock, security, and other systems all by myself? Absolutely not. We don’t all have a family like The Waltons, where Jim Bob and Elizabeth build a house on the property, and we all live more-or-less together forever more.
We might have reasons we can’t move. I’ve preached this particular sermon a million times. We live where we live for reasons. Perhaps we’re upside down in our mortgage and can’t sell and start over because we have no equity. Maybe we’re staying in a city for a family member who refuses to budge. We might have an awesome, high-paying job keeping us in a less-than-ideal area. If we have a supportive, wonderful group of family and friends, moving someplace where we have no connections doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t matter what the reason is. Moving is costly, difficult, and complicated. We can’t always do it.
Are we supposed to say to people in all these situations, sorry, you don’t live the perfect prepper lifestyle, so you’re going to die?
We’re going to say, “Look at these potential concerns, make a plan to handle them, and live your life.”
Here are the factors that really determine survival.
Ever since I had control over it, I’ve always lived a rather eccentric life. I can’t say that every choice has necessarily been a good one, but that’s what life is all about. Living, experiencing, doing, and learning. I’ve returned to living a very mobile, nomadic lifestyle because that’s what suits my temperament and it increases my adaptability. My lifestyle would not be for everyone, but that’s okay.
Why? Because there’s not just one way to prep.
Here are the factors that I believe determine survival.
We’ve written at length about skills. You can find a couple of articles about it here and here. When it comes to preps, you cannot beat skills. Whether it’s growing food, preserving food, healing, hunting, repairing, sewing, or building (just to name a few things.)
You could have all the medical supplies in the world, but if you have no idea how to use them, you may not be able to save the person you love. You could have enough food to last you for five years, but if you can’t defend it against those who would take it, you may not be able to use this particular prep.
The great things about skills (and knowledge) is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, physically fit or infirm, male or email – they cross all boundaries. Even if you can’t physically do the essential things, a group having you and your knowledge of how to repair some vital thing is invaluable.
One skill I’ve honed over the years of trying all sorts of different things and traveling the world is adaptability. In fact, I wrote an entire book about the subject. I’ve learned to communicate (at least a little) in three different languages. I can navigate unfamiliar places with ease. I can make connections rapidly. I am able to grasp the rules of the place where I am without constantly comparing it to the place I was and resisting the change. These things make it far easier to operate.
This is something that Selco has preached for decades. Your ability to understand that you are operating under a new set of rules and move forward with that can save your life.
You have to let go of how things “should be” and see them as they are. This is something a lot of us struggle with. We’re bothered by the direction our country is going in and we resist the change. To some extent, this is reasonable. But there also comes a point at which we have to accept that everything is different now and operate accordingly. Adapting doesn’t mean you are A-OK with certain changes. It just means that you understand that accepting reality is the first step toward surviving it.
This is a trait that’s easy to work on. Train yourself to work within your limitations instead of simply becoming angry about them. You can quite often achieve things even within a system that seems determined to prevent that from happening.
Nobody likes to think that, in the end, it all boils down to luck. But in so many cases, that is the determining factor. If you are at Ground Zero when the nuke hits, there isn’t anything you can do, no matter how skilled you are, how prepped you are, or how much you’ve prayed. Your number is up.
If you’re on a plane that crashes into the ocean and immediately kills every person on board, then you have had the bad luck to be there. It isn’t because you’re being punished for leaving the homestead. It’s not because you weren’t prepared enough. A deadly crash is a deadly crash.
This is just out of your control. Horrible things happen every day, and it may be due to genetics, bad timing, or the luck of the draw. If you happen to be in the way of the horrible thing, then it’s out of your control. (The good thing is that sometimes luck works in your favor, too.)
The takeaway: the way you survive is just one way to do it.
The fact that there is not just one way to survive can really work in your favor. No matter who you are, where you are, or what your situation is like, you have within you the ability to be better prepared than you were the day before. Don’t let anyone tell you that your way is the wrong way.
Make your situation work for you. Wherever you are, choose to make the best of it. People have survived in far worse situations than yours since the beginning of time. If you need help figuring out where to start, check out my course on the topic, or take a look at this workbook. Spend some time delving into the articles on this website.
Are you in the “perfect” situation? Do you feel that your way is the only way? If you’re not, how do you make it work? What advice do you have for others in similar circumstances? What words of encouragement can you share? What do you think are the most important factors in survival?
Let’s discuss it in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, 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; 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) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
GREAT ARTICLE DAISY! stay well and safe.
Thank you Daisy. I feel encouraged.
Thank you for bringing me back to my reality, lol. I say it that way coz I ve become a bit overwhelmed with all of the information coming my way on get this, do that, go here, listen to this; too much n too many different directions.
I m trying my best to keep up with the limited budget that I have. I can only do so much n thats alright. I already know that I can not be fully prepared for every unforeseen possible event.
You have settled my nerves.
Thank you so much!!!
K8 – nobody can be prepared for every possible event. Not even that guy who thought he was so much better off than the rest of us.
Two years of freeze-dried food indicates one of two things: 1) He has no confidence in his ability to produce or gather; or 2) He is a clueless clown. No prizes for guessing which one I think he is.
Thank you; well said. I think we have a lot in common- single mom raising a kid, off-grid homestead living followed by being a nomad and travelling. I ended up settling down again “because Covid” but plan on selling and relocating soon. I’ve realised that as I get older, running a homestead in a rural area, heating with wood etc just becomes less and less feasible or fun. I can still do it but it’s isolating and not a way that I want to grow old. So I’m planning on relocating to a much milder climate and living in an area with way more people. Is that risky if TSHTF? Perhaps, but in reality it’s not like I could defend what I have here for long anyway so I might as well live somewhere that I can more easily find employment and a community. And I’ll still have all my skills which can be helpful if times get tough.
good attitude about moving where to live ‘now’. I wonder about changes I should be making myself.
I believe that skills are the most important things we can prep with. Skills that can’t be learned from a book that must be lived are essential. I have been thinking a lot lately about skills that can be used in SHTF situations that would be valuable so that a person could start over anywhere. I am thinking about job skills like plumbing, electrical technician, blacksmithing, even farming will be skills which can be translated into work no matter the economic situation. Learning to adapt to whatever situation and resources is another valuable skill that we all need to prepare with.
I also believe that not owing debt on property is a crucial step for anyone. We moved to from the city to our bugout location in 2020 after the pandemic hit. We don’t have much land, but we did pay for our home and land with cash. We also own our transportation outright.
Sorry, beg to differ.
I have learned a number of things from books.
Reloading to include advanced techniques.
How to raise, slaughter, butcher and process hogs (20 of them), chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits.
Sausage, bacon, terrines.
Make home brew.
Make my own bread.
But I am always looking for more to learn.
Try as hard as you may, as hard as you might, Murphy is always lurking.
As Daisy said, it could be that 1MT nuke air burst detonating over your head. Live out in the middle of nowhere? Faulty Russian guidance system. And it is not like Putin or NORAD is going to send you a personal text, “Hey, nuke inbound, coming your way! Just FYI!”
Well, NORAD might. But then ya got what? 29 minutes till flash?
Read about a guy who had 2 years of MREs for each member of his family. He was on grid, on municipal water and sewer. His plan was to dig a trench along the fence furthest from the house. Per the Humanmaure Handbook, the average person produces about 1,200lbs of waste a year. I suspect it to be a bit higher for Americans. Anyways, 1,200lbs x 3 people, x2 years. Have fun with that.
People have used outhouses for their entire families for many years. It doesn’t take a huge trench. An outhouse setup is very doable and simple; we had one in the beginning.
Properly composted, it is even easier.
Yep. I have crapped in a bucket before, more than a few times.
Being in my mid 70s and on social security ,prepping is quite the task. All I want to do is give my spouse as easy of a life as possible …….” In case ” Thank you for the encouraging words
George Porter Hodell,
agreed, the older i get (63) the harder the ground gets “i blame it on global warming HAHA”. like you, i don’t do it for myself but for my family’s future.
good luck and take care.
What works for one/one family may not work for another person/family. Be it prepping, employment, home/homestead – you do what works for you. If the wife/one partner has the stable, well paying, benefits providing job and the husband/other partner stays home with the kids, fine by me. Financial security (even if just with a within/below your means mortgage) is a lot better hoping the tires (or the vehicle) last another year. One size does not fit all in, well, all of life. You go with your strengths.
Enjoyed the article – I took your Bloom class – we were doing it over … i guess whatever we used ‘pre-Zoom’ .. when Anchorage had the big quake in 2018. I was so happy to have you to ‘process’ with.
And the class was great – I just ran across my notes from the class the other day – time for a review!!
I was also thinking after I commented about how some preparedness oriented websites basically promote the idea that if you don’t have a large secluded acreage in a place such as Idaho or Montana which is either your full time survival homestead or your retreat, fully stocked for your family to flee to before TSHTF, you’re just out of luck. That all the people who live in the city or suburbs or east of the Mississippi might as well give up now as they’ll never survive anything bad. I think that given that the majority of people won’t ever live there or have that and that it’s mathematically impossible anyway for all the people living east of the Mississippi to magically just purchase a secluded remote place in the Redoubt (and still earn a living) , telling people this is cruel. So especially glad to see you emphasising that we can do preparedness wherever we are and at the level that works for us and it all helps.
I do live on two acres in the mountains, have a well and septic, a garden and a few chickens, have some food preserving skills, too.
But I am still trying to be adaptable, in case I have to bug out, or if the grid goes down, or even if I can still remain here but become handicapped in some way.
Being prepared means adapting to changing circumstances.
Prepping for wherever you are NOW is important, but keep acquiring skills, keep expanding your outlook, keep re-imagining
Interesting. We live in a high desert area we consider a neighborhood or “in town,” and have had a huge influx of refugees from CA, WA, OR who are buying up vacant lots and apparently think they are in the wilderness. Some are living in tents or RV’s without power and are hauling water because they do not have wells or are not hooked up to local water. (We have a “shallow” well for the area into real good water at 130ft) New signs are popping up saying property CC&R’s will be “strictly enforced” (like septic systems and permanent structures). Some have tiny houses or sheds as shelter and look like they are trying to live off grid raising animals and gardening in a relatively harsh, unforgiving environment with low moisture, extreme temperature changes and unpredictable growing seasons. Trash piles up. Lots of stuff can be learned from books but many of these folks are in for true experiential education. Yep, there are lots of ways to prep. Some seem wiser than others.
Water quality and rural outhouses sometimes have a weird relationship. There’s an old story from Missouri that rural county property inspectors would bring a little kerosene with them to pour a bit down the outhouse hole … and then wait. If the people living there soon complained of a kerosene taste coming from their well water … it was a major warning that the outhouse was built way too close to their well water supply.
Fast forward to today’s era. The water table in the rural farm area where I grew up has suffered some nitrate contamination from farming fertilizer. In mild cases it can produce what’s called blue baby syndrome — not a healthy condition for newborns. In more intense concentrations it can cause various kinds of cancer. In the small town near where I grew up, the EPA insisted that the town spend millions on a municipal reverse osmosis water treatment system (that the town couldn’t afford) because the city’s existing plan of handing out free jugs of clean water wasn’t sufficient to keep the bureaucrats at bay.
Other parts of the country often suffer other kinds of water contamination. Sometimes it’ is industrial waste. Sometimes it is radiation from old mining operations. Sometimes nearby military bases create special chemical problems that require legal fights decades later.
The point is that water quality is just one of many things that can be problematic in choosing a different place to live. Proximity to local medical care is another issue … with many rural hospitals shutting down these days. Some people can make a living in very rural areas but a lot of people have to rely on city employment. The point is that there is a whole spectrum of choices and issues to be considered — far beyond whether you are trying to model your preparedness future after any one other person’s situation.
Lewis, I share your concern about potable water. I live next to a beautiful, clear, always flowing creek, so we have water if the SHTF. But I know that some people will use it for waste disposal. Other than boil the water before drinking, washing wounds, brushing teeth etc. – there is nothing we can do about that.
Excellent article and advice, Daisy. It’s a good thing to plan for the most likely disaster, but you can’t plan for ’em all!
Water. The one thing no one can live without.
IF I were to relocate from my current homestead, I would use this map as a guide: https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/
If you look back over the years, you see a trend developing.
When I was a single Mom and raising 2 kids I looked to your website to prepare based on what I could afford: go bags, tent, sleeping bags and that was it. Things are different now, but showing my kids how to be prepared was the greatest gift I gave them all because you gave it to me. Thank you.
You completely made my day with this comment. Thank you.
Skills and adaptability can be carried everywhere you go and they weigh nothing.