Urban Survival vs. Rural Survival: A WARNING from Selco About Your Plans

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Urban survival vs. rural survival is a near-constant debate in preparedness circles. Those who live on acreage sometimes scoff at those who live in cities for reasons of business, education, or families. Those who live in the cities feel obligated to defend their choices. The truth of the matter is that there IS no perfect plan, and even if you had one, SHTF might have other ideas. You need both skillsets to survive, as Selco teaches. In this reality check, Selco explains how even the best survival plans can go horribly wrong when the SHTF. ~ Daisy

by Selco Begovic

Co-Author of SHTF Survival Boot Camp and SHTF Survival Bootcamp Online Course

I write almost always about urban survival because of a few simple reasons:

  1. I survived SHTF in an urban environment, so I write about it from my own experience.
  2. The majority of us actually live in urban settings, so there is a reason why we need to pay more attention to preparing for urban survival.
  3. Most of us who live in urban settings have a plan (me too) to bug out to some kind of rural setting in order to have a better chance of survival. But the sad truth is that a lot of us will fail to bug out on time because of numerous reasons.

As a result, a number of us who have a good BOL in a rural setting will still end up surviving in an urban area.

Generally, I think it is much better to be out of the urban area when SHTF. But we don’t always get what we want no matter how good our plan. That is why you must learn about not only rural or wilderness survival, but also urban survival. I talk about all of these in my book.

Urban vs. Rural Survival

The whole dilemma of urban vs, rural has become pretty useless because people imagine that what they need in order to survive is to just run away from a populated area into woods and they will be perfectly fine.

While I do agree that bugging out from the populated areas is a good thought and a good start, it should not be the end of your planning. You may find out that after you run from the chaos in the city, you face a whole new range of problems (a lot of them very challenging) in wilderness settings.

It is not a simple decision and simple plan. Choosing between urban and rural (or the wilderness) should be based on careful planning and preparing. All that usually takes years.

Without planning, it actually makes more sense when the SHTF to bug-in and take your chances in the city.

What was it like in rural settings when the SHTF? 

As I’ve written many times, I spent my SHTF time in urban settings, but many of my friends and relatives were in rural settings and small villages instead of the urban centers.

How was it?

Very bad, but what is really important it was also much better than in the cities for many reasons.

Mentality-tradition

People in rural settings here still lived partly from their land. Yes, they did have modern houses, electricity, hot water, etc. A lot of them lived in villages but worked in cities. But the important thing was that they had a connection with their land and their surroundings.

A lot of them had chickens, crops, and vegetables. A majority of them were hunters.

So, when SHTF yes, they did lose connection with the outside world, electricity, water maybe, and regular transport of goods, but they still had resources around them in huge quantity, and most of them did have knowledge of how to use that resources.

They had woods around them with animals that they could hunt, rivers and creeks for water sources, and their land.

I think when SHTF they were using maybe 30% of their land for food growing, and of course, they switched very fast to using all of it for growing.

They had the opportunity to grow everything, including tobacco, and of course, homemade alcohol.

Life became much harder than in normal times, but compared to urban areas, it was paradise.

One thing that was important and good there was that they had a much better generational knowledge and preparedness for a hard life.

No matter how modern they were, they lived a harder life in normal times than city folks, and getting used to SHTF situation was much easier to them than for city folks.

Also, their knowledge about natural remedies, home medicines, or simply about delivering babies at their homes was much better and still fresh.

Bugging out to the wilderness or rural area

There is a popular myth that if something serious happens and you are living in the city you simply will go and bug out into the wilderness.

It is a very nice thought, and it is tempting to imagine that while cities are exploding in violence you will be happy somewhere in woods.

A whole prepping philosophy and industry are based and built on that picture.

I did have a very short period (several days) of surviving during SHTF in a wilderness setting and it was hell for me. If I learned anything from that episode it is the fact that either you have to be a real master of wilderness survival (it is possible, but I really met very few people like that) or again, you need to have really serious preparations prior to the event together with a network of good people.

A lot of “mainstream” wilderness preparedness is based on shorter terms events, or “until help arrives”.

Being in a situation where you need to survive in the wilderness for a prolonged period of time lowers your chances a lot.

You may have a premade BOL location somewhere in the wilderness, a cabin for example with a really good stash of everything. That, of course, raises your chances for survival in the wilderness. But sooner or later you will (in a prolonged event) you will eventually come down to the-wilderness-your skills equation.

Not too many people are actually ready for that.

Being in small rural places, together with other people around you sounds much better, and I kinda lean to that solution. Actually, my BOL location is just like that. It is a small village where I have resources and the help of like-minded people.

You need both. Resources and trusted people away from urban area. 

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

It is great to have plans, but it is even greater to stick to reality, common sense, and experience. When the SHTF you do not have a clue where you may end up. You might be forced to adapt and bend your plans a lot. You need to be ready for any setting.

The biggest mistake people make is that they are confident they have the perfect BOL but due to circumstances they are forced to bug in, and they did not plan at all for bugging in. Or the opposite.

SHTF is a completely new event, and as much you plan for it, there are variables that you simply can’t factor in.

Those variables may completely change your plans of where you want to be when it happens.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. 

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

 

Selco

Selco

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

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106 Responses

  1. there is no silver bullet with prepping. and the best advice i can proffer is to diversify. you can still stockpile stuff and have an escape plan, and i encourage both of these but the best thing to have is skills. if you don’t have them and your plan doesn’t work out for the inevitable situation that is opposite than the one you thought would happen, then you are back to square one.
    if you have some skills in bushcraft, fermenting, engine repair, blacksmithing, gunsmithing, distilling, farming, first aid or even just cooking without a recipe book you will have a negotiable asset as well as one for yourself. and it all fits quite nicely in your brain. very portable.

    ps. the list of skills is enormous and i just used the ones off the top of my head. you don’t need to be an expert at any of these, just enough to get you over a hump.

    1. “if you have some skills”

      (shrug) in terms of strict physical survival, the best skill is the skill of taking what you need from all those who have other skills. it’s the simplest, lightest, most flexible, and safest plan.

          1. It might be a bullet out here in the ‘woods’ but I highly doubt it. Too much noise and attention drawn. It will be an arrow most likely from the bow hunters who know how to hide and let their prey come to them. Then, it’s a simple matter of dragging the body to the nearest wild hog area. They don’t leave anything but the teeth and those are scattered in their droppings.

      1. “it’s the simplest, lightest, most flexible, and safest plan.”

        Yep, right up until the point where you come across someone who is better armed and trained than you are. I wouldn’t suggest trying that around our place unless you can out run and out gun a fully automatic weapon that can reach out and touch you from 150 yards. Nope. Not kidding one bit. You won’t see us, but we’ll sure as heck see you coming.

        My son has the same plan you seem to have but even HE knows better than to try that HERE. (Not that he would have to, but….)

        See, you really don’t know what you’re walking into at any given point so, the ‘safest’ is not actually true at all.

  2. I once read a first-person account of life in a South American country (Argentina?) during a complete economic collapse, The author chose to stay in the city, but reported that gangs from the city would travel into rural areas and stake out farms. They’d observe from some distance and determine how many adult males lived there. They would snipe those males while they were working the farm, then move inside the house to avail themselves of whatever females they found, and basically move in and live there until they’d consumed all of the food and other commodities, then burn the farm and move onto the next…

    1. They lowered their guard. That’s where defensive planning comes into effect. Militias, armed sentries, barbed wire, etc. If it’s already considered an SHTF situation, you don’t “bug out” to the boonies, work your farm and live happily ever after. You should already know people (the lesser prepared and wreckless) are going to come and try and kill you and take everything you have.

      In the USA, we have the 2nd Amendment for a reason.

      1. Spot on, my friend. The author of the book (Daisy identified it for me) mentioned that guns were highly restricted, though many people–himself included–had 9mm pistols. Because there was no tradition or right to own arms in that country, many simply lived–and in this case, died–without them. Our own govt is again pushing the concept of banning so-called “assault rifles”. Gotten into more than one argument on twitter with people who pretend to be gun owners and NRA members who want our AR-15s to be confiscated.

    2. “stake out farms. They’d observe from some distance and determine how many adult males lived there. They would snipe those males while they were working the farm”

      that’s what will happen. always has.

      rawles in his book “patriots” gets around this by having the protagonists simply stay in their fortified cabin for over a year, not working any farm activities but just standing rotating guard shifts 24/7. sounds ok, until you realize that raider gangs appearing will not not be just after a collapse event but a permanent ongoing feature of grid down as survival groups fail over time and attempt to survive by raiding other survival groups.

      with long-range firearms there simply is no possibility of fixed defense of any kind of homestead.

        1. “that depends upon how many people are at that homestead with long-range weapons”

          no. think of a small circle, representing where the homesteaders must be, and a larger circle around it, representing where the raiders can be. the raiders will know where the homesteaders are almost all the time. the homesteaders won’t know where the raiders are at any time.

          (watch the movie “the seven samurai”)

          1. You could not be more wrong.
            The small circle is the homestead.
            The next larger circle is the neighbors.
            The next larger circle is their neighbors.
            Then the community.
            A whole lot of circles, and larger circles than that little raider circle.

            If you rely on pop-culture references as your strategy . . .

            1. “The next larger circle is the neighbor”

              actually your worst enemies will be your neighbors who fail and who come looking for your stuff.

              “larger circles than that little raider circle”

              the neighbors will be dispersed and not part of any “circle”.

              1. Why would my neighbors fail?
                They are preppers like us.
                And we will work together to make sure that not only do we succeed, but they succeed and survive.

                1. First off Semper Fi! You are exactly right! We love our little community which has been here for every it seems. Living on old family land surrounded by extended family of all stripes. Been this way for generations. All gardeners and preppers by culture/nature. But the best thing is the area is PERFECT to set up and close it off from the rest of the world (other than air of course.) Choke points in every direction that cannot be skirted unless you know the area well and know the logging roads which aren’t on maps. The choke points are bridges crossing the bottoms which some might call swamps. Nobody that isn’t from this tiny area will have the first clue of how to get in and ‘we ain’t tellin’! ” LOL We have a lot of vets from grunts to brass here as well and the fire power to back us up.

                  I mean, how many people realize that hunters are actually snipers? We are legion out in the woods from guns to bows.

                2. -Backwoods Squirrel,
                  Semper Fi, Devil Dog! Good to see another Marine around here! InTheBooniesTX is another Jar Head that posts here on the OP.
                  Matt in OK, while he is former Army, we dont hold that against him, and exchange some good old cross branch banter now and again. He is retired LEO/SWAT CO, and even though I have never met him in person, I would have his back and he mine in a bind with no worries.

                  Yeah, for some reason people tend to think those of us out here in the sticks are all isolated homesteads/farms. Like we dont talk to our neighbors. I have lived in urban, sub burban, and now rural areas, honestly, the sub burban areas is where I felt most isolated. Get dirty looks if my dog peed on their shrub and as it was toward the end of the walk, his bladder was on E.
                  Here in the sticks, I know more people than I ever did in the sub burban areas. Around here, reputation seems to go a long way.

                  Choke points and bridges, I like the way you think!
                  Sniper craft and hunting have parts that cross, and some parts that do not. I can say in my experience, those who hunt, generally make for better marksmans than those who do not.

      1. I think that your inference is correct. It will be reminiscent of the settlers in early America pushing out into Indian territory and trying to make a go of it in an isolated farmstead. There may be a place to fort up with others if there is enough warning, but many will be caught unawares. Its an issue that can keep me up at night regarding our own place. But while we do not have the resources for 24/7 security and to fight off an attack ourselves, there are others nearby and together we can close off access to this area very easy and rotate security between all of us.

        1. “we can close off access to this area very easy and rotate security”

          sounds like a plan. but your worst enemy will be those in your own group that privately fail for whatever reason and come looking for your resources. there’s a reason why so many primitive low-pop edge-of-survival societies are communist.

          1. That is why it is best to make sure every one is a prepper, or has skills to use as trade. Make sure those in you circles dont fail, trust each other, enhance the bonds between everyone.
            Society at large may fail all around us, but our neighbors, friends and community will survive.
            That is why a lot of people come to this site. To learn. Become more knowledgeable. Enhance their chances of surviving.

    3. Leonard that possibly happened. But if that is the case, rest assured it was very localized not as common nor widespread as it may sound. Argentina was very bad but not a total lawless SHTF, not a collapsed warzone. Things got ugly and violent, sure. But there was a government and there were authorities in place during that time. Police, the army, judges and courts, other people.

      And let´s face it: not all farmers are equal but as a general rule they´re a tough bunch. Unless we´re talking about a collective of defenseless, unaware neo-hippies living the farmland dream. But most farmers I know (quite a few) are tough, resilient, resourceful, and most know how to be violent when necessary. We must look at the specific context because there´s usually a lot of details and nuances to these tales.

      Is it possible that someone can come and kill the men and take the land and the women? It happened a lot throughout history. Sure enough it does, even in “peaceful” nations (i.e. not under war). It happened in Venezuela. In fact it happens in every country where some form of communism or dictatorship is in place. But it´s one thing the government coming for you, and another is a group of psycopaths or criminals.

      Weapons? Those are great if you´re fighting a gang of marauders or some antifa or whatever. Might give you a chance or at least a good fight. But the government is immensely more powerul even in a country like U.S. (esepecially in U.S. with its mighty war machine), even with more than one (registered) firearm per citizen. If they want, they will disarm the population or there will be a bloodbath so big that it will be worse than hell. If they want, they will get the land or whatever they want. Or a war.

      Anyway, crime and violence are indeed a thing during any SHTF. Just look at LA or NY and it isn´t that serious (yet – it will get A LOT worse IMO). But don´t think that something like that is common nor as bad as that in a country which is not in full-on war, civil or against an external enemy.

      It is also true that the situation in far-away, realy distant rural areas can be like Wild West. There´s less law enforcement around and people take matters in their own hands more frequently, with or without violence. But even the Wild West had its own order, unless it´s under total war.

      Finally, even during serious breakdowns that kind of thing would lead to some sort of backfire or other consequences to the perpetrators. Rather quickly, I´d assume. If not from the authorities, from relatives or other authority-in-place that people can run to, even if for a pay.

      The fact is that even in SHTF, even a full-on Mad Max or Book Of Eli shit, there must be a minimum of order. Yeah the weak will always be at the mercy of the strong, for sure. And there will a a lot of psychopats out there too you can count on that. But then again there are ways for the weak to survive of course. In fact sometimes they fare better or in higher numbers than the strong in SHTF (I know I´ll get crap for saying that but whatever I have my reasons).

  3. My wife and I live in a town of 300 yes that is right 300 people…we hunt fish forage already one nieghbor has pigs one cows ..we have a simple life it’s hard but we go for weeks with out seeing a grocery store so bartering is a way of life. I’m sure we would stand a much better chance than the cities would..plus we all know the woods..and are surrounded by mountains
    .

    1. “My wife and I live in a town of 300”

      grid down you’ll be joined by 100 motor homes stuffed full of armed refugees – they’ll be the toughened survivors of 200 motor homes stuffed full of armed refugees who planned all along that your little village would be their emergency bug-out location.

      1. With the grid down, how do all those motor homes get there?
        It is not like there is a RV Raider Only toll road, with a rest stop every 50 miles, fully stocked, up and running. Smiling employees of the RV Raider union, topping off coffee, making pizza and subs. And as some how they still have power, and comms, they are still taking credit/debit cards!

        RVs are large, slow, cumbersome. In order to get that amazing 10mpg, they are made of very light material. Not exactly APC or MRAPs. Make for easy targets by all those raiders on the road, or outside of the suburbs.

        1. “With the grid down, how do all those motor homes get there?”

          people are coming up to speed, they keep the tanks full. the grid won’t drop like a rock, and as people see the writing on the wall they’ll stash some fuel. saw quite a few people with rv’s take off for a week during the initial covid panic, some of them described it as a practice run. oh yeah, they’ll get there, maybe even preemptively.

          1. But, by being preemptively, they wont be full of hardened urban survivors.
            And when they show up preemptively, waiting for the time when the grid goes down, and there to be a WROL to go all MZB, we all just might notice.

  4. Having skills is great, but you also need to develop an ability to improvise and think outside the box. A good way to do this is to brainstorm as many uses as you can think of for an item such as a piece of rope. This is a good activity for your family or group and it can actually be a lot of fun. It takes practice, but you will learn a lot from doing this, not only about the item but about the creativity and resourcefulness of you and your group. Just remember that there can be no judgement during the brainstorming process. Some ideas might not work, but they might lead to a great solution to whatever problem you’re dealing with. There is no such thing as a bad idea, just ones that may not be applicable.

    1. I read once that this was used when trying to decide a better way to package milk. The glass bottles were becoming a problem. Someone said “Let’s put it in a paper carton”. That is how the waxed cardboard carton was born.
      Proves there is no such thing as a bad idea.

      1. Don’t know that there ISN’T any such thing as a bad idea. In retrospect, I think a LOT of folks in the Wuhan province of China may have concluded that bat soup MAY have been a bad idea…

  5. I’m city dwelling in a small rural town. I know my immediate neighbors and townspeople. I know my outlying rural farmers.

    We all pretty much agree on a SHFT bug-in plan. We know the skills and capabilities all have to offer in a group survival situation.

    I’m highly confidential we’ve a good chance of survival.

  6. The whole “bug out” meme is fraught with stupidity, bad advice and worse, fantasy fear-mongering. There is almost never going to be any valid reasons to “bug out”, but this stupid meme has taken hold because it’s being promoted by hucksters and frauds. I wrote several long articles around this topic, “Bugout Bullshit” and other similar articles, pointing out the massive fallacies of the bug-out meme and making yourself a refugee. A very, very stupid idea – one that is utterly rejected by professional survivalist teachers and instructors. Those that promote “bug-out” are generally in the business of selling you something (that you don’t need) and have a vested interest in promoting this false meme. Don’t fall for it.

    1. So, “Survival Acres,” I did a little back-tracking of your IP and discovered that every comment you’ve made on my site (Under numerous different names) is insulting, rude, and derogatory. It’s interesting to note that the FIRST comment you made included your email address and a link to your now-defunct website. If your real goal was to get information out there, you’d still be publishing on your own site or offering to write freelance on more popular sites than yours. Alas, your goal seems to be, instead, merely airing your sour views on the articles of others, along with a side of ad hominem attacks on people you don’t know.. If you wanted to help, I’d have welcomed your input.

      For some reason, you’ve really got it in for my website and ALL the writers who contribute. I find it incredibly curious that you seem to read every single article, with the deep hatred you display. Is it a problem for you that my site is successful and yours seems to be offline? It’s a shame because you might actually have some useful knowledge but your approach means you won’t be sharing it here. This will be your last comment on the site, as I’ve put your IP in moderation.

      Hopefully, you’ll be able to get your own site up and running again so that you can share your commentary. You certainly won’t be doing it on my platform any longer.

      Best wishes,
      Daisy

        1. Don’t be too hard on the gman. He is either working out of fear or offering valuable input regarding our planned preps. Either way, I do notice he never starts a conversation, he just try’s to poke holes in those others start. He has a critique of everything I post but I don’t take any of it personally. However. I am very careful of what I say as you never know who’s listening.

          1. @Fifth_Disciple,
            LOL!
            Yeah, his postings are pretty comical.
            I mean, who would of thought that all those harden survivors would still have RVs and fuel for those RVs to travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to raid my small town. Through all that likely hostile territory.
            And even though they have never shot a firearm prior to all this, somehow they have mad SEAL Team Six skills!
            Like I said comical.
            But that kind of raider like, take by force mentality, that is real. And that is the kind of thing all preppers need to be prepared for.
            That is why I take screen shots of gmans posts and send them to my friends and neighbors.

            1. “And even though they have never shot a firearm prior to all this, somehow they have mad SEAL Team Six skills!”

              look up the word “caricature”.

          2. “he never starts a conversation”

            well certainly not here. most people (and libertarian/anarchist/survivalist bloggers in particular) have their own mental construct and simply dismiss any other view out of hand. so I start with where they are, because there’s no other place to start.

    2. “There is almost never going to be any valid reasons to ‘bug out’”

      if you’re in a city with 500,000 inner city youts who have nothing except what they can take from you, that might be an excellent reason to “bug out”.

    3. “The whole “bug out” meme is fraught with stupidity, bad advice and worse, fantasy fear-mongering. There is almost never going to be any valid reasons to “bug out””

      May I suggest you google the Fort MacMurray fires.
      People who had a “bug out location” would have been MUCH better off than those who lost everything in those wildfires.
      People who had a “bug out plan” of heading off with $10000 and staying at a hotel were in much better shape than those who went to community shelters because of no plan.
      I’m willing to give “bad advice” and “fantasy fear mongering” and suggest to be prepared to bug out because real life events show that no matter how good your preps are you may have to leave everything behind and go.
      Call me stupid if you like, but having ANY bug out plan puts you head and shoulders above those who don’t.
      And what am I selling with this advice?
      Not a damn thing.
      Bruce Lee said of martial arts “be like water”
      That advice works for prepping too.
      Water is strong and weak, it ebbs and flows.
      Water learns to flow in and around.
      Water knows when to yield and when to push.
      Water can change its nature from a solid, to a liquid, to a gas, depending on what it needs to do.
      Preppers should be like water and adapt to the situation so they can survive.

  7. If you’re comfortable bugging in, then by all means do so. However, to completely discount any possibility that you might have to evacuate to another location in an emergency is disingenuous at best and foolhardy at worst. Look at what happened the last couple of days in MD with the flash floods or with the volcano in HI. Having at least some plan of what to do in the event of a disaster is helpful, and it will cut down the likelihood of you and your family panicking and doing something that might make the situation worse. Think of it as an insurance policy – hopefully you won’t need to use it, but if you do need it it’s there. And there’s nothing wrong with trying to grow food or learn survival skills in order to be more independent. I think most of us have learned the hard way that you can’t depend on outside sources to bail your ass out of trouble whether it’s personal/financial or some kind of natural or man-made disaster on a larger scale affecting your entire community. In this day and age fewer people know anything about self – reliance and expect the government or some other entity to ride in and save the day. It might not happen that way for a variety of reasons, so why get caught short?

  8. Has anyone ever asked Selco if he’s a moslom, and if he knows why Serajevo was besieged – I assume he was in Serajevo – as in just what started that war and thus why he had to live like an animal? Reason I ask is anyone trapped in Serajevo dusring the war was most likely moslom or a sympathiser. The Kosovo war is the same as if the mosloms in Dearborn Michigan decided to implore the un and NATO to carve out a caliphate inside America for them by force, but in Kosovo’s case, NATO and bill clinton did the carving and saved moslom ass.

    1. selco described the population of serajevo as being nominally catholic/orthodox/moslem, but in fact almost entirely secular and not practicing. he said that after the siege the population became much more practicing, particularly the moslems.

      “The Kosovo war is the same as if the mosloms in Dearborn Michigan decided to”

      in 600ad or so kosovo was the center of greek orthodox missionary missions to the slavs, particularly russia which sees kosovo as its spiritual ancestor and the reason “russia” exists as a nation. the moslems conquered the balkans but left the religions there mostly intact, so long as they recognized the supremacy of islam. tito crushed all of this in favor of a secular communist yugoslavia. when yugoslavia was carved up along religious lines kosovo was left in moslem territory. bosnia, the greek orthodox fragment, sought to recapture kosovo for greek orthodoxy.

      1. Evening gman, with your understand of religions in world history, how would you see things playing out here in the U.S. in a worst case scenario with the three largest world religions…. I don’t see this question as having a wrong or right answer given that any answer would be based on pure speculation…. I’m just interested in your perspective. Thanks.

        1. “how would you see things playing out here in the U.S. in a worst case scenario with the three largest world religions”

          christians are the largest and most nationalistic group, they’ll … well maybe not do well but they will be the largest elements that survive. moslems are almost exclusively city imports and rely on “insh’alla” (“god’s will”, predestination) for everything and won’t do well, and where they get lucky and survive as a group they’ll attempt an immediate genocidal take-over which will turn everyone else against them. indians (asian) are not numerous but are well-ensconced in various country and city settings and are used to primitive conditions and will work together as a tribe and so might establish a permanent presence. jews are few in number and view themselves as being the only humans and everyone else as a talking animal put here by god to serve them, to be eliminated if they don’t, so their survival will be predicated on 1) access to some long-term hidey-hole and 2) continuing success at getting the cattle to view them as the owners and masters and to work for the jews and 3) success at getting the cattle to eliminate non-cooperative cattle. indians (natives) view the entire continent as theirs and everyone else as tribal enemies, and I’ve seen that they are heavily armed and some of them quite wealthy from gambling money and they already have their reservation lands to work from, so they’ll have some success at expanding their reservations and genociding anyone within range – lots of white preppers that think they’re safe in the wilderness are in for a terrible surprise, especially rawles up there in idaho, two huge reservations nearby. I think the big winners will be the mormons – large population, tightly organized intelligent leadership, culture of preparedness, culture of minority fighting for space and land, vastly wealthy, and an entire state already under their direct control.

          my opinion.

  9. I think that there are numerous things going on with this. I recall prior to Y2K that there were many posting online that they’d just bug-out to the woods and live off the land, hunting Bambi and foraging whatever else they needed. It was sad as pretty much these were city or suburban people with not a clue as to how hard it would be to actually do this successfully. I’ve lived rurally for a long time and I’m not in any position to do this.

    Others who are prepping still have this belief(maybe hope) that if all falls apart, they will be able to live snug with their families in their rural home, eating homemade pancakes from the grain they grew with the maple syrup they produced, homeschooling the kids and so on; sorta like Little House on the Prairie minus the Indian attacks. Sad to say, if things fell apart to any great degree, the violence that would ensue would likely dominate our lives for a long time afterwards. Eventually, the survivors might yet get to live those cozy lives imagined, but most of us wouldn’t make it to that point.

    So I’m not saying we should give up in despair. I still hope that things hold together enough that it never gets that bad and somehow we muddle through. I prep for the chance that it won’t and hope for the best.

    1. “just bug-out to the woods and live off the land, hunting Bambi and foraging whatever else they needed”

      that’s still the plan for many. they won’t be good at it but they’ll try, and in a month there won’t be so much as a chipmunk or grasshopper left. regions that prove viable will have to ban hunting for a decade to allow animal populations to build up to their natural levels, and then they’ll strictly have to regulate and control all hunting, before hunting can be permitted again.

  10. “As I’ve written many times, I spent my SHTF time in urban settings, but many of my friends and relatives were in rural settings and small villages instead of the urban centers.”

    in america most “rural” areas are not farming villages but rather are little more than housing in remote areas. and in america most “rural” regions are not self-supporting in any way but rather are banana-republics, producing one or two products for export and importing absolutely everything else. cities meanwhile are at the best confluence of farmland, water supply, and trade routes.

    short term, cities will experience more immediate chaos and rural areas less. long term, cities are more survivable than american rural areas.

    1. One can only presume you are a city dweller. How else could one interpret your “banana-republic” slur. In the rural landscape what you typically find are towns approximately every 10-12 miles. The population of these are the support centers for the surrounding area offering retail, medical and law enforcement to the surrounding area. If a rural area begins to develop and more city dwellers move to the area the business community grows and soon you have a small city. I’ll agree that some area’s such as Montana or Nebraska tend to mono-cultures that is not the case for all area’s. To the contrary, I can survive much better without the services of a city than it can without mine.

      1. @Fifth_Disciple,
        Could not of said it better myself.

        Actually around my parts looks a lot like what Selco describes.
        I grew up in a area like that too.

      2. “you are a city dweller”

        worse. have all the disadvantages of a full city and all the disadvantages of a rural area, and few of the advantages of either.

        “”banana-republic’ slur”

        merely descriptive.

        “these are the support centers for the surrounding area”

        and they are supported by more distant “support centers”. which, in grid down, will be off-line.

        “that is not the case for all area’s”

        it is very much the case for most, and much more so than most people realize. for example consider boots – how many preppers can make their own shoes of any description? I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere. there needs to be a transition from thinking in terms of “survival” to thinking in terms of mediaeval lifestyle.

        1. gman, I understand your thinking on this, but here’s a thought… DHS, FEMA, along with Survival Blog all say that in a grid down situation, it’s estimated that 80 to 90% of the U.S. population would be dead in the first year – I would agree, given that 99% of everything we rely on to “live” requires electricity – food production, communication, fuel production, heating, cooling, etc.
          With that, I don’t think that clothing / foot wear is going to be an issue – for years. Why? If 85% or so of the population is dead in a year from the time the grid goes down, I tend to think, my selection of shoes will be an endless choice for years to come. That would also apply to real estate – squatters rights will start to take hold inside a year and with law enforcement not really being an issue to greater or lesser degrees – I suspect “the law” will very according to what a said community will be able to enforce. This logic would carry over into just about everything except stored food and drinking water – or the ability to produce it.
          Everything I’m throwing out here is pure speculation – as with everything that everyone else is throwing out for consideration. It’s ALL fluid. Absolutely everything and everyone is a factor along with environment, time of year, and a lot of luck…. it’ll be fun….

          1. “my selection of shoes will be an endless choice for years to come”

            … good point. and not just for shoes.

            “pure speculation – as with everything that everyone else is throwing out”

            mostly. but some think they know for certain and that other people are permanently stupid and will conform to their caricature of them.

  11. Selco makes some good points and it is a good article.
    However there is a big difference in where he was at and the Social economic norms than that of a typical American city.
    We have a Race Issue that overshadows everything else. I don’t want to be racist, but we must admit to the plain facts.
    “According to the FBI, African Americans accounted for 52.4% of all homicide offenders in 2018, ( but only about 13% of the population), with Whites 43.1% and “Other”/Unknown 4.4%. Of these, 15.4% were Hispanic or Latino. The per-capita offending rate for African Americans was roughly six times higher than Whites, and the victim rate is a similar figure.
    According to the National Crime Victimization Survey in 2002, robberies with white victims and black offenders were more than 12 times more common than vice versa.”

    I don’t like these stats, but one must be realistic. A lot of the problem is not the color of the skin, but of the social, economic status of the segment of society that they are in.
    This will only get worse in a SHTF event. Many of these people live on government handouts, once those stop, they will be a problem.
    Most of these things mostly occur in URBAN areas. Non preppers of all races, will be a problem.
    The World and its moral character has gone downhill since Selco’s experience.

    In some areas of former Yugoslavia, during the 90’s, people still went to work, products and food were still produced, foreign imports still came into the “country(s)”, etc.
    Hardly the true definition of SHTF ( every man for himself or the total breakdown of society).
    So one must take his experience and opinions with a grain of salt.

    Most US urban centers are much further removed from the food producing areas than in his Country. We rely on transportation of goods into the cities, far more than they did.
    We also have less reliance on wells ( city water and water systems) in Urban or in Rural areas they they would have.

    So there are a lot of difference. So consider carefully your plans and on what basis, you use to make them.

    1. “Most US urban centers are much further removed from the food producing areas than in his Country. We rely on transportation of goods into the cities”

      you don’t quite get it. almost all food is processed in urban regions and then shipped out to everywhere else. same with gasoline, clothing, nuts and bolts, you name it. all the producing regions are oriented towards cities, both as destination and source – that’s where the roads go, that’s where the finances originate, that’s who the enforcers work for, that’s where the votes are cities get everything first, so in a shortage it will be cities that get first choice of everything.

      1. I would not be shocked if the feds didn’t come out to the country to seize crops and other resources to bring to the cities for “the greater good”. Obama signed an executive order called National Defense Resources Preparedness #13603–an updated version of a 1950’s EO enabling the US Govt to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear attack. In Obama’s updated version, the feds may seize during any emergency or NON-EMERGENCY all food–from stores, household cupboards and farmer’s fields; all forms of energy, including fuel for heating, transportation or cooking; all agricultural equipment, all water–potable or not; all vehicles, medical equipment/supplies and medications.

        So far as I can determine, this EO is still in effect…

        1. “I would not be shocked if the feds didn’t come out to the country to seize crops and other resources to bring to the cities”

          that’s exactly what the bolsheviks did to the ukranians in soviet union in the 1930’s. sent in the army, took all the food, and left them to starve. “the nation that will not serve you shall be destroyed”, and that’s exactly what they did. and they want to do that here too.

          “all food–from stores, household cupboards and farmer’s fields; all forms of energy, including fuel for heating, transportation or cooking; all agricultural equipment”

          they won’t seize everything, they’ll seize just enough to enforce “comply or die”.

      2. You sure got that wrong.

        Where does the food grow, rural, flyover states. Same with hogs, cows (dont see any CAFOs in San Fran), chickens etc.
        The processing plants are not in the cities, but smaller towns.

        I raise a hog, I dont need to send it to the city for processing. I can and have done it myself.
        Those in the city, they need me to raise a hog to send to a processing plant, and then shipped to the city.

        Grid down situation, I still got the hog. I can still process it.
        Those in the city . . . they be waiting for a long time for that truck to show up.

  12. Regarding bugging out to the woods with an unplanned destination, the first thing that comes to my mind is THERE IS NO UN-OWNED LAND IN THE U.S. Either the land is in private ownership or public ownership. A refugee would probably be shot on private land before he had a chance to starve to death.

    1. @ Ancestor Lady

      Most city people see rural areas as vast tracts of unowned land. They honestly don’t realize that someone owns it. And they figure that whatever is on it can be used/taken by them(wildlife, plants, wood etc). Some do know better but they don’t care as they figure there is just so much of it so why not share?

      1. “They honestly don’t realize that someone owns it”

        what will take a lot of preppers by surprise is the indians. to them it’s all theirs. grid-down they’ll be free to act on that belief. they will, and they’re heavily armed. wherever you are, look up any indian reservations in your area and plan accordingly.

  13. Yesterday we got almost 4″ of rain. Windy today with gusts to 30mph with a high in the 40’s. It would be miserable and maybe even life threatening for anyone under physical and emotional stress hunkered down in the woods if running to the woods was about the only plan they had and with what they could carry, and its not even Winter yet.

    As for hunting, we live in a rich game area with deer, turkey, bear, and lots of small game. But if hunger came a’knocking due to some event none of them would be around for long and thats from just the locals hunting them out.

    Even if you make it to a BOL, and even if you have lots of ‘stuff’, including buckets and buckets of long-term storage foods, if you are unable to become self-sustaining by your own production or through trading you’ll “go under” once the supplies run out.

    1. “none of them would be around for long and thats from just the locals hunting them out”

      viable areas will have to ban all hunting for a decade or so, let the game populations build up to max levels. then hunting will have to be strictly regulated.

      “if you are unable to become self-sustaining”

      no individual is self-sustaining.

      1. We are discussing urban vs rural during a SHTF event and you are talking about enforcing game laws. Thats pretty funny!
        As for the cities getting first dibs, the products have to make it there first, and there is a long line of steps between dropping seed in the ground or a calf in a pasture out in a rural area and some urban resident eating a cheese burger. If bad weather ruins the crops or kills the live stock, or if the producer cannot get the fertilizer to grow the crop or get what they produce to the processor because there is no fuel, or from there to the wholesaler, or maybe the trucks don’t roll, the only dibs city dwellers will be getting is rat flambe.
        Being self-sustaining doesn’t mean having to produce everything you use. It means having found that balance where you can move on past what your initial stores would have provided and continue to survive long-term once they are gone. What you can produce, certainly. But also barter, trade work for things you want or need.

        1. “you are talking about enforcing game laws”

          yep.

          “Thats pretty funny!”

          anyone here that lives in game areas – what do you think about enforcing grid-down hunting limits?

          1. Enforced by WHO, exactly? Do you seriously think a hungry person will G.A.S. about anyone’s game or fish laws? *laughing* A lot of people don’t NOW!

        2. “there is a long line of steps between dropping seed in the ground or a calf in a pasture out in a rural area and some urban resident eating a cheese burger”

          indeed there are many steps, not just for the urban resident but also for the rural resident. see, there’s not too many calf-droppers that can come up with their own buns, and not too many seed droppers that can come up with their own hamburger – those are likely to be in very different places for economic and efficiency reasons, and the steps that lead between them all lead through the city.

          1. You obviously have no first-hand knowledge about how all that works. I do. A commercial cattle producer is not required to have ground beef. A commercial grain producer is not required to have flour, i.e., a “bun”. So while the City Slickers will be hunting rats, rural villages and surrounding areas will be eating the cheese burgers.

            1. “You obviously have no first-hand knowledge about how all that works”

              we can let the readers decide.

              “while the City Slickers will be hunting rats, rural villages and surrounding areas will be eating the cheese burgers”

              we’ll see.

        3. “Being self-sustaining doesn’t mean having to produce everything you use … barter, trade work for things you want or need”

          well by that definition we’re all self-sustaining now, aren’t we?

          the minimal unit for “self-sustaining” isn’t anything less than a large ancient/mediaeval town – and that’s pushing it, even they traded for things they couldn’t do for themselves. it’ll be quite a while after “grid down” before anything like that comes into existence and starts functioning again. long before that happens you’ll run out of boots and sawblades and primers and plowshares.

          1. I detect that you are long on theory but short on actual experience. I doubt you have any callouses on your hands, ever, or have spent a cold night in the woods. I don’t mean that in any belittling way.
            I guess in your way of thinking we could never be self-sustaining because we all require oxygen, water, and sustenance to survive. Without those outside resources we perish.
            The goal, however, is for us to be able to carry on and survive above the level of animals in a grid down or SHTF event long-term in some semblance of civilized existence in the hopes of improving our lot as time passes. Call it whatever you will. I call it a self-sustaining lifestyle.

            1. “I detect that you are long on theory but short on actual experience”

              well we’re all about to live the theory and get a whole lotta actual experience. good luck.

              1. It is the ones with the training and experience before or now, that will survive better than those who dont.
                Depending on OJT during a SHTF situation is a poor plan.
                And likely fatal.

                1. “Depending on OJT during a SHTF situation is a poor plan.
                  And likely fatal.”

                  agree. but that’s where we’ll all be – especially the ones that think they won’t.

                2. Training, experience, skills. Those with them will survive more so than those without them.

  14. Don’t come out here thinking you’re going to be welcome with open arms. Rural areas are dependent on outside deliveries for gas and diesel. Among a lot of other things. The reason there are so few farmers and ranchers, is because tje life is very hard. Still is.

    1. “Don’t come out here thinking you’re going to be welcome with open arms”

      welcome or not, they’ll come. the refugees, because they’ve nowhere else to go, and the bolsheviks, because to them you are the primary enemy.

      1. What incentive would they have to exit the cities if all the production of food and goods are IN the cities as you stated in an earlier comment that you made?

  15. Urban or rural survival? My guess based on history and other factors is a town between 300 to 1000 inhabitants in prime crop growing area surrounded by fields is the best option. Put up a wall around the town hard enough to discourage all but a national military force. Then you might live in peace.

    Those who think of bugging out to a forest then living off the land don’t know what they face. I grew up in the woods. There’s a reason the Indian tribes had a rather low population density—there’s very little in the forest to sustain human life. The Indians got most of their calories from the crops that they grew, hunting and gathering were only supplemental.

    Isolated farms can be attacked and looted by even fairly small gangs.

    While SHTF cities can be cut off from supplies … then …

    But a town between 300 to 1000 souls is small enough that it most likely can survive on the produce of the fields that surround it, yet large enough to defend itself against all but a large army. A town that size is also large enough to support some specialization among its labor pool—blacksmith, machinist, carpenter, guard, etc.—so that the town can become self-sufficient in most necessities.

    What follows what I think, and I may be wrong.
    It’s more likely that a true SHTF situation will last only a few months in the U.S. if even that long. But I see the economic displacement lasting longer, maybe years. To survive long term, it seems the advice I read in a book called “sailing the farm” seems best—acquire 1) knowledge 2) tools 3) supplies 4) gold and/or silver. And I would add to become part of a community for mutual support.

  16. in the country where I live(not USA) there is no wilderness and all land is owned by someone, even the more remote locations.
    someone who moves from the city into the countryside post SHTF is going to come in for a lot of trouble from the owners of such land.
    someone who owns a place in the countryside and lives in a city is known as a second or holiday home owner, may find come SHTF their property has been taken over by someone else.
    someone who dosent own a second property in the country is called a refugee.

    1. Yep, Somebody owns the land and woods and we are heavily armed to defend it from all Trespassing Refugees with no plan.

      1. “with no plan”

        you’re sure they’ll have no plan? what if they do?

        let’s say you have a .95 chance of surviving a hostile encounter with a single invader. sounds great. that means you have a .91 chance of surviving two such encounters. .49 vs fourteen such encounters. etc.

  17. The hardest part for me when I read articles like this is the people migrating to the country thinking they will live off the land because there is plenty. They aren’t going to make it that far into the wilds walking. I believe they will want to be near people because that’s what they are used to and unfamiliar sounds are scary.
    No, we don’t want them camped on the corner of our land. They will upset our farm animals (yes, my animals know if you don’t belong here). When they get hungry they will be tempted to steal my animals or tell me I have plenty and should share. Those of us who have farms gave up an easy life for this. We will not be bullied. This type of situation will not end well.

  18. I’ve been prepping since 2010 time frame, saw al of these threats coming, and bugged out of the city in 2015, sold my overpriced house for my paid off rural off the grid homestead, and a work in progress. If city dwellers with no plan or think they re just going to go out into the woods, let me tell you this. Somebody owns that land and woods out in the country and will defend it from all trespassers and squatters. You are NOT welcome here, so go back to your city shack and fight it out. You picked your plan, so deal with it. If you do not have written permission or an invitation by the land owner, you are deemed a trespasser. Or you need to own the land and woods to occupy it. As we enter this massive homeless problem brewing come January 1st, looking at up to 40 Million people behind on rent and mortgages, then soon displaced in the dead of winter,…just go to your Momma’s house or a relatives house. You cannot camp, nor loiter nor trespass or squat on our rural property or woods. And there will be NO 911 to help you out here. Many will just disappear who violate these warnings, as we are mostly all heavily armed and we watch each other backs out here. Fail to plan is a Plan to fail. I prepared, and You should have too.

    1. “If you do not have written permission or an invitation by the land owner”

      (shrug) say 200 show up in your locality. most will be armed. can you stop them?

      suppose they’re accompanied by a newly-formed government relocation service. what will you do.

      1. In my area, they’ll have to get past the checkpoints which WILL be heavily armed with automatic weapons. (Yes, we have a license for those as well as a license to build more.) The check points are choke points on all sides of our community. They are bridges which are crossing the bottoms (swamps) so there is no way around it unless you are from here and know the logging roads which are not on any map.

        So, what will we do then? Tell them to turn around and find someplace else.

  19. As I see it, there are basically two strategies:

    A) Live in a rural area and forage what resources you can from the land. The advantage of this is that you’ll be away from the city when chaos inevitably hits it. The disadvantage is that if any of that chaos spills out of the city to where you live (i.e. in the form of desperate refugees fleeing from there), you’re pretty much on your own; neighbors are few and far between, and most of them will be too busy defending their own property to help you.

    B) Live in the city and subsist on any resources you’ve gathered before the chaos hits. The advantage of this is that you’ll have a much easier time hiding in whatever squirrel hole you’ve found for yourself in the city; finding the rare prepper among massive numbers of non-preppers is exceedingly difficult for raiders, especially since many urban dwellers (including yourself) will be armed and neither preppers nor non-preppers will be welcoming to raiders who want to search their living spaces. The disadvantage is that you’ll need to hoard (and hide) a massive enough stockpile to hold out until the chaos settles and some measure of order is restored because unlike foragers in the countryside, you won’t be able to get anything more until order returns; also, you’d better pray rioters or other vandals don’t destroy your living space in a random act of arson, or you’re going to be one of those desperate refugees making a run from the city.

    As you can see, each strategy has its pitfalls. Living out in a fairly remote rural area as I do (half an hour’s drive away from a rather small city), the chances raiders will be coming for my stockpiles is rather low, but far from negligible. If I lived in that small city nearby, I could probably stockpile enough there to hold out for an exceedingly long time—as long as my living space didn’t happen to fall victim to the small but far-from-negligible possibility of being torched during a riot. My strategy for minimizing risk is to “bug in” out here in my rural home: stockpile stuff in my house on a seemingly unproductive piece of land and try to look like I have nothing of value so as to divert potential raiders’ attentions elsewhere.

    1. “until the chaos settles and some measure of order is restored”

      if order is restored it will be in the cities first (in the rural areas perhaps never). then the advantages of the city will reassert themselves.

      good analysis.

  20. You claim that trouble will come from within your prepper group. Yes, that could happen, especially when a leader is heavy handed. For the most part, the longer the SHTF scenario is going on, the more that those in the group realize how good they have it. Maybe your teenage kids will give you trouble, but the young couple down the road that are part of the group probably won’t make waves, unless you are trying to get sexual favors from the young women.
    People that band together for protection want a little security and safety. They will watch your back as you watch theirs. You have to trust someone, you have to sleep sometime. If everyone has their needs met(everyone eats, has access to the sanitary facilities, is able to be warm when it is cold outside) and no one is trying to play Lord of the Manor, by sitting on a throne and making proclamations, things will work out.
    Small rural areas have a pecking order, everyone pulls together or the town can fail. These people are used to it.
    If your town is based around a couple of crops, everyone in town pitches in(and gets paid something) to get that crop in. Kids pick cotton, even the town barber, the postmaster, any city workers are usually somewhat involved. This is what a community does.

  21. All the zombies trying to run from the big cities to the country had better understand that unless you already have a place out here, your will not be welcomed in unless you have family that can vouch for you and take you in. We poor country folks are neither stupid nor ignorant of what’s coming. We take care of our own but outsiders need not apply. TRUST me we have the means to back up what we say. In my little community which has been here since before the so called Civil war we have plenty of skilled snipers…. what most people call ‘hunters.’ We also have military vets from grunts the brass and have already studied and planned on how to close off our area from outsiders. There will be no way in that will not go first through a blocked bridge with heavily armed guards. No going around through the swamp either..if you plan to make it out alive.

    So, Selco is correct. You better be there BEFORE, not try after.

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