How to Survive and Thrive in the City After the Economic Collapse

How to Survive and Thrive in the City After an Economic Collapse.

Even if you are fortunate enough to have a retreat out in the country getting to your safe haven maybe impossible during upheaval. Roads blocked by wrecked and fuel-less vehicles will stop most people who are bugging out in their tracks. Maybe you were born lucky and can make it out safely before the balloon bursts, then what?

People in rural areas, will start shooting if threatened by mobs of refugees fleeing the city. Don’t expect to be welcomed with arms outstretched. Most country folks don’t trust outsiders; you will likely be greeted with a load of buckshot and not the cup of fresh coffee and meaningful conversation you hoped for.

After the cities are in ruins, criminal gangs will start to migrate to the country where they will continue their business of stealing and terrorizing in more fruitful territory. If you can stay hidden and survive the first weeks after a collapse you may at some point have the entire city pretty much to yourself. If you can’t or won’t get out NOW at least start making plans to survive where you are.


You should store enough food to last at least six months. This means enough food to live on without leaving home. Food stables include, rice, beans, honey, wheat, sugar, tea, coffee, salt, pepper, baking soda, cooking oil etc. Also canned soups, meats, fruits and vegetables should be included for verity. The food storage calculator is an excellent tool for approximating needed qualities of foods and is a great help here.

Sprouting seeds will keep you supplied with fresh greens even in the winter. Sprouts are germinated seeds of vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes. Sprouts are nutritious, inexpensive and high in protein. Sprouts should be included in your survival food plans. All that is needed is a couple of quart mason jars, a squire of nylon window screen, rubber bands and viable seed stock.

If you decide to include whole grains in your diet, you will need a grain grinder. Grinders should have changeable heads so you can use both steel and stone heads for grinding depending on the product being milled. Some people suggest that steel-burred grinders cause heat that could damage the nutrient content of the grain. Don’t buy it. Hand grinding doesn’t cause enough heat to cause damage. Don’t waist your money on stone grinders or combination steel and stone, get the much cheaper but entirely functional steel-burred grinder.

Next you will need something to cook on. I recommend one of the Colman multi fuel camp stoves. I have a Coleman Exponent Multi-Fuel Stove which burns both unleaded gasoline or kerosene. These stoves are small, light weight and very energy-efficient.

Remember, when using stoves like these indoors the fumes must be vented to the outside, if not carbon monoxide can build up and kill you.

If you don’t have one already go by your local shopping center and pick up a Stanley Aladdin narrow-mouth thermos bottle. You will use the thermos as an energy-efficient appliance for cooking. Don’t get a wide-mouthed thermos; if you intend to use it for cooking, these are less efficient at holding heat.

It is best to use a different bottle for cooking then your everyday thermos. Coffee smell for instance, tends to leach into whatever you are cooking, even if the bottle has been cleaned.

Thermos cooking is in no way difficult or complicated, all you need is some simple directions.


Without a source of clean drinking water most of us will die within seven days, three during extreme weather conditions. The problem with water is it’s difficult to store enough to last through an extended emergency. Most of us just don’t have the space required to store the volume of water needed and in most urban living conditions space is even more limited.

Collecting rain water on the roofs of buildings could be a solution in areas that receive an ample amount rain fall. Use plastic sheeting, tarps etc, to funnel the life giving liquid into clean trash cans, buckets, kiddie pools or other suitable containers.

When I lived in an apartment building in the late 1990’s, I bought several “kiddie pools” just for this purpose. They can be stored neatly stacked one inside the other and slid under the bed out of the way until needed.

Some urban areas have lakes or streams near by. Never drink directly from the source; there is no way of knowing if the water is contaminated (it mostly will be) without proper testing. Don’t take chances; invest in a good water filter to be sure. The best filters filter out Bacteria, Organic Chemicals and Protozoa (Giardia) Viruses.


I hated living in an apartment. I felt like I had no privacy what-so-ever, I could hear every word, whimper, moan or scream through the walls, ceiling and floor. I am sure every one in the building felt the same way. If you are stuck in the city an apartment is likely the situation you will need to deal with despite its limitations.

There are a few things you can do to make your place more secure. The first thing I did was replace the front door with a steel security door with dead bolt and peephole. I hid the old door in the closet and replaced it when I moved. I also replaced the door leading into the bedroom with the same type door, lock and peephole set up for an instant safe-room (safer) inside the apartment.

Don’t forget smoke and carbon monoxide. Keep at least two fully charged fire extinguishers on hand at all times. Also the magnetic break door and window alarms work well when used to guard the windows and doors leading into the apartment.

If you are above the second floor an escape ladder or rope should be put back in case of fire. A proper mask should also be considered.

When we pay rent we are always faced with the possibility of eviction. If possible keep the rent paid up at least six months. If you have no other way of paying in advance, borrowing the money from the bank will keep you sheltered during hard times. I hate debt but this is on area where it could be to your advantage depending on your personal circumstances and how you work the situation.

Going mobile could be an option for the city survivor, but fuel will likely become a problem post collapse. Like everything else in life we must weigh the good against the bad and make our choices based on that knowledge. If you’re interested in this, some great information can be found here.


Defense in the city will likely be a short range engagement. For urban areas, I recommend a good pump 12 gauge shotgun and a handgun. The Mossberg 590 or Remington 870 with 18 inch barrel are both excellent choices. The double barreled coach guns should also be considered. For versatility put back a verity of shot shell loading as well as buckshot and rifled slugs.

Handguns should be at least .38 caliber or above. I like both revolvers and automatics, in skilled hands both can be effective. Stay with what you know and practice. If you have had little or no training in this area seek out a competent instructor and become qualified. If you are fortunate enough to live in a state that issues concealed carry permits, you should apply for yours as soon as possible.

My favorite foraging tool in urban areas is the Savage Model 42.

Wild Game

In urban area you’ll mostly have a choice of small game such as rabbit and squirrel but what most people fail to realize is that  the outskirts of most urban areas harbor a good number of whitetail deer. The trouble is that everyone will be hunting, so the numbers of wild game my be depleted quickly.

Small game can be taken with traps, air rifles, slingshots or ever killed with a club or rock. When I lived on a lot in a small city I shoot squirrels that found their way into my back lot with a .22 caliber single rifle loaded with CB caps, (down-loaded .22 rimfire ammo) the little rounds are very quiet and can take most small animals out to about ten yards. Deer can easily be snared or shot.

Look for huge numbers of semi-domestic dogs and cats to populate urban areas after a collapse. If you can get past the thought and your own limitations these can be good sources of meat. Dogs can be caught in snares and cats are easy to trap using homemade box traps.

Most cities have an abundant pigeon population. It is a simple matter to follow the flock to their roost at dusk. Shinning a light into their eyes they tend to set still where they can be caught or killed with little trouble. Air guns and sling shots work well.

Without a doubt the most abundant source of meat in any urban environment is the common rat. They have thrived under even the most challenging circumstances. It is almost a certainty if there are human survivors after any catastrophe rats will be in abundance. Like most small animals they can be trapped in homemade box traps or shot.


Don’t expect to support yourself entirely from a city garden, at least not at first. I have raised tomatoes in a window box and hanging baskets on the terrace. Perhaps in time large community gardens would spring up that could be worked by groups of survivors.

During the first months preceding a collapse gardens will need to be hidden and out of site. A lot of vegetables are easily mistaken for weeds and are not all that difficult to keep hidden from passers-by.

The first rule of avoiding detection is to never plant your crops using the traditional roll method. The three sisters gardening method comes to mind, the some North American Indian tribes used this technique to grow corn, beans and squash to great effect and it acts as a natural camouflage.

When it comes to survival gardening, obviously we must start with seed; therefore it becomes a necessity to have a source of viable seed on hand. Look for non-hybrid (“heirloom”) varieties, you want to be sure the seed saved from year to year will breed true and continue to do so. Hybrid varieties for the most part are unpredictable and seem to only do well during the first year of planting.

Most garden varieties should be included in your stock. Include such vegetables as: artichoke, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chives, corn, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, gourds, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard green, onions, parsley, parsnips, peanuts, peas, peppers, pumpkin, radishes, soybeans, spinach, squash, sunflowers, swiss chard, tomatoes, turnip, watermelon, zucchini etc; In general put back seeds that grow well in your area and of foods you like to eat.


Even in the most populated areas after the rioting, burning and looting subsides there will be survivors. The most difficult part is surviving the first few months after the crash, and then the rebuilding can begin.

6 responses to How to Survive and Thrive in the City After the Economic Collapse

  1. Bill Lias August 22nd, 2014 at 1:40 am

    In regard to the efficiency of current production thermos bottles, Ya’ll should try a “Thermos Nissan” bottle. My coffee is HOT at the end of a 16 hour shift.

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  2. JayJay August 24th, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    You should store enough food to last at least six months.

    I think in years, not months. But, ladies, it is so nice to cook almost anything we eat and not be short an ingredient. No running to the store for that item. Dehydrating, canning, and storing food allows for that.
    Thermos not only for cooking, but keeping that water you just boiled hot longer and saving heat energy. 24 hours is about it.

    Most have Google Earth accessible to their PC. Find you home; locate any lakes, streams, and even dirty ponds near enough you can walk to them.
    I have a man that uses a small lake for irrigating the produce he sells to the community.
    I plan on bartering since he is 1/8 mile from me.
    Think pool shock, boiling water, filtering with coffee filters, and Berkey. Back ups for the back up.

    Lighting: LED flashlights are advertised to last 15 years–needless to say, it is on my immediate to get list.
    I have candles, solar lights, matches for 15 years, 100 hour candles, lanterns, lantern oil, TSC $3 l.e.d flashlights, but am definitely getting a LED flashlight.

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    • ILmom August 25th, 2014 at 12:18 am

      Jayjay… I love my triangle shape led lanterns I picked up at menards. On sale for $7 apiece takes 4 D batteries. Huge amount of light for little money. Glad I run into you on other sites. I miss your expertise.

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      • JayJay August 26th, 2014 at 4:03 pm

        I wish we had a Menard’s near–but we just had a Meijer’s open near.
        Will look into the led lanterns at Lowe’s for now. They probably have a good price.
        Your price sounds great—Hmmmmm… I wonder if Menard’s has shipping?
        Will check.

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  3. Bill Lias August 26th, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Lots of bright, inexpensive LED lights to choose from. Harder to find a dimmable LED personal light. I have a “Phantom Warrior” brand light that is dimmable via twisting bezel.(FLASH1 model) Uses 4 AA and lasts forever. Can reverse batteries for IR light. Google search for more specs on this light.

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  4. vinnie January 10th, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Good info, especially about doors, most are made out of recycled to go cartons. Just a thought on locks,which I sell and rekey, SCHLAGE, or better.

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