I now live and prep in a small town of a few thousand residents. There’s no Walmart or Target or Home Depot or other “big box” type store in easy driving distance. It’s not the suburbs of any city. Not quite rural, but definitely not suburban. Over a year ago, I lived in a very different location: crowded suburbia with many large stores within a few miles of my home. So this post is about how this change in living situation affects prepping, or more specifically, how prepping in a small town might relate to surviving a SHTF scenario.
Availability of supplies is different. The small local stores have fewer choices of products, often at higher prices, than a “big box” type store. I’m often better off ordering supplies online, which take a bit more planning. I can rush out and buy something I need. But in a SHTF scenario, when everyone is rushing to the local stores for certain specific goods, the stores will sell out quickly.
Suppose that there is a run on grocery stores. Some disaster occurs, or is merely threatening, and people rush to the nearest grocery store to stock up on food. I covered this topic previously in my post: From Ammo Shortages to Food Shortages. A food shortage can occur even if the production of food is sufficient to meet the daily food needs of the population. Fear results in people buying more food for storage. Then, once the fear of a possible food shortage results in an actual food shortage, everything unravels. You can’t live without food. So an actual food shortage results in a great deal more fear, spiking demand very sharply.
In a small town, where the food stores are fewer and smaller, it’s easier for the shelves to become bare. And smaller food companies might have less leverage in vying with large supermarket chains in restocking the shelves. So in a small town, food storage is particularly important.
Security is also affected by location. I would say that my small town is more secure in a severe disaster scenario. In a city or crowded suburb, you will have a higher number of persons willing to commit crimes to obtain necessary supplies. There are usually a smaller proportion of law enforcement officers (per 1,000 residents) in small towns compared to big cities. The FBI says that Cities with under 10,000 residents have an average of 3.5 officers per 1,000 residents. By comparison, larger cities have less than 3 or less than 2 officers per 1,000 residents.
In more rural areas, you have more land per 1,000 residents. This implies that it is more practical to grow food for those residents. A small town could start a program of growing food locally, using local labor and available land. Town residents could pool their resources and efforts, and take turns guarding the crops and food stores. In a suburban area, this approach is unlikely, and in a big city, it would be impossible.
To grow enough food for one person for one year, you need 1 to 2 acres, depending on which crops you grow and how many growing seasons you can get. A city of 10 thousands needs 10 to 20 thousand acres. A city of 1 million needs 1 to 2 million acres. So you can see why a rural location is advantageous in some disaster scenarios.
There are other possible advantages to small town prepping. In a small town “everyone knows everyone”, so perhaps there is more trust and more opportunity for working together in a disasters. Then, too, people in any location might rise to the occasion and work together.
Overall, I would say that a crowded city is the worst location to live in a severe disaster, and a small rural town is the best location. But circumstances vary widely and who knows what the next disaster will be.