Apartment Dweller

About 23% of all people in the United States live in an apartment dwelling (structure type: 2 or more units). That’s about 68 million people according to nmhc.org 2015 statistics.

If you fit in that statistic and if you are a prepper, you’re presented with certain unique challenges for your preparedness.

What are the preparedness challenges for the suburban apartment dweller?

What can be done about some of these challenges?

A recent email posed the following question:

I live in an apartment in the northern Seattle ‘burbs, and would like to know if you, or the online community, have thoughts or suggestions for those of use who don’t have land/gardens/etc.

I have about a months worth of food, and a couple of weeks of water (more if I drain the water heater), good clothes, radios, TP, camp stove with fuel, lights, etc.., a decent GHB in the car, and am pleasantly surprised to see the Washington state EMD urging at least two weeks home prepping.

Storage is limited as I am in a two bedroom apartment and cannot reasonably relocate to the East-side of the state due to aging parents and work (working on the work aspect).

My current approach is to continue my preps and maintain a low profile, and would like to draw on the MSB community for additional thoughts. Thanks.


Apartment Dweller Preparedness Challenges

Here are a few that come to mind. Add your own in the comment section below.

INSIDE Space limitations

While we all have our own space limitations (we all live within walls), the apartment dweller may tend to have less space than the typical home dweller. Since preparedness does involve a collection of supplies, they need to go somewhere…

OUTSIDE Space limitations

Similarly the apartment dweller may have little or no space outside. No big ‘yard’ to speak of. There may be a small space off the back patio for 1st-floor residents and-or there might be a common area for everyone in the building. But it’s not like having your own personal yard if you live in a single family home. Gardens? Privacy? Security?

Closer proximity (density) with others

The apartment dweller lives right next to other apartment dwellers. You might even hear them through the walls. If there is a disruptive event whereby you implement your preparedness plans, you will be up close and personal with your neighbors so to speak.


Operational Security. Most preppers try to keep a low profile given the stigma that exists around preparedness (which itself is stunning – why would the masses look down upon preparedness?!). Trying to keep a low profile in an apartment might be challenging.

Preparedness Level-2,3,4

If you live in an apartment and undergo a Level-1 event (hours, days, maybe up to one week) you should be just fine there. However when we go beyond that (several weeks, a month, longer?!) it will become quite a challenge if not impossible to deal with in an apartment.


What Can Be Done About Those Challenges?

This is where the ideas flow. Leave your comments below.

A few initial thoughts to get it going:

There’s only so much space inside, even for those who own their own home. Instead of haphazardly acquiring ‘stuff’ for preparedness, give it some serious thought first. What are the most important things? Take care of that first. Things like water, filtration, and food storage should be first. Then evaluate from there.

Utilize space in a unique way. Example:

During a time when we lived in a smaller home, I kept twelve 5-gallon buckets (food preps) behind a couch. I had a row of six buckets across – stacked two high. I covered (draped) them with a fabric which matched (blended) with the couch color. I placed a proper size board across the top which I had stained/finished as a nice looking shelf (I shimmed it to bring to the similar height of the couch back). The shelf board turned out to be a convenient practical thing, and it served to hide all those buckets of food storage. No one knew.

Under the furniture. Under the bed. Behind furniture. In the furniture. The closet. In your luggage bags. Hiding in plain sight. Stay organized.

If you’re really tight for space, you could rent a storage unit. Many people do this anyway. Sure it costs money, but it’s an option.

Although it may be less likely that you have other friends or family that are into preparedness, the fact is that if you do – you might be able to arrange with them.

As an apartment dweller, if you have a little space outside, maybe there’s enough for a 4×8 raised garden? You might also plant some veggies in ordinary planters on the patio. Even though you’re not looking at life-saving food production, it’ll get you into gardening – which is always a good skill for preparedness.

Look around your local area for water sources. Make a mental note of it. You do have a good water filter, right?

Be aware of your OPSEC. Know that you have more eyes watching you when you live among population density.

Beyond a Level-1 event, you better make a plan. While the odds of a Level-2,3,4 event are quite a bit smaller, “if” it does happen you will need to know what to do. Most apartment dweller situations will not be conducive for survival under such conditions.

The plan will need to include a pre-determined bug-out destination. There are lots of bug-out related articles here on Modern Survival Blog, just search for them…

Search: “bug-out”
Search: “bug out”

Focus on adaptability. Focus on preparedness related skills. Be healthy. Strengthen yourself. Multiple uses for a given item. Think about your personal security. Utilize your vehicle for preparedness – have a well stocked kit there. Keep the tank on the full side.

Regarding the original email above, it sounds like this person is pretty well prepared for Level-1 (and a bit beyond that) given the limitations of an apartment. My general suggestion for him is to focus on a bug-out plan and all that it entails. The good thing is that most all ‘typical’ disruptions are Level-1.

That said, he evidently lives in the Seattle area. I’m sure that he knows about the Cascadia subduction zone. That would definitely be beyond Level-1 for that region…

Prepping and Preparedness 1 – 4

That said, lets hear your specific or general recommendations for the apartment dweller prepper:

Your thoughts? Jump to Comment...x