Apartment Prepping: How to get started when Preparing in an Apartment

We get a lot of emails from people asking about prepping for long-term disaster and collapse situations while living in an apartment. Because so many of our readers still live in urban areas, many of them in apartments, we are going to start doing some articles on what you can do to prepare while living in an apartment or a condo.

Apartment Buildings

It seems like most of the advice out there is geared towards people in houses, and any information that is out there for apartment prepping usually sugarcoats the reality of the situation. I think one reason so many people ignore the topic is because living in an apartment is going to be extremely difficult during a total collapse scenario. That being said, don’t be discouraged; there are some things you can do.

Preparedness Challenges that apartment preppers must learn to deal with.

Finding enough space to store emergency supplies:

One of the biggest problems apartment preppers face is finding enough room to store all of those extra supplies. You are going to have to get creative and learn how to use every inch of space you have. From under the bed storage solutions to food rotation storage shelves, there are a number of products that you can buy or build that will help you squeeze the most out of your space.

Finding the money to prep on a tight budget:

A lot of people who live in apartments do so because of budget issues. So planning for disasters and crisis situations is definitely something that could cause problems for those who are already on a tight budget. Remember, you don’t need a ton of money to get started with prepping, but you do need to be smart about what you buy. Start with the basic necessities for sustaining life: Food, water, shelter and self-defense.

Security Concerns:

Another top concern, and probably one of the biggest threats to your safety when trying to prep in an apartment, is your ability to defend your home during times of crisis. The problem with living in an apartment is that you are at the mercy of not only those who live in the apartment complex, but those who live outside of it that might want to get in.

I’m not going to try to sugarcoat things, prepping in an apartment is going to be tough. You are going to face far more challenges than those who own a home, and you are going to need a solid plan of action to be able to make it through a long-term crisis situation.

Apartment Prepping: Where to Start

Perform a thorough threat assessment: If you’ve read my book, then you know that threat assessments are a big part of my preparedness planning. This is no different for those who live in apartments.

In order to have a solid plan of action, you need to know exactly what threats are out there, and what threats you are most likely to face based on your own unique set of circumstances.

  • Identify the most likely threats and disaster situations based on your geographical location and historical data.
  • Identify what threats are unique to your living situation. Are you living in a high crime area, are there logistical challenges to evacuating your area?
  • Are there any areas of your plans, security, or overall preparedness efforts that need to be addressed?

Put together a bugout plan: While I think everyone should have a good evacuation plan, it is particularly critical for those living in an apartment. The challenges you face in an apartment may require you to have to get the hell out of Dodge once things start falling apart.

  • You need to consider where you will go in case you have to evacuate from your apartment.
  • Do you have friends or family that are willing to let you stay in their home or on their land should disaster strike?
  • Make sure your supplies are mobile. While you might not have a whole ton of space to store extra supplies, you need to have a good bugout bag that’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. If you don’t have room in your home, keep it in the trunk of your car.

Start Moving towards Self-Reliance: While you may be stuck in an apartment now, you need to start moving your thoughts towards living a more self-reliant lifestyle.

Even apartment dwellers can take steps towards becoming more independent. You may not be able to become completely self-sufficient, but there are things you can do which will help move you in the right direction.

  • Start growing plants inside your apartment. Small container gardens are a great way to supplement your food supply. They require very little room, they can be used to grow a wide variety of fruits, herbs, and vegetables, and they do well in an indoor setting.
  • Learn to Hunt and Fish. Living in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t get out there and learn to live off the land. Check out my article on survival fishing tips and basic hunting skills.

Look into buying a small piece of land. While apartment prepping is possible, it’s not the best option for survival. At the very least, you need to start looking into finding a small piece of rural land that you can head to during a bugout situation. There are still a number of places where you can find a small piece of land and a cheap RV or trailer that you can park on the land for under $10,000.

Some Rules for Apartment Preppers

  • Keep your mouth shut about your preparedness efforts and plans: Tell no one, and be careful about who sees you bringing supplies in and out of your home. During a disaster, you don’t want or need your neighbors to know what you have.
  • Make sure you have a strict budget. Before you spend a dime on prepping, make sure you put together a rock solid budget that includes a line item for how much you can spend a month on prepping.
  • Identify local resources that you can exploit:  Make sure your plan includes ways to find food, water, and other supplies within walking distance of your apartment.
  • Always be ready!

8 Comments

  1. JAS
    October 28, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I know there is a lot of criticism of people for living in apartments and in cities, but the facts of life require a lot of folks to live where they can support their family. Over the years I have lived in places that I would hate to be if the lights went out, but it was a necessity at the time. When you do live in these type of areas, security becomes your number one priority. Nothing else will matter if you are not alive to use it. No one should know you are in your apartment, so figure out early how to avoid detection and block access to your place. Just remember, if things get really bad and you have to leave, you will in all probability have to fight your way out.

  2. B from CA
    October 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Apartment Prepping:

    If you know everybody in a fourplex or a duplex you could feel out your neighbors. If you are all on board there might be a high advantage. If not, keep your prepping to yourself.

    Put iron bars on windows and get iron security door. Have the archway to the door reinforced when the door(s) are installed.

    Use all space to the ceiling. Wall to wall shelves. Secure to wall if landlord allows. Child safety measures.

    Stock up on necessities that don’t take up a lot of space such as dental floss, toothpaste, bars of soap. Use a seal machine or freezer bag to keep dust off and so won’t dry out. Buy tampax and pads. Stock up on things you ordinarily buy that don’t go bad. Medicine, thermometer, Bandaids, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, gauze and tape, and scissors. Create a basic sewing kit even if you have never sewed in your life. Scissors, tape measure, various needles, thread in white and black. Be sure to include needles for darning and large needles to sew a turkey or other meat, or work on leather or thick fabrics.
    Get odds and ends like rubber bands (store air tight). Stamps writing paper and envelopes.

    Keep lists of what you have. An inventory.

    Buy food that does not require storage such as dried milk, sugar (in jars), salt Kosher, lentiles and beans, rice (white for long term – put in freezer for three or four days to kill eggs that cause worms).

    Buy dried vegetables, and canned vegtables. Tomato will rot the can so watch expiration date. Buy lots of spaghetti and canned marinara or tomato paste. Eggs come powdered, if you can find them. Flour, and oats. Spices. Seeds keep for a few weeks, as do nuts. Coconut oil keeps longest and is healthy and adds flavor to many items. Use in place of butter in some cakes, etc.

    • S. P.
      October 1, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Stamps? Really?
      Neither rain nor snow, nor sleet or hail…
      *evokes Kevin Costner, Pony Express movie imagery*

  3. Jeremy Rivers
    November 2, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Thank you for the tips. I myself live in an apartment and needed the advice.

    • Gina
      November 12, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      Iron bars on the windows and iron security doors may work if you “own” your apartment, but renters are going to find it nearly impossible to convince the apartment complex owner of their little “modifications”. Remember, there are still large apartment complexes that are ignoring the feds ADA requirements..think people with disabilities.

      Nice idea, but for renters their solution must include what they can or can not do where they live.

  4. Joe
    October 1, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    As an apartment dweller, I can relate to the problems mentioned. I certainly believe in not “advertising ” what you have. Some security is gained by being on an upper floor as you won’t have people coming through the windows. Try to plan for as many different scenarios: storms, power outage, contaminated water, make an early decision to bug out, or stay.

  5. Mike
    October 11, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I work for a multi-family living company and one thing that we do allow our tenants to do are door jam reinforcements. Its very easy to install with minimal damage to the door jam so you wont get charged at move out (you might have a small charge, it depends on the terms of your lease) Best thing to do is ask your leasing office what you can and cant do. Also many properties have on site storage or garages for rent if space is an issue in your apartment.

  6. Bilge Pump McCoy
    December 9, 2016 at 7:54 am

    I have given this issue a lot of thought because I have friends that live in apartments. It’s my opinion that there will be millions of apartment dwellers that will be forced out of their apartments within a few days of the grid going down. Imagine yourself on the 10th floor of an apartment building in an cold climate city like NYC. The power has just gone out and it is NOT coming back on again for the foreseeable future. The outside temperature is 18 degrees. How are you going to stay warm and how are you going to supply yourself with water? Unless you live by a source of water AND have a water filter system you are NOT going to be able to provide these two basic necessities for more than a few days. You will be packing your bags and leaving within a week for sure. And where will you go? If you haven’t got your bug-out plan figured out yet you are going to be in a world of hurt. Apartments in certain areas are death traps. If you can supply yourself with heat and water then great – you can focus on other prepping supplies. But if you can’t supply yourself with heat and water you better have a darn good bug out plan.

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