City or country?


Bits n’ pieces –

Good piece on the Preparing for Tyranny blog about universal health coverage or single payer health care.  I am in favor of a single payer system.  Insurance companies are leeches standing between providers and consumers of services, sucking off resources that should be going to health care.  Anyways, read his thoughtful entry.  Here in the northeast we take freedom and liberty seriously.

Also, interesting article on the death/murder of 84 infants due to poisonous teething formula.  Imagine losing a baby because the teething formula was poisoned.

Okay then City or Country?

There was a letter on the Rawles’ website the other day from the owner of the the blog Surviving the Day After that basically chastised people for living in urban or suburban areas.  In other words if you didn’t live in the middle of nowhere than you were doomed. And if you didn’t head for the hills, leave the cities was the cry, then you’d be swept up in disaster and death.

Now seeing how this blog is Suburban Survival for the Simple I figured that I’d try to engage in some analysis.  Maybe we can look at some weaknesses and strengths of both.

I figure there’s maybe a handful of things that can happen that will cause total breakdown of society.  You got ya nuclear, biologic and chemical attacks.   I figure this would be over a limited area.  One, two, three cities?  Then you got ya plagues and flu epidemics, maybe throw in the Black Plague because those naughty boys have been playing with it.  Maybe fly in 5, 10 or 15 infected terrorists on different planes.  I guess that could spread and cause widespread panic, maybe martial law too. Than you got your EMP attacks.

All in all though I don’t see a complete breakdown.  Stores will be open, maybe with less selection, and definitely fewer stores.   I think mail will still be delivered.  Banks will still process payments.  The police, courts and jails will all be functioning.  Gas stations will be pumping gas.  What we do to put food on the table may change, but life will go on.  The medium of exchange we use may change, but the result will be the same.  Lawyers will definitely still be billing.  Carpenters building and teachers teaching.  World Keep On Turning.

Work > Earn > Build/Make > Buy/Barter

Most likely outcome is a continued slow economic slide lasting for years.  Maybe a decade before everything shakes out into our New Grand Economy.  More people living together.  More people working in agriculture and food production.  More local manufacturing.  Less driving and deliveries.  That’s all a different post though.

Like I said though if the mushroom cloud goes up, who knows.   Or if some pandemic spreads you wouldn’t want to be in population centers.  You can’t live your life in fear though.  Be prudent at all times, but we can’t make decisions based on fear.  Otherwise, if you jump in over your head too soon you could end up like those two in Montana.  They ran out of food.  She froze to death.  He was rescued by the sheriff.  He had lots of guns, but no food!!

Rule: if a nuclear bomb goes off in your city, town or village you don’t want to be there.

Rule: if there is a pandemic you want to avoid other people.

If you already live in the city or the burbs you already have a circle of friends and maybe family.  Having a support system is critical.  No way would you want to leave your friends and family during a time of crisis unless that location was dangerous.  In the city/burbs you have many more neighbors than you would in the country.   So you know your neighbors.  Hopefully they’re friends of yours.  Maybe you borrow tools from each other or can look out for each others stuff.   I think you’re better off staying where you know folks than running to a place full of untrusting strangers that probably won’t be too happy to see another refugee arrive to town.  No matter where you are knowing your neighbors is critical.  I know when I see strangers on my street I pay attention and am watching out for my neighbors’ houses, kids, cars and stuff.  I saw a neighbor’s car get hit and then the driver drove away.  I got the license plate and gave it to my neighbor who then called the cops.

Rule: It’s good to be where you know people.

Ditto for the neighborhood.  I’ve lived in this town for the better part of 45 years.   I know the streets, roads, sidewalks and deadends.  I know the hills and hollows.  I know the rivers and streams.  I could bug out of town and know how to avoid roads.  I know what rivers to float down  and where the falls are.

Rule: It’s good to know the terrain and geography.

I know the parks, libraries, hospitals, schools, stores and mechanics.  Better yet I know what merchants/doctors/restaurants/mechanics/stores/gas stations are good to go to and who to avoid.   You wanna run somewhere strange and not know where to get stitches, the best burger and beer, find town hall and police or get ripped off by some strange mechanic/dentist/lawyer/tradesperson that you don’t know?  Called the mechanic today, ‘you’ve been here before right?’ ‘yup, like 20 years.’

Rule: It’s good to know the people that you do business with.

Rule: It’s good to know where critical services are located.

Now let’s figure that you live in the middle of nowhere.  I’m not sure that the libraries will stay open.  How about that fire department, cops and schools.  Sure in the cities and burbs we’ll see a reduction in municipal services, but we won’t see the total disappearance of services.   The trash will still get picked up, maybe not as often, but it will get picked up.  How about snow plowing city v. country.   Then you got your medical services.  In the burbs and cities there is a large choice of providers.  Chances are they all aren’t going to fold up and close.  Out in the hinterlands if you only have one MD for 40 square miles then you ain’t too well diversified.  You don’t want your healthcare to get Madoff’ed.  The hospital here is close by and will stay open.

If the power lines go down, the telephone lines fall, the gas main break, the water pipes break which area will be fixed first?  I think you know the answer.

I can also see the delivery of food and other products breaking down the farther you move away from population centers.  I’m not sure if the tractor trailers are going to keep rolling quite as often anywhere.  So how often is that little country store that only 10 miles up from you going to get restocked, or the tanker trucks coming.  You can be certain the the majority of goods will be delivered to the more populated places more consistently.  It makes good economic sense doesn’t it?  That’s what I would do if I was in charge of logistics.

Rule: centers of population will get restocked more frequently, more resources will be allocated to them and municipal services may be more dependable than in rural areas

Boy if the price of gas ever goes up again… and I’d say the chance of that is a near perfect 100%, the further away that you live from where you need to go whether it’s the grocer, banker, USPS or your jay-oh-bee then the more the price of gas hurts.  When the cost of transportation is high then it’s good to live in close proximity to what you need.   Think where you’d rather live when gas hits $4, $5, $8 a gallon.  And it will.

I can walk to a hardware store, big grocery, church, a few small convenient stores, drug store, liquor store, sporting good store, USPS and so on.  I can ride my bike to just about anything you can imagine.

Rule: oil still has a world of upward potential as oil becomes more scarce driving may become a luxury for only the very rich.  Driving 30, 40 or 50 miles to the store, the job or the movies will be a rare event indeed.  I agree with Kunstler that the days of happy motoring are approaching an end.

If you don’t read Kunstler he is a must read.

My little town has its own bus that runs around.  Many urban/sub-urban places have buses, trains and subways that you can get around on.  Maybe even a cab service.  In the Hinterlands?  Not so much.

Then I imagine for the few jobs that do remain most of them will still be where most of the people are.  Lose you job out in the wild blue yonder and it make take a while longer to find a new one than in a more populated area.

Rule: the availability of public transportation is a large consideration.

Rule: the majority of jobs will continue to be where the majority of people are

Rule: if you want to develop your own business showing folks how to tie flies, plant gardens, repair bikes, watch/teach their kids or handy man business you will have a greater chance of success with a larger available market.

If you’re familiar with Ferfal’s blog then you know he writes with a first hand experience of what the decade long economic collapse of Argentina has been like.  A point he always makes is that there are home invasions in the city and in the country.  The difference is that in the country no one hears your yells so the criminals have more time to do the worst things imaginable to your family and you.  The city and country both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Rule: learn from the experiences of those who went before you and follow in their footsteps.  Learn from their mistakes.

Rule: the actual collapse of an advanced economy like Iceland or Argentina haven’t yet digressed in a Rabid Biker Zombie shoot em up.  Who knows about the future though.

Rule: due to concealability handguns seem much more useful during an economic collapse than rifles

It takes quite a few people to set up 24/7 guards and/or patrols.   The more you have and the more it’s spread out the tougher it is to protect.  If you own a large ranch or farm with equipment spread out over a wide area you may have a tough time protecting your crops, livestock, equipment and even metal pipes and fences from looters and thieves.

Rule: the more spread out you are the more difficult to defend

Rule: to defend a large homestead you would need a large number of people.

Rule: one or two families in a cabin in the woods can be waited out or burned out

Now ideally I think you’d have a number of places that you could bug out to if need be.  I live in the suburbs, but maybe it would be good to have some land, friends or family in a more rural area.  Ideally a few locations to run to in different parts of the country.  Be even better if you know some people in a foreign country that you could run to if need be.  That’s why I tell folks to Get Your Passport even if you don’t plan on going anywhere.  Better to have it and not use it then not being able to leave as quick as possible if the gates start slamming down.  You know how slow the folks at the USPS can move so get that paperwork moving along.  The regulations are changing in four months so get your passport now.

Rule: wherever you live be prepared to run to a few other locations

I don’t mean to rag on country places.  Having some land in the country and building a cabin is the dream of just about everyone isn’t it?  Although I have access to a trailer and some land in the North Country.  It’s not just to bug out too.  It’s a vacation place too.  I would like to buy some acreage and build my own low impact woodland home on it.  Check out the link there are plans.

Here is a pic of the front and the inside of what I’d like to eventually build.


I just want to point out that one setting may not be right for everyone.

Rule: And it doesn’t matter where you live as long as you Get Outside Everyday.

8 Responses to “City or country?”

  1. Samuel Adams Says:

    Good rules to know and remember, Abraham! I guess the result of having lived the first 28 years of my life in a large eastern city is that I am now essentially antisocial. I have a small circle of friends, most like-minded, and get along well with my co-workers. My homestead is rural but not so far out that sunlight has to be pumped into it. Unless one has inherited extremely rural property, working for a living to pay the mortgage will be a necessity rather than a self-sufficient lifestyle. I carpool for the 60 mile round trip between home and a small city. Cities have infrastructure and conveniences but they also tend to have crime, congestion, more stringent gun control laws, nanny state government, higher taxes and a dependent mindset among most of the inhabitants. My township plows snow at least as well as the state, we have no local PD but the state police respond…in their own good time. 🙂

    Suburbia is a good compromise between urban and rural. Each location has its assets and liabilities and one should know what they are so one can do what one can with what one has.

  2. Off Grid Survival Says:

    Love the picture of your dream house…. I think that is one of the biggest reasons I would want to live in a rural area so I could build something that looks like that.

  3. Landshark Says:

    Some thoughts…

    WMD attacks are, in general, overblown as “national” level threats. Chemical weapons are probably the most hyped–IMHO they really don’t qualify as “mass destruction”. Case in point: the Tokyo sarin attack. You are probably in the most danger from an industrial accident like what happened in India because the quantities are so much greater, so know what is upwind of you.

    A nuclear terrorist attack would be bad if you were near where it went off, but wouldn’t kill as many as some might think. Most government planning estimates a terrorist nuke as 5-10Kt. That simply doesn’t “wipe out” a modern city. Fallout will be dangerous if you live in the pattern, but otherwise it might just be a really loud bang for those in the suburbs. Nuclear war is quite another matter.

    Bio weapons… First, I don’t believe the plague story. There are a number of details that seem wrong to me, and there hasn’t been the follow-up I’d expect if it had been confirmed. I’ve seen this pattern before with other “bio-scare” stories that didn’t pan out. Unless society breaks down (Gov estimates between 10-20% dead nationally for this to happen), remaining in a populated area isn’t an issue. Use rigorous hygiene, general healthy living, barriers (masks and gloves), and self quarantine before you get sick (can you telework?), all which can be done anywhere.

    You make a good point about resource scarcity in the rural areas. My parents live in a small mountain town, and their entire county area ran out of gas during this summer’s gas price hike. Apparently, they are at the end of their region’s pipeline, and there wasn’t enough. Even the intervention of their Congressman didn’t get more than a truck or two headed to their town.

  4. the urban survivalist Says:

    I think that the WMD terrorist attack scenarios are way overblown. There’s no such thing as a suitcase nuke that can take out New York City. The only things that are going to take the entire country from stable to complete and utter chaos overnight are widespread natural disasters. An EMP strike would create a lot of havoc but, once again, I’ve read differing reports about what would happen and how bad things would really be. The worst case scenario would be devastating. The more realistic scenario would still throw us into chaos but we’d recover much more quickly.

    I’d love to figure out where these country boys get it in their heads that cities are crime ridden, gang infested cess pools. They’re not. Millions of gang bangers aren’t going to come out of the woodwork and take over everything at their first opportunity. You might have to worry about bad neighborhoods getting worse or expanding during an emergency but it’s not like everyone is a depraved, sociopathic lunatic just waiting for their chance to stick it to the man. The poor people aren’t waiting in front of the TV for their moment to riot. I can also assure you that everyone else won’t be cowering in the corner of their closets when they realize that the police aren’t coming, anymore. During Katrina you read about the roving gangs, the cops walking off of the job and even killing themselves and the gun grabbing. What you didn’t read about were the neighborhoods that banded together and set up neighborhood watches (as in armed guards and patrols) or the private citizens who had the balls to step up and protect themselves and their property.

    The biggest threats are the threats that will affect everyone. Back in the 1800s there was a solar storm recorded. A lot of scientists believe that, had it happened while our electric grid was in place it would have fried everything. Imagine a nuke being set off in the atmosphere. Boom, the energy is released, it’s done. Now imagine that same EMP effect continuing on for days. A nuke might not wipe out everything but the sun is certainly capable of doing it. Then there are fun things like super volcanoes, giant earthquakes, asteroid strikes and all out nuclear war.

    A pandemic outbreak would be the only “fast disaster” that would make me wish that I wasn’t in the city. Everything else that would make the country more survivable than the city would be a slow slide.

  5. Off Grid Survival Says:

    I think the Gang thing has some merit. I have always lived in big cities and depending on where you live the gang problem can be a real concern. I think it’s the biggest thing to worry about in a emergency situation.

    On the other hand, people in rural areas are not safe from the gangs. There are a number of small towns especially near the border that have just as much to worry about, maybe more. Gangs are everywhere and everyone needs to keep that in mind.

  6. anon Says:

    Those folks in Montana weren’t from Montana. They were from Oklahoma, playing Grizzly Adams in Montana. I don’t think anyone who’s lived in this state for more than one winter would try to live in the mountains without a ridiculous amount of preparation. They moved up here from the south and weren’t prepared in any way for winter. Those mountains are about 20 miles from me. Some of those valleys up there can have snow through August. They obviously did no research of any kind before heading off to the hills. Sad story – but you get what you deserve.

  7. Thales Says:

    I think the most likely issue people would run into in a city would be rioting, looting and theft. Hurricane Katrina is a great example. Police are spread thing after a disaster, some scumbags decide they need a five finger discount on whatever they can grab and you have bedlam.


  8. Country Mouse Says:

    i’m with you… i live in the city now, surrounded by neighbors I know and services I can get to by foot. But I dream of living in a hobbit house just like that one 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: