Most survivalists talk about bugging out. They make plans, plot routes, buy land, build compounds – at least in their dreams if not in fact. Most of them are heading for one of 4 or 5 places:
1. “The hills” somewhere to live off the land, but no real, scoped out location
2. A state park, because there’s bound to be lots of game, right?
3. A friend’s house – never mind that friend may have lots of other friends and family who will also be descending upon him, many with no gear or training
4. The family farm
5. A survivalist’s compound
Hard-core, Bug-Out, Survival-Compound survivalists think I’m insane for planning to “bug in”, or shelter in place, or hunker down where I am, but you see, they all think they can get to those remote locations. I only plan to leave if there’s a high probability my place will be flooded, burned, buried, or blasted out of existence. I selected my location carefully to provide me with both a modern citified lifestyle and the ability to adapt to a survival situation. In the 10 years I’ve been here, it’s proven to be capable of surviving most of the disasters that come this way. It’s far out of a flood zone, distant from most geological fault lines, and not too near any potential enemy targets. It’s near a well-stocked pond, and walking distance from 2 huge lakes (assuming you consider under 5 miles waling distance – I do). The location is fringe: not quite city, not quite rural, not really suburb. We still have horses, goats, cows, chickens, and rabbits in people’s backyards around here. It remembers being farmland and the soil is fertile. Of course, it helps that the city I live closest to is large, sprawling and still considers itself country. We have tractors rolling down the highway during rush hour.
Now, this isn’t to say I’m not prepared to bug out if evacuation becomes necessary. I’ve set up caches and marked the location on GPS as well as by landmarks – but you can’t always depend upon landmarks. I can locate them with a sextant if I have to – and I’ve practiced locating them by sextant and landmark just in case, when I go out to refresh the caches and add to them. I just prefer to consider sheltering in place, or what is snidely referred to as “bugging in”.
There are stages of survivalism. I’ve read lists in survival magazines and on survivalist websites and blogs, and I sort of agree with them, but I feel they leave out all the stages of survivalism for those of us who choose to shelter in place, to survive in our urban and suburban settings. So I’m going to present the stages of survivalism for those of us who choose to hunker down where we are.
1. Beginner – This is the “I should be doing something but I really have no clue what” phase. They may have a week’s worth of water stashed and a month’s worth of food. They may have thought about buying a generator, and have some basic camping equipment. They really don’t know how to start or what to do, and many give up.
2. Stocking up – If they’ve made it past stage 1, they’ve read a few sites about survival and they’ve gotten a bit serious. They have 6 months’ of stock, mostly canned food, bullets, and toilet paper, but no guns. They peruse the paper for land to buy “in case”. They’re indoctrinated by the End-of-the-World-as-We-Know-It survivalists, and may feel stressed and worried. The news is full of talk about terrorists and bombings and they want to be safe. They’re alone and lonely and worried, and their spouse or family doesn’t care about the same things. They may just leave it at this, a niggling worry that’s really too much effort to pursue.
3. Informed – If they made it past stage 2, they’ve read more than a few sites, purchased a few books, stocked up on food, water, and medical supplies for a year, gotten their CPR and concealed carry certifications, taken a few classes they hope will help them, and started a food garden. They’re connecting with others and discovering that most survivalists think they’re crazy to try to survive in their own home. A lot of the survivalists they meet will point out how they can’t make a nuclear shelter, or properly conceal what they are doing, how they’ll be mobbed in the event of an emergency, and they’re crazy to try to make long term plans where they are. Most city folk give up at this point, convinced they are doomed and can’t do anything about it.
4. Well-rounded – If they make it past the nay-sayers in stage 3, they’ve started to reach out and get the support of family and friends, formed long term plans and developed a back-up bug-out-if-we-must plan, and started sustainable practices that will help them in long term sub/urban survival. They’ve checked city ordinances and regulations about raising livestock, planted gardens not just in their yard, but in waste spaces and abandoned lots, may have convinced neighbors to go along with them (which will reduce the worries about being mobbed), and developed alternate energy sources and back-up plans. They’ve established caches just in case they need to evacuate. They’ve taken classes to increase their barterable skills, and learned advanced first aid skills. They’ve pooled their abilities with neighbors and family members to increase their odds of surviving in place. They’ve scoped out where things are and have plans for a number of long shot survival scenarios as well as most of the most common ones.
5. Sub/urban Homesteader – They’ve gone beyond the well-rounded by proving to themselves and their family they can live in the city off their own in most situations. Obviously, a direct nuclear strike isn’t going to be survivable, but they’ve created the necessary environment for near and remote nuclear strikes to be survivable. They can live off their gardens and backyard barnyards. They have a collective of people dedicated to surviving in their homes. They’ve seeded the waste spaces with food crops. They know how to save seed for their next crop and have been doing so for several years. They’ve created a barter co-op, and are teaching their skills as well as learning new ones. They are encouraging their neighbors to reach at least the informed stage. Barring a direct nuclear strike, a serious natural disaster, or a ruthless military invasion, they are pretty confident they can survive long term in their own home. There are a few of these people scattered around already.
6. Sub/urban Survival Compound – They’ve gone beyond the sub/urban homesteader and have created a neighbor watch that is skilled in weaponry and can be armed at a moment’s notice. They are prepared to defend their turf, so they have people with military skills as well as those with gardening, medical, mechanical, carpentry, veterinarian, and masonry skills. They’ve planted dwarf orchards in their backyards and replaced trees in the neighborhood park with standard fruit and nut trees. They have recycling, greywater, alternate energy, and sewage provisions in place in case the city fails to provide them, and may have already been selling their surplus energy to the city for a few years. To the casual driver, their neighborhood looks normal: houses, trees, maybe a lot of extra plants, kids on bikes or shooting hoops in driveways, parents keeping an eye on the kids, nice, well-kept and used neighborhood park. What they don’t see are the barricades ready to block the streets and the boundary houses with sturdy fencing that can be extended to lock off the neighborhood, and those kids’ treehouses that are everywhere? Those are the watchtowers. Granted, I only know of 2 such places, and am working on making my personal neighborhood such a place, but it is possible to do this. I’m at stage 5 and working on stage 6. An apartment complex with a large pond would be an excellent survival compound, as would any neighborhood with a limited access – perhaps only 2 to 5 main roads into the area
Survival compounds don’t have to be in a remote wooded area. With foresight, planning, and persuasive skills, almost any place can become a survival compound. So, if it makes you feel more secure to have a remote wilderness survival compound, go for it. Just know that you have viable alternatives. The city and its environs are imminently survivable for long periods of time, too.