Despite what some people think, it is possible to live off the grid in the city and suburbs. A person or family can be prepared for the worst without moving to the boondocks or buying a farm. You can be prepared wherever you live and survive quite nicely.
People should think about living off the grid in urban areas because not everybody likes living in the country or small towns. There are also a lot of people that either lack the financial means to move to the country or cannot move there because of family, business, work, or other obligations.
Fortunately, it is possible to live off the grid or at least partially off the grid even in some inner city areas. It will take a little creativity and hard work, but it can be done. It might also be a good way to survive. Historically, some cities have survived terrible calamities; the best place to ride out the collapse of the Roman Empire was in Constantinople, which maintained a functioning city life for centuries even in the face of barbarian invasions and plagues while Rome itself was nothing but a cow pasture.
Basics of Off-the-Grid Living in Urban Areas
The best strategy for off-the-grid living in the city or suburbs is to have a property on a lot large enough to grow a garden on it that’s in walking distance of everything you will need. That means you can reach the resources you need—the grocery store, medical care, church, public transportation, discount store, bank, work, etc.—on foot or bicycle if necessary, yet still be able to grow a garden.
The biggest advantage to living off the grid in an urban area is that you can get around without a car. This can be done in a lot of American and Canadian urban areas, not just in New York City. Even if you have a car right now, you should think about this because it might soon be uneconomical for many families to drive or maintain a vehicle.
If you’re thinking of going off the grid in a suburb, a city, or a small town, make sure your home is within walking distance of the necessities. Another factor to consider is public transportation; make sure it’s cheap and reliable. The way to do this is to actually take the bus, train, or whatever a few times and make sure it lives up to its promises. Something to remember is that basic bus service is often more reliable, faster, and more convenient for average people than fancy light rail systems.
Take a look at other transportation options such as a bicycle too. A good basic road bike will be better than a ten-speed or a mountain bike; you can pick them up fairly cheap at thrift stores and garage sales. Having some sort of vehicle to haul stuff in, such as a little red wagon, can help as well.
Off-the-Grid Food in Urban Areas
If you live in an urban area or suburban area, you can grow your own food. If possible, have a house with a lot large enough to have a garden on. The best strategy is to have a large backyard. Older neighborhoods are best for this because many of the houses were built years ago when most people grew vegetable gardens.
Try covering as much of the lot as possible with vegetable gardens. If you don’t have a big backyard, you can plant vegetables in the front lawn or in flowerbeds. Be careful if you do this, because zoning laws in some cities can prevent you from growing vegetables in certain areas.
If you don’t have enough room for a garden or a large garden, look into community gardens. These exist in many cities, and they provide plots to grow vegetables at little or no costs. Something else to consider is organizing a community garden in your neighborhood or through your church.
Other good sources of off-the-grid food in urban areas are fruit trees; there are hundreds of these in urban areas. You can forage for wild or semi-wild plants in cities just as easily as in the country. Native New Yorker Steve Brill has been doing it for decades. In some neighborhoods, you can pick large amounts of fruit off the sidewalks for free in the fall. There are also farmer’s markets, food co-ops, and smaller stores.
Take Advantage of City Resources to Live Cheaply
If you are living in an urban or suburban area, take advantage of the city resources to live as cheaply as possible. A great method of doing this is to use public transportation, walking, or bicycles instead of driving. Another is to use the free and low-cost resources cities provide; this includes parks, the public library, public swimming pools, recreation centers, etc. Then use the money you save to maximize your resources for survival.
There’s no reason why a person that lives in the city cannot save up a large stash of survival food or other necessities. There’s no law against filling your cellar with laundry detergent, disposable diapers, canned food, or wine. Try storing up enough food and other resources to live for several weeks or months if you lose your job.
It’s also possible to generate some of your own electricity in the city and get a federal tax credit. Consider installing solar panels that will generate some power and help you reduce your electricity bill. These panels can be installed on suburban and urban homes just as well as country cottages.
Urban/Suburban Survival Strategies
A good urban/suburban off-the-grid survival strategy would be as follows:
- Live in a location where you can limit driving and its expenses as much as possible.
- Live in a home that has a lot large enough to grow a garden.
- Have a home with enough storage space to hoard a large supply of the necessities and other items.
- Pay off your mortgage so you’ll own your home.
- Save up as much additional money as possible so you can live for several weeks or months if you lose your job.
- Have additional means of generating income for your family, such as small businesses, freelancing, and rental property.
- Look into alternative methods of getting food, such as foraging.
Finally, have a long-term plan of what you want to do and where you want to go. If you want to stay in your area, look around for a house that can also be a survival machine if necessary. If you want to move somewhere else, start planning the move.
If you want to relocate to the country but your job is in the city, one strategy is to live as cheaply in an urban area as possible and save up enough money to buy and outfit a place in the country. An example of this might be renting a cheap apartment in lower-income neighborhood and taking the bus while you are in town to keep expenses low.
Living off the grid and prepping are about attitude and lifestyle as much as location. Developing a lifestyle and pattern of behavior geared for survival is the way to survive. You can do that almost anywhere. Learning how to survive is more important than the place you live in.