The most important piece of survival equipment you can own is your house. If you’re serious about prepping, you will need to think of your house as a survival machine. That is, you should choose and equip a residence that is set up to maximize your family’s chances of survival.
This doesn’t mean you need a fortress or a place with a bomb shelter in the basement. Instead, it means that you need a residence where you and your family can live for a long time without any outside help—or at least minimal outside help. That means a place that will contain enough food, water, and other supplies for your family to survive for a period of weeks, months, or longer.
Contrary to popular belief, this does not have to be a farm in the country. A house on a large lot in a city, small town, or suburb might do just as well. What you really need is a home that meets certain characteristics. You must keep these characteristics in mind when you go house hunting.
The Most Important Resource: Water
The two most important necessities for survival are food and water. The most important of these is an independent source of water, probably a well. Try to find a home with a good well on the property. The house doesn’t need to be getting water from the well now – it simply needs to have one that won’t go dry.
Try looking at older houses because many of them have wells, even if they are hooked to a water system. A good way to find such a house is to ask realtors, and if you let realtors know you won’t buy a home without a well, they’ll find one for you. Make sure you get a house with a well, and preferably one that you can draw water from without an electric pump. Examine the well closely – many older wells go dry because the water table around the country is going down. However, the well doesn’t have to be the best because you’ll only need water for drinking, cooking, and irrigation.
If you can’t find a home with a well, see if you can find one with another source of water, such as a stream right next to it. (Another advantage to living on a stream is that you can always catch fish and crawfish for the dinner table.) If there’s no stream or well, try building a cistern to catch rainwater. If you do catch rain or river water, you will have to purify it to make it safe.
Supply Food at Home
When you choose your home, make sure there is enough room to plant a very large garden. You don’t have to plant a garden right now, but you should have enough room to plant a large vegetable garden in a crisis. Also, look for enough room for a chicken coop, greenhouse, fishpond, and other means of providing provisions.
Even a house with a large lawn can do because you can always plow up the lawn or flower garden to grow vegetables in a future crisis. A house with a lot of flower gardens might be a good buy because those can easily be turned into vegetable gardens.
Try getting a house that has fruit trees already growing on the land. That way, you can have your own source of fruit in case of an emergency. Another good tip is to buy a home that is close enough to open land where you can forage for greens and other food if need be. Many cities and suburbs have large swaths of open land in the city.
Storage Space: The Real Key to Survival
After food and water, storage space is the real key to survival. The way to survive a future crisis will probably be to store up enough supplies to live for a long time. Try to find a house that has a lot of extra storage space in the basement, attic, cellar, etc. Look at older homes because some of them will have outbuildings and root cellars.
The more storage space you have, the more you can store. Try storing up large supplies of the things you use all the time, including dried foods, canned foods, frozen foods, laundry detergent, medicines, prescription drugs, cleaning supplies, and clothing. Something to remember is that in an emergency, you might be able to trade or sell a lot of this stuff to get things you need.
If possible, lay in a stash of trade goods, including luxury items such as cigarettes, liquor, and wine. These last a long time, and people will trade almost anything to get them in an emergency. In some disaster situations, you might have an easier time trading a case of Marlboros or a bottle of Jack Daniels for ammunition than using gold coins.
Camouflage: The Other Key to Survival
Once you’ve taken measures to supply food and water, you’ll need to ensure safety. The best way to do this is to make your home uninviting to thieves or looters. The way to do this is to camouflage your home to make it look as if you are not prepping and don’t have any supplies stored up.
The reason for this is obvious: the best way to survive a fight is not to get in one in the first place. Convincing the looters you have nothing to steal is a better strategy than trying to shoot it out with them. The way to do this is to keep survival preparations out of plain sight.
Make sure that weapons, ammunition, survival food, generators, fuel, gold coins, extra cash, liquor, trade goods, first aid supplies, etc. are hidden. Don’t show anybody these items or tell anybody outside the family where they are. One way to hide stuff is to build a secret room or cabinet somewhere in the house. You can hide a door by simply pushing a heavy appliance such as a refrigerator in front of it or do the old Hollywood trick of hiding it behind a shelf of books. If you have a safe, keep it hidden and don’t show it to anybody.
If you grow a garden, tell the neighbors that you’re growing it because you like fresh squash and peas. If you install solar panels, say you’re doing it to get the tax credit.
Hiding is Better than Fortification
Try not to obviously fortify your home because that makes it look like you have something to protect. Fortifying your place is an advertisement that tells people “Hey, they’ve got something valuable in there.” That’s the last message you want to get out if law and order breaks down. If you make any sort of preparation, make sure it cannot be easily seen from the street or road.
Something else to remember here is that with our modern technology, a group of armed people will be able to break through almost any fortification you set up yourself fairly easily. If you barricade yourself inside your house, they can simply blow their way in with explosives or drive a bulldozer or a truck through your front door. Try and avoid this situation by disguising your place.
Survival preparations will be useless if all they do is attract the looters. If you can set up your home so that people who walk in have no idea what you’ve really got in there, then you’ve created a real survival machine.