Dec 30

Apartment Prepping: Not Optimal BUT Possible

I recently helped someone set up their apartment,  someone who understood the value of preparedness but was just not at a point in their life where a home away from things on some land was possible.  Let’s face it, some might not even want that in their lives or other circumstances could force them to live in an apartment.  Personally I had to live in an apartment just outside of Washington, D.C. for a year, it was not optimal but I made it work the best I could.  I had several systems in place in my apartment, routes identified locally for egress and a storage unit within walking distance which had quite a few necessary supplies contained within.  Making due with what I was given, it’s what we do right?

Let’s take a look at some of the problems apartment living poses to the prepper.


Literally surrounded by people, living above / below / next to you.  Parking usually open to the public and at any given time who knows what type of guests (invited or univited) might be in or around the facility.  Some complexes strictly regulate what you can and cannot do, cameras or even a simple security system could be disallowed.  Other folks (read: maintenance) have the keys to your door, not exactly a castle on a hilltop if you know what I mean.

Population Density

This is what I always cringe at and it bleeds over into the security and privacy aspect, the fact that apartment complexes are literally a place where the most people are crammed into the smallest areas in order to maximize revenue for the management group.  Depending on the type and caliber of complex you could have multiple families living in one unit, usually foreign nationals.  When I lived in D.C. I bet there were 1000 people within one square block, here in the mountains there might be 20 people within 1 square mile but I highly doubt it.


This is the biggest issue,  at any given time a notice could go out for whatever reason and there will be folks coming into the apartment to repair something, check something, whatever….and there is nothing you can do about it.  “Make sure dogs (if allowed) are secured, maintenance will be in the change filters and genereally snoop around between 9-5.”  I hated it but there was nothing that could be done, think about any preps or even firearms that might be secured or otherwise.  Not an optimal situation.

So What Can Be Done?

I have made the best of a bad situation and have helped others to do so as well.  Sometimes living in an apartment is a necessary evil, here are a few tips that I have passed along.

Security System:  If possible and allowed try something easy to install like Simplisafe or others.  Many of these systems have duress signals which can be enabled and panic buttons, great for notifying the authorities.  Also use those door bars that go under the knob, truly prevent unwanted entry and are around $20 at Home Depot.

Dedicated Parking:  If possible pay extra for the garage or carport.  Having to drive around looking for a space, especially at night which might include a long walk is not optimal.

Dog:  Get a dog and put a beware of dog sign up.  Dogs are wonderful companions but also great deterrants for the average crackhead.  Nobody, myself included wants to get bitten by a dog.

Off Site Storage:  A small storage unit will typically run less than $100 a month and can be very useful in the event of a natural disaster or simply a backup plan.  Extra clothing, food and water, your imagination is the limit.  Piece of mind is what the storage unit is all about and if things went sideways and the apartment burned to the ground what would you need in the storage unit that was absolutely essential?  Take it from there.

Detectors:  This is the easy stuff and by that I mean don’t trust your neighbors.  In this other apartment I set up I installed CO2 detectors, additional Smoke Alarms and added things like fire extinguishers.  When you live around 50 other people in one building you never know what could spark off especially in the middle of the night so additional detectors are a must.

Firearms:  Use your best judgement, obviously one of those things that someone must be comfortable with.  Personally I prefer 00 Buckshot over trying to beat an intruder with a wooden spoon.

Egress:  Know how to get out and more than one way to do so.  Know were to go (read: rally point) if it’s the middle of the night and you are clad in boxer briefs and sandals.

The Bottom Line.

I have to believe that given the option there is no prepper out there who would willingly live in a crowded apartment complex versus a home out on some land.  However life happens and there are instances where apartment living is necessary and unavoidable.  Given that we have to make due with what we have, doing the best that we can.  Take some of the tips listed above and add your own, it will only make the experience more manageable.


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    • keebler on December 31, 2017 at 8:03 AM
    • Reply

    Thanks; Nice write up on the subject
    happy New Year.

      • PJ on December 31, 2017 at 8:46 PM
      • Reply

      Thanks much Keebler, Happy New Year to you as well.

    • Roger on December 31, 2017 at 12:29 PM
    • Reply

    This is probably illegal, but I believe you should always have the right (and ability) to defend yourself. Thus I must refer to this technique as FIPO (for informational purposes only). You can make a hidden cache in the ceiling (single-story building only) or walls of a small closet, large enough to keep a takedown shotgun, handgun, small metal ammo can, small backpack, maybe even 72-hour kit inside! Simply use a razor knife to cut along the very edges of the wall or ceiling. Try not to damage the sheet of sheetrock when removing it because matching paint color can be a pain. Clean up the edges of the sheet of drywall and use tape (masking tape works) to strengthen the cut edges all around. Leave a small hole at the bottom edge of the sheet and reinforce with tape. This hole will allow you to easily reopen the wall with a tool like a paint can opener. The replaced wall must fit snugly or it may fall inward at the wrong time. Finally, use matching paint to conceal your handy work; if you can’t find an exact paint match, then, get as close as you can to a match and repaint the entire interior of the closet! This should work well against all but the most determined of searchers! GLAHP!

      • PJ on December 31, 2017 at 8:47 PM
      • Reply

      Great ideas, I’m sure there are many ways to conceal things within the scope of what may or may not be allowed. 🙂

  1. As a prepper myself, I believe that if you want to prep, it really doesn’t matter where you live. Storage units are an absolute must and can be very useful especially if they are close by to your apartment. Another thing that everyone should do no matter where they live is to keep a waterproof/fireproof lock box with important documents, a charged cell phone and other miscellaneous items. Thanks for the great article!

      • PJ on January 9, 2018 at 1:10 AM
      • Reply

      Absolutely and thank you! Even though I live in a home, I have a fireproof / waterproof box with docs and a bank safety deposit box with redundant items contained.

    • J on January 12, 2018 at 9:47 AM
    • Reply

    Another thing that can be done is getting to know some of your neighbors. While some might be a bit sketchy, there will surely be some decent folks living near you that you can make an agreement to discreetly keep an eye out for situations or activity you might need to know about. I lived in an apartment complex at one time and developed an unofficial neighborhood watch type group to keep an eye on things.

    This is not to say you should tell them all of your plans and preps, but an extra set of eyes can do no harm.

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