Most preppers admire photos and videos of well-organized prep rooms, walk-in pantries, or underground cellars lined with jars of pickled vegetables. However, with 55% of the world’s population now living in major metropolitan areas (source), fewer and fewer people have the option to harvest their own seasonal food or have large rooms set aside for preparedness storage.
With the rising cost of real estate and the attractive setting of cities, more and more people are opting to live in small spaces and apartments. People living in major cities find space to be at a premium and often live in spaces that would be unthinkable to their rural-dwelling counterparts.
So is it possible to build an effective and sustainable prep inventory with limited living and storage space? The answer is absolutely yes!
And it may be even more important for them to do so. Those in major cities may have even less access to supplies, given that the competition for supplies at the grocery stores will be heavier. It’s also possible that electricity or water supply will give out sooner.
Living in a small space does not preclude you from preparing for a disaster and keeping your family fed and healthy. Here are our suggestions for making your space work for you when living in an apartment, especially one with no yard space.
Step 1: Get rid of stuff you don’t need
No matter how large or small our homes are, all of us seem to accumulate things we don’t need over the years. In order to build a supply in an apartment or small space, you’ll need all the spare room you can get.
This means getting rid of things like toys your kids have outgrown, clothing that doesn’t fit or that you don’t wear, books that are not being read, or items you’ve been saving ‘just in case’ that actually serve no purpose.
Remember the post on Prepping vs Hoarding? Hanging on to items you no longer use, and that you have no actual plan for using, is a sign that you may be more on the ‘hoarding’ side than you want to be.
By doing the tough work of purging your belongings, you’re making room for things that are much more important – the food and supplies you’ll need in case of an emergency.
Step 2: Prioritize what you DO need
When you look into prepping resources, you’ll find endless lists of things you ‘might’ need or lots of extras to keep your supply from getting boring. However, when you’re working with limited space you’ll need to start your inventory with the most important items and go from there.
You and your family won’t survive long without water, so that should be the first thing you seek to prepare. Recommended storage for water is one gallon a day per person, so as you can imagine, water will take up a lot of space.
However, there are ways to maximize your space such as water purification tablets and water filters. You might also consider a collapsible system like the WaterBob, which will allow you to fill up and purify water in your bathtub without taking up space on a regular basis.
After water, you’ll want to prioritize food next. Because canned food contains water that takes up space, consider storing dehydrated food that is calorie-dense. Five-gallon buckets and bags can be used to store good quantities of dehydrated food, as well as prepping staples like rice and beans, that can easily be cooked.
You can also choose herbs or medicinals as house plants. Plants like aloe, basil, and rosemary have many uses and still look attractive as decor in your home.
After water and food, consider how you will cook the food (taking into consideration that portable stoves can give off carbon monoxide and should be used with ventilation) as well as storing hygiene supplies.
Step 3: Practice Smart Storage
While at first glance it may seem like you have nowhere to store stuff, a few strategic tricks can keep your home looking neat and attractive while also keeping your family safe in the event of a disaster.
Some easy and immediate changes you can make include:
- Putting beds on bed risers
- Buying a couch and other seating that opens up to allow for storage
- Getting end tables and coffee tables that are hollow and allow for storage
- Maximized closet space with stackable bins or shelving – you can and should use the space there from floor to ceiling
- Your medicine cabinets should be cleaned out of anything that is expired or rarely used, and the space used to stock up on hygiene items. Some hygiene items can be vacuum-sealed and will take up much less space than before, including toilet paper, diapers, and sanitary pads.
There are many creative solutions to storing your supply in plain sight, like covering five-gallon buckets with a cloth and utilizing them as end tables or plant stands, or buying a decorative armoire to serve as a storage pantry.
Step 4: Think Outside the Box
There are many options outside your apartment that can keep your family safe, fed, and healthy in the event of a disaster.
If you’re finding your space is not adequate for the supply you need, consider renting a storage unit nearby. This could serve as your prep room, allowing you to store as many supplies as you like.
The downside of this could be that your supply will be out of sight and could become out of mind as well, leading to spoilage and waste. Use a system like our Ultimate Prep System to make sure you’re on top of what you have, where everything is, and which food or supplies need to be rotated through to avoid spoilage.
Some cities offer small garden plots you can rent, which allow apartment-dwellers to grow their own food. You might also carefully consider talking to some neighbors in your building and seeing if they too are on board with prepping. This could allow you to prepare water drums as a building or utilize common storage space for preparing supplies. However, many preppers advise being low-key about your supply, so proceed with caution.
Prepping for a disaster, emergency, or even SHTF is not reliant on having a sprawling country home with endless acreage and an impressive cellar. Prepping is also possible without a massive state-of-the-art kitchen or expensive equipment.
No matter what your budget or your living situation is, you can always take steps toward building disaster preparedness, and you can live with the peace of mind that brings.