Urban Survival

In the other pages on this site, we like to keep a loose focus on wilderness survival. Typically, people imagine survivalism in settings like wilderness and rural areas. But many folks have it wrong as survival situations can happen anywhere- even cities. When it comes to surviving in an urban environment, it’s a brand new type of survival that requires another set of skills.

In this article, we will talk about what a urban survival is and how it is different from surviving in the wilderness.

What is Urban Survival?

Urban survival is surviving a widespread and prolonged disaster in a city. Basically, if you can’t get out and need to survive in an urban environment, odds are you will get no help from the authorities. People survive this situation by using skills and tactics developed through practice and research. Things like civil unrest, infrastructure collapse and natural disasters could all trap people in cities. That possibility is why more and more people are learning about urban survival. 

Urban Survival Versus Wilderness Survival

Unlike in the wilderness, the urban environment is not full of wild animals. In the wilderness, you have no choice but to find or build a shelter, hunt/fish/scavenge for food, look for water, and start a fire. An urban environment offers a big contrast. In urban environment, a person’s focus may shift to communications, escape routes and meeting points, available resources and safety or security. Remember, there is zero sustainability in an urban survival as resources are limited and there are other people who want those resources too.

For some, it may be harder to survive in an urban environment than in the wilderness. Ideally, you will be working to gain food, water and shelter with other fellow survivors. But you never know really know friend from foe. You must possess significant skills and abilities in order to survive in an urban environment when a disaster strikes or a SHTF situation arises.

How To Survive in an Urban Environment?

High Awareness

Maintaining a high sense of awareness of your surroundings—whether it’s danger or nearby resources, is a must-have to be able to survive in a big city that is in turmoil. You do not want to put all your effort to waste only to be cornered by an angry mob. Moreover, being aware of nearby resources is going to mean that you will survive longer.

Blend In

If there isn’t unity among groups of people, they are bound to implode. And that is simply an unnecessary loss of manpower. Furthermore, forming factions is a dangerous game. During a crisis, it is best to get along with others.

Though, you should not entrust your life completely to others, as you are never sure if they can truly be companions in the long run. Maintain your self-reliance while keeping a low profile if you are in a group.

Hide anything that may prove useful in a survival situation, whether it is food, water or any necessary supplies. Don’t flaunt what you have. If you don’t hide your things, you will only make yourself a target.


Finding Shelter

Shelter is a critical factor of staying alive during a crisis. If you are still at your own home waiting for the rescue, stay there for as long as it is safe. Now, if you are no longer staying at home, there are plenty of buildings that you can evacuate to, including stores, malls, schools, hospitals, empty buildings, abandoned houses or cars and even dumpsters.

We do not encourage breaking in as it can put your life at risk. 


Grocery stores may already have run out of stock when a crisis is ongoing. You will be left with no choice but to scavenge for food in order to survive. You may need to adapt to this unpleasant habit to be able to get the calories you need to survive.

So, in an urban survival situation, you better grab anything you can, even from trash bins. You just have to make sure it is not rotten.


With the mindset that nobody can be trusted, you should be ready to defend yourself from possible threats. It’s not far-fetched to think that someone might beat you up just to get something valuable from you. A simple mugging could even end up in death. And no, we aren’t trying to make a Batman joke! Bottom line- if you can afford to lose it, give it up to the thief. It’s not worth your life.

Always maintain high awareness with your surroundings. Feel the atmosphere- try to gain an understanding of how crowds behave. If people are getting anxious, act fast and get yourself somewhere safe. The best form of self-defense is running from a fight if you have the chance to. 

Meeting Points

Remember: you could easily end up in an urban survival situation separated from friends or loved ones. In this situation, having pre-arranged meeting points is something you should talk over with family and friends. You do not want to jeopardize your life wandering into a dangerous crowd looking for a loved one.


Moving without drawing too much attention can save you a lot of trouble from other people. You cannot stay at home forever since your supplies will run low eventually. We advise that you do not wander in the city using your bike or vehicle, however tempting it may be. 


It’s best to move on foot. You can be on the move at night wearing something camouflaged and pass through some blind spots, alleyways, or other less-traveled routes. You may also want to consider using the sewer system as your passageway if things are looking extremely bad. But before you get going, you should bring a map or you could study and memorize all your designated routes to get to your final location— as long as you have a good memory. Regardless, stealth is important, and so is knowing where you are going.

Repair Skills

Being self-sufficient and having the ability to fix everyday mechanical stuff can also help in a survival situation. That means having valuable skills in repairing and making things. If you are in a group, you can be prioritized to get to safety first compared to others since you will appear to be more valuable and useful to them. It may sound mean to put yourself above others, but the primary goal here is to survive. Do not let your pride prevail and be an obstacle to survival.

Negotiation Skills

In an urban survival situation, odds are supplies will run low very quickly. Folks will be desperate and they will be doing their best to survive as well. Thus, being able to negotiate and barter with someone will turn out to be very helpful for you. You don’t need to be a used car salesman, but everyone can benefit from some negotiation skills.

Some Final Thoughts on Urban Survival

Whether it be in urban environment or wilderness, both will require significant skills and preparedness in order to survive. And while you can enjoy a relatively peaceful life, you should invest some time in learning more about survival in the environment that you’re living in.