I've been dabbling in preparedness for about a decade now, particularly since I found out about peak oil 5 or 6 years ago. I spent most of that time in Oregon's largest city, a metro area of about 2 million, where I worked first in academia, then in arboriculture. A bit over a year ago I left the city and moved to a rural part of the state to work full-time on an organic farm in order to learn the farming trade.
Since the rural vs. urban question has been an ongoing concern here at PO.com (thanks in large part to Thuja), I thought I'd share some thoughts based on my experience with preparedness in both the city and the country.
PROS OF RURAL LIVING(1) Keeping Your Belly Full
The main advantage of living in the country, of course, is that there's plenty of land to grow food. In the last year I've gotten most of my produce, eggs, and meat from the farms I've worked at, and from coworkers/neighbors. There are lots of folks within a few miles who have milk, beef, broiler chickens, goats, ducks and turkeys, dried beans, fruit, nuts, etc., for sale or barter. There is also an unlimited supply of blackberries growing wild out here, as well as various sundry other wild edibles, and plenty of hunting opportunities. In the city I had a big container garden at my apartment and a community garden plot, I gleaned fruit and nuts from street trees and wild blackberries along the river, and I went to farmers markets and had a CSA subscription. Those were all fun and useful experiments, but it was nothing compared to what I'm doing now in terms of food self-sufficiency and local eating.(2) Post-Peak Living Experiments
It's easier to do preparedness experiments in the country. Some examples: Last weekend I got a rocket stove, which I've been dabbling with a bit (link to my thread
)---it'd be hard to do that in my old urban apartment, where the smoke would have gone right into the apartments next door. Also a lot easier to go shooting out here, I can practice on the hill nearby instead of driving two cities over to shoot at a range with an entrance fee and lots of rules. I have access to plenty of free firewood, which I'll be using for some Dutch oven and pit oven cooking experiments soon. This last winter I put together a simple little off-grid generator-battery power system, to which I plan on adding a couple solar panels in the next month or two. And my post-peak poverty experiment in RV living is described in this thread
. Hard to do this kind of stuff in an urban apartment.Living Cheap
I've found it easier to live cheaply in the country. Aside from reduced food expenses, the last few months I've been able to cut my rent to zero thanks to the RV. I figure I could reduce my monthly expenses to <$600 if I cut some fat from the budget; got more serious about food self-sufficiency (making my own cheese, baking my own bread, never eating out, etc.); made all my own beer/cider/mead and grew herb/tobacco; and reduced my driving to the barest minimum, got a motorcycle, and paid less attention to insurance laws. I'm not there now, but could be if I had to. But I don't drive much---many rural folks drive far too much and will be screwed if gas goes up much more.Crime & Government
Living in the country means I'm not as affected by urban disturbances and crime, should things get really bad. I had very few problems crime-wise in my 15 years in Portland. But should things deteriorate to the point of Argentina (if FerFAL's descriptions are accurate) or worse, I'd prefer to be in the country. I'd also rather be in the country if the fedgov should decide to go apeshit on the homefront---out here Heaven is higher and the Emperor further away than in the city.Personal Preference
I personally prefer living in the country, it suits me. I love looking at the stars at night, listening to the frogs croak and the chickens cluck, being able to piss outside whenever I want, etc. I haven't missed the city one bit.
CONS OF RURAL LIVINGJobs
Jobs in the country, or lack thereof. If I lost my current job or couldn't physically do farm work any more, I'd have to move, there just aren't a lot of non-farm jobs out here aside from logging, mill work, gathering wild mushrooms, or growing pot. I'd like to stay in farming, but if it doesn't work out, I may very well end up back in the city. This is by far the greatest problem with rural post-peak living, at least for working-age (30s) folks like myself.Transportation
I've become far more reliant on my truck. Since I live where I work I don't have to commute, but for groceries and other supplies, and for socializing, I have to drive. When I lived in the city I could walk or take the bus or train most anywhere I wanted to go---because I lived and worked in the urban core, I lived for many years without even owning a vehicle. I don't drive much, but what little driving I do has become more vital.Infrastructure
Rural areas are more vulnerable to infrastructure problems, power outages, road and bridge problems, etc. From a long-term perspective I have my doubts about rural electricity. As the Long Emergency accelerates I think rural areas may very well experience a lot more brownouts and extended blackouts. Cities probably will, too, but to a lesser extent and for shorter periods. On the other hand, I'm able to experiment with a little off-grid power system out here in the country, which would have been difficult in my urban apartment---the generator has come in handy a couple times this winter, and I'm hoping to be able to afford enough PV panels by the summer to be mostly self-sufficient in the electricity department.Education
There are fewer formal educational opportunities in the country, a problem if you need to reskill for work. I took lots of classes in the city, some of which proved useful in finding work (horticulture, GIS), some of which were for general preparedness (martial arts, wilderness first aid). Out here in the country there are few formal learning opportunities, except a non-credit welding class that I'll probably take this summer. On the other hand, I've met a lot of people here with really solid practical skills, so there are plenty of opportunities for informal education. And I don't have money for classes now anyway.Social networking
There are fewer choices for social networking in the country. In the city there are lots of opportunities to meet a variety of people, in the country less so. Rural living has definitely exacerbated my hermit-like tendencies.
Internet access is also more of a challenge in the country, but I'm not sure if that's a pro or a con
A garden will make your rations go further.