When the decline sets in.. I think that both the rural villages as the cities will be hell-holes in the long run.. just different in their challenges.. (for example, villages can more easily provide in water, food, sanitation,.. but have less access to hospitals & other services/goods.)
I'm not so worried about food really, even though I live in Belgium (flanders) which is very densly populated. If we cut out a lot of waste, less meat for example but more grains, potatoes, etc.. (like how people lived around/before the industrial revolution, or even my grandparents in the 1900's), there should be plenty of food.. Except for the "major" cities of Brussels & Antwerp, I believe that there is enough farm land around cities to provide us with what we need. Every villager & small city occupant will have his own garden, chickens, rabbits,.. to process most of their "waste" into something editable.
What would worry me more is the lack of access to modern medicine, vaccines, etc.. A lot of elderly and sick will perish somewhere down the slope of peak oil production.. A small infection could even be the end of your life..
I don't believe/think that people will die of starvation (not enough to eat).. but the attrition (death vs births) will be much higher due to a less broad menu (vitamins, minerals,..) and higher death from simple infections, viruses, diseases..
Both large cities vs small towns/villages will have their challenges..
Personaly I've chosen for a small village (where I know 70% of the ppl in some way or another), close to some smaller towns(5miles), and about 15miles from a larger town.
Investing/learning in making you less dependent on the system (active & passive PV), well insulated house, well, garden & orchard & greenhouse, animals (eggs, meat, milk, wool,..), small woodlot (only for cooking atm), basic tools & supplies,...
Investing/learning in something that will bring you resources/money even in a very basic economy. (property to rent out, farmland, woodland, ...) or have skills that will be in demand.
My problem with skills is that with most the ones I can learn, I will not be as good as the ones that are doing it now for a job.
For example, I build my own house (almost did everything myself), but I will never be as good as a self-employed construction worker/carpenter doing it on a daily basis. So I see that marketability of that skill as very low. So I'll try to look for "niche" markets for things don't make sense yet to do in current environment, but might be hard to get by or are in demand later on. (distilling alcohol maybe?)
But it's still very hard to predict what skills will do well, and work for me (vs the competition) so I try to invest in property that might generate resoruces/wealth and that are nearby (easier to control). It is still good to have those skills (construction, gardening, sewing, fixing 1000 different kind of things, etc) to keep your own cost down though and depend less on other or the system.
"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."