Characteristics of the Prepper / Survivor Lifestyle

Before I begin today’s post, “Paul” from Raw TV (makers of the Discover show Gold Rush Alaska) asked me to notify readers that they are presently looking for people to take part in a new TV series entitled “Pioneers.” He is looking for American families considering new lives in the American wilderness and who are willing to be followed throughout their experiences by their television cameras. He writes:

Have you always dreamed of making a new life for your family in the wilderness, away from bureaucracy and the rat race? Have you and your friends been talking about starting a new community with your own rules? Or are you already living in a community away from society?

If you answer yes to any of these, or know someone who would – we would love to hear from you. Please email your contact details and your story to

Ironically, Paul’s note to me is relevant to today’s post, something that happened quite by chance.

I wrote a recent post about preparedness as a hobby. In the comments section of that post “Spook45” made a great point about how preparedness may be a hobby for some, but that it’s a lifestyle for others. Each person has his/her own level of interest and/or commitment to preparedness. Some people are more comfortable with preparedness as a sideshow, so to speak, a “hobby” that interests them and they see a need to pursue, if only on a limited scale. For others it’s more involved, and has a bigger impact on who they are, what they do, what they pursue. It’s this latter group, the “survival lifestyle” folks that I’m discussing today, specifically – what does it mean to live a prepper lifestyle?

Living a prepper lifestyle, to me, means you are living a life that would change far less than others’ lives if a large-scale catastrophe ever struck. You’ve adopted a daily life that resembles the lifestyle most people led a few generations ago. Following are attributes I believe constitute a prepper lifestyle.

  1. You are debt free or you are on an aggressive schedule to become debt free. Nothing screams freedom like being debt free and, in particular, owning a house and land free and clear. Years ago people saved a lot of money before buying a home so they could put 20% down (or more) at purchase. Years ago people didn’t need 2 cars per family so car loans were not as common. Years ago the idea of “just charge it” was incomprehensible. If you are a prepper that has taken your debt head on, you recognize the value in securing your assets so they cannot be taken from you should you lose a job, become disabled, etc. You are living the prepper lifestyle.
  2. You are heavily self-reliant. Living the prepper lifestyle means you are a Jack (or Jane) of all trades. You were either raised to take care of things yourself, or you seek out various skills that make you well rounded and less reliant on the help of others. If something goes wrong, you want to know how to take care of it yourself. You don’t want to pay someone else to fix your car or make home modifications (see attribute #1). You may even be self-employed, or at least derive a percent of your household income from your own business endeavors.
  3. You live in a rural area. There is a stereo-type amongst the survivor/prepper crowd that in order to be serious about it, you don’t live in a high population area. While I am sure many city dwellers take preparedness very seriously, perhaps more seriously than some in rural areas by the very nature of where they live, it’s difficult to argue that you live the prepper lifestyle if you live in an urban area. An urban area equates to total havoc when/if the SHTF. Preppers living in cities make plans to “bug out” should times get tough, but when you’re living the prepper lifestyle, with a few exceptions, home is your refuge when times get tough.
  4. You have low household energy demands. When you live the prepper lifestyle you live close to your place of work (which may be your own house), which means lower vehicle fuel demands than others. You probably heat with wood or at least have the capacity to. Ideally it’s wood you gather from your own property. When winter comes, you set the thermostat low, dress warm and shut off any unused areas of the house. You may embrace off-grid living.
  5. You take gardening very seriously. There are people that garden for fun and people that garden for food. The lines blur between those two, but the closer you come to gardening for food, the more likely you are to live the prepper lifestyle. That’s not to say gardening for food isn’t also fun, but you see gardening as a means to an end, and the end is food – first and foremost. The fun is secondary. You grow enough to store for the fall and winter. You can goods, have a cold storage room and maybe a root cellar. You probably save seeds. If the SHTF, you’re garden and seeds are already ready.
  6. You hunt and fish. In some ways, you embrace the stereo-typical redneck lifestyle. You can skin a buck and run a trot line. When deer, elk or bear season comes, you plan on the large game becoming part of your food supply. Rather than hunt for trophies, you hunt for meat – there’s a difference.

Do you agree? Are there prepper lifestyle characteristics that I missed?

Based on my own description of the prepping as a hobby versus prepping as a lifestyle, I fall more in the “hobby” category, albeit a serious hobby.

– Ranger Man