I’ve seen a lot of survival tips for how to prepare against a natural disaster or the apocalypse that involves homes, but I’ve never seen one that talks about what you can do or the advantages and disadvantages of holding up in an apartment building during the apocalypse. Obviously this is not a location that you want to be in during a nuclear strike, but what if the apocalypse is a pandemic or an economic collapse, what would staying in an apartment building be like.
There are several advantages of holding up in an apartment building or condo, for starters is the view of the surrounding city terrain. If you have access to an entire floor you get a 360 degree of your surroundings. The height of these buildings will also offer a range boost to any radio equipment, especially in cities where the steel and buildings can play havoc with signals, especially ones such as GPS or satellite phones. You also have access (If you’re alone) of all the cars stored underground and supplies left behind in the building.
As for disadvantages you’re limited in your options for an escape route if hostiles have decided to enter the building. You either have the stairwell since the elevator will be down, or you can attempt to climb down from the balcony if you have one. Any cars stored underground will be behind locked gates, and without power will remain locked unless you can pry or pull them off their hinges. The other major disadvantage is fire. After the collapse cities will be especially vulnerable to fires that will easily engulf whole sections of the city. If your building catches fire you might not have a way to escape.
Sound may also work against you. If hostiles do enter the apartment. Most apartment and condo buildings tend to easily bounce sound around from one suite to the next (I can hear an old woman play her piano three floors down in the one I live in) If hostiles enter the building you need to stay extra quiet to ensure they don’t find you.
If you decide to hold up in an apartment until you can escape you have to ensure you have stored enough food and water. In most major cities apartments will be very small (800 square feet or less depending on bedrooms) which won’t leave you much space to store additional supplies, especially water. You need to be creative in how to find the room for a few weeks supply of food water. Here are some ideas you can use.
Fill your bathtub to be used as an initial water supply (Make sure it’s clean first) use it as your first water supply because it may slowly leak. Other water can be stored in the apartments sinks or from the back of the toilet as long as there are no anti-bacterial toilet cleaners. Also during the initial collapse period fill as many containers such as buckets or pop bottles with water from the sinks. Fill all you're glasses and cover them with plastic wrap to keep dust and hair from getting in. Any food that is in a plastic container with a lid can be empties and use to hold water. The more water you can store before the power goes off (One to two days or less depending on the type of devestation) the longer and better you're chances for survival.
Cans are probably your best bet as they are easy to store and take little room, many foods found in cans also have water which you can drink as long as the amount of salt is low. For extra space buy plastic bins that can slide under your bed and other furniture, which will keep them out of the way. Make sure you check cans on a regular basis to inspect for rust and expiration dates. You can also store extra food and water (again in a plastic container) in the crawl space between your ceiling and the floor above you for extra space. Many apartments and condos also have basement storage lockers that you can use to store additional food and water. As long as you have access to the basement you should be easily able to store enough food to last you until you can get out of the city.