The Seven Levels Of Self-Sufficiency

The Seven Levels Of Self-SufficiencyWhat a difference $150.000 would make for all the preppers out there. This is an old problem, and there’s not enough time or money to do all the things you want to get done to reach self-sufficiency. Eventually, you have to face the fact that If you’d just do something you’d be better off than if you did nothing.

However, there are some distinct changes that occur as you get more deeply into the self-sufficiency movement. It almost appears that there are certain levels that can be attained with a certain amount of money and effort and that then you need to wait until your knowledge catches up to your progress before you can move up to the next level, which usually also requires still more time and money! Amazingly though, at the outset, there’s really quite a bit you can do for $1500 to make yourself more independent from the tightly interlocked world we live in.

Seven levels of self-sufficiency

Level 1

This is the basic primary stage of the self-sufficiency movement, where a family decides that being without reserves doesn’t make sense. It usually starts with the realization that grocers have only three to five days of food in the store, so that the slightest problem, such as a heavy snowstorm, could cause their family to go hungry.

Level 1 consists of seven days of food for everyone in the household, a few gallons of drinking water, candles or oil lamps with fuel for a week and a firearm suitable for defense. Depending on how people felt, there might also be some minor preparedness for some specific threat that they foresaw. In general, level 1 is just the beginning of the eye-opening process.

Integral to Level 1 preparedness is the orientation that “home is where the food is.” There is really no commitment to the current structure that is home. If the authorities suggest the evacuation of your family to a safer area, it would be relatively easy to pack a few boxes and suitcases and leave. This low level of preparedness actually has a slight advantage, for Level 1 participants are still very mobile. This of course if they made a bug out plan and prepared accordingly for such plan.

Level 2

Most of the change from Level 1 to Level 2 is in the area of food reserves. These are the cheapest to buy and the most necessary in troubled times. Another change is that there is more of a commitment to staying in the current residence. But in order to be more prepared than Level 1, there are some basic changes to be made in your home. First of all, the structure has to be fairly reliable and must be provided with some kind of emergency heat and toilet facilities for a time when there is no power to run these necessary facilities.

In addition, some plans should he made for longer-term lighting than candles can provide. Oil lamps provide more light and are safer to operate, and they also provide sonic heat. A gallon of lamp oil will supply several lamps for a month or longer. Besides the mellow light of an oil lamp can even become your standard dim mg light in normal times!

But the biggest difference is that the food and water supplies must be increased to a 30-day supply, instead of seven. One medium-sized closet would handle the requirements fully, so the storage requirements are not so severe, nor are the financial demands. Rather it is a more complete commitment to stay in your current residence unless you are forced to move by the authorities.

Since this much equipment is still transportable in a normal car, if forced to leave, you could pack it all into carton boxes and take along. No matter what you and yours go, you are going to need the basics of human survival.

Level 3

At some point in time, it becomes more apparent that you are going to have to stay in your primary residence during any major dislocation, because the more prepared you get, the more physically bulky the supplies become and the more difficult it is to consider moving them with you. In truly bad times, household location becomes more important than many other factors.

A distant suburban home becomes a far safer place if the nearby city is having riots than is a high-rise apartment in a nice neighborhood within that city. In the event of nuclear war, the comparison is incomparable for if the suburban home is more than 20 to 25 miles from the downtown city area, it is likely to survive a major attack. In addition, city locations can’t really hold out very long because they can’t be resupplied very easily, whereas fairly distant suburban areas come back to normal more quickly.

Therefore, if you are a city dweller, one of the major changes from Level 2 to Level 3 is moving into a distant suburban home, vastly improving the quality of the sheltering aspect of your home. Also implied is that no one In the household would be working in the major city, requiring the long commute each day, but rather would be work log in one of the office buildings or factories in a nearby suburb. This requires a getting home bag and a plan to escape the city when SHTF.

Related article: Establishing How Much Food And Water To Store

Along with the concept that Level 3 self-sufficiency requires a distant suburban location, it also requires a house that has fairly substantial storage areas. A basement offers an ideal storage facility, and it also makes the construction of a nuclear fallout shelter vastly easier. Level 3 also requires the food storage program to be greatly expanded—to 90 days of regular food, such as dried and canned foods your family likes to eat, along with a smaller quantity of frozen foods and some fresh foods that keep well, such as root crops and winter squashes.

In addition, Level 3 self-sufficiency should provide at least 90 days of emergency food. It also requires some ongoing supplies of water and a program for getting rid of waste. This could be as simple as a well with a hand pump in the back yard so that a supply of potable water was available, and a built-in composting toilet. Building a water generator is also a great idea, and it can become a viable backup solution.

In addition, some household organizing is required. An area needs to be set aside in the house for construction of storage shelves and cupboards, so that food and other emergency equipment does not get scattered in every drawer and closet throughout the house.

Also, a written plan for defending the property should be made, and some thought should be put into lighting properly both during normal times and when there are no public utilities available. Along with all of that would come a fairly complex program for emergency heat and light for a six month period.

At Level 3 of self-sufficiency, most people would feel that having one firearm for a family would not be enough protection, and should want to consider specialized firearms such as a scoped rifle fur hunting, and an AR15 rifle or shotgun as a defensive firearm along with a personal handgun for each adult.

Related reading: 5 Guns Every Prepper Should Own

Further, at Level 3 self-sufficiency , basic medical and communication equipment should be seriously considered. At level 3, the emphasis is really on feeding, clothing and keeping the family sheltered. By level 3 you can add being informed to the benefits of being prepared. Citizens band radios, scanners that cover police and fire and other community services, small portable AM radios and a ham radio equipment should be considered.

In addition to all of these you should consider the necessary spare parts and of course a substantial supply of batteries or some way to recharge batteries using solar energy. With the addition of a basic basement fallout shelter or bunker, the family should be able to survive most threats.

Level 4

Certainly, this is one of the most difficult levels for most people to attain. It’s awfully ems to stay in your fairly safe distant suburban home and to get reasonably organized against most threats.

The problem with Level 4 self-sufficiency is that it solves most of the problems living near a city has created by having you move far away from the city. Security becomes vastly easier with 300 miles between you and a major city because so much less security is really required. Even your home becomes more practical because you do not always have the nagging fear that you’ll have to abandon your safe shelter if things should get really bad.

Another problem with Level 4 self-sufficiency is that it requires you to change your employment patterns. Suddenly, some scot of employment that can be done at a distance Is needed. It is usually very difficult for a person to move to the country and take away a country person’s job. A far better plan is to consider some kind of computer-based business that would allow you to live near a small town but sell your products or services all over the country. This would allow you to move to the country without losing your source of income.

Level 5

This is best described as a country mini-farm. Here gardening and other food-producing efforts are the central themes. You should try to grow almost twice as much as is needed for your own annual fond consumption, staying with organic growing and feeding methods as much as you can so that you would be able to continue your food raising even if you have no outside help, no plentiful gasoline, garden supply stores or fertilizer manufacturers.

By producing more food than you can use each year you’ll have a small amount of food that you can sell, either to neighbors and friends, to local residents at a growers’ market, or at your own fresh vegetable stand. If nothing else, you can make the food available to needy families through one of the local charities.

A Level 5 country mini-farm requires lots of storage space, but the environment allows you to have such things as a barn, root cellar, woodshed, and other outbuildings, which are considered perfectly normal in a rural area.

In planning your food storage, try to provide at least six months of your normal food, those foods you eat every day right now, without relying heavily on frozen food, since freezers are so dependent on abundant electricity. In addition, at Level 5 self-sufficiency you should be building up an additional three to six more months of the basic four food reserves so that you had close to a one year supply.

Suggested article: Great Depression Recipes You Should Still Make Today

The philosophy of having at least a year’s supply of food is one which farmers have embraced for centuries. This allows you to eat through the winter and to comfortably get along until the first spring crops start to come in.

In addition to food, a twelve months supply of gasoline to power garden equipment and fuel for lighting, along with propane for the kitchen stove and hot water production need to be worked into the plan.

The heat for the house itself should also be independent of the normal utility companies, which suggests a solar-heated house with a woodstove backup. Many country homes today are being built as earth-sheltered solar homes so that they only minimally use fuel.

It would also probably be just as well if your retreat somewhere away from the view of the public allowing you to continue to function on your homestead without attracting a lot of attention from passersby.

Level 6

Really, this is Level 5 after two or three years have gone by. Level 6 requires more than just money. It requires a lot of time and energy. Level 6 self-sufficiency is really better described as a full country farm with complete backups for long term operation without electricity or gasoline.

This level requires redundancy such as spare parts for critical pieces of equipment, with 20 or 30 gallons of gasoline to provide four or five years of service, plus a full set of hand tools of every kind so that the garden could be worked without any power tools. In addition, Level 6 implies complete alarm systems both for the property and the living areas to give you advance notice of intrusion of any kind.

Also, more emphasis on firearms, spare parts and your knowledge of repair along with more ammunition reloading equipment and components so that you can reload your own to provide several years of hunting and defense ammunition.

A full country farm also suggests much larger quantities of stored food, with most people considering 365 days of your family’s regular diet plus another 365 days of the basic four to be a normal kind of storage program. This would allow for an almost complete year of crop failure, something that could probably only happen in an all-out nuclear war or a dust bowl.

Related reading: Growing Your Own Food From Seed

Included in the storage program should be long term storage of seeds, including a selection of seeds which would grow reasonably well in your region.

Also, your private water supply should be convened from commercially available electricity to something which would always be available to you. Many country homes use windmills with elevated water tanks to provide pressurized water without electricity. Some are forced to depend on gasoline, diesel generators or solar power for electricity to run the water pump.

In any case, a private supply of water without commercially available electricity is a necessity. The difference between Level 5 and Level 6 also probably includes the mind change that you cannot store much more and that you’re going to have to learn how to create things from the very beginning

Level 7

The full-blown country homestead looks just like a farm and acts just like a farm but is, in fact, a well-stocked, well-constructed fortress with a heavy commitment to slaying through the worst SHTF scenario. Plus, it should have a heavy constructed vehicle and 30 days of food and supplies available to be packed into it, along with a full evacuation plan to some already chosen distant site.

Even at this high level of self-sufficiency, though, a calamity, such as a forest fire, could destroy all of this and so you’ve got to maintain the flexibility and food reserves that go mobile. Unfortunately, the full-blown country home is what everyone thinks they should start out with! Just drop $200.000 or $300,000 into an already nice home in the country with five or so acres and a nice plot and everything will suddenly be all right! But nothing could be further from reality, because you cannot buy your way into a strong frame of mind—you only can buy hardware.

Unfortunately, the difference between an unprepared person and a Level 7 person is one of attitude and understanding, not just hardware.

Recommended reading: Prepare Yourself – Prepping Starts With You!

A philosophical change makes them into survivors even if they don’t have the hardware. It turns them into the kind of people who could go out into the woods with an axe, some food in a backpack and a good hunting rifle and probably builds a log cabin and stock it for the winter, not living with much comfort but nevertheless, living.

In fact, it’s almost impossible to write down what Level 7 requires in the way of hardware because, by then, it has become such a personal decision. All of the smaller risks have been covered in the other levels of preparedness, so the person developing the “ultimate” shelter is now working on those things he considers to be his own personal high-risk Items.

What it all costs

Level 1’s requirements for energy and money are really fairly minor. $1,000 and a few hours of effort are all It takes to put together a basic week of self-sufficiency. On that $1,000 another $1,000 is for a suitable firearm.

Level 2 requires the spending of another $3,000 or so, but still with a fairly minor commitment to time and energy. The storage requirements are fairly simple, so they’re very practical for the city dweller. The expenses divide out approximately evenly between food, sanitation and heat,  and hard currency reserves.

Level 3 requires far more of a change of attitude and energy, in addition to $5,000 and a suburban, rather than a city home. Philosophically, you have to deal with the risks of living within a major city and decide to move. The $5,000 expense is divided fairly evenly between additional food, additional firearms, communication equipment, and additional hard currency.

Level 4 doesn’t base a very large monetary requirement other than the money required to move physically. However, leaving the city and moving to the country does require a total change in lifestyles, and so the emotional requirement is rather heavy.

Level 5 requires even more attitude adjustment. Suddenly you can’t call a plumber or electrician every time something needs to be done around the homestead. You finally become aware that help may not always be available, and that you need to learn how to do everything now while there’s still help and equipment easily available to you.

Suggested reading: Budgeting Tips for Preppers

Level 6 is where the money starts to flow a little more than most people like, for a while you can produce the rest of the stored food for another $3,000 or $4,000, a totally independent water supply can be quite expensive along with storage tanks and several years of fuel for a generator, extra clothing, duplicate tools, larger-scale fallout shelters and extras of everything for anyone coming to visit. But $30,000 and a couple of years of effort will produce that level of preparedness, and having $5,000 or more of silver coins and gold bullion or barter items will provide enough financial security to see you and yours through almost any threat.

Level 7 is where you find that there really is no limit to how much money, time and energy can be spent. Homes costing over half a million dollars are not unusual, but perhaps the biggest problem with being at Level 7 self-sufficiency is that it becomes common knowledge in the area that you are well prepared. One can hardly build a $500,000 home in an area where a $200,000 home is considered large and still hope that local people won’t know that the house is being built!

So some Level 7 preparations are self-defeating because they invite so much attention that the preparations have to be made more forcefully.


While there is no perfect system for self-sufficiency, there is one sure thing—being unprotected against disruption is the worst condition you can expose your family to. Every little thing you can do to become self-sufficient helps.

Becoming self-sufficient is the ultimate goal for a prepper, but it takes time and patience to reach there. No matter how much money you throw at it, the preparedness plan you are building for your family requires dedication and complete involvement, together with an almost whole change of mindset.

Useful resources to check out:

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

This ONE THING Can Help You Terminate Your Store-Bought Dependency

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Survival Lessons from the 1880s Everyone Should Know

Find Out What’s the Closest Nuclear Bunker to Your Home

Leave a Comment