How To Figure Out If Your Neighbor Is A Prepper OR NOT

By "Just in Case" Jack •  Updated: 04/28/21 •  10 min read

When SHTF, is your neighbor a friend or foe? Are they someone you should team up with?

Maybe you have several neighbors. Who can you trust?

Or maybe even MORE important – who should you avoid at all costs?

Sometimes the answers to these questions are self-evident, but usually, it’s not so obvious. You’ll need to use your powers of observation to assess the situation correctly.

Now, you could walk right on over to your neighbor’s house, declare you’re starting a survival coalition, and pepper them with questions.

However, there are two problems with this abrasive tactic.

Problem 1:

If they are NOT into prepping, then you’ll freak them out so bad they call the cops on you.

Now, most neighbors won’t go that far (unless you threaten them), but you showed them your hand with this tactic. You can be sure they will now be watching your every move like a hawk.

You creeped them out, and that’s what you do with creeps; you keep tabs on them.

The last thing any of us needs is our non-prepared neighbors keeping close tabs on us.

Problem 2:

If they are a hardcore prepper, then they’re smart enough to keep their mouth shut.

An intelligent, prepared survivalist doesn’t show their cards to just anyone. You must EARN your way into their circle of trust.

Due to these two problems, you need a way to determine which neighbors are which in a more subtle – tactical way.

Therefore, I decided to put together this list of 13 simple observations.

The following observations will give you the insight you need to determine

  1. How prepared your neighbor currently is and
  2. How open your neighbor is to getting more prepared

You can do these observations without entering your neighbor’s home. You can quietly observe their comings and goings and watch what they do as any typical neighbor.

Now, in general, the more confirmed observations, the more prepared your neighbor is. And the flip side is also true; the less you observe, the less likely they have any preparations.

So here are 13 observations that might mean your neighbor is a prepper.

Observation 1: Your Neighbor Is a Pragmatic Pack Rat

Not all hoarders are created equal.

Some people keep EVERYTHING. Most of which is trash and not valid for survival. Old newspaper clippings and grade school soccer trophies are NOT helpful for survival.

Extreme hoarders are not pragmatic about it and are not prepared. They have trouble throwing anything out, no matter how insignificant it is.

So, the key observation is: Are they pragmatic about their stockpiling?

You’ll want to try to get a sense of the types of things they are keeping. If they are preparing, you’ll notice they hold lots of valuable items that have value for barter in a SHTF world.

The possible list of valuable items to stockpile is very long. But take note of what sort of things seem to be piling up in their shed or garage.

It will give you a bit of insight into who your neighbor may be.

Observation 2: Your Neighbor Loves “Do It Yourself”

Perhaps they DIY just about everything. They build things, fix things and hardly ever call a contractor. This is particularly the case for all straightforward projects.

It’s almost easier to observe the opposite. They’re the opposite of DIY if they tend to call someone to help them do even simple projects.

People who avoid DIY and self-reliance projects are typically not very prepared.

Anyone who is getting prepared should focus on lots of DIY skills. Honing your DIY skills could someday save your life.

So if you see your neighbor tackling some serious projects that are not DIY, this is a huge tip-off.

Complicated DIY projects such as:

I’m talking about DIY projects that are a bit more challenging to perform. If they have these skills, they might be a prepper.

Observation 3: Your Neighbor Has a Large Productive Garden

If your neighbor has a large garden that produces more than they consume, they may be canning extra.

I do this each year. We end up canning a ton of veggies, pickles, salsa, tomatoes, etc.

Large-scale canning is a major tip-off that your neighbor may be into getting prepared.

Observation 4: Your Neighbor Owns Every Hand Tool Known to Man

Smart preppers own a lot of valuable tools. They abhor renting these tools since you pay to borrow them and then have to give them back.

Instead, they pay up and buy the tools they need. Over the years, this tool collection has added up to an impressive assortment.

If life as we know it fails, they know they have lots of tools to fix things. They also know how to use these tools and can offer their “fix it” services to others as a bartering chip.

Observation 5: Your Neighbor Is an Avid Hunter & Never Misses A Season

Sure, they may be just hunting and fishing enthusiasts. But they’re also prepared to hunt for their meals should the need arise.

Do you have a sense that your neighbor has significant firepower and ammo stockpiles?

Firepower and ammunition are among the best items to stockpile in preparation for The End of the World.

So, if your neighbor has lots of guns, they’re probably thinking about preparation.

Observation 6: Your Neighbor Has Invested In Key Home Fortifications

They have implemented home fortification efforts.

These sorts of people are into home defense. But they also might be getting prepared.

The two tend to go hand in hand.

Observation 7: Your Neighbor Has Lots of Survival Skills

Like the DIY observation, your neighbor might be a prepper if they have lots of survival skills.

Have you observed them using any survival skills? Do they enjoy camping or, even better – backpacking?

Are they able to adapt and overcome obstacles using what they have?

They might not even fix everything “right.” But instead, hack together parts and pieces of things to make it work – even if it’s not pretty.

This strategy shows that they have self-reliance skills and the ability to adapt. Both skills are essential to survive in times of chaos.

Observation 8: They Own Certain Types of Technology and Avoid Others

Not all technology is bad for survival. Not all technology is suitable for survival. Some are good, and some are bad.

Technologies that depend on the electrical grid are poor from a survival standpoint.

In a SHTF scenario, a reliable electrical grid is one of the first luxuries to go. Worst case, there will be no grid electricity.

So, in general, the best technologies for survival are ones that

  1. Don’t rely on electricity
  2. Or create their own power

The bow and arrow is an ancient technology but is 100% mechanical with no need for electricity to operate. This “ancient” is a technology that is purely mechanical and is fantastic for survival.

Hand crank radios, hand crank generators, and solar generators are technologies that create their own electricity.

Also, if your neighbor owns a solar oven, they are either saving our planet from climate change or a hardcore prepper.

Observation 10:Lots Of Survivalist Friends

You should pay attention to who your neighbor invites over to their house.

What sort of car or truck do they drive? Do they come over to help build or fix things? Do they also hunt? Do they help clean fish or skin wild game?

An intelligent, prepared survivalist knows a trustworthy survival coalition is a must in the worst-case scenarios.

Have they selected their closest friends with this in mind? People who prepare tend to choose friends who have these two qualities:

  1. They have enough survival skills and work ethic to pull their own weight in a crisis
  2. They are trustworthy

It’s not easy to tell if your neighbor’s friends have these qualities. But by observing over time, you may be able to sense whether these two qualifications are true.

These are a few examples of activities you can (and should) observe.

Observation 11: Your Neighbor Has a Large and Local Family

This one might be easy. Does your neighbor have a packed house during the Holiday season?

Typically, people get together with family (and not friends) during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So, if there is a large gathering of people over at your neighbor’s house during these Holidays, they probably have a prominent local family.

While this alone does not make someone a prepper, it does make them more prepared by default than someone who doesn’t live near family.

A local family unit is a built-in survival coalition. They will team up and work together to survive when times get tough.

Observation 12: A Large Communication Antenna In Their Back Yard

A large radio communication antenna means your neighbor is into HAM radio. HAM radio is the ultimate form of long-range communications when SHTF.

Not all HAM radio enthusiasts are hardcore preppers. But most hardcore preppers know the importance of survival communications.

So, if your neighbor is a HAM radio operator, then he’s prepared to communicate when the world goes silent.

Observation 13: Your Neighbor Has a Large Stockpile of Energy Reserves

Anyone who’s stockpiling energy reserves will be difficult to hide such efforts.

One of the most basic forms of fuel stockpiling is firewood. So, anyone with a significant firewood pile might be doing so “just in case.”

And doing something “just in case” is ultimately called being prepared.

Also, be on the lookout for other forms of energy storage, such as gasoline, diesel, propane, or natural gas.

Maybe you notice they have several jugs of gasoline (or diesel) stacked in their garage?

Maybe they have a large diesel storage tank on their property?

These sorts of stockpiles of energy are indicators your neighbor may be preparing.

Final Remarks – How To Use This Information

None of these observations by themselves means someone is a prepared survivalist.

Plus, there are varying degrees of preparedness. Preparedness can range from having a few extra cases of canned water and some MRE meals to having sustainable food generation systems (goats, chickens, cows) and sustainable water and energy resources (solar and battery systems).

However, the average US citizen is not prepared at all – THEY ARE FRAGILE.

In our current culture of “on-demand” (water taps, grocery stores, gas stations, and electrical grids), people don’t feel a need to prepare.

So, how many of the above observations do YOU have? Now, how many of them does your neighbor have?

If your neighbor has more than you, then theirs a good chance they are more prepared than you.

Now use this information to

  1. Get more prepared
  2. Get to know your prepared neighbors better
“Just In Case” Jack

p.s.- One of the best ways I know to get prepared is by joining The Resilient Life.

It’s an online coalition of like-minded folks who are working to increase their self-reliance.

As members, you’ll have access to tons of survival challenges and preparedness badge requirements to help motivate and improve self-reliance. It also tracks your resiliency progress through something called the “Readiness Score.”

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"Just in Case" Jack

Co-Founder of and Creates content, helps members, and is the visionary behind The Resilient Life’s way of living. Husband, father, mechanical engineer, survivalist, and prepper.