Why a House Can't Always be a Home After the Apocalypse

You see it in Post-Apocalyptic stories all the time, people living in anything and everything except houses after the world has ended. It’s not just for shits and giggles, though the reasons are not always readily apparent either. Why would people choose to live in a baseball stadium, a hotel, an office building, subway stations, military bases, shopping malls, prisons, casinos or a dam? Why not just live in a house like a normal person?

Well, the answer is because Post-Apocalyptic times aren’t normal, and neither are the people who live in them… and they certainly don’t have the same needs that we do in a pre-apocalyptic world.

Plenty of fresh water, possibility of power, easy to defend - what’s not to love?

Plenty of fresh water, possibility of power, easy to defend - what’s not to love?

The thing with Post-Apocalyptic times is that there’s generally something out there that wants to kill you. If it’s not radiation, zombies or mutants then it’s other people. For that reason, a simple house just won’t cut it as a base of operations. You need something that you can easily defend and most modern houses aren’t built to protect you against determined assailants, let alone radiation. Windows are a massive weak point, and even a dead-bolted door isn’t going to save you. And this is all assuming the house is still relatively new as well, add a few years before the apocalypse, let alone after, and you’ve got a seriously insufficient structure on your hands.

It’s remote… but one Molotov and your tiny shack is up in smoke!

It’s remote… but one Molotov and your tiny shack is up in smoke!

Next, you’ve got resources to consider. Chances are that running water is going to be a serious concern for your survivors… primarily because they’d like to continue being survivors. Most modern houses, oftentimes whole towns or sometimes even cities, aren’t build close to fresh water. With our modern water network, people can live in the middle of a desert and still have fresh, clean water at the turn of a tap. That kind of luxury generally dries up once the apocalypse kicks in. Once the taps stop working and all the bottled water runs out, you discover why towns were historically founded on river banks.

High walls, almost impossible to break into, the potential for mass amounts of fuel or other supplies. This works.

High walls, almost impossible to break into, the potential for mass amounts of fuel or other supplies. This works.

Now, it’s entirely possible that you live in a remote town with a river running through it - the zombies don’t know where you are and you’ve still got a reliable source of fresh drinking water. Good for you, you get to keep living in your home. Maybe you can shore up your defenses; board the windows and make some kind of wall… but whatever is out there will likely get through eventually. Why not just move into the local super market? It’s a lot closer to the river, it’s packed full of food and it’s a massive building made from steel and concrete. Besides not having that “homey” feel to it, it’s got everything you’ll ever need.

Busted in windows, having to climb up and down stairs every day to get water… not ideal.

Busted in windows, having to climb up and down stairs every day to get water… not ideal.

There’re a lot of things to consider when choosing where to live after the world ends; space, resources, defenses. You’ve got to weight each of these things against the others, because each site will have it’s own pro’s and con’s, and their viability will depend on what sort of apocalypse you went through. What’s good in a Zombie Apocalypse won’t be as effective in a Nuclear War scenario, and vice-versa.

You’ve just got to find the best place you can, then settle in. The primary paradoxical problem is that the better the location is, the more likely it is to be a target for other survivors. Which is just another factor to take into account when choosing your Post-Apocalyptic housing.