The MOST important thing for your survival is shelter, both short term and long term. The right shelter could keep you not only alive, but content and successful. The wrong shelter could leave you diseased, injured or dead.
I thought that a list of shelter types, with pros and cons would be the most helpful.
Short Term shelter:
Short term shelter is simply a place to sleep and rest for a few days or weeks. It’ll give you a base to keep yourself safe and rested, but shouldn’t be used long term.
Houses: a house, duh.
Easy to find
Fairly easy to barricade
Usually in fairly occupied areas. Hostiles will find you far too easily
Environmental hazards. Whatever causes the apocalypse will likely leave behind some damage
Easy access to medical facilities
Hospitals are usually fairly well secured, especially in inner city areas
Panicked crowds. Everyone heads to places like hospitals (and police stations) in disasters.
There are ill people in hospitals. Disease will quickly spread.
If the apocalypse is a disease or infection apocalypse- YOU WILL DIE.
Malls/shopping centres Pros
Your inevitable and well-deserved death.
Subway stations Pros
Underground- safe from most radiation and random threats
easy access to other parts of the country/city
Too many people
Minimal access to supplies
Unholy monstrosities from beyond time and space.
Long Term shelter- this is where you’ll want to live. This will need to be carefully considered for safety, defensibility and rebuilding possibilites. Large, fortified buildings are best.
Plenty of space for other survivors
Exercise space that can be turned into farming possibilties
Possibly already controlled by potentially dangerous criminals.
Very large; hard to check every corner for enemies/entrance points.
Every other bugger survivor will be trying it- if you aren’t harsh you could run out of space.
Built to be fortified against dangerous enemies
Frequently a large amount of land to turn into farming land
Frequently built on high ground- good vantage point.
Often have wells that will clean out with a few pulls of the bucket
Sometimes in ruins; it’s quite hard to fortify a ruin
Obvious locations for survivors, putting you at risk from roaming gangs and cleverer enemies.
Ultimately, you have to weigh the pros and cons yourself, based on the type of apocalypse and the skills of yourself and your group. Your environment plays a part as well. I suggest starting with the safest temporary shelter you can find, with scouting missions to find likely long term shelter. Don’t get too settled in any short-term shelter- you need to feel able to leave at the absolute last minute. Regardless of where you are staying, keep your entrances and exits in mind at all times- and never rely on just one exit. DON’T TRUST ANYONE who hasn’t been previously vetted by you.
And if you opt to stay in a glass-walled, massive, sprawling constuct with no available food or water and a million unsecured entrances- you deserve everything you get.