Let's continue the discussion of city-country a few more sentences, then travel to the store for some preps...
When it comes to "who is better equipped to do what, where", I am reminded of Paul's explanation of the body. "Can the eye say to the ear that it is more important to the body?" In my thinking, each part is important to the survival of the other. No matter what time period we look at, cities and rural areas have co-existed, each relying upon the other for various needs. So as to which is a 'better' place to be in a SHTF scenario is a debate that will only be settled by experience. Regardless our locale or situation, we will all be coming to the party and will have to adjust to the kinds of entertainment the host provides.
Life in the city will surely be an experience in survival. Shopping centers will be more plentiful, if they can get products to sell, and providing one has the funds to purchase. And what kind(s) of store fronts will be open is certainly going to be up for debate. Will people be buying flat screen TVs or new cars or salad foods in January? So much depends on the availability of-- oil. If the product can't get from A to B, where one lives is going to become a moot point. If the cost of transporting products is exorbitant, who is going to be able to afford it?
Life in the rural/country will surely be an experience in survival. Finding parts to repair or equip machinery or fuels to operate them is going to be expensive, if even available. Who will make them, transport, stock them those products we can't grow or jury-rig? If the farmer can't sell his product, growing more than needed will be a waste of time, effort and seed. I don't see farmers or ranchers being that senseless.
Regardless where one lives, there are going to be problems with looters/freeloaders/et-al (these are the 'sheeple' who either did not prepare or prepared too late or too little). The dangers of living in small groups is certainly valid. How many neighbors can one trust to give aid when it's needed? How many will decide they 'need' what another has and do their best to take it? We live in a society of 'keeping up with the Joneses' and this leads to a mentality of 'share and share alike' (sound familiar? it should: it's the Dark Lords current policy). Those who have will always be prey to those who don't. Regardless where we live, it's going to be a challenge to keep what we have, or don't have. Abel had the blessing and Cain killed him because of it. Are we to think complete strangers will be more kind?
Eo-ipso, trade routes will be something that will be not only necessary, but mandatory for people living in either situation. Farmers will need to get products to a market, city folks will need to get the products. Both sides will need to get their noodles together and decide on how this is accomplished. Products produced in communities will need end-users, and rural folks will need a way to find them. The solution? Compromise and free enterprise. Living where I do and having the equipment I do, part of my 'plan' is to provide fuel for heat and cooking, building and repairs. How do I get paid for the product?
If our esteemed Uncle deflates the value of currency in his foolishness of printing more useless paper, why would anyone in their right mind want more of it? (Unless they didn't stock toilet paper or fire starters.) Rather than 'sell for cash', I barter for needs. Now I need a trade route. (DUH!)
Options for trade routes are limited only by our imagination: we can use the hiway system, rivers and lakes (in MN). Air and rail will probably be exorbitantly cost-prohibitive as well as, in my mind, useless for the 'common man'- which we will most all be. All our trading is going to be localised. So in trade routes, we have to travel back nearly a century for our examples.
(I'm 'thinking on the fly' here, so bear with me.)
Perishable garden produce will be certainly shipped shortest distance to market at the opportune time. I see opportunity for enterprising people creating 'canaries' in their homes and marketing these locally. Or groups- one 'cans' tomatoes, another corn or carrots, whatever. The barter system grows. This, of course, implies those people have several thousand reusable jars and lids on hand.
Some foods, such as cabbages, some fruits and spuds, carrots, onions, beets and 'begas, etc, will be able to survive longer periods with proper root cellars and people will be able to store them until needed- if they have the cellar. Those who have large areas to create the cellars will be able to barter throughout the year for such produce. My imagination tells me any people living north of California and Florida can pretty much eliminate oranges and grapefruit from our diet, as well as any other citric fruit. Unless someone can come up with a barter-trade route for them. And someone will, don't doubt it.
Ranchers will be capable of getting their product to market 'on the hoof'' as was done a century ago. Someone is going to open a neighborhood slaughterhouse. Of course, the Bambi/PETA crowd is going to raise a stink more irksome than the slaughterhouse, and keep it up til their bellies are screaming. (Just had a thought: is a society in such scenario going to tolerate those kind of people much longer, if at all?)
All this is considering that all neighborhoods will be relatively safe environs. In efforts to insure this, I see a growing need for 'neighborhood watch' groups. (Especially if the law enforcement agencies continue to cut back personnel and equipment.) Here is another opportunity for an enterprising group- so long as they are kept in check and don't become a criminal, graft, element. Here again, the neighborhood will have to be part of the solution, guarding each others interests.
Another aspect of the barter system is going to be money: either the lack there-of or those who desire to 'barter' in gold.
My personal opinion- and please, I am not an economist, have no aspirations to be, nor am I familiar with bullion other than experience in attempting to use it a couple of times- is that those who try dealing with 'common' people through use of gold or silver are going to be sorely disappointed. Having done some prospecting in the past, I know a little about gold, but not much. I know what it looks like in the wild, have held a couple gold coins and still am not sure I could tell the difference. For one, neither gold nor silver will be part of my barter system. I suspect the same will be true for the vast majority. Who is going to be set up with the tools to decide if 'this' is silver or 'this' is gold? (Especially those of us with store-bought teeth?) My opinion is that those who want to deal in gold or silver had better have some marketing tools and products to trade. (Does "a loaf of bread will buy a bag of gold" sound familiar?)
F-o-o-d is going to be the rule of barter in nearly all circumstances.
And how this food gets to market is going to be the big opportunity for an enterprising few who have already considered the problem and worked on solutions. Horse drawn wagons? Bicycle? Trade fairs/farmers markets?
Publius brings out some interesting questions.
Just some food for thought.
God bless, prep on!
(Apologies for the rambling.)