Respectable (and not-so-respectable) pundits have been predicting a worldwide economic collapse for the better part of three years now. The advice of these "doomsday investors" to their wealthy clients amounts to this: buy rural property, preferably a self-sufficient farm, somewhere far away from the big cities; and stockpile essential supplies, especially gold, guns and ammunition. It's an old idea that is becoming mainstream.
I live on twenty rural acres, just outside of a small town but almost two hours away from the nearest major city. Here we raise goats for meat and milk, cows for beef, and chickens primarily for eggs. We planted 150 fruit trees a few years ago, and the orchard is just now coming into production. We also grow some vegetables and melons in our kitchen garden, and an amazing quantity of figs from three ancient fig trees. Wild blackberries grow on the property, which my children harvest for the making of pies and jam. We don't own any gold, but we do keep a shotgun, a rifle, and a .357 revolver with plenty of ammunition on hand. Our water is supplied from a domestic well and a regional irrigation project, so we're independent of city water systems (but still dependent upon public utilities). It's not "self-sufficiency" or "independence" by a long shot, but it does put certain problems at a distance.
Therefore, I do consider myself qualified to have a few opinions on the "buy farms, gold, and guns" solution proposed by the doomsday investors.
In the first place, if you're a banker or some other type of city slicker, it won't be enough to flee to a self-sufficient farm away from the cities: you'll need to bring some experienced farm help with you. The knowledge and skills required to operate competently any kind of farm - nevermind a highly diversified self-sufficient homestead! - takes many years to acquire. To complicate matters, much of this knowledge is not written in books. You have to learn by working under the tutelage of others. A non-farmer attempting to survive this way in an emergency is going to fall flat on his face.
I think a more sensible solution is to obtain rural property near a small city or town, where you can establish a network of friends and neighbors who can help each other in a crisis. All things being equal, it's better to remain in close proximity to friends and relatives than it is to live in isolation in the countryside. But it does seem likely that the larger cities (> 500,000 pop) will be hardest hit in the event of an economic meltdown, widespread social unrest, or the dropping of bombs.
It's a good idea to own some land - just a few acres of fertile land should be plenty - even if you must take out a mortgage. Producing some of your own food is helpful even if it doesn't quite make you "self sufficient". In this way you can also avoid dependence on city water systems. You might owe the bank, but if the bank disappears in a crisis it will be hard to evict you. Your land might also be a source of rental income if the stream of foreign and out-of-region food sources dries up suddenly. Most importantly, you will be able to help friends and relatives fleeing the city if needed.
My least favorite part of homesteading is the livestock. Keeping animals is characterized by long periods of easy, low maintenance interspersed with inconvenient and unpredictable emergencies requiring immediate attention. Drop everything! But it seems to me that owning livestock is a pretty smart way to survive a temporary food shortage. Raising fruit and vegetables requires intensive labor and many precarious weeks of tending and growing. Once harvested, produce is notoriously perishable. Pastured livestock or fowl, on the other hand, can be "stored" for months by simply providing the animals with water. The meat is available almost immediately and on demand, in every season. You don't slaughter until you're hungry or you need something to sell or barter. One goat can feed a family for weeks, one cow for months. If you breed the animals they replenish themselves at little cost, usually without assistance, and in the meantime you will benefit greatly from the milk and eggs.
As for the guns and ammo, you're going to want these anyway just for use on the homestead, and I suppose they might come in handy for the defense of your property. But if you are thinking in terms of putting up any kind of resistance to armed groups of bandits, renegade soldiers or police forces, invading armies, etc., think again. For this, as with much else in life, you need the support of a community - in this case, a militia. And that means living in close proximity to like-minded and similarly-armed neighbors. Forget about building some remote fortress in the wilderness, and flee instead to the small cities and towns of America's rural counties.