Moving into your own place is one of life’s single greatest moments. Yes, it entails a lot of responsibility. Yes, it’s more expensive than that two-bedroom you shared with three friends in college. And yes, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself for the growing pile of dirty dishes and un-swept floors.
But it’s your own place. Yours! A very you, very grown-up place where you’ll put your mark. For the very first time. Congratulations!
So here’s the deal, newly minted grownups: your first place is a learning experience. Here, you’ll probably learn to balance a checkbook, decorate walls with more than posters, and cook a meal impressive enough to woo your date. You’ll also learn a thing or two about personal safety, since living alone is very different than living in the dorm with roommates, or at home surrounded by family.
Without further ado, here’s our list of first apartment safety tips:
1) Before You Move In, Research
If you’re new in town (and really, even if you aren’t), do some basic recognizance before choosing a place to live: Ask friends and coworkers for safe neighborhood recommendations. Drive around candidate areas, both by day and by night. And speak with police or check out crime mapping websites, such as CrimeReports, to determine neighborhood crime statistics.
2) Double-Check for Wireless Security
Before you sign on the dotted line, review your new digs for safety. All door and window locks, including deadbolts, should be strong, secure and in working order. Don’t be afraid to insist on a home monitoring system with window alarms and door alarms. You shouldn’t have to jiggle, wiggle, push, prod or wrangle your doors or windows in any way. Peep through the keyhole to check the viewing area. Make sure that balcony doors are secure, and that you have access to the fire escape, if your building has one. Verify (don’t just ask) how entry works: do your neighbors just buzz anyone in, or do you have to have a key to get in?
3) Meet the Neighbors
As soon as you sign the lease, get knocking on your neighbors’ doors. (Bonus points if you take cookies.) You don’t need to be best friends, but you should get acquainted if you’re going to share walls, ceilings, lawns or fences. After all, it never hurts to have an extra set of eyes and ears on you and your apartment, especially when you’re on you own for the first time.
That said, don’t give out too much personal information to the neighbors, at least not until you’ve gotten to know each other.
4) Alarm Your Apartment
Think you can’t have an alarm, just because you rent? Wrong. Today, many home security systems, both monitored and unmonitored, are wireless, which means you don’t need to drill holes or forfeit your security deposit. Even better, you’ll be able to take your system with you when you move to a new place.
5) Exercise Caution
Being careful is not a sign of paranoia. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk through unknown neighborhoods with your earphones blasting or your cell to your ear. Hang an emergency whistle and mini flashlight on your keychain. Install a personal security monitoring alarm on your phone. Call for help if you feel unsafe. Remember, better safe than sorry.