After having spent over three weeks alone, as in no human contact, I learned my level of comfort with keeping myself feeling safe in a home alone. I continued to live with roommates on and off for the next few years, until I made the ultimate decision to get my own apartment in Washington DC in 2015.
Getting my own apartment symbolized the beginning of the life I had always imagined myself having in the city. Once I was done celebrating I had to come to terms with the fact that I no longer had anyone to depend on, whether I needed a ride to the store or someone to blame a strange noise in the middle of the night. As a twenty something living alone in the city, here's what helped me feel more safe about living without roommates.
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Research your neighborhoodIf you are currently looking for a new place to live, I always advise my friends to research their neighborhood for the types of crimes that are more likely to occur in the area. Another way to learn what it's really like to live there is to visit the location at various times of day, with my recommendations being mid afternoon, evening and late at night. Those three times of day give you a good estimate of how crowded the streets are, the type of people that frequent the area, and the overall feeling of safety in the neighborhood.
Talk to your landlordIf you're lucky, your landlord will be honest with you about how safe the neighborhood and apartment complex is. Questions to ask include if there are any problems within the building or others surrounding it, how loud the street can be, and if there is a lot of loitering in the surrounding area. If your landlord is less than willing to give you this informaiton, you can easily search reviews of most apartment buildings online for current and past tenants reviews.
Don't talk to everyoneMaybe this is just a city thing, or an antisocial thing, but I feel so much secure by not talking to all of my neighbors. Here's my reason. I live alone in an apartment in a city where I have no nearby family. To someone with bad intentions, this means they could easily break in or come over invited knowing that no one will be showing up unexpectedly. The less your neighbors know about you the better, including who you live with and your average routine.
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Have a planI didn't know what it was like to be scared of where I lived until I moved to a house near the woods in Maryland. Sure I had neighbors, but because the area was so residential I really couldn't tell who was home and who was not. After weeks of being too scared to walk around my home at night, I developed a plan of where to go in case of emergency, what room to run into in case of an intruder, and who to contact first. Which brings me to my next point...
Pick a personWhen choosing a person, I make sure it's someone who is typically available, knows to return my call or text quickly, and can calm me down in a stressful situation. In my life, I chose my good friend Victor. My friend Victor knows that if I ever text him a bunch of nonsense letters like this, "asghasghasg," that's the sign for him to call 911. My person has my address, emergency contact information, and the ability to help me feel safe when I suspect someone is trying to break into my house. True story.
Develop a routineI was going to title this 'develop a nighttime routine,' but I believe we need to make safety a priority no matter what time of day it is. My routine includes locking both locks on the door as soon as I step in the door, never leaving my house without making sure the windows are closed and locked, and ensuring the bars on my windows are in good condition. Because I live in a studio, my routine is pretty simply. If you live in a larger space, checking your garage door, car or yard may be things you want to include too.
Do you currently live alone? What's one thing you do to feel safer about being on your own in your twenties??