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Guest Post by Bailey Caldwell
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably undertaken the adventure of living single. Living alone comes with many benefits: You can sing in the shower, pretend to be a fabulous dancer (even if you’re not), and walk around the house wearing whatever you want without being embarrassed.
And, ironically, you aren’t alone in wanting to live solo — roughly 32 million Americans lived alone in 2012, and that number is projected to keep growing. So it’s clear this trend isn’t going anywhere.
However, there’s one big drawback of living solo: safety. What should you do to protect yourself and your living space? Here are five useful tips to stay safe while living the solo life:
1. Keep safety in mind while house hunting
Choosing a new place to live alone can be challenging. You probably want to look for good internet availability, fancy amenities, or high-quality construction, but don’t forget to look for safety features too. Make sure that door and window locks work correctly, and check for other security features, such as gated protection around the community, interior door chains, and peepholes.
If you’re living alone for the first time, ask your parents about their house-hunting experience too. They have more experience than you, so they may have some tips about how to stay safe. And if you’re an older adult living alone, inspect some common potential hazard areas in any living spaces you’re interested in, to make sure you’d feel safe there.
2. Don’t open the door for just anyone
Living by yourself means it’s wise to keep your guard up. When visitors knock on your door, check your peephole. If you don’t know the person standing in front of your door, don’t open it. Even if there’s a young child at your door, don’t assume it’s safe — a suspicious adult could be waiting somewhere out of view.
To avoid this type of situation, consider installing a security system. Doorbell cameras are particularly helpful, especially if you don’t have a peephole to see who’s at the door. If you rent your home, just make sure to talk to your landlord to verify that it doesn’t go against your rental agreement.
3. Do some digging
Take a look at the security features in your place and take immediate steps — calling either the landlord or a repair company — if anything appears to be malfunctioning. Track down phone numbers for important contacts (both emergency services and close family and friends), write them on a paper, and post them in an accessible location. That way they’ll be easy to find if you feel unsafe and need to call for help.
It’s also a good idea to research common crimes wherever you’re moving. By knowing which issues are more prevalent in your area, you can more easily avoid them. If you live in a city or state with higher property crime, for instance, you can make sure to keep your car locked and refrain from storing expensive equipment or bikes in an open yard.
4. Step outside your comfort zone
Introduce yourself to everyone who lives around you. Meet your neighbors and stay on friendly terms with them. You don’t have to become best friends, but at least be an acquaintance. Knowing your neighbors is essential for you to stay safe. They can keep their eyes on your place when you are not at home and can let you know when they see anything questionable.
When renting, get to know your landlord too. If you notice a security feature has broken, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to get it fixed to keep you safe, but you’ll probably get more prompt attention if you’re on good terms with them.
5. Use social media wisely
Living in the 21st century, most people use social media frequently. But so do criminals. Criminals can do a lot of location snooping based on your social media. For example, location data can be mined from shared pictures on some social platforms. You should know how to remove that data before uploading any new images.
Additionally, if you’re traveling, avoid advertising that you’re away, leaving your home unoccupied. For instance, instead of uploading your vacation photos to social media the moment you snap them, wait until your trip is over to upload your pictures.
6. Keep calm and stay safe
While it’s important to be cautious, don’t be afraid to go out there and enjoy your solo life. Go crazy with home decorations, have fun with your guilty pleasures with no one around, and last but not least, stay safe.
Bailey Caldwell is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on all things home and family. She enjoys researching and learning about new resources and technologies, and has a passion for helping families feel secure in their daily lives.