How to Stay Safe When Living Off Campus

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  • When you choose to live off campus while attending college, you need to take some added safety measures and precautions.

    Unlike living on campus where housing is controlled and security patrol are monitoring regularly, off campus housing is a bit more unguarded where you’re naturally set up in a more real, real-world environment.

    To fully enjoy all the benefits and freedom that comes with living off campus consider the following safety tips:

    1. Pick a considerably safe neighborhood

    Do your due diligence during the apartment-hunting process to set yourself up for the most optimal safety levels from the get-go. To do this, pick a considerably safe neighborhood to live in. This means researching crime rates on and reading about the overall reputation of the area. Aside from looking up information on the internet, try also visiting the neighborhood first-hand, and have a friend or parent accompany you. If it looks fairly developed with life and conveniences nearby, it’s a good sign.

    2. Live in a higher level

    For those living in a city, it’s often ideal to live in an apartment that’s at a higher level to avoid the chance of break ins. Garden-level and first floor apartments are quicker and easier to access for mal-intentioned strangers, so adding an extra level in between can help deter those who break-in because the effort is greater to do so.

    3. Install strong locks

    Lock your doors, always. It doesn’t matter if you’re living in a calm, beach residence or bustling urban neighborhood, your chances of keeping your house protected increase by 100% when you lock your doors versus not. The locks on your doors should also be strong and new. Have your landlord change the locks before move-in day. You never know who’s held the key to your place before hand, especially if it’s an older building.

    4. Set up a home automation system

    These days having home automation products and transforming your place into a smart, connected house is becoming the norm. Home automation systems like the one from ADT can give you an added level of protection. It lets you remotely arm and disarm its security system as well as provides video surveillance and burglary monitoring. Next time you leave for class in a rush and forget to lock your doors or close the garage, simply take care of it through the connected app and put your mind at ease knowing you made your house less vulnerable to danger.

    5. Build a relationship with your neighbors

    Having good neighbors can be very helpful when it comes to living off campus. Get to know them when you first move in, knocking on their doors to introduce yourself to the building or complex. They can be your extra pair of eyes when you’re not home and contact you if there’s any suspicious activity happening when you’re out. Additionally, if you forget to turn off the stove, it’s definitely reassuring to know that a neighbor might be home and able to detect smoke coming from the apartment to call the fire department and police immediately.

    6. Be aware of your surroundings

    When you’re walking around your neighborhood at night, you have to remember you’re not on a college campus with an exclusive community of students and faculty members. You are in a real-world setting, where all walks of life walk through. Pay attention when you’re by yourself strolling around. This means taking the ear buds out, getting your head out of your iPhone and being aware of what is happening around you.

    By focusing your senses on your surroundings, you’ll be able to notice if anyone is following you in an unwelcomed manner. If someone is indeed trailing you on your way home, do not go directly to your house, pick a different route or a head to a public setting like a grocery store and call the police.

    7. Ensure good visibility in your environment

    Having proper lighting inside and outside your home and trimmed shrubbery can make all the difference when it comes to safety. When your home or neighborhood streets are poorly lit, it can potentially invite criminal activity. Furthermore, untamed bushes and trees can act as a blockade for help in times of need or serve as a hiding spot—make sure they are well maintained to avoid potentially dangerous scenarios.

    8. Get a roommate

    Get a roommate, either one you know or one that also might go to the same college as you. You can find college roommates on sites such as Uloop, which easily filter your requirements and needs in terms of living situation. Having someone else in the house that’s looking out for your best interests is always comforting. They’ll indirectly know your schedule just by living with you.

    So when you’re not home, it’ll raise concern and they can check in with you to make sure you’re okay. Without a roommate, no one would know if you get home safely or not unless you proactively reach out or maintain constant communication with others.

    When you live off campus, you get the experience of living in the real world, which can be both personally stimulating and fulfilling. Keep it that way by taking the added measures that optimize your living safety.

    Off-to-College reference:

    college planning steps for MARCH

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