BY CASSIE TOLHURST
College is an exciting time packed with new experiences. It can also be overwhelming, and that goes double if you’re living off campus. Moving out of the dorms can feel exciting, overwhelming, liberating, and scary—often all at once. It’s totally possible to cut out the overwhelming and scary and keep the experience positive, though! Knowing how to keep yourself safe can drastically improve your off-campus experience and calm your mind. So here are four tips to help you do just that.
- Set Expectations with Your Landlord and Roommates
You’ve probably met your landlord and roommates already. But have you figured out property access terms with your landlord or established boundaries with your roommates? Here are some ideas for smart expectations to set:
- Talk to your landlord about how much advance notice you’ll receive for third-party repairs, so you can plan to be present during the work when possible.
- Decide on a cutoff time for having unfamiliar guests over that works for both you and your roommates.
- Have boundaries and clear expectations on when your landlord will come over to check on the property.
- The boundaries don’t have to be limited to just your landlord and roommates, of course. You can take time with anyone you regularly interact with to set boundaries that will help you feel safe and secure while you’re living off campus.
- Keep Spare Key Sharing Secure This is actually two tips in one. First, don’t go making a bunch of spare keys and handing them out to anyone and everyone. It’s surprisingly easy for those to get lost and fall into the wrong hands.
Second, don’t hide extra keys in accessible places. If you need to give someone a spare key, meet them and hand it over in person. Would-be burglars may check under doormats, flowerpots, and other common hiding spots for spares.
- Stay Smart about What You Share on Social Media
Don’t post pictures or status updates that indicate where you are, and don’t post about vacations ahead of time. Smart crooks look for these posts and can use them to determine your whereabouts and when you’re not home (or when you’re home alone).
On a related note, take some time to review your social media privacy settings and friends lists. Don’t accept friend requests from people you aren’t 100% sure you know—thieves may use fake accounts to keep tabs on people.
- Consider Installing a Security System
If the house or apartment you’re in doesn’t have a security system, talk to your landlord about having one installed. A security system can go a long way toward keeping you safe by deterring burglars, and its very presence can also set your mind at ease. If you have roommates, make sure to include them in the conversation so they can have some input on features they’d like to have.
If your landlord isn’t excited to put down the money for the system, you can offer to roll the payment into each month’s rent. That way your roommates can also contribute to the cause, and it keeps everyone happy. The monthly costs for a security system are generally pretty reasonable—ADT, for example, is about $53 per month for a pretty comprehensive system.
Living on your own for the first time can be a challenging time, but it can also be fun and exciting! With these basic safety tips, you can regain some peace of mind and focus on enjoying the experience (and acing those classes)!
Cassie Tolhurst is a recent grad, freelance writer, and a wannabe world traveler. Her passions include the newest tech gadgets, what’s streaming on Netflix, and the latest rides at Disneyland.