Announce Your Arrival
Say ‘hello’ and announce that you’re home when getting in, even if that means you’re just greeting an empty room. By loudly expressing you’ve returned, you’re making it seem as if someone’s home waiting for you — which is exactly what you want people to believe.
If you feel a bit silly doing this, get a pet that you can greet! Just make sure not to loudly offer them their chew toy while you’re announcing your presence.
Send a Text When You’re Home
Create a habit within your friend group that you all text each other upon arriving home from a night out. Set up a policy that if someone in the chat doesn’t answer within the agreed-upon time frame, somebody will call her.
This is an excellent way to ensure that — if there’s an issue — people are aware of where you were last and how you were getting home. Hopefully, though, that text chain will just be full of sleeping face emojis.
Always Lock Your Doors
It may seem obvious to always keep your door locked, but you’d be surprised how often people slip up when it comes to this safety procedure. Haven’t you ever said to yourself, “Oh, well, I’m going back out in just a minute” or been guilty of leaving the door unlocked while you took the trash out?
It’s easy to become less vigilant over time, but remember that people with ill intentions only need one second of access to sneak inside your home.
Don’t Use Your Full Name
Only put your first initial and your last name on your mailbox, rather than your full name. That will be enough information for the postal service to deliver your mail, but it won’t be enough for people to learn that you live alone.
This tip is especially worth implementing if your name is distinctly female. If not, then declining to use your full name can still be nice in terms of privacy.
Leave Deliveries at the Entrance
If you live in an apartment, it’s worthwhile to ask delivery people to leave the package at the entrance. As much as it may be annoying to go get it, rather than have it delivered to your door, this method will ensure that the delivery person doesn’t know exactly where you live.
If you’re in a private home, request that they leave your package at the doorstep. Then, wait until they walk away before you open the door and get it.
Put Men’s Shoes by the Door
Trick other people into thinking you live with a man by placing a pair of men’s shoes beside your front door. Make sure that the footwear looks worn, and not brand new or untouched, a thrift store would be your best option here.
You can even have some fun with it and choose relatively large shoes, making strangers think you’ve got someone Jason Momoa-sized living with you. That’ll scare off any wannabe intruders!
Live on the Upper Floors
If you’re moving into an apartment building, try to get a unit on one of the upper floors. Not only will this likely result in some great views, but it’ll also keep you safe.
If someone who isn’t supposed to be in the building gains access, chances are they’ll be apprehended before they make it all the way up. Also, it means that no one’s breaking in through the windows — unless they’re Spider-Man.
Have Something in Front of the Door
Before going to sleep at night, place something in front of the front door. We’re not talking about heavy furniture or anything, just something that’d make some noise if knocked over. A broomstick, umbrella, or coatstand would all be good options here.
The idea is that if someone does manage to break in, you’d know the front door was opened, as you’d hear something crashing to the ground. Of course, this trick would only work if you don’t have pets that topple things over.
Look Around Before Going Inside
As eager as you may be to get home and take your heels off after a long day, dedicate an extra few seconds to looking around before unlocking your front door.
Sadly, there are people who’d lurk around an empty house, waiting for the unsuspecting tenant to come home and open the door. Of course, if you do see something suspicious, just keep walking as if you don’t live there, and call the authorities.
Get a Garage Door Alert App
There are apps out there that will alert you when your garage door is opening, which can be an excellent safety tool if you’re living alone. Have your phone by your bed, and if you hear the alert go off but aren’t expecting anyone, call 911 immediately.
As an added bonus, the app will let you know if you’ve accidentally left the garage door open yourself. Some even allow you to check the status of the door when you’re not home!
Buy Curtains or Blinds
Curtains and blinds don’t just make for excellent home décor, but they’re also great for keeping peeping Toms away. If you’re able to invest, we suggest purchasing smart blinds, so you can close them from afar.
The last thing you need when you see a creep looking in is to get up and walk closer to the window in order to close the curtains. That said, inexpensive blinds are certainly better than no blinds!
Keep the Lights On
If your funds for electricity allow it, have a lamp that you keep on at all times. This way, no one can know if you’re out, if you’re at home, or asleep, etc. Not only will it be impossible for a creep to learn your schedule, but even ill-intended passersby won’t know if the house is empty or not.
If it’s in your price range, we recommend smart lights that turn on and off. They work even better at making it look like someone’s home.
Be Picky About Guests
Something worth keeping in mind when living alone is that anyone who’s invited to your home won’t only have your exact address, but they’ll also be aware that you live by yourself. Therefore, it’s wise to be picky about who you invite over.
While a huge house party in which people can bring a plus one who you don’t know may sound fun, it’s probably not the best idea if you don’t really trust everyone who will be there. Maybe have the bash at a bar instead?
Get to Know Your Neighbors
Make Mr. Rogers proud and get to know your neighbors! You don’t necessarily have to be best friends with them, if you’re a private person, but do take the time to introduce yourself.
If the people living next door know that you’re a 20-year-old female living alone, they’ll be aware that they should check on you if a middle-aged man suddenly walks into your home. Plus, it’s always nice to have someone to go to if you run out of sugar.
Put Bells on Your Door
It’s important to put something noisy at the interior of your front door, so you’ll hear if someone enters your home. However, some people feel a bit uneasy about placing a broom or umbrella there, as it can seem overly cautious.
We say, better safe than sorry, but if you’re uncomfortable with the idea, why not get some decorative bells to put at your front door? You know, the type that old-timey shops have. It can make for some cute deéor, as well as a more subtle safety feature.
Get Motion-Activated Lights
Placing motion-activated lights outside your house can deter break-ins as it’ll not only scare the person into thinking someone’s home, but it’ll also put them in a spotlight for all the neighbors to see.
We suggest keeping the following in mind when shopping for motion-activated lights — first, try to find ones that can be installed over regular light fixtures, so you don’t have to worry about re-wiring. Secondly, check how close someone needs to be to the censor for it to be activated. Obviously, the further, the better.
Purchase a Video Doorbell
Video doorbells are a fantastic way to keep you safe! However, they can also infringe on passersby and neighbors’ privacy, which can lead to legal issues. In order to keep yourself secure without inconveniencing others, follow these steps when getting a video doorbell…
Put it in plain sight, so people know they’re being recorded, and keep the audio off until you need it. We also recommend making sure that your camera is clearly pointed at the entrance of your property, and doesn’t appear to be looking elsewhere.
Own a Weapon
As much as it may make people uncomfortable, owning a weapon is really important if you’re living alone. We’re not saying to exercise the second amendment if you’re against that, but even a baseball bat is better than nothing.
Self-defense products such as pepper spray and stun guns probably offer the most security in the least controversial way. That said, make sure you’re familiar with these items and know how to use them before they’re actually required, as improper handling could end up hurting you more than a perpetrator.
Move to a Safe Neighborhood
We understand that relocating to a safe neighborhood isn’t possible for everyone, financially speaking. However, we do recommend implementing this tip as much as you can, as it really does make a massive difference in how secure you’ll be while living alone.
We’re not trying to tell you how to spend your money but, personally, we’d rather live in a smaller home we feel safe in than a huge house we’re scared to inhabit.
Change the Locks
In a perfect world, landlords would always change the locks when welcoming new tenants. Well, actually, in a perfect world, there’d be no need for locks at all! Unfortunately, we don’t live in either of those universes, so it’s advised to change your locks as a first step when moving into a new home.
You should also swap out the locks if you break up with someone who had a key, if you’ve ever sublet your place, or had any other interactions in which someone could’ve copied your house keys.
Don’t Overshare on Social Media
Be mindful of what you post on social media and make sure that you aren’t accidentally revealing your address. For example, if you’re taking pictures on your front porch, make sure that your address — and your neighbors’ addresses — aren’t visible in the photos.
It’s also advisable not to post that you’re going on vacation in real time. That lets people know that your house is empty and an easy target to be broken into.
Familiarize Yourself With Emergency Protocols
Living alone safely isn’t just about protecting yourself from others, it’s also about being ready for natural disasters, danger in your apartment building, and any other issues that could potentially harm you.
In order to be ready for anything, familiarize yourself with emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers and first-aid kits, and determine an efficient escape route from your home. Also, when you first move somewhere, find out what sort of natural disasters (if any) that area may be prone to and how residents prepare themselves.
Hide Spare Keys Well
It’s completely understandable that you’d want to keep a set of spare keys around, but it’s best if you hide them expertly. Under the doormat or in the mailbox, for example, aren’t good options.
One clever choice is to conceal a key somewhere on or in your car. Alternatives are a fake rock that blends in well with the real rocks around it, inside the leg of a chair on your patio, or under a brick in the walkway.
Don’t Put Valuables in Plain Sight
Leaving valuable and expensive objects right in front of a big window may not be the wisest choice if you’re trying to avoid break-ins. Instead, be mindful of where your high-end items are, and make sure passersby aren’t aware that you just got a fancy new laptop.
Just in case your home does get robbed, you may want to keep your most precious items in a lockbox whenever they’re not in use.
Install Security Cameras
Installing security cameras can be well worth the investment, as it’ll give you an idea of what’s going on around your property — even when you’re sleeping or away. We advise you to get the wireless cameras that connect to your phone, so you can keep an eye on your house while away.
Not only will security cameras prevent wrongdoers from entering your home, but they’re also a great way to keep tabs on your pets!
Don’t Tell Everyone
Be selective about who you let know that you live by yourself, and even more careful about who has your address. For example, if you’re on a first date with a guy you’ve just met, it’s advisable to meet him at the location itself, rather than giving him your address to pick you up.
If you’re in a situation that’s making you uncomfortable, say something along the lines of, ‘Well, my roommate’s probably waiting for me.’ In this case, the truth won’t set you free, but a lie can.
Assemble a Survival Kit
Have a survival kit ready to go in the event of a natural disaster, blackout, evacuation, etc. It’s also wise to inform some close friends or family members of where you intend to go if you ever need to leave your home quickly.
Be sure to give share your trusted ones’ contact information with each other, so they can rally if someone’s unable to reach you. Of course, some people go their entire lives without needing a survival kit, but wouldn’t you sleep better knowing that it’s there?
Taking self-defense classes will not only help you out while at home, but those skills will also make you feel more secure in public too. Not to mention all the physical and mental benefits that come with learning a martial art!
Interestingly, the mere knowledge of how to defend oneself will make you less likely to ever need to implement those lessons. Countless studies have shown that predators tend to stay away from people who look like they’d be confident in a fight.
Ask to See ID
If someone you don’t know wants to enter your home for any reason, ask to see some ID proving their qualifications to be there. For example, if the authorities want to speak with you, they should have no problem whatsoever showing you a badge.
As for people you’re expecting, such as a repairperson, you should still check with their company to make sure this is indeed the individual they’ve sent before you open the door.
Communicate With Your Landlord
Build up a friendly rapport with your landlord or property manager, and make sure to tell them if there’s a security concern. Don’t worry about being a nuisance, if a lock is wonky or the gate isn’t working, it’s the property owner’s job to fix it and you have every right to make that request!
And, just as with your neighbors, it’s good for your landlord to have a general sense of who you are and who they should — and shouldn’t — expect to see hanging around your unit.
Have Your Keys Ready
Have your keys ready to go when approaching your house, especially at night. Rummaging through your bag while standing at the front door gives predators time to attack.
Instead, have your keys in hand as you head up your walkway, preferably placed between your knuckles like claws. The same concept should be implemented when leaving your house to your car — you should have your car keys in your hand and ready to go.
Vary Your Routine
Switch up your routine a bit from time to time, in order to remain unpredictable. You don’t want someone knowing exactly when you leave the house each day, and for how long. We’re not saying to drive yourself crazy and arrive at work three hours early.
We’re just suggesting maybe not going for your morning jog at the exact same time each morning. Or perhaps explore a different route every now and then? It could be a nice change of scenery!
Keep Your Key Fob Close
Place your key fob on your bedside table, or somewhere else close by, when you go to sleep. This way, if there is an intruder at night, you can turn on your car alarm to scare them off and/or alert your neighbors.
It’s also useful in case you need to sneak out through a backdoor or window. In fact, it’s good to keep your phone by the bed too for the very same reason.
Don’t Share Your Address With Rideshares
If you use any form of rideshare app, you may want to make the pickup/dropoff point somewhere other than your home. You can use a neighbor’s house, the street corner, or a nearby bench instead.
Of course, this isn’t an issue if you live in an apartment complex. In that case, though, it could be a good idea to wait until the car leaves before you turn on the apartment lights, so they don’t know which unit you’re in.
Lock Your Car Straight Away
We all have our little routines that we do when we get into our car. Maybe you like to check your reflection in the mirror. Perhaps you immediately want to choose your music. What we should really all do, though, is make a habit of locking the car door immediately after getting in.
That’s not to say that you can’t touch up your lipstick or turn on your favorite podcast before starting your drive. It just means you should make sure you’re safe and secure first.
Keep Your Phone Close
When you live with someone else, you can always yell for help if need be. However, when you’re living independently, you need to find another way to call for assistance. That’s where keeping your phone on your person — or at least in the same room as you — comes in handy.
If having a device with you all the time isn’t your cup of tea, you can get an app like Siri or Alexa to shout to.
Save Outside Errands for Daytime
It’s best to run all of your household errands during daylight hours, as much as possible. Things like taking out the trash and getting the mail can be done during the day and, if you forget, it can absolutely wait until morning.
Laura Dugan, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland explains, “Predators will [typically] only attack when nobody else is around.” So, unless you have a team of loved ones watching you water the plants at night, just leave it ‘till tomorrow.
Use Personal Security Tools
There are quite a few personal security tools out there that are worth looking into. There are apps that will alert your loved ones if you need help, sending them your GPS location. There are also applications that will immediately call the authorities if need be.
You can even get a device separate from your phone, such as a Birdie, which plays a loud noise and flashes strobing lights when activated — simultaneously scaring off attackers and alerting passersby that you need assistance.
Look for HOA Properties
HOAs (Homeowners Association) aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they do tend to have a lot of safety protocols in place. For a monthly or yearly fee, HOA neighborhoods may have security patrols, cameras, well-lit pathways, and are even sometimes completely gated communities.
Many HOAs have rules for their residents — which is why a lot of people don’t like them — that make the area safer. Consider weighing the pros and cons of living in an HOA property, and see if it’s the right move for you.
Don’t Be Alone With Repair Workers
If you need to schedule for a handyperson or technician to come to your home, arrange to have someone you know and trust there with you. If you don’t want to entertain friends or family the whole day just for the sake of them being there for those 30 minutes, invite a neighbor over instead.
In fact, some landlords will agree to be present during repairs if their tenants ask. This is the benefit of befriending those around your property!
Report Suspicious Activity
We completely understand that you don’t want to come off as paranoid or the neighborhood Karen, but seriously, would you rather something terrible happen to you? If you notice something odd going on in your area, report it to the authorities.
That’s not to say that what you’re seeing is necessarily a crime or the person will get into any trouble — that’s for the professionals to figure out — but at least you’ll have done your part in bringing potential issues to the relevant people’s awareness.
Learn How to Use Tools
Learn how to use basic household tools and do simple repairs on your own. Not only will having that knowledge mean you don’t have to call strangers in to help you fix things all the time, but it also means getting things handled a lot more efficiently.
Take a class, watch a YouTube tutorial, or ask questions from someone you know who’s handy. This way, you’ll feel much more self-reliant and safer living on your own.
Go to the Police Station
If you’re on the way home and you suspect someone’s following you, don’t go to your house! Although that may be where you feel safest, you don’t want to let that person know where you live. Instead, drive straight to the nearest police station.
We’re pretty sure no creep is going to follow you there! They may be waiting near the station for you to leave, though. So, take note of the car they’re driving and what they look like so you can inform the authorities.
Get a Dog
Please don’t get a dog solely for safety purposes, as it wouldn’t be fair to the animal to live in a home in which they’re not truly loved. That said, if you are a pet person, dogs make for excellent protectors.
Not only will your pup be your best friend, but their bark will scare away any intruder. Also, it can be nice to have some form of company, even if you prefer to live without other humans.
Put Up Signs
Send wrongdoers a very clear message that your house isn’t one to be messed with! Put up a sign warning wannabe intruders about a guard dog, security cameras, or your willingness to use the second amendment.
None of those things have to actually be true, because it’s unlikely that anyone will want to test you and find out. Remember, criminals want easy targets, so they’re gonna go for the house with the least resistance.