Once you move out of your parent’s house or your own cozy dorm room, you’re bound to take on a lot of new responsibilities. You brace yourself for the cost of living, providing your own utilities and amenities, but often neglect one of the largest responsibilities you incur when living off campus: maintaining your own personal security.  Before choosing off campus housing, consider these security tips to have the best experience possible.

Staying safe is just as important when you're living off-campus! Here are a few ways to make sure you stay safe.

The Home Hunt

Whether you are looking to rent a home or an apartment, a duplex or a studio, the first step to staying secure is finding a safe neighborhood.  Depending on where your university is located, you probably have a sense of the best areas for college students. When searching for a new home, make sure to visit these areas for yourself.  During your visit, check the security of the locks on the doors and windows, look to see if the parking lot and entry points are well lit, and try to gain a sense of the other tenants and how you feel on the property.  Once you have an idea of where you want to live take precautions to insure you are making conscious security decisions. If you don’t know where to start your search, universities often have off campus living resources listed on their websites and you can contact the local police department for crime statistics in nearby neighborhoods. 

Landlords and Leases

Before committing to a home, it is important to read the entire lease agreement and to see how well you get along with the landlord.  A good landlord can make or break your housing experience.  Make sure that they are trustworthy, have a thorough understanding of the area, your lease agreement and any people who work on the grounds.  If you ever have any questions or concerns, your landlord is the first person that you should reach out to.

Signing a lease can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. Part of making sure you have the safest experience possible is knowing your responsibilities and your liabilities.  Take time to read and understand everything that is presented to you in the lease as well as to learn your legal protections and rights as a tenant. 

Review Your Roommate

Roommates not only make college more fun, but they can lower the cost of living and increase the level of security in your home. Finding the right roommate is a top priority for a fantastic college experience! If you don’t already have a trustworthy roommate in mind, you can ask around for someone that you would feel safe living in close quarters with.  Give yourself at least one month to find the right roommate before your move in date.  Whether you ask friends of friends or use online platforms in your search, make sure that you check references from past roommates and landlords.  

Insurance for Assurance

Another neglected aspect of renting is renter’s insurance. Renters insurance provides the same protections as homeowner’s insurance, and really shouldn’t be passed over.  When shopping around for insurance, make sure to compare coverage, payment methods, ratio of payment to coverage amounts and the reputation of the company.  If you have found a home in an area with a low crime rate, your insurance should be lower. It pays to find a secure location!

DIY Home Security

Now that you’ve moved into your new place, it’s time to decorate and DIY some home security! You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a home security system to protect your home. Three areas to always maintain secure should be your doors, windows and smoke detectors.  

Related: A Girl’s Guide to Staying Safe in College

Before you move in, make sure that the landlord has collected keys or changed the locks from previous tenants. Check to make sure that there is a deadbolt installed, and that the door hinges are on the interior of your home (so intruders can’t take your door off the hinge).  Alarms are an affordable and easy way to deter intruders. Aside from your typical door alarms, you can also buy alarms for your windows that will scare off intruders if they try to break the glass.  Finally, always keep your smoke detector’s batteries up to date because intruders aren’t the only security threat to be wary of.

Internet Security

College would be nearly impossible without the internet for research and file sharing. As the internet evolves, it becomes increasingly more important to protect your information.  Although it is true that your personal computer is unlikely to become the victim of a hacker attack, it is common for large sites with your information to be hacked and your personal information to be used against your will.  Protect your computer and personal information from malware and hackers to avoid the nightmare of these security threats.  

Living on your own for the first time is one of the most exciting moments in your early adult life; don’t let security issues get in the way of having an incredible college experience!

profile 1Sarah Brown is a freelance writer with a love of all topics relating to the Internet of Things. She writes about technology, security and personal finance. Sarah believes that the through entertainment, technology and the written word, we can all stay connected to each other and create a safe environment out in the ether.  You can connect with her on Twitter.


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