Living alone has a lot of perks. You don’t need to worry about a roommate getting upset if you let dishes pile up for a couple of days. You don’t need to worry about keeping your noise level down for fear of keeping anyone up (well, other than your neighbors). You get total command over decor. Want a dog? That decision is just between you and yourself—and your landlord, but still. You learn about yourself living alone, too. If you’re someone who needs a lot of alone time, then living solo could be the best way to retreat from the world and refuel. And if you can afford to live without a roommate, then hat’s off to you. That being said, there is this maddening and unfortunate truth: living alone is just less safe for women than it is for men. Women can often be targets of attacks and burglaries. If you are just now looking for an apartment to live alone in, here are some safety features women should demand in an apartment.
Parking. Of any kind.
Not only is looking for street parking a major pain in the butt, depending on where you live and what time it is, it can also pose a safety risk. You don’t want to have to walk several blocks late at night from a street parking spot to your apartment. Don’t settle for a building that doesn’t offer parking, no matter how good the deal seems.
A locked garage
Next, your building should ideally have guarded parking. Whether it has an automatic gate for which you’ll be given a clicker or a panel in which you punch a passcode, it should have some sort of security and not just be exposed cars outside of a building. The moments when a woman is fumbling through her purse to find her car keys are some of her most vulnerable in terms of attackers.
A well-lit garage
Whatever type of parking is offered, make sure there are plenty of lights in the garage. A locked but dark garage is still intriguing to attackers. They know if they can sneak in some way, nobody will spot them in the dark garage until they make their attack.
Upper floor options
As a woman, don’t live on the first floor of a building. These are the units burglars will naturally target first, since they pose less threat of them being caught. Live on at least the second floor, and higher if possible.
Don’t move into a unit that doesn’t have a dead bolt. Most burglars know how to pick regular locks and should anyone somehow get a copy of your key, they could get in. Deadbolts make it so nobody outside can get in unless the person inside opens the deadbolt.
Proper curtains or blinds
Having privacy is so important, so don’t settle for a place with blinds that are falling apart or curtains that are transparent. At least ask your landlord to replace these with solid, opaque models.
The corridors around your building, like the hallway leading to your front door or the walkway to the garage, should have proper lighting at night.
A gated entry
If a building doesn’t have a gated entry, then that means anyone can walk right up to your apartment front door. That’s not good. What’s worse is that it makes it very easy for solicitors to show up—or for burglars posing as solicitors to show up.
Security cameras around an apartment building should deter anyone who means the residents harm. It’s a small investment a landlord can make in the safety of her residents.
Distance from certain landmarks
Though it might sound a bit snooty, don’t live right next to bus stops, subway stations, or other major hubs of public transportation, as these can also be hubs of dangerous and illegal activity. It’s best if the majority of people who walk around your building live in the neighborhood, and aren’t just passing through.
A locked and well-lit laundry room
Make sure the laundry room door can be locked. If you’re doing laundry late at night, you want to feel safe in there. It should also have working lights, so burglars or attackers don’t hide in there.
A building that allows dogs
Consider finding a building that allows dogs so that you can get a dog. Most intruders won’t bother with a home that has a guard dog—it’s not worth the risk of the barking and the biting. And, as for you, your dog will alert you of someone’s presence early, so you can call the police.
Rigorous tenant vetting
Make sure your landlord has high standards for her tenants. Some landlords, unfortunately, do not vet potential tenants at all because they just want to fill units and make money, fast. But that can mean they don’t look into things like criminal records.
A solid door
Check the front door and make sure it’s solid. Many old buildings have thin, weak wooden doors that anybody could kick through or break through with an ax.
Live towards the front
If possible, live towards the front of the building, and not towards the back—near the alley. Alleyways can also be sites of illicit activity, and you don’t want to walk back there late at night, alone.