I have a job that requires a lot of travel and living in temporary spaces for several months at a time.
My current temporary living situation is in a not-so-great neighborhood. I read your post on living happily in a dangerous neighborhood, and it made me wonder…
Do any Homies have tips on temporarily but effectively creating the safest space possible in un-safe areas? -Tali
She had a fabulous breakdown on temporary home security measures…
Automatic timers on lights — and change the “on” and “off” times periodically to keep people guessing.
During the day, you can leave a radio tuned to a talk station and in the room furthest from the main entrance. An intruder may assume you’re home and having a conversation.
NEVER, EVER rent an apartment that doesn’t have a peephole or a window that will allow you to see who is on the front porch!
Don’t feel obligated to open the door to anyone you don’t recognize. An old friend of my mom’s works for the Los Angeles Police Department and says apartment dwellers — especially women living alone — should call the property manager if a repair person shows up unexpectedly. Some criminals gain entry by posing as a plumber, electrician, or even the police!
If you can’t get a top-floor apartment, try looking for one way in the back. My old apartment was in the very back of an older building, accessible by a walled-in staircase that most people did not even notice. The same day I applied for that apartment, I also looked at one situated above a detached garage behind another old building — again, with a non-obvious entrance. Pity it was too small for me, as virtually no one would have noticed I was even there.
Alternately, apartments visible from the street may not attract unwanted visitors — it’s too easy for someone to see them. I also had a ground-floor unit that opened onto a very busy street and no one ever bothered me there.
I recommend reading Jack Maclean’s “Secrets of a Superthief“ if you can find a copy. Maclean was an extremely successful burglar, and while many of his tips aren’t suitable for renters, he includes advice anyone can follow, such as:
- putting up signs that may deter an intruder
- make sure your valuables are insured, and keep an inventory with serial numbers on file in case of theft
- hide your valuables in several unusual places — that means skip the sock drawer and hide cash inside a Thermos in the kitchen, grandma’s watch inside a potted plant, etc.
Mail theft can happen anywhere — and those locked apartment mailboxes are NOT theft-proof by a long shot. Your neighbors, especially in an iffy area, may break in looking for checks, credit card offers, or cards with cash in them. Parcels left on a doorstep are even more vulnerable. After a vicious battle with my local post office over a letter carrier who harassed and stole from me, I stopped accepting mail at home. I switched to online bill paying, and had parcels and Netflix envelopes sent to my work address instead. (Some burglars pose as delivery people, so if you don’t have anything sent to your apartment and someone turns up at your door in a FedEx uniform, you’ll know he/she is up to no good!)
Keep at least one item in each room that can double as a weapon in a pinch.
- Bathroom? Haircutting scissors.
- Kitchen? Knives and lots of heavy cast-iron cookware.
- Living room? Solid-body electric guitar.
- Bedroom? Croquet mallets (I don’t have a garage).
If you have a car parked on the street, NEVER leave valuables in it. I lived in a “good” neighborhood that was plagued by multiple car break-ins every week — the thieves were usually teens on drugs or desperate homeless people looking for stuff to hock.
If you ever need to take personal safety to the next level — i.e. hiding from a stalker — read “How to Be Invisible: Protect Your Home, Your Children, Your Assets, and Your Life” by J.J. Luna and “How to Disappear” by Frank M. Ahearn.
Renters, frequent travelers, and super-safe Homies, what are your best safety tips for temporary living situations?