There were over 1.2 million violent crimes and 8.6 million property crimes reported in 2013 — so it’s no wonder people are afraid of moving to big cities. In fact, even if you are not moving to one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the nation, it’s still perfectly normal to be concerned about your safety and the safety of your loved ones when you are relocating.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to both stay safe in a big city and to calm your fears. Here are our top tips to help you stay safe.
1. Get to know your new city
As soon as you move to your new city — or even before — take some time to get to know it. research your city and neighborhood online, especially to discover any areas you may not want to visit at specific times. Download a map app you can use offline and drive along your new route from home to work and walk around your neighborhood to get a better feel for its quirks.
As you begin to navigate your new city, it’s important to take the time to travel smart: plan your route, walk briskly, and stay alert — predators don’t want to be seen before they commit a crime. Avoid dark streets and deserted alleys and consider taking a friend or family member with you while you are exploring. If you can’t take someone with you, make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
In addition to a map to help you get around town, download a safety app to help keep you safe. Apps like Watch Over Me and bSafe are like having a buddy with you in your pocket all the time. These apps let you check in with or alert pre-selected contacts if you’re worried or feel threatened. Of course, if you ever feel immediately in danger, your priority should be to dial 911.
If you’re moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone, take some time to get to know your neighbors. Not only will you feel safer if you know the people around you, doing so can actually increase your mental and physical health. Sites like Nextdoor and Meetup make it safe and easy to get to know your neighbors and people with similar interests.
The ability to fight can come in handy when you’re in a dangerous situation or feel threatened — plus, it can increase your confidence all around. Take a class or learn some basic self-defense moves. Remember that nothing is worth more than your life, though: if you can, defuse a situation or get away, rather than risk your safety.
Don’t feel obligated to offer someone directions, loan out your phone, or even be nice to a stranger if you feel your safety is in danger. Even if you’re from a smaller town where it’s normal to engage in conversation with strangers, feel free to turn off the niceties and get out of any compromising situation immediately. It’s likely you’ll never see that person again, and it’s important to remember that your safety is your top priority.
7. Guard your personal property
In order to guard your personal property when you are out of your house, simply make sure that you are traveling smartly. When possible, keep all of your valuables in your inside pockets, never your back pocket, and keep your bags zipped up and difficult to access. You can do this by tucking your bag safely under your arm and keeping your hands over the clasps.
Protect your valuables and your loved ones by investing in a security system. While a security system is a financial commitment, it’s also an investment. A home security system is the smartest way to protect your investments and family and to calm your anxieties about potential break-ins. With modern technology, you can also get some features that go beyond basic security: control your lights, appliances, and locks from your smartphone, receive an alert when your kids arrive home from school, or check on your pets via a live video surveillance feed.
Moving to a new city — especially a larger one — can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be frightening. Take some time to invest in proper security measures, and you’ll find yourself feeling calmer about your upcoming move to the big city.