Safety Tips for Living Alone

How to Change Your Outgoing Message and More

Answering Machine Detail
It might to time to change the outgoing message on your answering machine if you live alone. Jonnie Miles/Photodisc/Getty Images

Many apartment dwellers choose to live alone instead of having roommates, and for good reasons. If you're one of them, it's important to take extra precautions to ensure your safety. From changing the outgoing message on your answering machine or voicemail to getting to know your neighbors, here are some ways to protect yourself against crime and get more peace of mind when you live alone.

Befriend Your Neighbors

It's always good to have someone watching out for you, and meeting your neighbors can make you feel more secure in your surroundings. If your neighbors know you by face and name, they may be more likely to notice if someone who doesn't live in your apartment enters while you're away—and give you a heads up or call the police. 

Change Your Outgoing Message

While you probably want people to know who they've reached when they call you and you can't get to the phone, the outgoing message on your answering machine or voicemail can be a tipoff to stalkers and other criminals that your apartment only has one occupant, which may increase your chances of a break-in. For example, say that your outgoing message is similar to the following: "Hi, you've reached Jill at (212) 555-1234. I can't come to the phone right now, but if you leave me a message, I'll get right back to you. Thanks."

To prevent problems, change your outgoing message so that there's an implication that others may be living with you. You can do this in one of two ways:

  • Change "I" to "We." This way, you'll avoid indicating that you're the only occupant in the apartment. If any family members or friends are confused, you can explain you still live alone but are saying "we" in your outgoing message just for safety reasons. Your new message could be something like this: "Hi, you've reached (212) 555-1234. We can't come to the phone right now, but if you leave a message, we'll get right back to you. Thanks."
  • Make it vague. If it feels strange saying "we" when it's just you living in the apartment, simply tell people that "no one" can come to the phone right now. This is technically true even if you live alone, and it doesn't give any hint as to how many people live in your apartment. Your new message could sound like this: "Hi, you've reached (212) 555-1234. No one can come to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the tone. Thanks."

Don't Make It Obvious You're Out of Town

If you leave town for more than a day or two, ask a friend or trusted neighbor to come by your apartment and get any packages, take out fliers or mail that may be piling up outside your door. All of these things are giveaways that no one is home, which makes a break in more likely.

Close Your Blinds

If your apartment is highly visible from the sidewalk or neighboring apartment buildings, close your curtains or blinds when you're hanging out in your apartment alone. You never know who can see in, or what their intentions are.

At the end of the day, living alone can be a liberating, positive experience. And by playing it safe, you can feel even better about your decision not to have roommates.