Growing up is tough. Finding the courage to follow your dreams to a new city is tougher, but staying safe in an unfamiliar city is not as difficult as you may think. While some things have been uncertain at times, I’ve felt nothing but safe and in control since transplanting to Nashville from Texas.
Nashville is a vibrant city full of opportunity and inspiration, and because of that, young people (myself included) are rushing in from far and wide to start their careers here. For any person, especially young people in an unfamiliar city, it is important to take precautions to protect ourselves and our individual well-being. Here are a few tips I've learned since moving to a new, unfamiliar place:
Research crime rates in the area to which you’re moving. Inform yourself on the kind of crime that’s there and potentially dangerous areas of town, but be sure not to scare yourself with sensationalized media reports.
Be prepared. It’s better to anticipate a threat and be well-prepared to defend yourself than to be caught with your guard down and find yourself in a dangerous situation with no way out. Taking a self-defense class can be a good first step to staying prepared to protect your person. Carrying a personal defense weapon such as pepper spray, a small knife, or even a firearm paired with proper licensing and documentation can all act as deterrents in confrontations with attackers.
Road-ready your car. If you plan on driving a long distance to your new city, be sure to get a road trip check-up done on your car and be certain you have a spare tire and know how to change it yourself. On my drive to Nashville from Dallas, I got a flat tire in Memphis late in the evening and ended up scrambling to find a place to stay that night until I was able to have my car fixed the next day.
Network. If you don’t know anyone in your new city, talk to your friends and family and try to build a small network of “friends of friends”. Reaching out to your university’s alumni group is a great idea, too. These people could potentially be a support group for you as you’re getting situated and comfortable.
Know where to find help. Find all police stations and hospitals and drive by each one at least once to be aware of where they are in case you need help. It's also a good idea to learn more than one route home.
Lock up. Since committing to a home security system isn’t always possible for young people who may rent a house or an apartment, make sure all doors and windows are closed and locked when you’re away and keep a light or two on inside so that it looks like someone is home. Personally, I choose to leave a hall light on and talk radio playing.
Catch a ride. If you happen to live by yourself and plan on going out, try carpooling with friends or use a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft and leave your car at home to further create the illusion that someone is home. It's also a good idea to use a ride-share so you won't have to park and walk to a venue by yourself at night through unfamiliar neighborhoods.
Keep keys secure. For your safety and the safety of others, never allow anyone who does not have an access key follow behind you if you live in a building guarded by an access key. Conversely, always be certain to carry your keys with you in a secure place on your person.
Living in Nashville has been everything I’ve dreamed it would be and more. I’ve found great housemates, great friends and been inspired by so many people that I’ve met since moving here. Taking a moment to be aware of my surroundings and taking precautions has definitely helped me feel at ease in my transition to Nashville. Cars, cash, clothes and credit cards are all easily repaired and replaced, but our peace of mind and physical health are the most valuable of all these things and should be protected as such.