I was a little worried about the location of my new place in Savannah. There are certain roads you shouldn't live near if you want to feel safe, and I am a block away from one, and a block away from another. If I were one block east or south of where I am, I would be in an iffy part of town.
Keep in mind that the couple moving in above me won't be there for another 3 weeks after I move in. It will be just me and Sammy at first, all alone in the new place.
One big, old empty house
living on the edge of the safe part of town
+ my overactive imagination
= major panic.
Who knows an area better than the people who live there, right? I mean, after being in Columbia for 6 years, I can tell anyone where to live and where to avoid. So I hit up some Savannah message boards to gather some opinions about the level of safety I could expect.
EVERY person (there were about 10) who replied told me that if I can get out of my lease, I should. The phrases "not a good area at all" and "I would not want my daughter to live there" and "wouldn't be able to find a less desirable location if you tried" were used. Oh dear. That's not good.
So last week, I basically freaked out and thought about breaking my lease. Or buying a gun. Or a very large German Shepherd with a nasty temper. Or a taser. Or something. Anything. All I could think was "I am alone, on the ground floor and it would not be very difficult to break into my house if you were a very large and very violent bad guy. I am toast. I might as well start preparing myself to be beaten up, robbed and gang-banged." After he stopped teasing me about being so paranoid, I made CN promise to stay with me for a few days once I move in.
Luckily, MJ calmed me down a LOT and reminded me that I will probably be fine and that there's no way to 100% avoid crime anywhere you live. She lived in a really REALLY bad part of town when she first moved to Columbia, and she had no problems. Just because you might live near some sketchy areas doesn't meat you're guaranteed to be a crime victim. And just because you're in a nice part of time doesn't mean you won't be a target, either. She said the message board people were probably trying to freak me out and all of them probably live in a cushy suburb somewhere. One man's ghetto is another man's "oh, this is fine."
And the most common crime in my part of downtown is car break-ins. (I looked it up on the police dept website) Which probably won't happen to me, because I drive a friggin Pontiac Vibe and all I keep in there are some scratched up CDs. I'm not much of a target.
So I asked my landlord if I could install some motion-detector lights, and he said yes. I asked MJ if I could borrow her super-scary chocolate lab mix, Nabisco. She said yes. I felt that would be good, but if I started to feel a little nervous, I would think about getting a taser or a home security system.
Yesterday, MJ and I went down to Savannah so she could see my place and I could start moving some of my stuff in, get my key, think about where my furniture will go, etc. Once we were all done, we took a walk, grabbed some lunch and came back to the house. We sat on the front steps and watched the neighborhood for a while. We didn't see anything scary or sketchy. It was actually very very quiet. We went back inside and were about to leave when we heard a commotion outside. It was a group of kids. Two of them were having a fist fight in the middle of the street! These kids were maybe in middle school. After a little noise, a bunch of people came outside to see what was going on, and one of the moms in the building across the street broke it up. It was maybe 30 seconds of craziness. No biggie.
I took advantage of the situation and introduced myself to a neighbor and began asking questions about the safety of the neighborhood. "You just witnessed the worst thing I've seen since I moved here," he said. WHEW! That was good to hear! "Everyone on this street expects everyone else to look out for each other," he continued. The street was about half renters, half owner-occupied. Which is a good mix, I think.
He introduced me to a few more neighbors, and they all said they felt fine living there. They had never seen any crimes or anything unusual or dangerous. The iffy-looking building across the street was full of low-income families -- lots of single moms with kids who never bothered anyone. They said I had nothing to worry about, as long as I don't do anything stupid (like leave my doors unlocked) or showy. (Not like I have any fancy gadgets to be showy with!) My house is surrounded by college kids with irregular schedules who throw house parties on the weekends. If their parents can sleep at night knowing their kids are ok, then I can, too.
So I feel a LOT better. But I'm still going to borrow one of CN's golf clubs and put up motion detector lights. Just in case.