More women than ever before are choosing to live alone. The reasons (and benefits) are many:
- Women are marrying later in life. In South Africa, the average age at which women are getting married is 31, considerably higher than in previous decades.
- More women are focusing on their careers and financial independence before starting a family. In recent studies, it has been reported that 45% of women living on their own (compared to 26% of men living on their own) have a tertiary qualification, and 38% (compared to 24% of men) have a professional job.
- Women living on their own constitute 20% of top tier earners whereas women living with others, only 7%.
- Women are increasingly being afforded the same financial opportunities as men i.e. being able to secure credit without their father or husband cosigning. In the US, it has been reported that single women buy twice as many homes as single men do.
- Women most often outlive their male partners and as a result, more women over the age of 65 live alone than men do.
Whatever the reason, a reality women choosing this lifestyle cannot ignore is the security risks associated with living on one’s own, especially in South Africa where one in five women have experienced physical violence.
Lights, Camera, Action
Ensure that you have good outdoor lighting that enables you to see all the areas outside your home, especially access points. The same goes for security cameras which are becoming more affordable. It is estimated that as many as 88% of home burglars would not attack a home if it has a surveillance camera system. A home alarm system linked to an armed response service is imperative in most areas of South Africa. Ask your neighbourhood watch for suggestions based on presence and response time specific to your area.
Know thy neighbours
Get to know your neighbours, not only can they be your eyes and ears when you are away from your property, but once you know them well enough, you can support each other by being a practical emergency contact if and when you need help.
Join your neighbourhood watch to keep up to date on the latest crime trends in your area and learn from their suggested safety measures. They are also very effective in monitoring your area and alerting of potential risks.
Control the ins and outs
Windows and doors are a home’s weak points when it comes to security. It is critical that security barriers are installed on these openings to prevent unwelcome intruders from gaining access.
“Living with closed doors and windows all the time is not only unpleasant, but it is also unhealthy,” says Karina Palmer, interior designer and marketing director of AMERICAN shutters. “Sunlight and natural ventilation keep a home fresh and improve air quality.” By installing effective safety features on these openings, you can leave windows and doors open when so desired. Security Shutters have the added benefit of light and privacy control. With a simple tilt of the louvres, shutters direct or block out natural light and provide complete privacy, nullifying the need for additional window finishes such as blinds or curtains.
“Our aluminium Security Shutters have the same design aesthetic as our timber shutters and are far more attractive than traditional security gates and burglar bars,” says Karina.
We were all told as children to not talk to strangers, but sometimes as adults, this is unavoidable, especially when we need to have contractors such as plumbers, electricians, decorators etc. work in our homes. Women living on their own need to be extra vigilant in these circumstances. Only use reputable companies and ask for details of the people who are expected to attend to your job when making the booking i.e. how many people, what their names are etc. If possible, ask a friend or family member to be with you at home when the job is being done.
Don’t be a loner
Living alone does not mean being a loner. Most criminals see women living on their own as easy targets. Vary your routine of when and what times you are home and socialise in your home by inviting friends and family to visit or stay on occasions. Be careful about what you post on social media, don’t post images or videos showing the details of your home, don’t advertise that you stay by yourself and don’t announce where you are and when you are home.