As many high school students prepare to go off to college, they start thinking about choosing an apartment. As the search for an apartment begins, so must the consideration of safety. Here are some security issues that you should consider before signing a deal.

• Location—What is the neighborhood like? Is there a high crime rate in the neighborhood?
Check Internet sites, such as your college or university's website, to find crime rate information. Talk to the local police department to learn more about the area. Check out the apartment in the morning, during the day, and at night. A location that looks great at midday may be quite different at night.

• Neighbors—What kind of people hang out in this area? Are there gangs, drug dealers, or prostitutes in the area? Are there a lot of bars or other businesses that might attract questionable people? Again, checking with the local police department is always a good idea. Talk to other tenants to get their opinion.

• Security policies—What are the rules and regulations of the building you are looking at? Are there security personnel in the building? Many colleges have offices of student security.

• Security equipment—Does the building you're looking at have a security system? Are the doors sturdy, and do they have locks, deadbolts, and peepholes? Are hallways well lit?

As with most decisions you make, common sense is a valuable asset. Don't hesitate to do your research before making any decisions—use all resources available to you, such as the Internet, the local police, and campus security. If you invest a little time and effort in your apartment decision, moving out on your own can be a positive and safe experience.
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