Living off campus is one of the luxuries students have as an upperclass student. You definitely have more freedom and more responsibility while managing a house or apartment on your own or with friends. As a student who lives in an off-campus house myself, I love the convenience of having my own room, kitchen, and shared living space with my housemates. Just in this first semester alone, we have made so many memories while simultaneously being introduced to living and taking care of ourselves in a new environment.
I’ll admit it’s a lot to manage. From cooking to cleaning to bills, new responsibilities pop up all the time. As the semester comes to a close and we begin to move home for winter break, there are some additional precautions off-campus students should be aware of before leaving. Since Oxford is a small town centered around our university, everyone knows our holiday breaks and when we will more than likely be away from our off-campus houses. There are break-ins every year over the break and Winter Term. You can minimize your risk by making sure your home and belongings are secured while you’re away.
Be sure to take all of your valuables with you. If you need to leave something in your rental, consider taking pictures of your valuables in the event that they are stolen.
Double check that all doors and windows are locked and secured, especially on the ground level. Close curtains and blinds and do not hide spare keys anywhere outside the house. Communicate with your housemates about who will be the last to leave and the responsibility that comes with that position.
Consider keeping your outside lights on, particularly those around entrances or porches. If you have timed lights, set them to come on each evening to make it look as though someone is home.You can typically get a timer for less than $10 at a hardware store or online.
If you have any camera or surveillance videos set up around your home, be sure to keep them on. Consider turning on your phone notifications for your surveillance apps, so you can be updated if something sets off your camera.
Parking Over Break
If you are leaving a car behind, double check it is locked and secured. Cars can not be parked on city streets for longer than 72 hours, so you will need a plan for where your vehicle will stay.
Cold Winter Weather
You should not turn off your heat before you leave. Rather, set your thermostat no lower than 60 degrees to prevent freezing pipes. Review your lease, as many leases state a minimum degree for heat as well. If you are concerned, ask your landlord for specifics.
You can stop your mail and packages using the U.S. postal service Hold Mail Service. Allowing your mail to pile up on your porch or front door makes it easy for people to steal them and is also a big clue that nobody is home.
The Oxford Police Department also offers free vacant house checks during extended university breaks. You will need to fill out the form in the link above with detailed information to let the OPD know your situation.
You worked so hard this semester and, trust me, I know you want to enjoy your winter break (just like I do)! Before you leave Oxford for wherever home is, take these safety measures to secure your college house. It will alleviate some worries and allow you to return to Miami in January confident that your home is just how you left it!
Additional Break Housing/Safety Resources
- Safety Over Break
- OPD Free Vacant House Checks
- Hold Mail Service
- Residence Hall Move In/Out/Break
- University Break Housing
Kenzie Abodeely, Class of 2024