Good morning. Please welcome Mel from Broke Girl Rich to the blog today. She’s here talking all about the safety cost of life in the big city and how she stays safe in New York without spending a fortune on a personal bodyguard entourage.
A few years ago, I was looking for an apartment in New York City. I work in theater and often get home really late at night. I’m also not exactly rolling in dough. So my initial apartment searches led me to some really unsavory places.
After learning a little more about the different neighborhoods, I managed to find quite a few “middle of the road” areas within my budget and I brought my brother with me on a few of those appointments to check out apartments. I was shocked at how many places he didn’t bat an eye at that I genuinely felt super unsafe in – even in the middle of the afternoon. That’s not even taking into account getting home at 2 AM or later some nights.
I finally settled on an apartment pretty close to the subway at the top of Manhattan that was at the top of my budget and didn’t make me feel unsafe.
The whole experience really stuck with me though because it was the first time I’d really felt like being a woman was costing me. To feel safe, I wanted a neighborhood that had really well lit streets. I wanted to be close to the subways so I wouldn’t be walking really far late at night. All those things cost more money than several of the earlier apartments that was a longer walk or down streets that didn’t appear to have any streetlights.
It got me thinking – do women really wind up paying more for safety? I think the answer is a resounding yes, especially in these two categories:
When you’re fearful of a certain area, you don’t hesitate to pay extra to not go near it. This can add up to extra commuting costs – more gas burned by taking the long way home, higher train fares so you can park and drive home from a safer train station or even taxi fares because it can be a safer way to get home than public transportation.
And if you’re pooh-poohing the taxi thing, you must be a man. Woman are so ingrained from such a young age to not walk places alone at night that it is an active decision you make every time you do it. You are aware that it is not safe to be out alone at night. You may be used to your commute. You may have done it for years. But every time you do it alone at night, you are aware that the very same commute is no longer as safe as it was in the daylight. Choosing to take a taxi over public transportation or walking is a very safe and often wise choice for a woman on her own to make – but it’s also an expensive one.
When I moved to New York City, I received a self-defense DVD and a rape whistle from my mom for Christmas. I laughed off her worry, but the fact is that there is a huge market in these products for a reason. You can pickup a whistle for less than a dollar, but isn’t it madness that woman even have to spend any money on something like that to feel safe?
The cost of self-defense classes can be considerably higher. You can spend $10-20 on a do-it-yourself DVD, but most women who engage in any kind of self-defense training usually opt to take in person classes, which can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars.
Have you ever found yourself spending more just to feel safe?
If you enjoyed this you can check out more stuff from Mel on her blog Broke Girl Rich and see what she’s up to on Twitter.