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In 2006 I moved into a dingy small apartment in a low income neighborhood. It was the only place that I could afford back then. I had a full-time job, and I was in graduate school. I needed money to pay my tuition, and I wanted to be on my own. Something had to give and that something was a nice place in a good neighborhood.
I lived in this low-income apartment building that I called “the ghetto” for one year. My friends refused to come and visit me. My parents visited me there once. After their visit, my mother insisted I moved back in with her and her husband right away. However, I stood my ground.
It was quite an experience, I have to admit, but I was able to save some money and pay for my school. I could walk to a grocery store, our public library and a couple coffee shops. The location was great. Most importantly the apartment was incredibly cheap.
Most of the time we think about the ghetto as a desperate place, filled with crime and junkies. My place was not too safe, but it was not too bad either. There were a few scary moments. For example, when my next door neighbor was robbed twice in one week by his own friends whom he owed money for drugs. Other than that, living in “the ghetto” was bearable.
From day one I slowly started to learn what was appropriate and what was not in my “hood”. Over time I acquired a set of certain survival skills that came in handy for a single girl who found herself living alone in a ghetto apartment.
Five Lessons on How To Survive in a Ghetto Apartment
Lesson 1: Do Not Make Eye Contact
If you see something or someone that peeks your interest, curiosity or simply scares you, do not stare, and never make eye contact. This way you will be able to pass by without being addressed or being pulled into a conversation you really do not want to be a part of.
Lesson 2: Use the Peephole
I knew that my next door neighbor was a junkie. I tried to stay away from him, and I never exited my apartment if I could see him through the peephole in my front door. There was quite a few other questionable neighbors whom I tried to avoid by all means. I learned to use the peephole on a regular basis.
Lesson 3: Do Not Show Fear, Smile Instead
People can sense your fear of them. If you let them see it, they will try to capitalize on it, and intimidate you even more. What do you do? I say you smile. I used to smile at people I was afraid of and say, “Hello.” Most of the time they would respond back: sometimes with a “Hello,” sometimes just with a nod of their head. However, I never was followed.
Lesson 4: The Less You Have, the Less Can Be Stolen
It was a low-income neighborhood. People could not afford a lot of things. Some of them were not even working most of the time. I was driving a very old and beat up car that blended in perfectly in our small parking lot outside of the apartment building. I tried to live by the rule: the less you have, the less can be stolen. It worked.
Lesson 5: Befriend the Maintenance Staff
If you live in “a ghetto” and you want your kitchen sink fixed, your hallway lights bright (believe me you want these lights working!), and your air conditioner functioning, make sure to be very friendly with the maintenance staff even if their looks scare the living hell out of you. My maintenance guy looked like he was either high or drunk every time I saw him. Most of the time his looks were deceiving. He was a good man, who worked hard and appreciated people who were friendly with him. In return, I never had a household problem that was not resolved promptly.
Ever lived in “a ghetto”? Share your experience!