Summer is a great time to hit the road! Travelers will be taking advantage of the warm weather to go to beaches, campsites, on cruises, and more. With so many options, there is a lot to plan for to make sure this summer vacation is one to remember.
But while fun in the sun might be on the mind of travelers everywhere, it’s just as important for homeowners to think about the state of their home they’ll be leaving behind. Whether you live in a high-rise, condo or master-planned community, it’s important to know how to prepare your home for an extended time away.
If you work with a professional property management company, you can reach out to your property manager for vacation preparation tips specific to your community. But no matter where you live, here are some simple tips to help ensure your home is safe and well maintained while you are off enjoying the summer sun.
Nothing ruins a great trip like coming home to a burglarized property. Thankfully, there are several ways to discourage potential criminals who might be lurking near the neighborhood, observing people’s behaviors for clues that residents are away. Try not to pack your car in open view. Use your garage for loading the car to limit the number of individuals who will know you are planning to be away. You should also consider stopping mail and newspaper service while you are gone, so that it doesn’t pile up. You can quickly arrange for your mail service to be held for you at www.usps.com.
Set your answering machine to answer on the second ring, and turn down your ringer volume. A phone ringing off the hook is a good indication no one is home. Be very careful about broadcasting your travel plans on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, regardless of your account privacy settings. That’s a dead giveaway you are out of town and are unable to respond to a crime at your home. Also, if many neighbors are traveling at the same time, residents can contact the local police department and your community manager so extra eyes can be on the neighborhood.
There are many ways to conserve energy while you are out of town, which will do wonders for your summer electric bill. You don’t want to leave your home completely dark, because that’s an obvious sign you are away. But you also don’t want lamps, TVs, and other appliances running unnecessarily. Instead, set your lights and TVs with a timer so that they are on at appropriate times and turn off when you would be going to bed. Leave your blinds slightly open so that lights and flashing TVs inside the house shine out. Keep your air conditioner on but set at a higher temperature (unless you are leaving pets at home). Your compressor will kick on when temperatures rise, which could be a sign someone is home. Also, consider turning off the circuit breaker or gas valve to your hot water heater, or simply turn it to a lower setting so it isn’t working when it doesn’t have to be.
If you plan to be gone for more than a few days, make sure you arrange for your lawn to be maintained, your bushes and landscaping to be tended to, and your pool cleaned. A suddenly unkempt home is a sign residents are away. If you are close with your neighbors, ask one of them to park a car in your driveway and retrieve mail or newspapers (if you haven’t suspended these services) so it looks like there is regular activity at your home. If you are traveling without your pets, consider asking a friend or neighbor to pet sit in your home, rather than boarding them in a kennel. This way, there will be activity in your home.
Having a friend that you can trust on your block or in your building can go a long way toward helping you relax while you are gone. Make sure you leave a key with this person and an emergency contact number in case you need to be reached while you’re on vacation. Have them check on your home now and again to make sure everything is in order. If you leave before trash day, ask them to put out your trash and retrieve the cans, so it is not sitting outside. Be willing to return the favor when your neighbors are away, and bring them a gift or token of your appreciation for taking time out of their schedule to give you peace of mind. This way, you build a reliable trust network together, form a stronger friendship, and know that any time you have to leave town, you don’t have to worry about what’s going on around your home.
Following these simple tips can help you save money and energy, keep intruders away from your property, and bring you peace of mind while you’re enjoying your time away from home.