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As the end of January approaches many households begin to plan their up and coming vacations to escape the remaining cold winter weeks or have even started thinking about spring break (for those of you impacted by elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schedules). While vacation time should always be a happy one, being away from your house for a significant amount of time can weigh on the mind. Granted while those of you living in UBC area homes enjoy the benefits of living in a safe community environment, it’s only natural to feel over-protective of your abode when away from it. Thus, I thought I would offer a few useful tips to put your mind at ease while on vacation.
5 Tips to Protecting Your Home While Away on Vacation
1. Don’t Let the Mail Pile Up
One tell-tale sign that the residents of a home, are not home, for a long period of time is a pile of mail spilling out of the mail box or flyers and newspaper subscriptions building up on the front steps. Put your mail delivery on-hold with the local post office if gone for longer than a week or have your trusted neighbors pick it up for you every day or two. Another preemptive option, which is a good idea for other reasons (less environmental paper waste and less clutter in the home) is to convert hardcopy mail to electronic alternatives - have monthly bills and periodical subscriptions delivered online instead.
2. Get Someone to Take Care of the Front Yard
If it’s the spring or summer have someone (friends, family, neighbors kid) mow your lawn mid-vacation. If it’s winter and there is snowfall, have them salt and shovel the walkways and paths fronting your home. This will “keep up appearances”, making your home looked lived-in while you are away on vacation.
3. Use Your Smartphone to Create a Smart-Home and Appear that You Are At-Home
There are a slew of iPhone and Android apps out there that will convert your home into a smart home. Depending on your mobile device a simple visit to the respective app store will uncover apps that you can use to turn your home’s lights off and on, in addition to controlling the on/off status of your TV and stereo. By randomly hopping on your mobile device while on vacation and having a little fun with these controls your home will give off the appearance that someone is within. Just make sure you don’t blast your stereo at 2 AM, waking up your neighbors, because you forgot that you are currently in a different time zone while away.
4. Watch the Water
Turn off the outside water valve, preventing leaks and accidents from your garden/carport hoses. In addition, especially in the winter, you should consider having a trusted friend or neighbor drain the water pipes within the home, or turn them off altogether when gone for a week, so that homes in cold climates do not succumb to frozen (and thus damaged) pipes.
5. Don’t Leave a Key Outside
If you can imagine a hiding place for your house keys outside than others can too. While we are all wise enough to no longer place them under the front door mat the other alternatives such as within outdoor planters, garden gnomes, and the rest are also among the usual suspects. If you need a back-up set of keys keep them with people that you can trust that are located within near proximity to your home should you need them to gain access for whatever reason.
I hope you found these tips useful. Of course, as mentioned above one of the best ways to ensure a safe home while you are away on vacation is by first deciding to live in a neighborhood community where such a thing is of little concern. The UBC area is such an area and if you want to learn more about finding a home in UBC then please feel free to contact my UBC real estate office anytime.