Security Camera Getting Installed

Vacation Home Security Tips

Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team

Make sure you’re keeping your vacation home’s security up to par with American Family’s property security checklist — that way, you’ll have a surprise-free return to paradise next season!

If you’re leaving your vacation home for an extended period of time, the following checklist can help your second home stay safe and secure while you’re away. And whether your vacation home’s climate is cold, hot or anywhere in between, we’ll make sure your property is prepared to fend off human, animal and weather-based nuisances while you’re gone.

Consider Your Vacation Home’s Security System

If your vacation home isn’t protected by a security camera, consider investing in one to help deter and catch any intruders that try to make their way into your home or vandalize its exterior. Make sure to check the local ordinances in your vacation home’s locality — laws differ from place to place on where you can place security cameras. And even if you don’t want to invest in a smart home security system, dummy cameras that don’t actually work can deter a troublemaker if they look legitimate.

Interested in taking a step beyond fake security cameras to protect your property? Here’s how a smart home security system can give you peace of mind while you’re away:

Check on your home whenever you want. Most home security systems will allow you to watch your camera feed any time you want. It’s great for reassuring yourself that your vacation home is just as you left it.

Get alerts when something is happening. If your security system has motion-activated sensors, you might be able to receive alerts when activity is detected on your property. Then, if the activity is suspicious, you can alert the authorities right away and store away the video for reference soon after.

Communicate with welcome or unwelcome visitors. Some systems have two-way audio functionality, letting you listen in on the noise around your home and communicate with them, too. Whether someone’s snooping around the bushes or a mailman is waiting to deliver a package, you can let them know you see them.

Smart Doorbells

A video and audio smart doorbell can add a valuable dimension to your home’s security system. And if you go with Ring Video Doorbell, you might even be eligible for a discount on your American Family homeowners insurance! Here’s why a smart doorbell is the right choice for your vacation home:

It’s convenient. Two-way audio and video allows you to check in on the sights and sounds in your doorway at any time via your mobile device. And as complicated as it might seem, Ring comes with mounting hardware and isn’t difficult to install. No professionals, no extra tools — you got this!

If you don’t have the time to install your Ring Video Doorbell or would just prefer than an expert handle it, our friends at HelloTech are happy to get your system up and running.

Smart alerting. Ring lets you monitor more than your doorstep. Customize the sensor placement so heavily trafficked areas don’t pepper your device with baseless alerts while you’re at your vacation home. Instead, place them in less-busy areas where you’d prefer to be alerted when motion is detected.

Added security. Even when you’re not home, a Ring video doorbell system lets any unwelcome visitors know that they’ve been seen and they’re better off turning around to never return. Combine that with the other smart home security accessories you’ve outfitted your vacation house with and it’ll be as safe as can be.

Secure All Entrances

The most obvious security tip for keeping your vacation home safe — secure all potential entrances so intruders don’t have access to the interior. Here’s how you can make sure even the most determined vandal can’t get in:

Get high-quality locks. Locking all your doors and removing the spare key hidden on your doorstep are a great first step — but consider investing in a deadbolt for your front door and secondary locks, such as padlocks, for even more security. If you plan on having family, friends or contractors dropping by for work, consider investing in a smart lock system that will allow you to lock and unlock your doors with a tap on your mobile device.

Close and lock your windows. A locked window is great, but if a thief is determined and knows your vacation home isn’t occupied, they might not think twice about breaking a window. Consider purchasing a security system with window alarms that can detect when a window is broken, tampered with or malfunctioning.

Be careful with spare keys. Placing your spare keys in obvious locations might seem like a good idea when you accidentally lock yourself out, but it’s a bad idea overall — if you can find it easily, so can an intruder. Remove all spare keys from around your home when you leave and consider a smart home locking system to control access to your home from your mobile device.

Make it Seem Like You’re Still Home

Thieves, vandals and other criminals looking to take advantage of your property are significantly less likely to try to break in if they think you’re home. Use these tips to give the appearance that your vacation home is still occupied:

Take care of the mail. Rerouting your mail makes sure you don’t miss anything important and keeps mail from piling up on the doorstep of your vacation home. If you don’t want to have your mail forwarded, ask a neighbor if they would mind keeping it from filling up your mailbox and giving the appearance that no one is home.

Suspend services. Suspending cable service, trash pickup, newspaper and other services will not only help you at the end of the season but help you get a jump on scheduling for your return. Making sure newspapers aren’t piling up at your door is crucial for appearances — plus, you’ll save money by cutting back on services you won’t need.

Don’t advertise your departure. Posting on social media that you’re returning home for the colder months might seem inconsequential, but you never know who’s watching. Refrain from indicating that your home will be empty for the foreseeable future.

Maintain Maintenance for Your Vacation Home

Your vacation home will still be susceptible to environmental factors, minor breakdowns and wear and tear while you’re away. Here’s how to make sure your home stays in good shape while you’re gone:

Check your circuit breakers. It’s a good idea to turn off the circuit breakers for all nonessential outlets, excluding the security alarm, furnace fans, air conditioner, sump pump, smoke detectors and emergency lights.

Get a service checkup. You can get a heads-up on any potential problems by having an appliance service person come out and identify potential issues.

Maintain your drains. Pouring water mixed with baking soda down your drains will keep your drains clean and clog-free. Don’t ever leave a clogged or leaky pipe unattended — it will only allow the problem to worsen and cause more headaches for you when you return.

Know Your Neighbors

Having a good relationship with your vacation home neighbors can be crucial to its safety. Asking them pick up your mail on occasion is one thing, but trusting them to let you know when they notice something suspicious around your home is another. When you have a good relationship with your neighbors, you likely don’t even have to ask — but it certainly doesn’t hurt to let your neighbors know when you’re leaving, ask them politely to let you know if they see anything and exchange contact information.

Keep Up With Your Inventory

If you’ve made any improvements or major purchases, updating your home inventory list is a great place to start. And a quick email or call to your agent (Opens in a new tab) will help make sure your new add-ons are protected, too. Closing up your vacation home for the winter? Our Home Hibernation Checklist might help.

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    How Much is Rent & the Security Deposit?

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    Still, relying on online listings alone may not be enough. It’s better to personally ask the landlord, whether by calling, emailing, or visiting. Make sure to also bring up the security deposit, as well as any other upfront costs they may ask of you. This will save you from unpleasant surprises before you sign anything.

    How Much are Utilities and What Do I Cover?

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    How Does Parking Work?

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    In short, parking may be a complex situation involving specific locations and extra costs. If you have a car, don’t just ask if parking is available. Get the details. As you weigh your options, consider what’s best for your car as well.

    What’s the Pet Policy & Is There a Deposit or Fee?

    The pet policy won’t matter to every apartment hunter. If you have a furry friend or might want one someday, make this one of their first questions to ask when touring an apartment. A “no” answer is no deal, no matter how great the other perks may be.

    Some landlords may allow pets if you pay a one-time deposit or additional monthly fees. Make sure to keep that in mind during your search.

    What Amenities are Included?

    Utilities cover the most vital parts of a home — the things that make living there comfortable. Amenities are the complex’s welcome bonuses — the things that make living there enjoyable. Common examples include clubhouses, swimming pools, public kitchens, communal laundry machines, and fitness rooms.

    Amenities are great for those who use them, but their presence can justify higher rent. As your landlord takes you through each selling point on your tour, ask them whether these perks are included with your price. Also, make sure to consider if you’ll even use them.

    Do I Need Renters Insurance?

    Home insurance is for houses. If you live in an apartment, you look for renters insurance instead. In fact, some places make it mandatory for all residents. Be sure to ask your landlord in advance so you can make any arrangements you need.

    This practice is all about liability. Landlords have their own insurance, but it’s based on their duties and would only cover their share of the damages. Renters insurance offers protection for your living space and your belongings. Even if it’s not required, getting your own policy could bring you peace of mind.

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    You could always learn about each step of the application process as you go. Still, it never hurts to know ahead of time, especially if there are any fees and risks. If anything is unclear, the landlord should explain it to you.

    What Should I Know About Rent Increases?

    A variety of factors can change the value of an apartment. Examples include market shifts, new installations, repairs and replacements of fixtures. Your rent will likely not change for the duration of your lease. Once the time comes to sign again, though, your monthly payments may very well go up.

    This may not seem like a pertinent question when starting a lease. Still, making it one of your questions to ask when touring an apartment could be useful. How your potential future landlord approaches the matter can tell you what to expect. At the very least, it can help you choose whether to look for a new place well before your lease ends.

    What are the Lease Length Options?

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    Can I Make Changes to the Rental Unit?

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    How Do Maintenance Requests Work?

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    What’s the Guest Policy?

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    What Furnishings & Appliances are Included?

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    What’s Your Late Fee Policy?

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    What’s Your Subletting Policy?

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    Know the Best Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

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    Why Do I Need a Home Inventory?

    Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, everyone can benefit from a home inventory!

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