If you’re gearing up for a move, you’re not alone: America is considered a highly mobile nation – and the statistics aren’t talking about our cell phone usage. In fact, about 11-12% of Americans move to a new home every year and about 35% have moved in the last five years.
Some people are lucky enough to stay in a beloved neighborhood, moving simply to upgrade their digs – or downsize, depending on your family’s situation. But if you’re among the millions who will be moving to new neighborhoods, cities, or even states, you’ve likely wondered what your new community will be like: Will you get along with your neighbors? Will your kids like their new schools? And will your family be safe?
While only time can reveal the first two answers, we can help you with the third. You can take the same smart precautions no matter where you live, and complete the same safety measures before you move, to keep your family safe and make sure your new home security monitoring is working.
1. Research the Neighborhood
Before you sign a lease or purchase contract on a new home, research the neighborhood: Ask at the local police department about crime statistics. Check the state’s sex offender registry. Speak with your home insurance company; their rates are partially based on neighborhood risk. Talk with the Neighborhood Watch, if there is one. And use your eyes – look for a neighborhood that is well kept, and where you feel safe walking around.
2. Change the Locks
Whether you rent or buy, it’s a good idea to change the locks (or have the landlord change them for you) before you arrive. Even if you rent from a great landlord or bought your home from incredible prior owners, you never know who might have the key: friends, family, maintenance workers, etc. Be safe and change all the door locks, including deadbolts, on your home.
3. Check the Windows
Windows, not doors, are the choice entry point for many burglars. Replace any broken locks, screens or window frames. Verify that no windows can be opened from the outside. Also, replace fake security signs with your more believable real security system signs.
4. Test Your Smoke Detectors & C.O. Detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Before you even move into your home, verify that all your detectors are properly functioning and are either electrically powered or have fresh batteries. Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years and at a minimum, you should have one smoke detector per floor, one at the top and bottom on stairways, one outside every sleeping area, and one in every bedroom.
5. Tour the Neighborhood
Familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood: what cars are parked there day and night? Where are the closest police and fire stations? Where’s the nearest hospital? If there’s a Neighborhood Watch, attend a meeting. Introduce yourself to the neighbors. Drive around side streets. The more you know about your neighborhood, and the more you’re known throughout your neighborhood, the safer you’ll be.
6. Plan – and Practice – Your Escape Route
You already know the importance of creating an exit plan, in case of fire alarms or other emergency. One of the first things you should do when you move to a new home is establish a new plan – and practice it.
7. Install a Home Security Alarm System
An alarm system is one of the single best theft deterrents out there, and you should really install your home security system before you move in. But it’s never too late. So whether you’ve been in your home for a day, a week or a month, get on the phone and get the system installer over as soon as possible.