Owning a home is the big dream for almost everyone of a certain age. It’s how we were raised. Go to school, get a job, buy a car, find a spouse, start having kids, buy a house. Some of those milestones have changed, but a lot of us still want to own a home before we can feel ‘grown up’. But in this age of financial upheaval and short-term employment, a lot of articles are being written on the value of renting. You don’t have to worry about land rates or home repair, and you can up and leave anytime you want to.
Of course that covers up the real issues. For instance, we assume millennials don’t want to buy homes because they prefer a light-hearted nomadic lifestyle of ‘perpetual adolescence’. The reality is lots of millennials would love to own homes. They work ‘gigs’ because permanent jobs are harder to come by, and they share rentals because gigs and college loans aren’t exactly conducive to home ownership. It can be hard to find something nice in your budget, and even harder to qualify for a mortgage.
Once you do own a home, it’s a different set of challenges. You have to maintain the lawn and pool, especially if your resident’s association is particularly strict. You can’t just move if you dislike your neighbours, and if anything breaks, you have to deal with it yourself, from the hectic bills to the sometimes frustrating workmen / workwomen. There’s no cranky landlord to do it for. These do seem like minor downsides for the joy of home ownership though. The one thing that may trouble you is … what happens during your vacation?
Get a house-sitter
If you have friends, colleagues, or distant relatives you trust, they could move in for the few weeks or months you’re on holiday. It may feel awkward having someone rifle through your things, but if you have pets, it can be essential. Plus, a house-sitter / pet-sitter is less stressful for your pets than leaving them in a kennel. You might even make some money in the process, if you put up your house on AirBnB. Yes, it involves having strangers in your personal space, but your friends/relatives will probably be just as rough … and nosy.
Whether you get a free sitter or a paying guest, make sure they genuinely like pets, to ensure your fur babies are in good hands. On the other hand, if you’re unsure about having people in your house (and if there are no pets that need feeding and pampering), you could just lock up and leave. If it’s an extended vacation, there are other things you can do to ward off potential burglars. The scene in Home Alone where Kevin uses cut-outs isn’t as farfetched as it seems. You could, for example, use an automated lighting system.
Programme them to go on and off at intervals, both inside the house and in the yard. This could create an illusion that the house is occupied. If you have a pool (and a pool app), you can use your phone to manage the pool lights as well as the house lights. You can also get the type of CCTV that’s linked to your smartphone. That way, you can periodically review your home security footage. Let your quick-response team know you’ll be away so if they hear any tripped alarms or notice any strange movement, they can come over and have a look.
Install roller shutters
All those technological tools can be helpful, but sometimes, you want something more analogue. Roller shutters are a good idea, because they’re resistant to weather conditions, including gale force winds and bush fires (though they don’t usually keep out flood-water, not unless they’re deliberately water-proofed). Some roller shutters have insulation foam between their slats, so they can cut down the heating / cooling bill while you’re away. They’re strong enough to withstand the physical ramming force of a car or a crowbar, though your neighbours would probably notice someone trying to drive a truck through your home.
Roller shutters can be installed over windows and garage entrances, blocking unwelcome access to the house. If you buy the opaque kind, it serves as a privacy tool too, because nobody can peep into your home as they case it for potential mischief. And while roller shutters can latch themselves shut, they have slots for padlocks, both on the inside and outside, for extra reinforcement and peace of mind. So whether you’re securing your house for the holidays or looking for a good night’s rest, they’re a good options. Plus, they raise your property value and come in lots of colours for that aesthetic touch. Win-win!