1. Let your property manager know you’re leaving. Let the office know if you’re going to be gone for more than a few days. If you have a private security company serving your home or community, let them know as well.
2. Don’t make it obvious your home is vacant. Try not to pack your car in open view. Use your garage if possible, so fewer people see you loading suitcases into the car. If mail and newspapers come directly to your door, stop the deliveries temporarily. Nothing says “no one’s home” more clearly than a pile of newspapers. It’s easy to ask post offices to hold your mail.
3. Continue landscaping and maintenance while away. 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. Overgrown grass and a dirty pool are signs you’ve been gone a while.
4. Bring pet care in-house. If your summer vacation travel doesn’t include your pets, consider asking a friend or neighbor to pet sit in your home rather than boarding them in a kennel. It’s less stressful on your furry family members and creates the impression that the house is occupied. Your vet can likely recommend boarding facilities and doggy day cares now offer in-home services as well. Of course, online marketplaces like TaskRabbit, Care.com and Rover.com have directories of professional pet sitters who will come to your home.
5. Ask a neighbor for help. Having a friend that you can trust on your block or in your building goes 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. 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. See if they will park a car in your driveway and retrieve mail or newspapers (if you haven’t suspended them) so it looks like there is regular activity at your home. Be willing to return the favor when your neighbors are away. 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 leave town, you don’t have to worry about what’s going on around your home.