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How to leave a house empty?

Travel Forums General Talk How to leave a house empty?

1. Posted by fabyomama (Respected Member 560 posts) 7y

Looks like I could be away for 6-8 weeks and I'd like to know if anyone else here has learnt from the experience of leaving their home empty. There's the obvious stuff like unplugging the tv, emptying the fridge, etc, but the not so obvious stuff is also important, so anything you found out and could pass on will be appreciated.

It will be winter so I'm leaving the central heating to come on just once a day to save the place freezing up and I'll also leave a main light on. Someone will be passing by about once a week to collect and deal with the mail, but apart from that, there'll be no-one there. It seems leaving needs as much planning as going.


2. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 7y

Leave the fridge door open once defrosted. If left closed it'll have trees growing in it when you get back. Not very nice trees either.
Leave a plate on the table with a cup of tea still with tea in it, so if people look through the window they'll think that the occupier hasn't been away too long.
A light on before dark (not after) so as people dont see it actually come on. Bedroom light on a timer to go off at around 1am.
Works for me.

3. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 7y

Oh and bathroom light on at 00:30 off at 01:00. On again at 06:00 off at 06:30.

4. Posted by soupatrvlr (Respected Member 385 posts) 7y

Well, when we took off for two months in the dead of winter and didn't get a house sitter...our house was broken into and the police came by and boarded up the broken back door after we learned about it. We live in the middle of a city, so this might not even apply to your area. Not to scare you, just make sure things are secure, and you might want someone to come by more than once a week. In the end, we organized from abroad someone to replace the door and for a house sitter a couple times a week. Fortunately not too many things were stolen. On that note, just make sure whoever is stopping by to check on things knows what to do in the case of an emergency...who to contact with the appropriate numbers. You might think these things are common sense, but some people just cave in a crisis and we managed all the details upon learning of the break-in on a phone message ourselves.

Anyway, we unplugged everything except the majors: fridge, deep freeze, oven. We suspended our phone, mobile, & tv and turned our thermostat timer down to one base temperature to keep things from freezing. We should have set some lights on timers...and would do that in the future. One upstairs, one down. We didn't shut the fridge/deep freeze off.

Also, if you have any valuables, hide them throughout the house, or better yet lock them in a safe or give them to someone else for safe keeping. Things like jewelry/art. Anything you would hate to find missing.

5. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 7y

Soupatrvlr.... Do you think that suspending the phone is such a good idea?
Naughty people think 'No phone for a week.. Nobody at home'
Just a thought.

6. Posted by fabyomama (Respected Member 560 posts) 7y

Won't be stopping the phone/broadband, etc - not worth it for a couple of months - though it would be a good thing to put on a 'leaving list' if one was to be made up. Will need to leave the freezer on as it's got quite a bit of film in there. Funny enough, my main concern is not security, even though I have a lot of work stuff in there - it's more to do with if anything goes wrong in the place itself, like flooding, fire, stuff like that where it could effect other people. I suppose I should give my neighbours a key as well - in case of emergencies.

The person I have looking in is a good friend - rock solid and doesn't cave in. She's my book-keeper, one of the sharpest people I know and I trust her completely in any situation. Thinking about it, I think the last thing on the list should be 'Go and Don't Worry' - though I'm not there yet.

Thanks for everything so far. Keep it coming please if you can think of anything. It's appreciated. ;)

7. Posted by soupatrvlr (Respected Member 385 posts) 7y

Quoting BedouinLeo

Soupatrvlr.... Do you think that suspending the phone is such a good idea?
Naughty people think 'No phone for a week.. Nobody at home'

Well, what I actually did for the home phone was put it on the cheapest plan. Our phone has a built-in answering machine, so that picked up instead. Not many people use this line, so I didn't feel it was an issue.

Now with all this said and done, we will never leave the house empty for more than a week or two since the break-in last year. We get house-sitters, so we don't shut down the phone, TV or internet. Every other year when we left for 4-8 weeks, we had house sitters. Last year, we were trying to save money...and in the end, spent more on the insurance deductible than it would have cost to have someone living there. We figured it wouldn't be a big deal since our friend picked up the mail on her way to work every couple of days and she drove by our house every morning. She learned about the break-in b/c she was driving by and our front door was wide open. When she went inside, she noticed that the back door was broken in and then was scared b/c she thought that someone might still be in the house. She pretty much called everyone but the police. Ultimately, I reached my neighbor, who's house had been broken into a day or two before during the day, and she reported everything for us.

But its all good in the end, not too much was stolen...they were looking for any kind of cash or drugs and we have a better back door! We got full replacement value for the laptop, which didn't have any important files on it. There were just some papers that had been in the laptop case that we hadn't filed yet that we wish hadn't disappeared.

8. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 7y

In the UK with my home phone provider it's possible to get my calls diverted to my mobile without a foreign ringtone kicking in. So without very careful observation (delay and slightly fainter signal) people that I dont want to know that I am away.. Don't know.