How to Secure Your New Home or Apartment

Brianne Sandorf
Researcher & Writer
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Published on January 29, 2021
6 min read

At a glance

We all want to feel safe in a new home or apartment. That’s why even before you finish unpacking, you should secure your place. Securing your home keeps you and loved ones safe—and helps prevent anyone from becoming victims of theft, vandalism, or an unfortunate home accident.

To secure your new home, we suggest doing some or all of the following:

  • Check the lighting
  • Change the locks
  • Add cameras
  • Get home security
  • Get fire extinguishers
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms
  • Purchase homeowners insurance and/or warranties

1. Enhance your lighting

Lighting (especially motion-activated lighting) is crucial to keeping your home secure.

Thieves tend to lurk in the shadows, and the right lighting makes it difficult for them to make a more costly move on your place. Plus, motion lights make it look like someone’s home or awake, even when you aren’t.¹

Types of lighting to consider

Start by ensuring there’s adequate lighting outside your front door and any accessible windows. That can be porch lights, streetlights, ambient light from your neighbors—the source doesn’t matter as long as the light is there.

Then look at the interior lights that are visible from outside your home. Are they bright enough to be seen and spook off an intruder? Or are they pretty darn dim?

If the lighting at your home seems subpar, replace your bulbs or add new light fixtures. One of the best ways to improve visibility and ward off intruders around your property is to add motion sensor lights or other outdoor security lights.

Apartment owners don’t always have the option to update their external lighting on their own. If you’re in an apartment or rental home with a lighting problem, be sure to reach out to the landlord to get it fixed.

2. Change the locks

If the previous owner or landlord didn’t change the locks before you moved in, consider changing them yourself. Yeah, it’s a pain, but if you don’t, a stranger could waltz into your place at any minute.

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Window check

When you think of locks, you might think of exterior doors. But doors aren’t the only potential entry points for a thief, so it’s also worth checking out your windows.

If you have windows that open (especially bedroom windows), look at each window lock to make sure it’s not broken. You may also want to take other window safety measures. They could include adding window security film, window bars, or other coverings that will keep people from either looking into your home or entering it.

Types of door locks to consider

When it comes to lock replacements, there are a ton of options. You can use a simple deadbolt, a keypad lock, or a smart lock, for starters. You could even get a combo of all three.

It’s important to understand the different types of door lock options out there and which ones are best for your needs. Here are some top suggestions from the product testing experts over at Reviews.org.

Door lock suggestions

Product
Lock type
Read Review
Kwikset 980 Single Cylinder Deadbolt
Schlage L9040 Mortise
Schlage Touch Camelot Deadbolt BE375 Keyless entry lock
August Smart Lock Smart lock

Data as of 12/17/20.

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Alternatives to locks

If you can’t or don’t want to change your locks for whatever reason, you can use door jammers. Jammers prevent intruders from opening the door, and you can get packs of two for less than the cost of most locks. You could also add strike plates or chain locks to reinforce your existing hardware.

3. Add cameras

Home security cameras could be your jam if you want to know who’s on your property and when. They especially come in handy if your neighborhood is prone to package theft, car theft, or other crimes.

Types of home security cameras to consider

Choosing a security camera can be tricky! There are lots of factors you need to consider, like if you want one camera versus an entire home security system

The security camera features you’ll need depend on your situation: location, personal concerns, your home set up, level of comfort with technology, and, of course, price. (Security cameras can be expensive, but they don’t always have to be.)

As a starting point, we recommend that you look at the following features:

  • Video quality
  • Night vision
  • Motion detection
  • Two-way audio
  • Weatherproofing
  • App availability
  • Power source
  • Storage type
  • Video recording type

For homes, you’ll typically want a camera at your front door (many people go with doorbell cameras over standard cameras). It’s also smart to have one pointed at your driveway or garage door.

For apartments, generally a tabletop indoor camera (like the Arlo Q) is best. Point it at the apartment door so you can see if anyone enters your place when you’re out.

4. Get home security

Sometimes a camera is enough. Other times, it makes more sense to get a full home security suite, especially if you live in areas that are prone to more crime.

A home security system can take a serious load off your mind by ensuring everyone’s safety when you’re home or away. If someone opens a door or window while you’re gone, you’ll know, and so will the police.

Types of home security systems

If you’re frequently gone during the day, have a lot of exits and entrances to your home, or live in an area with high crime, a home security system is a good idea for you.

If you’re home most of the time, don’t have many doors or windows, and live in a low-crime neighborhood, the investment may not be worth it.

Here are a few of Reviews.org’s recommendations for top home security systems. We’ve included both DIY and professionally installed systems in the table.

Home security suggestions

Product
Security type
Learn more
Vivint Professional
SimpliSafe DIY
ADT Professional
Frontpoint DIY

Data as of 12/17/20.

5. Equip your home with fire extinguishers

Unlike smoke alarms, fire extinguishers don’t come with your new digs. You’ll need to buy those on your own.

Get fire extinguishers for the rooms that are most likely to have fire hazards. Typically, that’s the kitchen and laundry room. But if you frequently light candles in the living room or smoke in the bedroom, you might want to keep extinguishers near those areas, too.

Not sure what kind of fire extinguisher to get? SafeWise has advice on the various types of extinguishers and how to use them.

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Top home fire starters

Cooking accidents, heating malfunctions, smoking, and faulty electrical wiring are among the top causes for fires in the home. That’s why having a fire extinguisher on hand is an especially smart investment when it comes to home safety.³

6. Install carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is colorless and odorless but very deadly; an alarm can save your life. The trouble is that not every state requires carbon monoxide detectors in private dwellings.² If your home doesn’t have CO alarms in the kitchen and bedrooms, we suggest getting some ASAP.

Types of carbon monoxide detectors to consider

Carbon monoxide disperses equally, so you can install a detector at any height.⁴

You can replace your smoke alarms with smoke-CO detection combos installed on the ceiling, or you can do plug-in CO alarms. You can even get portable carbon monoxide detectors that you can take with you to your office or on vacation.

Money
How much do carbon monoxide alarms cost?

We’ve seen carbon monoxide alarms range from $15 to $250. Typically, it depends on how many features the device has and how smart home-friendly it is.

7. Purchase homeowners insurance and warranties

A home alarm system and other security measures are preventive, but they don’t ward off every unfortunate incident that could happen in your home.

That’s where insurance and warranties come in. Homeowners insurance and home warranties protect your home and its contents against theft, property crimes, natural disasters, and more.

Everyone who owns a home should have homeowners insurance, full stop. Warranties, on the other hand, are optional. They can cover the cost of appliance and system replacements—but they’re also notorious for having loopholes.⁵

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Should I get renters insurance?

If you’re renting out a space, renters insurance can be a smart way to protect yourself and your valuables against unfortunate accidents.

Insurance options to consider

Getting insurance or a warranty can get real complex, real quick. You can do things the old-fashioned way (calling or emailing insurance and warranty companies to get quotes). Or you can use tools like Policygenius to help you swiftly narrow down your options.


Recommended resources

Top product picks

Sources

  1. Nick, Ring, “The Ultimate List Of Burglar Deterrents: Final Four!” April 2016. Accessed November 24, 2020.
  2. NCSL, “Carbon Monoxide Detector Requirements, Laws and Regulations.” March 27, 2018. Accessed December 15, 2020.
  3. U. S. Fire Administration, “U. S. Fire Statistics.” Accessed January 15, 2021.
  4. Jason M Carlton, Intermountain Healthcare, “Protect Your Family: Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms.” February 26, 2014. Accessed December 15, 2020.
  5. Financial Web, “4 Pitfalls of Home Warranties.” Accessed December 16, 2020.
Brianne Sandorf
Written by
Brianne Sandorf
Brianne has a degree in English and creative writing from Westminster College and has spent 5+ years writing professional, research-based content. Before joining Reviews.org, she wrote for ASecureLife.com. Her pieces and quotes are published across the web, including on Stanford's student blog and Parents.com. Hobbies include wearing a seatbelt, wearing a life jacket, and keeping her arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Contact her at brianne@reviews.org.