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I'm going to be traveling out of the country for about 2 months, and I don't want to forget anything important as far as preparing my home to sit vacant during that time.

I own my home. I know I should arrange for mail holding/forwarding, and should make sure my lawn is kept. What else should I be considering to help ensure that I can rest easy while I am away?

closed as too broad by choster, Ali Awan, Mark Mayo Aug 1 '18 at 5:40

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    For me, a few ip cams helped to make me less worried, nothing compares to seeing with your own eyes. – Nean Der Thal Jul 31 '18 at 20:23
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    Just as a heads-up - this wouldn't be considered vacancy, just unoccupancy, as long as you are intending to return to your home. Vacancy is where you have no intention to return, or ought to know you won't return. – Jim MacKenzie Jul 31 '18 at 20:55
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    Do you have a friend who'd be willing to house-sit? That would address many issues at a stroke. – user79658 Jul 31 '18 at 21:59
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    Questions that solicit open-ended lists are not well-suited to the Stack Exchange format. Certainly, a great deal will depend on your living situation: your locale, the time of year, whether you are in a single-family or multifamily structure, whether you have pets, and so on. Already we have contradictory answers because different answerers are making different assumptions about your situation. – choster Aug 1 '18 at 1:19
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My advice, including some professional advice from my career as an insurance professional:

  1. Have someone pick up your mail regularly, at least every couple of days, if your mail is delivered right to your home or you get flyers and newspapers delivered there.
  2. Have someone take care of the yard. Keep lawns mowed; remove snow and ice in the winter, soon enough after snowfall that it's not obvious that you're not home.
  3. Timers can be used to make lights come on and off at sensible times in the evening to make it look like people are home.
  4. Turn off the water in the home, at the main shutoff valve, in case of a pipe leak.
  5. If you live in an area that gets freezing temperatures, have someone check your home daily to ensure that the heat is working, or have a centrally monitored security system present with a temperature sensor. If you don't, your coverage for water escape due to freezing could be suspended. (Check with your property insurer.)
  6. Clean out the fridge and remove all trash and recycling before you go, to prevent odours and general unpleasantness.
  7. Ensure all doors and windows are properly closed and locked, especially ones you don't often use. It's easy to forget to properly close them.
  8. You may want to disconnect expensive electronics from AC power, in case of a lightning strike or power surge.
  9. Turn off your water heater. Most water heaters have an "away" or "vacation" mode you can set, that will consume less natural gas or electricity. Also consider shutting off the water intake into your water heater, because water heaters are prone to rupture, especially in areas with certain water conditions. The less water available, the less mess will arise.
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Snow removal. Nothing says uninhabited like snow piling up with no path to the entrance or garage.

Update your alarm, banks and credit card companies on your travel plans with up to date contact info and a local trusted person to contact for emergencies with the home. It really helps to have VOIP that you can access from the same number around the world.

Lower your heaters to a little above freezing in order to reduce cost but avoid pipes to burst from cold. You can suspend services such as internet but not really necessary for only two months. Disconnect any devices that do not need to be running while you are away as a safety measure.

Take as many valuables as you can out and put them in a safe location or an actual safe. Do backups of all your digital assets and store them in two locations, one of which should be off-site. This is true even if not travelling but it is a good time to remember to backup everything and make sure they are safe from the potential of losing your home to fire and possibility of theft.

Depending on where you live, you may still get stuff packed into your mailbox - mostly unaddressed stuff - even with mail retention, so place a No flier sticker on the mailbox and ask someone to pick up anything that is left there about once a week.

Although 2 months should not be a problem, it is best if you park your car with the hood facing outside so that you can get a boost for your car from its parked position. Some people disconnect the battery when away for several months.

  • Just above freezing is a dangerous temperature to set. If your furnace or other heating fails, you can have pipes frozen very quickly if there is no buffer in temperature. 15 degrees C is a much more reasonable temperature. – Jim MacKenzie Jul 31 '18 at 20:49
  • We kept ours at 8C for being away the entire winter without issue but, yes, it should keep the whole house from freezing. The price of heating to 15C vs 8C is very significant. – Itai Jul 31 '18 at 21:03
  • It is, but the cost of water escape due to pipe freezing is pretty significant too. :) In a really cold climate, a house may not survive 48 hours between a furnace failure and pipes freezing, and checking daily could technically involve checks as far as just under 48 hours apart, if at the right times. – Jim MacKenzie Jul 31 '18 at 21:25
  • It's August. Any ideas for late summer/early autumn where sweaters aren't required in August?? – RonJohn Aug 1 '18 at 5:45
  • @RonJohn - Depending where you are, that might be summer or winter, plus many parts of the world have two seasons (rainy & dry), so at pretty much any date you can go somewhere with any weather! August in the norther coast of Ecuador is hot, it is less so in the southern coast and in the center you can find any temperature range depending on the altitude, the capital Quito is always between 16-22C for example. – Itai Aug 1 '18 at 13:05
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To minimise risks you could:

  • Turn off the heating and the main water stop tap. In winter, leave the heating on a low setting.
  • Ask a neighbour to remove any newspapers or circulars left sticking out of the mail box/slot, which would show that the house is empty.
  • Leave a couple of lights on timers, for the same reason.

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