Leaving home for a day or two or even a week doesn’t feel like a big deal. But what if you have to leave for an extended period of time? What if a work trip or a familial obligation will keep you out of town for weeks or even months? You don’t want to give up your apartment but how will you make sure it (and everything/everybody in it) stays safe while you’re gone?
Let’s get the worst case scenario out of the way first. If something does happen to your apartment while you’re gone, it is important that you aren’t held responsible for the financial effects of what went wrong. This is where renters insurance comes in handy. In fact, your landlord probably requires you to have a policy to remain a tenant. Call your insurer to make sure you will still be covered if catastrophe strikes while you are away. Make sure that, if you have a house sitter (we’ll get to that in a moment) any damage they cause is covered as well.
#2. House Sitters
There are two types of house sitters. The first is the type who stops into water the plants, check the mail and generally make sure no disasters need cleaning up or fixing. They usually come over every few days and, typically, only for a few minutes at a time.
The second type of house sitter is the type who moves in for the duration of your trip. For that time, your home is literally their home. There are several advantages to finding this type of house sitter:
- You know someone will be on hand to take care of issues immediately
- You can ask them to pay a portion of your rent (or even all of your rent) and for the utilities, they use while they are in residence, which reduces your financial burden.
- If you have pets you won’t have to displace them.
- You don’t have to worry that any nefarious types scouting the area will suspect that your home is empty.
If you sublet your space for the duration of your trip or you invite someone to live there while you’re gone, that person can help alleviate the financial burden of your rent and utilities (if you sublet, you can also require a security deposit). Talk to your landlord about the possibility for temporary subletting or having a friend stay in the space. There might be details in your lease that you will have to manage before this can happen.
If you aren’t going to have a live-in house sitter, talk to your landlord and your utility companies about your situation. Arrange to mail your payments in or have a friend drop them off. You probably won’t be able to turn off your electricity (some of your appliances will need to stay plugged in) but you can put your cable/internet subscription on hold and have the gas turned off. If you are able, set up these payments to be processed automatically to prevent distractions getting in the way of your paying on time.
If you have a drop-by house sitter, though, you will have to make other arrangements for your pets. Fish and creatures that live in enclosed habitats are fairly easy to relocate for a few weeks or months. Cats and dogs, however, require more care. You probably don’t want to have to pay to board them for the duration of your travels. Long term boarding can also be detrimental to a pet’s health. Instead, ask friends your pets already know and trust to take them in temporarily and care for them. It will be easier on you and your furkids. And, of course, promise to reimburse your friends for all of the food and any veterinary costs that might be incurred while you’re gone. And remember to bring them back a really great present!
#5. Everyday Stuff
Talk to the post office about putting a long-term hold on your mail delivery and putting a hold on any newspaper deliveries you might have. You don’t want people to see a front porch covered in newspapers, etc. If you order deliveries while you are gone, have them sent to a friend’s house for safekeeping. Make sure that you don’t leave behind any perishable food in your fridge (unless you like the idea of coming home to a mold-encrusted fridge). And give your home a thorough and deep clean before you leave so that you don’t have to come home to a mess.
Make a list of all of these things and then work through it. The more details you address before you leave the more peace of mind you’ll have while you’re gone.