This article was previously published on June 13, 2013 and update for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

Owning a home is an exciting milestone that represents a moment of great change and opportunity in your life. You successfully navigated the web of paperwork, finances, and inspections, and came out with the keys to your new home. Congratulations—you've overcome the hardest feat. However, responsible home ownership has only just begun.

Among the move-in boxes and furnishing decisions, you’ll also want to take the necessary steps to protect your new property. As you settle, it's essential to take proactive measures to protect your investment and create a secure living environment. To ensure you keep your home and family protected, we have five security tips for new homeowners to follow.

1. Get to Know Your Surroundings

When you're new to a neighborhood, it's hard to pinpoint unusual activity because you don't know what's normal. Take some time to explore your neighborhood during different times of the day and familiarize yourself with the lay of the land and observe daily life. Understanding the local layout and potential risks can help you make informed decisions regarding your security measures.

What kinds of vehicles do neighbors drive? Is it common to see people out at night and early in the morning? How common are delivery trucks, move-in vans, construction crews, service provider visits, etc.? Identify nearby emergency services, hospitals, and police stations. The more aware you are of what's “typical,” the better prepared you'll be to spot something out of the ordinary or suspicious.

2. Meet Your Neighbors

When you move into a new home, you become part of a local community. Establishing friendships with your neighbors helps build a strong community and creates a network of support that can benefit you and your family’s security.

Your neighbors can be your biggest watchdogs. Introduce yourself and get to know one another. A mutual respect for one another means they will more likely feel comfortable alerting you if something appears off or contacting the police on your behalf if needed.

Inquire about a neighborhood watch program and get involved, or consider starting one if it doesn’t exist. In addition, trusted neighbors are great for picking up mail or doing yard work if you go on vacation. A well-kept yard makes it seem like you are home, even when you’re not, which can deter burglars. Just remember to treat them with a travel gift or a nice dinner whenever you return home.

3. Update Your Locks

When moving into a new home, one of the first tasks you should undertake is changing the locks. You never know how many spare keys might be circulating among previous occupants or contractors. Don't chance it; change your locks upon moving in to prevent these people from having easy access inside.

Invest in high-quality deadbolt locks for all exterior doors and consider upgrading to smart locks, which offer convenient features like remote access and keyless entry. Properly securing entry points is a fundamental step in fortifying your home's security. Also, remember to reconfigure your garage door code or invest in a smart garage door opener if you have one.

4. Perform Maintenance and Repairs

It’s impossible to catch every minor property detail during the initial viewing opportunity, which is why it’s important to thoroughly inspect your property to make sure everything works as it should after moving in. Check outside lights, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, window locks, etc. These features all play an integral part of your family’s ongoing wellbeing and safety. Fix or replace anything that is broken or not functioning properly.

You'll also want to take a critical eye to the past owner’s landscaping decisions. Lots of shrubbery and bushes—especially close to windows—and dark areas, provide excellent hiding spots for intruders. Clean up your yard as necessary upon moving in.

Regular maintenance isn't just about keeping your home aesthetically pleasing; it's also vital for security. Keep your property well-maintained and well-lit to eliminate any vulnerabilities that could leave your home compromised. Additionally, ensure doors, windows, and fences are in good condition and free of weaknesses. Get these items repaired or replaced if you notice any structural issues.

5. Invest in a Smart Home Security System

Investing in a smart home security system is one of the most beneficial decision any new homeowner can make. Not only do these systems help protect your home and family, they can increase the property value. As an added bonus, home security system installation often qualifies you for a discount on your homeowner’s insurance  too!

At Vector Security, we offer a wide range of smart security systems, including motion sensors, video cameras, window and door sensors, and even home automation integration, like lights, locks and thermostats. Our systems not only help deter potential intruders but also provide real-time monitoring and alerts, allowing you to respond promptly to any security breaches. Whether you’re a new homeowner or want to update your current property, talk to the security experts at Vector Security to learn more.