Someday I’d like to own a home, but for now, I’m stuck living in apartments where I do not control the heat and can’t put nails in the walls. I’m not unique; many of us in the millennial age group are still renting, and that may not change anytime soon. That’s cool, at least we don’t have to worry about mowing a lawn or fixing a broken water heater, right?
Home security has long been marketed as something that’s just for homeowners, many of which include a device built directly into the wall. If your landlord isn’t cool with you putting a nail in the wall, imagine their reaction to a giant hole right by the front door? R.I.P. security deposit.
I recently moved to an area known for home burglaries, especially for ground-level apartments without bars on the windows. Ding ding ding, that’s me! I was a tad freaked out, to put it mildly.
You might be at risk, too. While standalone homes are more likely to be burgled, students are still most likely to experience burglary (maybe because we’re known to have all the latest gear), and homes without security systems are 300 percent more likely to be burgled than a home with one.
On top of purchasing renter’s insurance and researching common precautions, I Googled home security systems ASAP.
I came across Canary, a security cam that just requires a WiFi connection and an outlet and has a smartphone app where I can change settings and see a live view of my apartment at any time. This thing was made for us renting millennials.
I opted for their cheapest option, a $149 “all-in-one” system. It’s not exactly cheap, but I thought the peace of mind would be worth it. The Canary all-in-one includes an HD camera, siren, air monitor. The air monitor keeps stats on the air quality and temp in your apartment; I still haven’t figured out how this improves my security, but I don’t mind having it.
Canary offers a membership with several benefits, but I stuck with their bare bones, basic system for about a month. It allowed me to change the setting between away (i.e., record everything mode), and home (private mode). Anytime activity was detected on the camera at home, I’d get a little alert on my phone (a cute lil bird sound) and I could check it out live on the app. It records for 10 seconds and gives you the option to set off the shrill, ear-murdering alarm or call the authorities directly from the app.
Sometimes the system is successful at guessing when I’m away or at home (based on my phone’s location), but it isn’t perfect and sometimes I need to manually change the setting. No big deal because it takes fewer than 5 seconds, but it has resulted in days when I’m away for 10 hours and Canary wasn’t at the ready to protect my home. Oops.
Canary’s membership add-on is $99 per year. I didn’t sign up for it initially because, along with the original price of $149, I was not in the mood to part with more dollars.
After about a month, Canary offered me a year of membership for 50 percent off. Membership includes desktop streaming of your home, filtering out activities that canary should ignore (like shadows or pets), custom modes, immediate customer support, scheduled Night Mode while you sleep, 30 days of stored video, an extended warranty, and a whole slew of other benefits.
Having the Canary membership doesn’t do much to change my everyday experience with the app, but if someday someone does decide to break into my home, I’ll be glad to have these extra features.
So far, the only complaint I have about Canary is the alert I receive on my phone. I think that if activity is detected at home while I’m in class, my phone should absolutely blow up like Kylie Jenner just snapped my phone number or something. The charming bird tone isn’t alarming, nor does it sound if my phone is on silent (it usually is). Since the alarm only goes off if I activate it by pressing a button in the app, it better provide a timely opportunity to do it! I realize this is a pretty big complaint issue, but just having the video footage of a burglary gives me comfort even if I won’t know it’s happening immediately.
Another concern is that there’s not much Canary can do in the event that I experience a burglary while I am at home, a common scenario for burglaries. For that reason, I also installed SafeTrek, which is $3 per month and is generally marketed as safety when you feel unsafe while walking, but it can also be used while you’re home. If you open the app while you feel unsafe (like if you hear someone kicking in your door), you can use the app to have authorities sent to your exact location. This is better than calling 911, in my opinion, because they can pinpoint your location and you don’t have to worry about speaking to anyone if you’d rather stay silent.
Canary (with a SafeTrek supplement) is the system that struck my fancy, but there are many other options for renters. It’s simple to find one that meets your needs using SafeWise’s comparison tool.
How do you keep yourself and your belongings safe?