Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Living in High End Condos‏

Hi Ferfal,

Have read your posts about choosing the right neighborhood to live in. And that the real nice neighborhoods, stayed nice.

What was your experience/stories you've heard with the upper-end condos, that have security in the lobbies? I'd think that high-end condos have the "nice neighborhood" idea, but in a building with 40 stories. And I'd figure that stealing/breaking issues would be less since there is security in the lobby areas. Your thoughts?

Best Regards,

Jason (Philippines)

The nicer ones upgraded their security some. More guards, more cameras and lights, a perimeter wall (that goes along with the architecture of course, plants, etc ,something that looks nice)
If its an upper middle class place it will usually go that way, and probably go up in price too.
If not it may go the other way, end up with poor security (or none at all)that isn't up to it and therefore it would become pretty dangerous.
When choosing the place to live in, if you can't go for the nicer ones at least try finding one where the owners are involved and there's a greater sense of community. That way you can all discuss these issues when they become more obvious and plan accordingly, maybe talk about making an extra efford to hire some security.



Don Williams said...

1)In my opinion, the problem with condos and hotels is that they give the illusion of security and lure you into laxity that makes you highly vulnerable when attacked.

2) For one thing, the front desk usually ends up doing limited screening because it is a nuisance to residents. This makes it hard to keep out determined crooks who resort to disguises/cons to get in. Once inside, there are a number of hiding places (stairwells,etc.).

3) So you do not have an outer perimeter like you have with a house (yard with fence boundary and alarms,etc.).

Your perimeter is your front door -- and you usually can't make it as secure as the one on a house.

And the distance between you and an attacker if you open the door is about 1 foot. (E.g, if he is hiding against the wall) so you don't realize he is there when you open the door. Not much time to respond to an ambush.

If you have a balcony, that is another point of ingress.

Plus there are many narrow chokepoints where you can be trapped or attacked by someone anonymous who has gotten within striking distance-- the hallway, the elevator, stairwells,etc.

And if your attacker uses silent weapons -- knife,etc -- then no one is likely to hear you call for help -- or to respond Immediately if they do hear you -- and the attacker can easily escape via the fire exits.

And you usually can't ensure that You ALONE have the keys to the door -- there are usually several copies and a master key floating around and you have no way of knowing if they have been copied and if ambushers will be waiting inside your suite to ambush you when you return home.

There are reasons why the high-level Hamas official who was recently assassinated was silently killed in a hotel room in Dubai.

BobThompson said...

@ Don Williams:

Yes you are absolutely correct. However, there are some important distinctions between Hammas guy and the average prepper in a condo building.

First its your home so you know it better than a hotel. Second not everyone travels alone. ( Clearly stupid for this guy to be alone in a foreign country totally vulnerable). Third, I am really skeptical about opening my door inside my building unless its a security guard I already recognize or neighbor I already know. Everyone else is directed downstairs. In a Hotel with room service, maids, hotel detectives etc there is more of a reason to open your door to strangers.

But I also think that in comparison to a home one can be more safe. The advantage of the big condo building is you have an opportunity to know your guards pretty well and to know your neighbors.

I think the real lesson here is that no situation is security perfect. You have to maintain your situational awareness no matter where you are and should armed, trained, and ready to throw down at any second.

Uncle George said...

I have seen many people have some pretty miserable experiences with Home Owner Associations or Condominium Boards / Management Committees. This can turn ugly if you have a difference of opinion with the people in power. Check their abilities to assess the residents and what limits there are to increases and new assessments.

If they are on a money saving crusade, low priced amateurs may be hired instead of professional security personnel. If they are of the opposite opinion, increased and unexpected assessments may be levied on the residents.

Restrictions on how one lives in the unit, pets, hours of use for TV, music playing, and especially the conditions of resale can be onerous.

Be very careful before investing a major portion of your wealth in a Condo or a home in a gated community with a Home Owners Association.

BobThompson said...

@uncle George

Really good points in your comment. Yes Home Owners Associations and Condo boards are among the biggest pains to deal with.

Definitely read through the Conditions, Covenants, and restrictions before you close on a condo. You are buying subject to these. Now there is also the question of whether the CC&Rs are actually enforced by the condo board. In my building the CC&Rs say that you are not allowed to have a dog over 25 lbs. But ofcourse I know of 20 offending examples. But the board also knows that they have effectively waived there right to enforce the rule by not enforcing it for so many rules. They have been instructed that I will sue should they try to enforce that rule at some point in the future.

Ofcourse "dealing" with the condo association board is easier for me because I am a bar card carrying attorney in the state where I reside. That being said I stay out of the meetings, never officially represent anyone in actions against the board etc, but I do carry on influential discussions and informal advice to friends on the board.

Again I am well equipped to enforce my rights in general and intimidate people ( with lawyer knowledge ) when the need arises.

For me these aren't as big headaches as I think they could be for others.

Every situation has positives and negatives and Uncle George has correctly identified one of the potential downsides to condo living.

I agree that you definitely have more autonomy in living on your own.

Also one advantage to my type of condo situation is there is virtually no way in except through the front door. Otherwise you are going to be sawing through two by fours, cinder blocks, and drywall.

I have no balcony and live on the 5the floor in a 6 story building. Though not impossible I don't think anyone but the police or feds would try and burst through the windows. And I am law abiding so I am not worried about that.

Anonymous said...

Jason, I noticed you're in the what do you care about survival during economic collapse or any such emergencies? Philippines is already in depress condition since before you were born so you're already living in survival situation and it's not going to get any worse.

Uncle George said...

@ Twinedog

Like you, I too have a Bar Card (3 actually). Certainly an attorney knows how to enforce his rights against these boards much more effectively than the average person. In FL I used to have a lot of fun dealing with retired attorneys from northern states. They were often board members, having been voted in because of their supposed legal expertise. Actually they were classic examples of the saying, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing". Often they got their respective entities in long, expensive litigation, with disastrous results for their Condos or Homeowner Associations.

Physically, Condos have more security, but much less privacy. There is no free lunch. You must make trade offs. If security is your primary concern, such as for a single woman or single mother, Condos are the way to go. Just be aware of the potential difficulties.