Sunday, August 21, 2011

Question about Townhouse vs. House‏

Dear Mr Aguirre,
First of all, thank you very much for your book and the survival forum. I am learning so much there, my head spins. There is so much to do. I hope I will make it on time before SHTF.

Now, to my question that I hope you will have time to respond to. I can’t make up my mind and it is driving me crazy.
We are planning to buy a place in a small town close to my work. However, I can’t decide whether I should by a townhouse or a stand alone house – from the security point of view. Normally, I would buy a house. However, after reading about how people live in Argentina (gated communities) it feels much “safer” to buy a townhouse. Even though I probably won’t be able to change the doors and windows there, at least I will have neighbors around me (who could call 911) and I expect robbers to prefer stand alone houses (no others around) to townhouses. What is your take on the situation?
I would appreciate any thoughts you have.

Hi Alex, thanks for your email and I’m glad you’re liking the forum. Its getting more people every day and its getting pretty good. 

From the security point of view the townhouse is safer. The security issue is pretty complex but that’s the short answer. Are you more likely to get your bike or football stolen if left on the front lawn? Yes. But is your isolated house more likely to get broken into and picked clean when you take a weekend off and leave the house empty for a couple days? Yes. I don’t like having people near by but I now know that not having neighbors in sight also means there wont be eyes watching while the bad guys break into your place. That’s what every criminal wants. There’s no guarantees though. With bad enough crime, you can suffer home invasions in the townhouse or detached house just as well. 

There’s also other factors to keep in mind. Some people (me included) like having their privacy. Attached houses means you shore a bit too much with your neighbor.

The balance for me would be a community in the suburbs or near by small town or subdivision with detached houses. Close enough so as to have help, but still enough distance so as to have enough privacy.
At least for me it comes down to balancing with the different pros and cons. Security, privacy, distance from schools, work, stores, and can I reach them if the price of gas doubles next year? Walking distance is great, availability of public transportation would be preferred, or at the very least know I don’t have to drive 50km back and forth. 

If the security problem isn’t very bad in the area you’re looking ( its probably not) I would look for a detached house, but one that has at least a couple neighbors within site.
Take care,

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russell1200 said...

In my experience, Town Homes are robbed more often.

Your tactical reasoning is not flawed, it is just that the higher population density means that there is more likely to be a crackhead living in the area, and he is more likely to be living close to you.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there really is a moment when it's official that the SHTF. We're already seeing pretty bad food inflation, flash mobs, and terrible unemployment by US standards.

Maybe things will just gradually get worse until one day, every one will look around and realize that the SHTF years ago.

Anonymous said...

Just remember that crime happens everywhere. Apartments are broken into every single day in the US, as are stand alone houses and townhouses.

But don't think that because a townhouse shares an area with other people it won't get broken into or else apartments would never get broken into.

Break ins most often occur between 9am and 3pm as that is when most people are gone from home.

Pompompom said...

The stuff about to hit the fan is not necessarily solid at the begining. It could well start as a fart getting slowly more and more dense. You only get accustomed to the growing stink.

Stuki said...

If built right, with heavy, acoustic and otherwise, insulated dividing walls, town homes generally give more privacy than free standing homes of even remotely close density.

Of course a free stander surrounded by 800 acres of forest is more private, but that is hardly apples to apples. The least private places you'll ever find, are the densely packed subdivisions that have been all the rage in the US over the last couple of decades. 6 feet between neighbors, yet still large windows facing each other. Both as pertains to living space, energy use, invasion security and privacy, putting the same amount of money into enclosing those 6 feet would yield a vast improvement. But people for some reason associate "free standing" with more valuable.

One area where free standing does have some merit, is wrt fire protection. If one of your neighbors are sloppy with fire, you're better off if his house is not attached to yours. Ditto for termite and other pest invasions.

hsu said...

In a dense city, you can find standalone houses with small yards, say 4000 sq ft (about .1 acre). Your neighbors are 20-30 ft away on either side and the nearest stores are mere blocks away. Most of these houses are set up as 2-3 family condos, where each family gets a floor, but there are single family homes to be had.

It is not quite as dense as townhouses, but it's still dense enough to get all of the benefits of having neighbors within speaking distance.