Best Security Practices for Living in an Apartment

One of the most important things to consider in today’s society is safety for yourself and your family.  For those living in an apartment, home security can be more challenging due to the close proximity of people living in the area as well as the greater likelihood of people coming and going frequently.

So, we’ve put together the categories to consider for best security practices for living in an apartment, pre and post collapse.


If you haven’t gotten your apartment yet or are looking to relocate to a different apartment, there are some things to consider before you even choose the apartment where you are going to live.

If you are already in an apartment and don’t have the resources to relocate right now, there are some things you can do to fortify your apartment against intruders and some hidden preps you can get into place without drawing too much attention to yourself. Any or all of the following things will help to make your apartment more secure in normal times.

Choosing Your Apartment

If you choose to live in an apartment, it’s critical that you do your research and choose an apartment that will be secure. Not everyone has the resources or the desire to live in a rural area. But you can choose an apartment that will be safer for you both pre and post collapse if you consider the following things:

  • How Safe the Neighborhood Is
  • Gated Entrance to Community
  • Locked Buildings that Utilize Access Control Through Intercom, Keycards, etc.
  • Look for Well Maintained Buildings and Landscaping
  • Talk to Current Residents for Insight
  • Visit to Observe Activity at Various Times Weekdays and Weekends
  • Population Density
  • Choose apartment on 2nd floor or higher to deter intruders
  • Select an apartment where you can have a guard dog

Fortify Against Unwanted Entry

No matter where you live or what your budget may be, there are many different best security practices for living in an apartment that can help to fortify against unwanted entry into your home.

One of the safest ways to fend off an attacker or intruder is not to let them get close to you in the first place. We’ve listed several ways you can fortify your apartment against unwanted intruders.

  • Reinforce locks on entry doors and windows with longer screws and security plates
  • Consider shatterproof window film for any accessible windows
  • Battery operated window and door alarms
  • Master Lock Door Bars for inward swinging doors.
  • Security Cameras
  • Security Bars for sliding glass doors
  • Consider self-monitored or professionally monitored alarm system
  • Use a detachable rope ladder rather than a permanent fire escape
  • Solar LED Motion Sensored lighting outside
  • Keep key fob next to your bed at night, hit the alarm button to startle intruders if you hear something and then call police.
  • Use door jams under doors to prevent them from being opened

apartment building

Know Your Neighbors

When you live in an apartment, your neighbors are all around you. To increase your own security, pay attention to the activity of your neighbors.

If you know your neighbors by name or at least by face and know who their adult children or friends are, you’ll be quicker to notice strangers in your building or complex. Take it further with some of the suggestions below and learn about your neighbors so you can be alerted to potential security problems:

  • Make an effort to meet and be courteous to neighbors in your hallway and your building
  • Pay attention to cars your neighbors drive, let them know if you see strangers around their vehicles.
  • Form or join a neighborhood watch group for your building or complex
  • Know which children belong in your building
  • Be observant of regular comings and goings of your neighbors so you can be more aware when things are out of the ordinary
  • Take note of any medical conditions of neighbors that may need intervention
  • Be aware of which neighbors are prone to excessive drinking, drug use, or violence

Hidden Preps

One of the most challenging tasks for living in an apartment when you’re trying to stockpile is where to store all your preps. Sure, you can utilize closets and cabinets, but you don’t want everyone who comes to visit to know you are loaded down with supplies. But there are many different creative ways to hide your preps in an apartment, sometimes almost in plain sight.

For example, you can stack canned vegetables in a rectangle or square shape, cover with a plywood or lightweight wood box slightly larger than your stack. Throw a sheet or material over the top and use as a coffee table in your living room.

To really dress things up, skip the material and DIY mosaic tile on the top and sides of the plywood box. Your guests will rave about your creative coffee table without ever even wondering what might be hidden beneath it.

Other Suggestions for hidden preps include:

  • Picture frame hidden cache
  • Bookcase false back
  • Hollowed out book cache
  • False bottom ottoman or blanket chest
  • Platform bed can become hidden storage underneath.

Additional reading:



When SHTF, there’s no denying life is going to change quickly and in unpredictable ways. In any extended crisis situation, one of the most dangerous threats to your survival is going to be other people.

When you live in an apartment, the threat from people increases with the population density. If you’ve secured your apartment using some of the suggestions above, many of those will help to keep your apartment secure. In all honesty, an apartment in a heavily populated area is the last place you will want to be.

But post-collapse, for those who have limited options, there are some additional best security practices for living in an apartment you’ll need to implement, especially in situations where rule of law goes out the proverbial window.

Have a Bug Out Plan

One of the best security practices for living in an apartment is to have a bug out plan. Without a doubt, there will come a time when you will need to leave your apartment if you want to survive.

Regardless of the type of event, chaos will erupt eventually, especially if people realize that “help” is not coming. Whether you bug out to the woods (not a good idea), the home of a friend or relative, or a pre-planned bug out location will depend on your situation. Part of your bug out planning when you live in an apartment should include knowing where the safe shelters are and how to get to them if needed.

Identify Area Resources

If you do find yourself with no other recourse than to ride out a SHTF situation in your apartment, you will need access to resources. You can stockpile food and water but in an extended SHTF situation, that supply will run out. Take the time during normal times to identify the nearest fresh water sources, and other places where you might find food and supplies.

Try to identify the places for supplies that most people may not think to look. Grocery stores and other retail stores will be quickly emptied out and will be more dangerous since there will be more people there.

Related: How to improve your home security in times of peace

Have a Plan for Waste and Sanitation

Another of the best security practices for living in an apartment post-collapse is to have a plan or system to dispose of waste and keep things clean. Disease and illness will run rampant through the cities.

In order to avoid harm from other people and avoid attracting attention to your apartment, you will need to stay indoors as much as possible. A trip to put garbage in the dumpster could spell disaster. And most of the dumpsters will be overflowing and become cesspools for disease carrying insects and rodents within a matter of weeks.

Plan to use a composting toilet to help prevent problems if you don’t have running water or if sewer systems fail. When you do have to venture out of your apartment, wear a mask to keep from inhaling toxic fumes and germs.

Secure Your Building, or At Least Your Floor

Work with likeminded neighbors in your building or at least on your floor to fortify it against intruders from the outside. Have metal shutters installed outside if possible or have materials on hand such as as wire and plywood (pre-cut) so you can board up your windows from the inside post-collapse.

Consider barricading stairwells and using a rope ladder when needed to get in and out of your building. If your building has fire escapes, pull the ladder up from the bottom and use a chain and lock to secure it so only those of you in the building can use it to get in and out. None of these will guarantee no one can get inside but it will reduce the number of people who can get in easily.

Ramp up Self-Defense

Another of the best security practices for living in an apartment is to ramp up your self-defense training. You need to be prepared to defend yourself, your family, and your supplies frequently. Stockpile firearms including handguns and rifles, ammunition, knives, and several non-firearms. Stockpile or gather several fire extinguishers to have on hand.

Consider learning how to set and maintain “booby traps” around the perimeter of your building and the exterior of your apartment. Be prepared to exit the apartment quickly if a group tries to smoke or burn you out of your apartment. You also need to be prepared to defend yourself hand-to-hand in the event someone does breach your barricade and get into your flat. Personal security is even more important than apartment security.

wearing tactical clothes

Become a Gray Man/Woman

Another of the best security practices is to practice becoming a gray man/woman. The basic “gray man” concept is centered around blending in with your environment and the people around you. You can do things like:

  • Practice adjusting your walking pace and your demeanor so it matches with those around you if you are in a crowd.
  • Be alert to where you are and what is happening around you so you can get away from danger quickly. Observe any situation first from a distance to make sure you understand what is really going on.
  • Don’t dress in tactical gear or wear gear that is obvious. Dress so that you blend in with those around you so you don’t draw attention to the fact that you are more prepared than anyone else.
  • Use light blocking curtains to hide your activities inside the apartment
  • Have something set up to diffuse or absorb smoke and odors when cooking inside the apartment
  • … and more.

It bears repeating that although there are many apartment security best practices, that can help you survive, it is definitely NOT the ideal place to be in a SHTF situation.

If you don’t have access to family/friends or a bug out location outside of the city, identify several “safe” places within the city where you could hole up if you are forced to leave your apartment.

Consider places that other people wouldn’t normally be checking for supplies, such as a public library or a small office building. But above all, take small steps toward making it possible to secure a bug out location or even to relocate outside of the city to at least th suburbs when it’s feasible.

Are you currently living in an apartment? Do you have security practices in place that we missed here? Let us know in the comments below.

apartment security practices pinterest

2 thoughts on “Best Security Practices for Living in an Apartment”

  1. i am on the fourth floor with no trees near the windows and no fire escape so that area is secure. i have seen the police try to get into an apartment several years ago for a welfare check and it took them 5 minutes to break in. the doors are solid and the deadbolts are not cheap ones. i am getting one of those bars to secure the door too. i had one when i owned my house but gave it to a friend for her door when i moved. the building is locked and has a call box to get in for visitors. that wont help when the electric goes off though. i have a gun, pepper spray and a shillelegh. at 70 i cant do much more than that. when i do go out shopping now i carry pepper spray and cat shaped brass knuckles. everyone thinks they are cute till it show them what they really are. i use a can with a good metal handle that a deputy showed me to use for self defense. this is all i can do right now.

  2. When I lived in an apartment, Security was my biggest concern. Of course, one of the biggest problems is the inability to alter your apartment. I lived on the bottom floor. I am disabled and the bottom floor was my ONLY option. I finally came up with a solution to secure my windows in a SHTF scenario. I purchased thick, quality plywood. I had measured the outside of the window and added and additional 6” to each side. I did the same for the inside of the window. However, when it came to the top/bottom measurement, I measured from the ground to 6” above the window.

    I’m not in the best condition physically and not very strong. I knew that I would be unable to lift plywood. By measuring the windows such that the plywood could rest on the ground/floor on the bottom, I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to both lift it up and secure it by myself.

    Anyway, my plan was to have a piece of plywood on the inside and outside of each window. Or several pieces that were more manageable. I had them pre-cut. I purchased large bolts, that would start on the outside piece of plywood, pass through the space occupied by the window frame, and then come through the inside piece of plywood. I could then use washers and nuts on the interior. Obviously, this is slightly difficult to figure out all the measurements when you aren’t able to take out the window. But in a SHTF scenario, management won’t be concerned about you breaking their windows.

    I pre-drilled the holes for the bolts, painted the piece of plywood I was going to use on the exterior, and then labeled each piece. For example – Bedroom – 1 of 3 – top.

    Bolts couldn’t be removed from the outside, plywood on both the interior and exterior of the window provided significant security, I could put up each piece by myself easily and quickly, and plywood is easy to store behind book cases, under the bed, etc.

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