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  #1  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 1:34 AM
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Is residential high-rise (condo) living inherently safer than single-family dwelling?

A buddy of mine had his house robbed last night. They kicked the door in and proceeded to ransack the place. Everything upturned, all electronics stolen, jewelry, etc.

Got me thinking... it would just be much more physically difficult for someone to do that to my place (I live in a highrise). The logistics of it are just totally not in their favor.

One, you can't get to my floor without a keycard giving you access. So they'd have to somehow just tag along with someone else coming to my floor, in which case: witness. Otherwise they're stuck at the concierge desk in the lobby, and they're not going to just let someone up.

2nd, kicking in my front door would be difficult and the "back door" is inaccessable unless you are spider man. So everyone on my floor would hear you kicking in the door.

Then there's the difficulty in actually getting the stuff out. You can't pull a car up to my front door like you can with a house... you gotta ride the elevator back down, which, again, requires a keycard unless you're going to waltz out through the lobby and past the concierge. And that's just for 1 trip.

Plus cameras in the elevators. and 24 hour security.




Houses seem so incredibly insecure. Any counter arguments?
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 1:44 AM
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It might be safer that way, but less safe in others.

For example, if there was some massive earthquake, the people in the house would be able to get out easily whereas your building might collapse.
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 1:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by briantech View Post
A buddy of mine had his house robbed last night. They kicked the door in and proceeded to ransack the place. Everything upturned, all electronics stolen, jewelry, etc.

Got me thinking... it would just be much more physically difficult for someone to do that to my place (I live in a highrise). The logistics of it are just totally not in their favor.

One, you can't get to my floor without a keycard giving you access. So they'd have to somehow just tag along with someone else coming to my floor, in which case: witness. Otherwise they're stuck at the concierge desk in the lobby, and they're not going to just let someone up.

2nd, kicking in my front door would be difficult and the "back door" is inaccessable unless you are spider man. So everyone on my floor would hear you kicking in the door.

Then there's the difficulty in actually getting the stuff out. You can't pull a car up to my front door like you can with a house... you gotta ride the elevator back down, which, again, requires a keycard unless you're going to waltz out through the lobby and past the concierge. And that's just for 1 trip.

Plus cameras in the elevators. and 24 hour security.




Houses seem so incredibly insecure. Any counter arguments?
It is harder but I do know people that have been victim to home invasions in mid-rise buildings. If someone really wants what you have they figure out a way to get in and out. With that said I do think it would be harder to rob a condo as opposed to a single family home but it can definitely be done.
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 2:01 AM
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Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
It might be safer that way, but less safe in others.

For example, if there was some massive earthquake, the people in the house would be able to get out easily whereas your building might collapse.
I'm actually pretty sure that being in a mid-rise during an earthquake is safer than being in a house because of the building code.
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  #5  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 2:23 AM
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Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
It might be safer that way, but less safe in others.

For example, if there was some massive earthquake, the people in the house would be able to get out easily whereas your building might collapse.
Yes, because buildings collapse in earthquakes all the time
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 2:43 AM
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High rise buildings are less likely to collapse during earthquakes. Whoever taught you that they do are wrong. Taller buildings sway with a longer wavelength allowing them to ride out an earthquake. Short buildings like a 2 story house sway with a short wavelength. Those buildings are going to collapse first especially masonry buildings that aren't reinforced.
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 2:44 AM
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It depends on the situation.

In normal safe neighborhoods, break-ins aren't very common anyway, and in normal elevator towers, the same.

But sketchy towers (housing projects) are notorious for being unsafe. But sketchy single family house neighborhoods are also notorious for being unsafe.
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 4:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasoncw View Post
It depends on the situation.

In normal safe neighborhoods, break-ins aren't very common anyway, and in normal elevator towers, the same.

But sketchy towers (housing projects) are notorious for being unsafe. But sketchy single family house neighborhoods are also notorious for being unsafe.
My thoughts as well.
It seems obvious that highrises are safer, but I doubt it makes much of an actual difference in the statistics.

I don't have the numbers, but if I remember correctly, most violent crime isn't random, it's committed by people you already know. So that doesn't make your highrise any safer in that respect.
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  #9  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 5:09 AM
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Plus there are other crimes which can happen in high-rises, such as muggings or assaults in elevators, etc.
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  #10  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 6:14 AM
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I think for an upper middle class person condos are safer. They're like gated communities, there's a whole level of protection at the front desk to stop people coming in and there's alot of people nearby that can hear if you're in trouble. That's not the case in single family houses that do get home invaded. The safety disappears if it's a poor multifamily complex. In that case, the criminal might live in your building already, and you're closer to them and more likely to get their attention. Sounds like I'm being classist, but it's not pharmacists and engineers who break into people's houses, and if you're living with them you've got a better chance of ending up on their bad side.
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  #11  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 7:14 AM
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High-rises are not good places to be if trouble lasts more than a few hours. Some have a certain amount of backup generator time for core functions like the elevators and water pumps, but once that goes out, it's back to stairwells and hauling up buckets. And if your unit does not have windows that can be opened manually, the heat may become too oppressive to tolerate without air conditioning.
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  #12  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 7:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
It might be safer that way, but less safe in others.

For example, if there was some massive earthquake, the people in the house would be able to get out easily whereas your building might collapse.
That's not true. There haven't been any horrific highrise failures in Westernized nations due to Earthquakes. The damage is usually cosmetic. The worst I've seen was in Christchurch. But there has been far more damage done and lives lost in SFH and lowrise apartment buildings. Most walls of highrises are either infill or clad. These surfaces will crack and fail in a bad quake, but have little to do with the building's structural integrity. Infrastructure like fire suppression, gas, electrical, water, waste, telecom should remain intact if risers are core protected or secured directly to the structure.

As for crime, high-rises always tend to be safer. Larger buildings have a doorman, security, and cameras to deter crime. There's 2 doors of seperation between you and the street (3 if you count the elevator).
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 8:30 AM
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JUst as an aside overall mortalility on leaving the house may be higher as well in a SFH because of mode of transport. I do not have the data but I am making a guess that people in highrises have a higher tendency to use public trans than do SFH owners; who will generally jump in their car. Automobile deaths are some 30-35,000 people a year die in auto accidents ; or a little less than 100 a day.
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 2:45 PM
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This is a topic I was just talking about with my wife recently.

A couple of years ago, we were living in a townhouse in Midtown Atlanta where we were starting to feel a little unsafe due to some criminal activity happening in the area. Having a door on the ground floor that could, I assume, easily be kicked in was making me feel insecure.

For unrelated reasons, we ended up moving into a high rise condo. It has a 24 security desk, key fobs required for the elevator and a security code for the stairwell. After a couple of months in the condo, I started noticing that my night time routine was less stressful because I wasn't going back to check the lock on the front door a 2nd or 3rd time to make sure it was dead bolted.

Whatever the statistical reality is, I certainly feel safer at night in the high rise. It's just been kind of a piece-of-mind helper for me.

Jasoncw above makes a good point: there probably wouldn't be much of a difference in the feeling of safety between a detached house in low-crime neighborhood vs. a high rise.

But when it comes to living intown in my city near transit, parks and jobs (my preference for location), the detached houses in low-crime neighborhoods tend to be priced only for the richest.
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 4:57 PM
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It's obviously safer in a place like Midtown Atlanta.

No low-level thug can case my condo.

I don't think the houses in Midtown are "unsafe" but they have their fair share of break-ins and casings.

There's nothing in my condo that makes it worthwhile to try to plan the perfect crime to avoid the cameras and 24 hr security. You're not kicking my door down so then you need to be able to pick locks. At that level, I wonder why you ever chose my condo to break in to.
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Old Posted Mar 6, 2012, 8:11 PM
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I've thought about this quite a bit.

Is this one of the reasons why many middle class people in Latin America and other dangerous places prefer high-rise living? Basically you are living in a kind of vertical gated cul-de-sac. If your tower is in a complex with a recreation center and shopping mall you don't ever have to go beyond those walls.
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  #17  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2012, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATL Urbanist View Post
This is a topic I was just talking about with my wife recently.

A couple of years ago, we were living in a townhouse in Midtown Atlanta where we were starting to feel a little unsafe due to some criminal activity happening in the area. Having a door on the ground floor that could, I assume, easily be kicked in was making me feel insecure.

For unrelated reasons, we ended up moving into a high rise condo. It has a 24 security desk, key fobs required for the elevator and a security code for the stairwell. After a couple of months in the condo, I started noticing that my night time routine was less stressful because I wasn't going back to check the lock on the front door a 2nd or 3rd time to make sure it was dead bolted.

Whatever the statistical reality is, I certainly feel safer at night in the high rise. It's just been kind of a piece-of-mind helper for me.

Jasoncw above makes a good point: there probably wouldn't be much of a difference in the feeling of safety between a detached house in low-crime neighborhood vs. a high rise.

But when it comes to living intown in my city near transit, parks and jobs (my preference for location), the detached houses in low-crime neighborhoods tend to be priced only for the richest.
My story is similar to yours. I moved from a townhouse in the suburbs to a highrise downtown. This is the first time I've ever lived above the 3rd floor, and I don't think I'll ever go back to living in something ground oriented.
I mean I never used to feel unsafe in my townhouse, but knowing that somebody could easily hop the balcony and lift the sliding door off it's track to access my unit was a bit unsettling. Now I can sleep easy at night knowing only spiderman himself can break into my apartment while I'm asleep. Plus I like the extra peace of mind I have when traveling knowing that only my neighbours that live on my floor can even access my front door.
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2012, 2:57 AM
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We lived on the 24th floor, and I would say crime was on par with when I lived in an old brick house. Our building had a spate of break-ins, and even a couple sexual assaults at one point before I think the guy got nabbed. That's the real difference, I think. Once you figure out the building, you come back for more, whereas you'd never come back to the same single family house you've already robbed. So eventually you get caught. Also, in a big building, odds are on your side. Higher odds of a break-in, lower odds you are the victim. Same break in effort, 1-in-100 chance it's your place he chooses (also harder to recon). As for the rest:

Quote:
Originally Posted by briantech View Post
One, you can't get to my floor without a keycard giving you access. So they'd have to somehow just tag along with someone else coming to my floor, in which case: witness.
This is all too easy. Holding the doors for others, allowing others to follow, it's routine. And as for the witness, most people pay very little attention, so the witness is useless (and most people don't want to get involved anyways).

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2nd, kicking in my front door would be difficult and the "back door" is inaccessable unless you are spider man. So everyone on my floor would hear you kicking in the door.
Difficulty of kicking in your door depends on your door, not the building. You could just as easily have a cheap door in a high rise (I did). And you could put an iron door on your single family home (like Will Smith had in "I Am Legend" )

As for people hearing, not necessarily (better soundproofing). And they're less likely to care or get involved, I think. In part, because they themselves are trapped on the same floor as the bad guy. Not a good time to intervene unless you are sure enough that you can make a call to the police/security without exposing yourself.

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Originally Posted by briantech View Post
Then there's the difficulty in actually getting the stuff out. You can't pull a car up to my front door like you can with a house... you gotta ride the elevator back down, which, again, requires a keycard unless you're going to waltz out through the lobby and past the concierge. And that's just for 1 trip.
True, your TV is probably safe. You jewelry, cash, and other smaller valuables still are not.

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Originally Posted by briantech View Post
24 hour security.
This is a big one, but not every high rise has it. A person who recognizes residents and questions visitors would be huge, I'd think. We had secure entry, but no person. A live person is for wealthier buildings.

It's probably easier to install a personal security system on a single family home, though.

I suppose it depends a lot on neighbors and culture. In my building, I generally knew my immediate floormates, just like I knew my next door neighbors before that, and everybody else was a stranger. Just a vertical stranger instead of a horizontal one.

I'm also well armed, so I only really worry about break-ins when I'm not home. I've been broken into twice in my life while I was at home. Both attempts were very brief.

I figured I was more likely to die when the power went out in my high rise than from any other immediate threat. No water (pumps instead of gravity pressure), no elevators, no lights in the stairwells, and a long climb back up after going out for provisions... In an earthquake or other disaster, I'd rather be lower. Not because the building will collapse, but because I'm probably more likely to die of a heart attack trying to get back up until the power comes back on.

Last edited by bunt_q; Mar 8, 2012 at 3:11 AM.
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2012, 3:49 PM
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I would love to live in a highrise like ideally about 25-35 stories up right in the heart of a vibrant CBD. My biggest concern though is noise... I've been in condo buildings where I could hear people in the next unit walking around, opening the fridge, turning on the tv, etc... I could NOT live like that.

Also I have a home dj setup that i like to spin music with in my spare time and I do not want to live in fear of getting neighbors pissed off and/or getting reported for noise violations.

It seems many developers save costs by not sound proofing buildings well enough. Does anyone have any input on this? Cause i would love a city condo but i am just very hesitant because of this one important issue.

Also, for anyone who loves the idea and lifestyle of highrise dwellings I would recommend this book I bought. It is very cool!
http://www.amazon.com/High-Rise-Livi...1221732&sr=1-1
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  #20  
Old Posted Mar 8, 2012, 4:03 PM
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in my condo buidling, not only is there a guard on duty 24 hours a day at the front desk, but all other entrance point have ID card and hand print scanners to access the building. on top of that there are video cameras at all entrances/exits and in all elevators, lobbies, & common areas. if a thief managed to get into the building, they sure sure as hell wouldn't be leaving with anything other than stuff they could fit in their pockets without being noticed by all of the video surveillance.

since the only things of real value that i own are a flat screen TV, a couple of expensive bicycles, and a couple pieces of nice furniture, i'm not too worried about anyone making off with my stuff when i'm not home (i don't own jewelry or other small valuable items).


as for sound, my building is 100% reinforced concrete with solid grout filled CMU party walls. i've never heard anything from any of my neighbors. i can sometimes hear groups of people in the corridor if they're shouting or talking really loud, but that's few and far between and very short-lived.
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