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Abandoned House Living 2

Updated on June 1, 2011

Here I'll cover some of the information I've gathered while following my friend Ann and her husband and doing some research on this subject. My research consists of finding abandoned houses and photographing them and sometimes going inside. And doing online research.

Often times when I find a place I deem abandoned before attempting to go inside or even get out of my car and take a picture I will wait and go back once or twice more before concluding it is abandoned. I've on several occasions found places I thought to be abandoned but weren't.

Just a week ago I was exploring in Upper Greenville County in SC when I came upon a house I thought surely was abandoned. It had moss covering parts of the house and I didn't see any vehicles and it didn't look to be lived in. I drove around and came back and got out of my car with my camera and slowly started up the walkway when I saw a cat coming toward me from the house. At that moment I realized there was more than likely someone living there so I left. Just yesterday I was driving by this house again when I saw a truck parked out front.

JUst because a house looks abandoned doesn't mean it is. I was driving by another house yesterday, one in terrible shape, and there was a truck parked in the driveway. I saw a few more I would like to explore further but want to make sure no one is actually there.

IN the Caroleen area of NC there are many, many houses that are so rundown windows are taped up, boarded up, some are broken, in many cases the houses look to be almost falling down and yet others don't even look like they have power(although they must) and upon further inspection I see tagged automobiles in the yard indicating there are people living there.

I wonder how many of those are actually renters and how many are people that found the houses abandoned and decided to move in because they couldn't afford anything else. THe houses I refer to are in such bad shape they don't appear to be rentable. IN fact, I'm surprised some of them haven't been condemned.

A few tips when exploring an abandoned building. First it's important to make sure no one is living there. JUst because it's falling down doesn't mean the owner doesn't live there but many times squatters are living there and these squatters aren't going to be happy to see someone snooping around. For one this is their home even though the real owner is unaware and didn't give his permission. They fear that snoopers will bring the police around which will out them and force them out of their home.

It's difficult to find a place where no one will bother you and no one cares who lives there.

Squatters know you're just an explorer because the owner would go straight to the front door most likely or another door to go inside.

When Ann and her husband moved in to their abandoned house the police were called on them several times because the house had been empty for so long(roughly ten years). Since Ann's father owns the house she was able to provide the police with his name and phone number.

If you want to live in one of these abandoned houses which I don't recommend unless you're in dire straits, there are many resources online to help you in this quest. But here are a few of my tips.

Go back to the house several times before even considering it as a place to live. Check out the house thoroughly. On your first visit you are just an explorer. This gives you an opportunity to see if any neighbors approach you. If they do wanting to know why you're there this is probably not the place for you because most likely if you try to move in they will cause you problems.

Take this as an opportunity to find out how much they know about the house and if they know who owns it and if by some chance the owner might want to sell it(you're pretending to be a home buyer, this works much better than saying you're an explorer). Usually the neighboring snooper knows nothing about the house he just wants to snoop and find out why you're there. This is why it's important to go armed with information before you explore it as an option for living.

It's easy to go online and check owner records but if you don't find the actual owner online in public records a trip to the county courthouse where the house is located is needed.

It's important while checking owner records to find out where the actual owner lives. Often times they live nearby. If they do cross this house off your list for good. You're guaranteed to get in trouble.

If the house isn't grown up it's a clear sign that someone probably the owner or someone close to the owner takes care of the place.

If you truly want more information you can ask neighbors. This should probably only be done if you're just exploring.

Now the hard part begins. Finding a place where no one will bother you, no one will notice you and if they do they don't care, a place that isn't too close to neighbors(being too close to neighbors is a surefire way of getting noticed fast and the closer neighbors are to each other the nosier they are, my experience anyway), a place that isn't so overgrown it can't be rehabbed, a place that is safe enough to live in.

This is rather a tall order and can't be done overnight but doesn't have to take forever. After a few weeks you should have found a few places that can be lived in. And you should have been inside all of the places for consideration. If you can't find a way inside and must break a window or do other damage to get inside then cross it off the list.

Most of the online resources recommend this. The problem is if you find a place with broken windows, doors, etc. and you're ever caught you're going to have a hard time explaining that you didn't do it. And most places with doors and windows broken are in such bad shape they can't be lived in. How you choose to proceed at this point is up to you. I don't recommend breaking in.

If it's livable and there are broken windows they must be fixed/boarded up. I recommend changing the locks on all doors as this will be the only way for you to secure your belongings while away. Secure all windows. Try to clean up around the place enough so it no longer looks abandoned. Since this will be your home you don't want explorers thinking it's abandoned and trying to get inside. For that matter you wouldn't want the owner being able to just walk inside. The house may be his but not your stuff.

If the owner shows up and can't get inside he will call the police. If there is no foreseeable way inside the police will get permission from the homeowner to break a window or break down the door.

Personally, I recommend getting a dog(a fairly large one). He can not only protect you but he will alert you if there is someone outside.

Most important: Know the laws in your state and county. If you're caught can the police take you to jail for trespassing on the first offense. Meaning the homeowner shows up and calls and demands you be taken to jail. Or do the police have to give warning and give you time to get your things out?

In my state and county the latter is the mandate. At least this was the case when my friend Ann and her husband were caught.

If you don't feel right about a place don't consider it. As I stated earlier squatting isn't something I can recommend due to it's illegality and safety issues. But I know there are probably many people out there doing it nonetheless for the lack of a place to live.

So be safe, cautious and alert. And don't consider a place that's allegedly haunted because you think that might be fun. That's just a bad idea.


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