Leases, deposits, decorating, roommates—with everything to stress over in a new apartment, security should bring you some relief. Whether you rent a multiroom house or small studio, you can still feel safe at home with the right security system.
Security systems with short contracts and easy installation are a good fit for most renters. Easy installation means it doesn’t require you to drill holes in your apartment’s walls or add wiring that will be hard to remove when you leave. In short, we looked for security systems that won’t add to your monthly bills or require a lot of effort to move from home to home.
SimpliSafe is our overall favorite for renters of all types. It’s low commitment, easy to set up, and effective. You can opt for professional monitoring or self-monitoring through your phone. While the professional monitoring requires a monthly fee, it doesn’t cost much more than renters insurance.
Next up is Frontpoint, with the best of DIY installation we encountered. It takes more time to cook dinner than it does to set up this system. The Frontpoint app will guide you through the setup, and the sensors have peel-and-stick backing for easy installation and repositioning. To sweeten the deal, you can get Frontpoint’s equipment for $0 down with consumer financing, so it’s affordable for renters on a budget.
Finally, Cove is our pick for the best security system for apartments. Product packages are à la carte, so whether you rent a studio or three-bedroom apartment, you’ll have just the right amount of equipment. Cove is also a great apartment security system for the commitment-averse or renters with short-term leases because it doesn’t require a contract.
Keep reading to find the security system that’s the best fit for your renting situation.
Data effective 03/25/2020. Offers and availability subject to change.
*$0 due up-front with consumer financing; a down payment may be required.
**$19 per month with three-year contract; $29 per month with no contract.
How We Picked the Best Security Systems for Renters
The security needs of small apartment renters are different from those with roommates or larger properties. We kept this in mind as we read through user manuals, watched installation tutorials, and browsed customer reviews.
As a woman renting alone, security has always been a priority of mine. I also kept my experience in mind throughout researching and writing this piece. Factors like installation, monthly price, and reliable monitoring were my priorities when rating these security systems for renters. Learn more about how we choose all the systems we review from our full methodology.
SimpliSafe provides the best overall security for renters because it’s affordable, low-commitment, and portable. This security system offers two equipment packages under $250.
Each has a smart hub, keypad, and enough sensors for a small house or apartment. Installation is as simple as opening the box then activating the sensors. Easy setup means easy moving too, so you can take SimpliSafe with you from rental to rental.
And if you want a SimpliSafe system but don’t love the idea of DIY, the company now offers professional installation for $79.
SimpliSafe also has a month-to-month, cancel-anytime monitoring policy. Contracts aren’t necessary for this service and you can monitor your system from your phone alongside the pros with the higher tier monitoring plan. SimpliSafe’s two monitoring options cost around $15 or $25 a month.
If you can set up a Bluetooth speaker, you can set up Frontpoint. The control panel comes preprogrammed, ready to connect to your Wi-Fi, and the sensors have an easy adhesive backing that sticks to your walls.
Frontpoint is a good match for renters because installation is a breeze and doesn’t require drilling any holes in your walls, making it easy to take with you if you move.
All of Frontpoint’s basic equipment packages are available for $0 down when you choose the company’s consumer financing option. Both the Safe Home Everyday and Safe Home Plus packages come with enough sensors for a small house or condo. No matter which option you choose, can add professional monitoring on a month-to-month basis.
Frontpoint used to require a three-year contract, but this change makes Frontpoint a better fit for short-term renters or those in apartments. But Frontpoint’s monthly monitoring prices are on the higher end—starting at $44.99—so make sure that fits into your budget before going with Frontpoint.
Cove stands out as the best alarm system for apartment dwellers and renters with short leases because it offers professional monitoring without the long contracts.
You can pay a lump sum up front for all your equipment and get a discounted monthly monitoring rate. Or you can skip the equipment payment and pay a little more for monitoring each month. Either way you can cancel anytime, free of penalty.
You can also customize your equipment package, so you can build your system à la carte. None of the sensors are expensive, but they are priced individually, so it’s best for smaller apartments and studios. For example, studio apartments need only one contact sensor ($15) and one motion detector ($30) for the whole space.
Cove has a good deal of equipment, we just wish they had some better home automation options.
For its price and the equipment you get, Scout is a good choice for small rentals like condos. The basic plan includes motion sensors, a smart hub, and key fobs. It misses the mark on home automation features like smart doorbells, but it’s the only system we encountered with RFID stickers.
These clever stickers automatically convert any object into a touchpoint to arm or disarm your system. They attach to almost any flat, dry surface—the location is up to you.
For example, place one in your car so your home is ready to welcome you when you arrive with an armful of groceries. We recommend that you test it first to make sure that your car is close enough to the system to trigger the arm or disarm function.
At just over $200, Scout’s initial payment is in line with other apartment security systems like SimpliSafe, but its monthly monitoring fees are the most affordable in our lineup. For around $20 a month, you can get professional monitoring for your system.
You can also opt for self-monitoring, but you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month for the app. If you don’t mind a considerable initial payment for an affordable monthly one, this may be the system for your rental.
There’s no way around it, the Google Nest Secure** system costs a pretty penny up front. At almost $400, you get a basic security system with a lot of smart home features.
The good news is you don’t have to pay anything after this initial installment. Optional professional monitoring is available through Brinks starting at $19 a month.
Nest is known for its third-party compatibility, so it’s great for anyone who loves smart home gadgets like the Philips Hue lightbulb. Several of the included Nest products pull double duty too. For example, the smart hub is also a keypad and the contact sensors act as motion detectors.
Overall, Nest Secure is worth the price if you want advanced home automation and security rolled into one system.
** Google Nest Secure is a trademark of Google LLC. Google is a trademark of Google LLC.
Google Nest COVID-19 Update
Google Nest has made some changes to customer support in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, phone support isn't available. Customers are directed to reach out using online chat (select "Contact Us" at the top of any support article), Twitter Direct Message, or Facebook Messenger.
If you're currently experiencing a smoke, carbon monoxide, security, or other safety issue that requires immediate assistance, you should contact 911 or your local emergency services. If you have Brinks monitoring for your Nest Secure system, please reach out to Brinks for updates on professional monitoring. Read the full statement at Google Nest Help.
Things to Consider before You Buy
You can pay top dollar for a new security system, but if you don’t find one that suits your rental, outlives your lease, and doesn’t strain your monthly budget, it won’t do you much good.
The good news is you’ll never want for options when shopping for apartment home security. Plenty of systems offer customizable packages or preprogrammed plans. What really matters is coverage. Be sure you have enough door and window sensors to protect all your major entrances like front doors, sliding doors, and large windows.
Contract length can also come into play when protecting your rental. Look for systems that accept month-to-month payments if you have a shorter lease or tend to move often. For established renters, longer contracts aren’t a total deal breaker. Just make sure your system is easy to move from place to place.
How can I protect my rental on a budget?
It’s hard to beat a reliable security system, but if it’s not in the cards for your budget or the terms of your lease, there are other options. Before you move in, make sure your landlord changes the locks on your rental. You never know who still has a spare key to your new home.
Depending on how much wiggle room you have in your budget, you can get some of the apartment security systems on our list for under $500 a year. But that comes with an upfront equipment payment of around $250, which can be tough after a hefty rental deposit.
The good news is that after that one-time cost, you’ll just have an extra $15 to $25 bill per month (and that’s cheaper than most rental insurance).
Can I get a discount on my renters insurance for having a security system?
Yes! It depends on your insurance company, but some like Farmer’s and Allstate offer up to 15% off for having security or safety devices in your rental.¹
Do I need to sign a contract for a security system?
While there are systems with contracts available, we found a handful of great systems that don’t require any long-term commitment. Alarm systems like SimpliSafe and Cove, for example, let you pay month to month for professional monitoring. Options like Scout and Nest let you monitor your own system.
Thanks to forward-thinking brands like our top pick, SimpliSafe, you don’t have to compromise on quality security just because you rent.
We like SimpliSafe’s straightforward pricing, easy installation, and month-to-month monitoring options. Those features make it the ideal home security choice for renters—whether you’re in a small studio or a larger house.