Buying or renting a home is one of the biggest investments you can make in your lifetime. With the average cost of buying a home in the United States being around $379,800, it is very important to research the different neighborhoods before selecting the neighborhood that fits your lifestyle, will make you happy and will be a financially sound investment. In a growing number of cities, a significant portion of the population spends between 40% and 50% of their income on rent alone.
Nothing affects the value and enjoyment of your home as much as the surrounding neighborhood. When you and your family are moving into a new neighborhood, you need to ensure that it is safe and child friendly.
Here are the top 8 tips to find out if a neighborhood is safe:
1. Check the neighborhood crime statistics before moving
You can access local crime reports and statistics through various websites. Knowing what crimes are being committed in the neighborhood you are planning to move is the best way to protect yourself, loved ones and your possessions. Thankfully, there are a number of online tools that can help you find out if the crime rate in the neighborhood is low and acceptable. The following are some of the best crime mapping websites to find a safe neighborhood.
2. Check the National Sex Offender Public Website
The United States Department of Justice maintains a database of convicted sex offenders (https://www.nsopw.gov/). The NSOPW is an esteemed tool to identify the safety of a potential neighborhood. Like more general crime mapping services, the NSOPW allows you to enter an address to see how many sex offenders live nearby.
3. Look for clues in the neighborhood
The number of homes for sale in an area can be an indication of its safety. In certain cases, a large number of homes being unoccupied or vacated may be a sign of residents fleeing the area to escape a seriously rising crime rate. However, people might also be leaving the neighborhood because of a downturn in the market. Always try picturing yourself and your family living in the neighborhood. For example, ask yourself the following questions: Is it safe for my kids to walk to school? Can I go for a run or a walk in my neighborhood early in the morning? Is there a club or bar nearby that might get annoying at 2 a.m.? The answers to questions like that will give you a good idea if this neighborhood is for you.
4. Talk to people who already live in the neighborhood and who live in adjoining neighborhoods
Talking to the people in your potential neighborhood and asking their opinion about the neighborhood is a great way to learn about the safety of the neighborhood. After all, who knows better about the neighborhood than the neighbors who are already living there? You will also want to talk to some people in adjoining neighborhoods to get their perspective on the neighborhood you are checking out. Small talk will give you lots of information and the more information you get the better.
5. Visit the neighborhood several times at different times of the day before moving
With no doubt, you should get to know the neighborhood before moving into it. Visiting your potential neighborhood at different times of the day and/or in the evening and weekends will provide some insight into whether or not an area seems safe, child friendly and theft free. It will also show you if a neighborhood is very crowded, noisy and so on.
6. Pay attention to the neighborhood conditions
The general state of repair can say a lot about the neighborhood and its overall safety. A safe neighborhood is usually well kept, with residents who care about how their neighborhood looks and will put some effort into making it look presentable. When touring a potential neighborhood, look for signs like broken window, overgrown yards, run-down homes and broken fences. Drive through the neighborhood and then through the town and carefully look for clues that indicate that the city might be having financial trouble. Are the streets clean? Are the parks well maintained? Trimmed lawns, pruned bushes, nice flowerbeds, and absence of litter on the sidewalk/streets means that people in the area are responsible of their surroundings and take pride in maintaining it.
7. Sign up for safety alerts from authorities
Local law enforcement and fire departments can provide information about a neighborhood’s safety through public safety alerts. Some departments keep residents up-to-date on crimes via text message, e-mails or automated phone calls. This relatively new form of alerting residents might not be available in every city. Check your local police and fire department’s website or call to ask for automatic safety alerts. You must sign up to receive alerts and although the service is usually free, you may incur text message fees from your phone provider.
8. Research neighborhood organizations, groups and regular meetings
Neighborhood meetings and groups are usually a sign of a tight knit community. If you find a neighborhood group, attend a meeting or two to meet people and ask questions. Find out what the topics of the meetings are to get to know what is important in the neighborhood and what concerns people have.
Making sure a neighborhood is safe before moving there or investing in it, will make your family happier and will secure your investment.