There’s no doubt that moving is a stressful time, but what happens when you’re ready to move but don’t know which neighborhood to choose? For most people, one of the biggest priorities is finding a place that is, first and foremost, safe. The problem is that while you’re looking at potential properties, there is little you can do to figure out the safety level of any given neighborhood. Real estate agents are not permitted to give either positive or negative comments about a particular neighborhood’s safety due to fair housing laws. This means it’s time to strap on your gumshoes and do a little detective work.
Fortunately, the question of neighborhood safety is so common that several websites have sprouted up to answer this precise inquiry (for example, checkout Trulia.com’s Austin crime map pictured above). You’ll be able to find fancy overlaid maps with crime statistics and tons of data, but it often doesn’t tell the whole story. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid areas with high instances of property or physical crime, but how comprehensive is the data you’re looking at? In most cases, the incidents are only those that are reported and a police report has been filed. While this information is useful, nothing beats an actual visit to the neighborhood to see what’s going on.
The Seeds Of Crime
One of the most interesting correlations in neighborhood crime rates is found in houses that are in disrepair. For some reason, criminals prefer areas that have plenty of broken windows, abandoned lots, and houses that are falling apart. The psychological theory is that vandals feel more confident attacking these types of neighborhoods than those that are in a more pristine state. From a positive perspective, this means that areas with what appear to be more modest housing options may actually be safer if they are obviously well-maintained with mowed yards and no litter on the ground. On your walk through the neighborhood, be on the lookout for these signs, especially in the close vicinity of the property you’re thinking about buying or renting.
Talk To People
The general feeling of being a neighbor may not be as common as it was 50 years ago, but the truth is that your potential neighbors will have the best information about how safe the area is. In addition, they will generally not have a vested interest into whether you move to the neighborhood or not, meaning that they will be likely to give honest answers to your questions. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to knock on some doors with a nice gift of flowers or chocolates and a list of safety-related questions. Chances are high that you’ll get the exact information you’re looking for.
While nobody can predict how crime can rise and fall in the coming years, it certainly helps to move into a neighborhood that is currently safe. Doing due diligence will take very little time and the rewards for making the right neighborhood are immense. Follow these tips and you’ll stand the best chance of finding a safe place to live in your city.
About the Author
Shawn Wood is the founder and President of Student Movers, a California moving company that helps families and businesses relocate across the Golden State. Shawn is a member of the California Moving & Storage Association, supporter of many charities, and an avid snowboarder. Connect with Shawn on Facebook and Twitter. You can also book a moving labor crew from Student Movers to load or unload your belongings through HireAHelper.com.