Safety is a top concern for many families looking to buy a new home. A little research can put your mind at ease. Here are some tips for checking out your potential new neighborhood, both online and in person.
Check crime reports online
A home buyer’s first question concern is often crime rates. CrimeReports.com will show you a map of past crimes reported by law enforcement agencies. You can also zoom out for graphs of recent trends.
SpotCrime.com offers a more use-friendly but less comprehensive alternative. Along with police reports, SpotCrime also draws data from news reports and user tips.
To check specifically for sex offenders, visit FamilyWatchdog.us, where you can pull up a map featuring color-coded icons that indicate different types of crimes. You can also sign up for alerts of future incidents. The National Sex Offender Public Website, www.nsopw.gov, is another source for information on sex offenders.
Crime statistics are also part of the report Area Vibes.com provides. This site factors safety into a comprehensive “livability score,” with letter grades for each component.
If you’re nearby, though, nothing beats driving—or better yet, walking—through a potential neighborhood to gain a feel for the area. Try to visit both in the daytime and at night – the atmosphere can be very different.
Look around – are properties maintained? Is there a sign for a neighborhood watch or for community activities where neighbors gather (and look out for each other)? Do you see people at all?
If you can find someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation – the information they can share is invaluable.
Finally, listen to your instincts – they may just help settle the question for you, helping you find a new neighborhood that’s just right for your family.