Before purchasing or committing to a new home in a new neighborhood, what are the aspects that you would be looking at? Ample opportunities, good connectivity, and budget-friendly will surely be on your checklist. But one more important factor you wouldn’t want to miss out on is the safety aspect. ‘How safe is my new neighborhood’, should definitely be one of the questions to consider, ideally, before finalizing the details of your move.
Thankfully, getting answers to this question isn’t that tough a job. There are a number of online tools that you can use to research your neighborhood’s crime rates as well as safety levels. Along with giving you details about these tools, we’ve also shared a few signs that you must look out for in your neighborhood as well as a few tips to help choose a safe neighborhood. But first, let us start by sharing a few quick facts about the prevalent crimes in the country.
A Look At The Crime Statistics
A Uniform Crime Report is released by the FBI each year, providing details on the crime trends in different parts of the country. Different law enforcement agencies across the United States are involved in the compilation of this report. Here’s a quick summary of the crime trends as per the latest 2019 report generated by the FBI.
- 432,187 violent crime incidents were reported in 2019. Aggravated assault incidents had the highest reporting among all violent crimes.
- With regards to property crime, around 3,007,739 incidents were reported in 2019. Amongst arson, burglary, and other property-crime incidents, larceny and theft formed the majority of incidents reported.
- Between 1993 and 2019, the violent crime rate fell by around 49%, with noticeable decreases in the rates of robbery, murder, and aggravated assault. As for property crimes, a 55% decrease was noticed over these years with big declines in the rates of burglary, motor vehicle thefts, and larceny-theft.
As per a recent survey conducted by Wallethub, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, and Texas are amongst the most dangerous states in the United States. These results were generated based on different indicators including the number of assaults per capita, unemployment rate, bullying incidence rate, number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, etc. On the other hand, Maine, Vermont, and Minnesota have been ranked some of the safest states in the country.
What Signs Should You Watch Out For
When moving to an unfamiliar neighborhood, it can get a little difficult to assess the level of safety in that particular area. To help you get a better judgment, here are a few signs that you should be looking out for when evaluating the safety of your neighborhood:
1. High Crime Rate Statistics
The first and the foremost aspect of evaluating the safety level in your potential neighborhood is by having a look at the prevalent crime statistics. What you need to keep in mind is that the statistics for a particular city cannot be generalized to all areas within the city. While a majority of the crimes are stereotyped to be concentrated in heavily populated cities, a number of studies have highlighted the fact that a lot of violent crimes are concentrated in small and lesser-known areas.
It is best that you look up the crime trends in your specific area to get a better understanding of the level of safety in your neighborhood.
2. Abandoned Houses And Storefronts
If there are a number of vacant houses and stores in the neighborhood you’re planning to move to, it is best that you check the crime statistics of that area. A few studies have highlighted the relation between vacant retail stores and increased crime. If the houses and the stores are left unoccupied for a prolonged time, take it as a sign to assess the degree of danger in that locality.
3. Constant Police Presence
While you might consider the presence of police to increase the safety of a neighborhood, if there’s constant high police activity in that area, it would probably mean there’s increased criminal activity that the police are trying to control. Now, seeing a police car pass through your neighborhood once in a while is an indication of their normal patrol duties. But if you notice the police answering multiple calls daily in your neighborhood, that would make you check the prevalent crime rates in your area.
4. Limited Green Spaces And Community Activities
Neighborhoods having a number of group activities and well-maintained recreational spots tend to have reduced criminal activity. The reason behind this is simple. Such amenities attract more residents to the neighborhood and their presence serves as a crime deterrent. If your potential neighborhood does not have a lot of residents or the neighbors are living in isolation, you might want to reconsider moving there if safety stands as a major concern for you.
Online Tools To Check How Safe Is Your Neighborhood
Along with watching out for some of the signs we just discussed, you can also take the help of a few tools to learn about the different types of crime happening in a particular neighborhood. Some of these are government-based websites as well as mobile apps, and you can easily use them to get information about the criminal history and trends prevalent in different areas. Let’s have a look at a few of them.
One of the most popular and reliable tools to study the crime rate of a specific location is AreaVibes. What’s interesting about AreaVibes is that it does not only provide crime-related data but also gives information about the cost of living, weather, availability of amenities as well as the real estate market. The website provides a “Livability Score” out of 100 based on your ZIP Code to give you an idea of how habitable a particular area is.
Data provided by AreaVibes is freely available and easily accessible as well. All you need to do is enter the specific address of an area or the ZIP Code and you’ll get all the information you need. Incident reports for all violent and property crimes are provided by AreaVibes. Since the locals of that community share first-hand information about the neighborhood, you can get a good idea of the environment prevalent in a specific locality.
Launched in 2003, City-Data is an Illinois-based social networking and information-oriented website. It provides data about different cities in the US, their criminal history as well as the prevalent economical and cost of living aspects of the city. You can study the crime rate of each city and compare it with the national average.
The website provides information about different violent and property crimes including robberies, murder, rape, thefts, etc., and also gives you an understanding of the increasing or decreasing crime rate of a specific city. City-Data also lets you compare and analyze two cities based on different parameters. You can easily access the website to study the crime trends of the new city you might be planning to move to.
National Sex Offender Public Website
Another free and easily accessible website, the National Sex Offender Public Website is a great source for checking out information on registered sex offenders in the area. If you’re moving with children, make sure to have a look at this website. You can use this tool to figure out how safe a particular neighborhood is for children and then make a decision about the move. Along with the website, you can also make use of the mobile app available for smartphones.
As the name suggests, NeighborhoodScout gives you all the relevant data about a particular state, city, area, or neighborhood, focusing mainly on real estate trends, demographics, quality of schools, and the extent of crime in that locality. The platform provides information on violent as well as property-related crime and is a reliable tool to study local databases and statistical specifics.
NeighborhoodScout is a helpful tool to learn about the crime trends of a particular area as it gives you information on not just the nature of the crime but also the number of crimes that took place and their frequency as well. Although the general data about a place is available for free on NeighborhoodScout, you may have to subscribe to the website for in-depth neighborhood crime analysis.
Another tool that’s similar to the National Sex Offender Public Website, Family Watchdog helps you identify specific sexual crimes prevalent in an area. The site shows you a map of where exactly the sex offenders are residing in your area. Not only can you get relevant information about the convictions of the predator but also a picture to identify them in some cases.
Beyond this, Family Watchdog also provides information about the overall criminal history of an offender as well. One more interesting feature about the website is that it lets you sign up for alerts, so you can be notified when an offender moves in or out of your neighborhood. In addition to that, you can browse their blog to get information about local schools, parks, and shopping areas and also get a few neighborhood safety tips as well.
Nextdoor is a private social networking app that lets you have real-time conversations with your neighbors, keeping you updated about any suspicious activities at all times. You will have to sign up as a member on the app, and you can only be a part of one neighborhood at a time. It is one of the best personal alert systems out there and it keeps you in the loop about any suspicious incident, stolen vehicles, and even missing packages from porches. You can use Nextdoor to report crimes, discuss concerns, or start a neighborhood watch group as well. It is also a good way to get acquainted with your neighbors online.
Claiming to be the nation’s largest collection of law enforcement agencies, CrimeReports has all the crime-related data of a specific area. You can type in your address or ZIP Code and the map-based website will give you information about the crime incidents that have occurred in that area. For more detailed information about the incident, you can also get in touch with the local enforcement agency where the crime was reported. Violent crimes, property thefts, assaults, as well as drug use incidents are reported on the website.
A few of the unique features offered by CrimeReports include getting crime mobile alerts in your area, submitting crime tips, and getting notified about future crimes in your area. You can register your home or work security camera and also share incident maps on Twitter, Facebook, or via email.
Tips For Choosing A Safe Neighborhood
- Before you decide on a neighborhood to settle in, try reaching out to your potential neighbors and talk to the local shopkeepers around. If the local shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and other outlets in the locality are thriving with business, there are high chances of it being a lively neighborhood with a lot of people living around.
- Try finding out about the community events taking place in the neighborhood. That’s a great way of getting to know the environment you’ll be living in and the people you could be interacting with.
- You should not only attend these community events but also join some local community groups like a church group, a local dance group, or even a local volunteer group. This will keep you well-informed about the happenings of your neighborhood and will also keep you in touch with your other neighbors.
- Check if there’s a neighborhood watch in the potential locality you’re planning to move to. It is one of the oldest crime prevention programs in the country and is a good tool to maintain safety in your neighborhood. You can also organize some other safety measures like developing a neighborhood calling tree to be informed when things go out of order in the locality.
- Figure out the proximity of your location to local parks, schools, and walking trails. Like we mentioned before, this could be an indicator of the type of crowd residing in the neighborhood and it also gives you an idea of whether you would fit in that locality. Checking the walkability score of your area is also a good option to explore.
- Take a tour of your potential neighborhood once during the evening hours as well. Check if the streets are well-lit and the houses too have porch lights switched on during the nights.
- Installing a good quality smart security system and keeping a casual appearance for your house are a few steps that you can take to ensure the safety of your house. In addition to this, try keeping your blinds and windows closed at night and exercise due caution for your house when planning a trip out of town.
Also Read: Finding A Good Neighborhood?
How Do I Check Crime In My Area?
You can make use of any of the tools that we’ve mentioned in our article – AreaVibes, City-Data, National Sex Offender Public Website, NeighborhoodScout, Family Watchdog, Nextdoor, and CrimeReports, to check crime in your area. Many of these tools are easily accessible and free of cost and can help you get a good idea about the prevalent crime in your neighborhood or locality.
How Do You Feel Safe In A Bad Neighborhood?
At times you might not have much of an option in choosing your neighborhood and after moving there, you could realize the crimes prevalent in the area. In such a situation, there are a few steps that you could take to feel safe in a bad neighborhood. You can start by getting to know your neighbors. Staying informed about your neighborhood will keep you alert and help figure out safe ways to move in and around your locality.
Look out for the local neighborhood watch in your area. The process brings together all neighbors to keep each other’s houses as secure as possible. If there isn’t an existing neighborhood watch in your area, you can consider pairing up with friends and known neighbors to start one. Along with this, ensure that you invest in a quality home security system for your house. Study your neighborhood well and be street smart to feel safe even in a less secure neighborhood.
How Accurate Is SpotCrime?
The information provided by SpotCrime is usually gathered from local news, police, and user reports, so it is accurate and reliable to quite some extent. Each crime displayed on the map will provide a link to the source from where the information was gathered, so you can get your doubts cleared from that as well.
In general, SpotCrime is a useful and easy-to-use tool especially for people who are looking to move to a specific area. The website, as well as the app, provides data from different sources for mapping crimes in an area over time. However, if you’re looking for a comprehensive report on the overall crime trends in an area, you might want to refer to other sources as well apart from SpotCrime.
Choosing a neighborhood to live in with your family or even alone isn’t as simple and straightforward as it seems. Easy accessibility and affordability aren’t the only aspects you would need to consider, but safety is also a major factor to be taken into account when choosing your new neighborhood.
While the tools that we’ve mentioned above will help you get a fair idea of the prevalent crimes in your area, we also highly recommend reaching out to local authorities and your possible new neighbors to get a better insight into your prospective neighborhood. Try getting familiar with the locality as well as the locals around, before you move, to get acquainted with the vibes of your new surroundings. Safety is an important concern for each of us, and taking all the required measures is essential to ensure the best for you.
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