There are many considerations when purchasing a new home–and the safety and security of your family is certainly one of them. Deciding on a neighborhood is neither an easy nor quick process.
But the safety of your neighborhood is so critical that you shouldn’t mind taking the time to do your due diligence. Even though real estate is on the upswing, it’s still a buyer’s market out there. Here is a short checklist of things to consider as you begin your search for a safe neighborhood for your family.
- Research, research, research. Do some basic internet research to get an idea on the type of demographics and community experience you can expect in a given area.
- Do a walk through. At different times during the day or night, take a quick walk through the neighborhood you are considering to get a feel for the environment. Stay alert to your surroundings and remember to bring a friend because walking around alone at night is dangerous!
- Strike up a conversation. Go out and visit with potential neighbors and check out the local community center and surrounding shopping centers to get a fuller picture of the area.
- Talk to officials. Contact the local police and fire departments–prepare a list of as many questions as possible about different neighborhoods in the area, including crime rates and emergency response.
- Don’t be too afraid of “bad” neighborhoods. Many of these neighborhoods are well on their way to becoming “good” neighborhoods. In a lot of cases, the “bad” elements stick with one another and leave everyone else alone. There is no one-size-fits all solution to picking a neighborhood.
- Education and wellness. Go visit the local health care facilities and school districts in the local and surrounding areas and find out how they are serving the community at large.
Next steps for ensuring a safe home
Once you’ve finally found a neighborhood that meets the needs of yourself and your family, take the next steps to ensure everyone’s safety. Make sure your home and yard are always well lit. Install a reliable alarm system operated and monitored by a respectable company.
Meet you neighbors and form a neighborhood watch in which everyone looks after everyone else. Regular monthly neighborhood meetings will get everyone a chance to touch base and report on any unusual activity. Don’t limit yourselves to talking about the bad stuff at monthly meetings. Start a newsletter to share all of the good things with your neighbors, too.
Make sure you set up appropriate neighborhood boundaries for your children, based on their ages. If they’re too young to leave the house on their own, go for frequent walks around the neighborhood after you move in to familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood.
According to the US Department of Justice, nationwide law enforcement agencies reported an increase of 1.9% in violent crimes for the first 6 months of 2012. Keep in mind that safety is a journey and not a destination. Keep vigilant and you’ll achieve a relative level of safety that will serve you well.