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The security of a neighborhood should be a high priority when selecting your dream home. It’s imperative that you do the appropriate research to make sure you’ll feel secure in your new neighborhood. You’ll likely want to try to eliminate as many dangers and threats as possible, especially if you have a family or plan on having one in the future. So before you purchase your dream home, try these tips for ensuring your neighborhood is safe.

Use a Crime Mapping Service

Sites such as CrimeReports and SpotCrime collect police and crime report information. You can simply type in your address or potential address and review all of the crimes that have been committed in your area. These sites break down the type of crimes committed as well as the dates they occurred. You can also compare your neighborhood crime with other neighborhoods around your community. This can give you a good idea if your new neighborhood is safe.

There are other sites that provide additional information that should be factored in when considering potential neighborhoods. “Sites like NeighborhoodScout and AreaVibes provide data about neighborhood crime rates, public school rankings, and other livability factors. Safety and security are important for everyone, whether you have kids, are single, or are in any other living scenario,” says Emily Patterson, Community Manager with ASecureLife.com.

It’s also important to keep in mind that crime statistics may not paint the entire picture. Any crime may raise a concern for you and your family, but you may want to do a little more digging before making an assumption about the neighborhood. If you’re looking at a smaller community, crimes committed may yield a higher crime percentage strictly based on fewer people in your neighborhood. This could give you a misinterpretation of the neighborhood’s crime rate.

Patterson states, “It can be alarming to see any crime at all on your street or in your neighborhood, but the number isn’t a hard measure of safety and security, especially if rates are even higher in other neighborhoods or if you are more concerned about a particular type of crime versus another.”

Review the National Sex Offender Public Website

The United States Department of Justice has a valuable tool to help you discover registered sex offenders in your area. Visit the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) to determine if there are any sex offenders living close to your new home. Similar to crime websites, the NSOPW allows you to enter your address and see all of the sex offenders in your area.

Another site you can explore is Family Watchdog. This site gives you similar information and provides a map of convicted sex offenders in your area. This site also helps educate you and your family on possible threats in your new neighborhood. Family Watchdog gives you the ability to receive a notification of any changes in your area.

Connect with People Who Currently Live in the Area

One of the best ways to research a new neighborhood is to connect with people in the area. Your neighbors will have the best insight into what goes on and what you can expect. This tactic is good not only for determining the safety in your area but also for discovering if this area fits your lifestyle needs and if you and your family will be able to adapt. You don’t want to move into an area just to find out your neighbor is in a rock band that practices late at night.

It may be a little intimidating, but knocking on your new neighbor’s door can be very beneficial. You want to get a feel for the people who live in the neighborhood and allow them to feel comfortable communicating with you. They may be willing to share a lot of valuable information right away. What may be considered gossip can give you some excellent insight into the neighborhood and what to be cautious of moving forward.

Take a Walk or Drive Around the Neighborhood

“Visit your new neighborhood at all times of the day (morning to night). What looks like the perfect home and street may have a different vibe in daylight versus after dark, and you can often get a feel for this just by driving through,” says Patterson.

By walking or driving around your neighborhood, you can get a sense of the environment the community provides. Some things that may demonstrate that your new neighborhood is safe and secure are:

  • Local community events: Whether your community hosts block parties or farmer’s markets, community events are a great way to bring families together. The more engaged your community is, the safer you may feel.
  • Children playing outside: If parents are OK with letting their children play outside, this could be a good sign. When you’re observing the neighborhood, take note of the children riding their bikes or running from house to house.
  • Booming local business: Does your neighborhood have family-owned restaurants, bookstores and ice cream shops? Spending money in the community is a good sign of prosperity. When people feel financially secure, they may be more likely to help the community grow and flourish.
  • Neighborhood watch groups: If your new neighborhood has a neighborhood watch group, it shows that people in the area take pride in the community. They want to keep it safe and make sure they report any suspicious activity. A lot of times, a small group of people will take it upon themselves to be on the lookout for everyone.

The security of your new neighborhood should be a high priority when selecting your dream home. Do some research and spend some time in the neighborhood before moving forward with your purchase. This will allow you to get a sense of the safety of your new home, and it’ll help you determine if this community is the right fit for you and your family. Spend some time chatting with the neighbors or go to one of their community events. Buying a house is a big commitment, and you want to make sure you are making the best decisions possible.

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