Q: I am thinking about moving into a neighborhood in a town that I am not too familiar with. I just moved here recently from out of state, and I found a home that I would like to buy in the neighborhood.
How can I be sure that my neighborhood is safe? Is there a national database of crime records that I can look at?
A: Since you’re new to your town, you need to consult with some locals to find out whether the area you are looking at is safe. Ask your colleagues at work about the neighborhood. It’s also a good idea to visit the local police department and get their take on the neighborhood.
In addition to talking to folks, go for a walk. The best way to determine if a neighborhood is safe enough (no neighborhood is completely “safe” anymore) is to spend time there before you buy the home.
Walk around the neighborhood alone and with friends or family. Do you feel safe? Do you see any unsavory characters lingering in the streets or in the local park?
Are the local store owners friendly or hostile to a new face? A hostile glance may be a sign of trouble in the neighborhood, or a bad day at the office.
Unfortunately, there are no good online crime databases that will tell you how safe your neighborhood is. You can get data on cities as a whole, but it’s tough to find good data on individual neighborhoods.
As a final suggestion, why not rent for a while before you buy? That way you can make sure you like the neighborhood. Good luck!