How to Look Up an Area’s Crime Rate Before Moving There
One of the most important things you should do before deciding on purchasing a new home is to check out the neighborhood around it to make sure it’s safe. Few things would be worse financially and security-wise than making one of the biggest monetary investments of your life, only to find that you have put yourself in danger of being the victim of a crime. Here are some ways that you can look into a neighborhood’s crime rate before moving there.
1. Crime Rate Websites
Some of the FBI-encouraged sources for examining crime data are the National Incident-Based Reporting System, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, Hate Crime Statistics Program, and Crime Data Explorer. Some more user-friendly resources (based in ease of accessibility and interface) include crimegrade.org, areavibes.com, and neighborhoodscout.com.
2. Crime Mapping Services
These services collect police data and map it for the benefit of those entering into areas for various reasons, whether it be a brief drive-through or contemplation of a move. Two valuable mapping services are CrimeReports and SpotCrime. They will provide a map and list of crimes based on the area you search, and even allow you to compare different neighborhoods to each other.
3. Check the Walkability Score
WalkScore is a tool that allows you to see if a neighborhood is considered convenient, accessible, and safe to walk in. High walkability scores are favorable, and low scores may indicate that you don’t want to get out of your car (which either means you’re in Los Angeles and driving everywhere, or are in danger).
4. Review the National Sex Offender Public Website
This website allows you to search the offenders in your area to make sure you take the proper safety precautions. If you live in an area with a high prevalence of registered sex offenders, your best bet is to invest in a security alarm system.
5. Tour the Neighborhood
Only after you have looked at the resources above, and only if you feel safe doing so, take a walk in the neighborhood in question to conduct an informal “vibe check.” What do you see? Are there bars on the windows? Broken glass in the streets? Heavy police presence? How do you feel? Do you brighten up and feel like you are in the place of your dreams, or do you have a lurch in your stomach, like you’re about to step into a nightmare? Our senses are some of the best tools we have for assessing personal safety, including the unproven but very real instinctual sense that tells you if something is dangerous.
6. Home Value Trends
It’s easy enough to check the trending value of homes in particular neighborhoods on numerous websites. Go on Redfin or Zillow and see if there are houses for sale in the area in question. Look at the data provided and scroll to the home value section. This will let you see if there have been any significant drops in the value of the home over the years. If you see this happening with multiple homes, chances are it is a neighborhood issue.