When moving to a new neighborhood, whether a few blocks or thousands of miles from your comfortable bubble, it’s easy (and important!) to question how safe the new area is. Especially if you won’t be living in a building with 24-hour security or a doorman, you’ll want to make sure you feel protected in your new home. Here are eight ways to check out a neighborhood.
1.) Take a Walk
The best way to get the feel of a neighborhood is to actually visit it. Start by walking around a few blocks. Do you feel safe? Gut reactions are the most important. If you for any reason feel unsafe – Are people watching you? Do you feel alone? – maybe this just isn’t the right area for you. If you can, walk around the neighborhood both during the day and at night, on a weekday and on a weekend, and see how it feels. And most importantly, walk to the closest subway station or bus stop, if you’ll be using public transportation.
2.) Talk to Locals
Talk to local vendors or consumers to see how they feel about living there. A local coffee shop is always a good place to get the inside scoop, and if you cannot find one, maybe that up-and-coming neighborhood has not yet arrived.
3.) Notice Any Visible Signs of Trouble
Pay attention to visible signs of problems; grates on every window and triple locks on doors may be a sign of neighborhood theft. People hanging around aimlessly in doorways is another troublesome sign.
4.) Get the Police Precinct’s Crime Stats
If you’re worried about crime, contact the local precinct. They’ll be able to give you statistics and details about arrests and crime in the neighborhood. You’ll want to differentiate between “white collar crimes” or other non-dangerous crimes like failure to pay alimony that probably will not impact your personal safety, and assaults, thefts and other crimes that could be danger to you. Even if the total crime rate is high but the dangerous crime rate is low, you’re probably in a decent area.
5.) Use Your Network
Friends or friends of friends who live in the area are a great resource. Ask them what it’s like to actually live there! Don’t underestimate the power of social media; a quick tweet like “Thoughts on moving to Crown Heights, Brooklyn?” can lead to a lot of information from locals. Or those who left the neighborhood for one reason or another…
6.) Check the Local Media
And if you’re apartment hunting long distance, don’t fret, many safety checks can be done from countries away! Read local newspapers online from the area you’re looking to move in, see if the police blotter has any worrying reports, but don’t let it skew your research too much — some boring neighborhoods may have put an over-eager intern on the crime beat! Read the actual details.
7.) Google the Address
Always Google the addresses of any building you are considering, and other buildings nearby that make you worry. If they are known drug dens or sites of many criminal incidents, it’ll show up. Or you may find out that the landlord is frequently in the housing court to answer safety violations.
8.) Test It Out
If you can, try and check out the new neighborhood for a night or two before you move in. Couchsurfers and Airbnb are great resources to get a preview of an area before committing.
There’s nothing worse than living in daily fear and discomfort, so take these precautions before you move to make sure you feel safe and happy in your new home!