How to Choose a Safe Home

Jon Fesmire |

If you’ve lived in your current home for a while, you have a sense of how safe your neighborhood is. But now that the time has come to move, you have to find a new house or apartment and maybe even a new city that makes you feel secure.

Safety should always be one of your concerns when moving to a new home. Here are some things you can do to judge the safety of any place you may want to move to.

Crime Rates

When you’re looking for a safe neighborhood to move to, one of the first things to do is to check the crime rates on NeighborhoodScout. You can use the website to look at the crime rates in one city or compare cities across the country.

NeighborhoodScout will show you the number of violent versus property crimes, the crime rate, and much more. For example, Irvine, where our StorageFront home office is located, has 0.65 crimes per 1,000 residents, while the California average is 4.26 per 1000.

Two other sites can also help. Use CrimeReports.com to view recently reported crimes in an area, as well as a map of registered sex offenders. To that end, you may also want to check the city or neighborhood on the National Sex Offender Public Website.

Check Yelp

Yelp isn’t only for stores and restaurants. You can also search for apartment complexes by name. Use this resource to read reviews by current and former residents of any apartment complexes you’re considering. This is a good way to learn quickly about an apartment complex based on the experiences of others.

Friends

If the area you’re researching is far from where you currently live, do you have any friends who live in your destination city? If so, they can probably recommend the best neighborhoods for you, and warn you against those that are less safe.

Visit the Neighborhood

Once you find a neighborhood that you are interested in and you’ve found a house or apartment you may want to rent, it’s time to visit the area. Set up a meeting with the real estate agent, landlord, or apartment manager.

If you are worried about your safety there, go with a trusted friend, and let them know about your concern. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s time to leave.

Choose Your Floor

If you can choose an apartment within a complex, consider the following:

If a burglar is around, he or she is more likely to steal from a first floor apartment. They’re easier to access and to escape from. If safety from crime is your biggest worry, opt for a higher apartment.

Ask Questions

The owner, landlord, or apartment manager is unlikely to tell you crime statistics. In fact, they are prohibited by law to give certain types of statistical information. It’s your job to research those facts. However, they can answer the following questions, and the answers will give you valuable information.

  1. Were the locks changed after the last tenant moved out? The landlord should always have the locks changed before a new tenant moves in. Also, they should use brand new locks. Otherwise, it’s possible for a former tenant of your apartment, or another in the complex, to use their old keys to break into your place.

  2. Is there a parking garage or an open lot? Just because the lot is open doesn’t mean your car won’t be safe. Most apartment complexes won’t have garages with doors, but it’s worth looking for one that does.

  3. Is the parking lot gated? Again, most won’t be, so it’s nice if the lot is. However, if you notice multiple cars going through once the gate opens and before it closes, that’s a red flag that tenants aren’t following the rules and the lot could be unsafe.

  4. Does the apartment have mold, bugs, or other hazardous chemicals? In some areas, apartments beyond a certain age may contain lead paint, for example. The apartment might have roaches or may be prone to mold. While safety concerns aren’t crime-related, they are health-related.

Apartment hunting is tough. If you’re on a strict budget, or you have to move quickly, you may be tempted to take the first place you find. But when possible, look at many places and put your safety first.