How Safe Is My Neighborhood? Tips And Tools For Assessing Local Safety When Buying A House

Miranda Crace4-Minute Read
December 08, 2021

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details.

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.

How To Check For Neighborhood Safety: Is My Neighborhood Safe?

As a homeowner or prospective home buyer, you ought to know what’s happening in your current location or the area you’re planning on moving to. Staying informed on your neighborhood’s crime rate makes all the difference in feeling secure. Before you purchase your dream home, try using these four tips and tools to stay safe by ensuring that your neighborhood is a good place to live.

1. Use A Crime Mapping Service

Sites such as CrimeReports and SpotCrime collect police and crime report information. You can simply type in your address, potential address or ZIP code and review all of the crimes that have been committed in your area. These sites break down the type of crimes committed, such as violent crime, property crime or organized crime, and 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,” says Emily Patterson, Community Manager with ASecureLife.com. “Safety and security are important for everyone, whether you have kids, are single or are in any other living scenario.”

It’s also important to remember that crime data 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 local 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.”

Protect what's precious

Find the best home security system for you.

2. 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 any sex offenders live 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. It also can help to educate you and your family on possible threats in your new neighborhood. Family Watchdog gives you the ability to receive a notification if an offender moves, or of any changes in your area.

Neighborhood trends at your fingertips.

Check your local market.

3. 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's safety and what you should be cautious of moving forward.

4. Take A Walk Or Drive Around The Neighborhood

“Visit your new neighborhood at all times of the day (morning to night),” says Patterson. “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.”

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 that you’re in a safe neighborhood. When 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 program or 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.

What Is The Safest State To Live In?

Although you can take the above measures and utilize available tools to help determine the safety of your neighborhood, another way to ensure you’re moving to a protected area is by researching what states are statistically safer to live in.

According to World Population, these are the top 10 safest states to live in. Their safety’s been assessed in five categories: personal and residential safety, financial safety, road safety, workplace safety and emergency preparedness. The list is based on each state’s score and data found from WalletHub.

Protect what's precious

Find the best home security system for you.

The Bottom Line

The safety of your new neighborhood is of utmost importance when you’re choosing where you’re going to live. To start, 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. It’s also important to spend some time chatting with the neighbors, or going to one of their community events.

Buying a house is a big commitment, and you want to make sure you’re making the best decision possible. Ensuring neighborhood safety is a vital part of the process.

Miranda Crace

The Rocket Homes blog is here to bring you all you need to know about buying, selling and making the most of your home. Whether you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, selling your current home or looking to keep your place in tip-top shape, our writers and freelancers bring their experience and expertise to meet you right where you are.