Whether you live by yourself, have a family with young children, or simply want to enjoy a bit more privacy, finding a safe place to live is always a top priority. But with so many different factors to consider, where do you even begin your search?
What Makes a Property Safe?
Safety is one of those things that’s very subjective. And while we’d love to put an objective quantifier on it and say this is what it means to be safe, the reality is that it varies. As a homeowner, you have to get clear on what this means to you.
At the end of the day, safety is a feeling. It’s a feeling of being able to lay your head on your pillow at night and not worry about anything bad happening to you, your family, or your property. Some people find safety in seclusion – like living in a remote cabin. Other people are scared to death of living in isolation and find safety in the proximity of other people they trust. Still, others prefer to be set apart, like in one of these Arizona gated communities.
The goal when buying a house is to find a place where you’re comfortable being you. If you’re currently a middle-aged married couple with no kids, your version of safety is going to look different than a single mother with three young children. Make sure you pay attention to your own needs.
4 Elements of a Safe Property
There’s a lot that goes into a property’s “safety level.” Here are several elements we recommend considering in your search:
Start with the location of the property. If you’ve been in the area for any amount of time, then you can almost certainly pinpoint which areas of town are seedy and which are relatively safe. And even though factors can change from street to street, you can get a pretty good feel for things by zooming out and looking at the general area of town.
If you’re considering a certain neighborhood or street, we recommend getting in your car and driving around at different times. For example, you might want to drive around early in the morning, in the middle of the day, and late in the evening. Does it pass the vibe check (as the kids would say)? Trust your gut on this one.
2. Crime Rate
Your gut feeling will usually be pretty good, but there’s something to be said for studying the data. This is where crime mapping services and tools like CityProtect and SpotCrime come into play. Just type the address into the tool, and it’ll give you detailed information about crimes committed in the area.
“These sites break down the type of crimes committed as well as the dates they occurred,” Rocket Homes explains. “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 even tools that allow you to simultaneously search for crimes in your neighborhood, school safety reports, and other livability factors that impact your overall experience.
3. House Type
Consider the house type when evaluating the overall safety level. For example, a house that’s in the middle of a very active neighborhood and visible from the street is less likely to be burglarized than one that’s hidden from view.
4. Proximity to Offenders
Did you know that you can run a search to see if there are sex offenders in a particular area? Family Watchdog is a great tool, but there are dozens of different databases available online. Simply plug in an address and it’ll show you exactly where sex offenders live based on proximity. This allows you to vet a neighborhood for safety prior to buying or renting.
Putting it All Together
Finding a safe place to live is highly dependent on the market you’re in, what your budget is, and, ultimately, what your definition of safety is. Patiently wait until you find a property that makes you feel comfortable and at peace. As difficult as it might be to locate the perfect property, good options are always on the market!