Having a nice home is a priority for many, but the building isn’t the only thing that is important — the safety of your local area can make a big difference when deciding where to live and raise a family.

Here are five tips to tell if your neighborhood is safe.

1.  The Community

The way people behave can be a good indicator of the safety of your neighborhood. Friendly neighbors, street parties and children playing outdoors are signs the locals are confident about the area. Other positive signs include well-maintained playgrounds and parks, strangers who offer a friendly hello when you walk by and residents taking pride in where they live with tidy front yards.

Would you feel comfortable walking the streets at night? Exploring the suburb both say and night can give you a feeling as to whether it is safe or not.

2.  Neighborhood Watch Program

Communities that have an active Neighborhood Watch program are generally safer. This is usually run by a group of people who work closely with the police to monitor unusual activity. A Neighborhood Watch program will not only reduce crime, but it will bring citizens together with a common goal.

Police can train members to better understand their surroundings, and give advice on what to do when a crime is witnessed. Having this awareness can be beneficial for the community, and is a proven way to make an area safer.

3.  Additional Safety Measures

Consider whether the neighborhood has adequate street lighting at night, as this measure can help to keep homeowners safe. Look at the homes to see whether they have security camera systems installed.

Security cameras are a good deterrent against crime, as a criminal is less likely to break in knowing they might get caught on film. If an incident does occur, any footage can be handed over to law enforcement, which could help them to identify the suspect.

4.  Local Crime Rates

Deciding whether or not a neighborhood is safe doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Read the local news, join a community Facebook page or check in with the police station to find out the frequency and type of incidents in the area.

Alternatively, you can visit a crime reporting website, and be kept up to date of activity with e-mail alerts. This type of data is generally open to the public for transparency unless it is part of an ongoing investigation.

5.  The Prices of Homes

The price of real estate can signal whether a neighborhood is safe. People may be prepared to pay more for peace of mind. This isn’t always the case since busy cities will genuinely have higher price tags, but this does apply to those suburban areas.

Have a look at the local real estate market; are prices going up or down? Areas with more homeowners than renters may also be safer as buyers may be more concerned about the house they live in compared to an investment property they rent out.

So, Is Your Neighborhood Safe?

There are a few tips to tell if your neighborhood is safe. Speak to the locals, learn about the area and get a feel for the community. Investigate whether properties are going up in value, and check for security systems, lighting and a Neighborhood Watch Program. All of these factors will give you an idea of just how safe the area is.

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