How to Determine if a Neighborhood Is Safe

signs of a safe neighborhood

When moving to a new city or town, you will naturally consider several factors, from convenient commuting options to the availability of essential amenities, before deciding where to settle down. For many people, however, safety tops their list of priorities.

But how can you determine whether an area is safe to live in? Keep reading to learn more.

How to Tell if a Neighborhood Is Safe

Before you sign the papers and make a down payment on a new home, understanding the potential threats to safety is vital for avoiding regrets later.

Here are the telltale signs of a bad neighborhood that could put your family at risk.  

Abandoned Houses

In a good neighborhood, abandoned properties are a rare sight. An unsafe one, on the other hand, will have plenty of them.

Even a single derelict property is enough to attract crime to an area. Vandalism and drug dealing are perhaps the most common issues associated with empty houses.

Poor Upkeep

Run down homes usually attract unsavory individuals. And they don’t say much for the owners, either.

Therefore, if you notice signs of lack of upkeep, such as broken windows and yards that are disheveled and unmaintained, it is best to stay away from those neighborhoods.

High Crime Rate

Identifying an area with fewer crime incidents is necessary when shortlisting potential neighborhoods to settle down with your family.

Unsafe cities typically claim a crime rate well above the national average. This can include violent and hate crime as well as break-ins and other property crimes.

Unusually High Security Measures

Security cameras and other safety steps are fairly prevalent in most modern neighborhoods. However, an unusual number of measures could be a sign of increased crime in the area.

Frequent Police Presence

The occasional police officer patrolling the streets is not an uncommon sight in many cities. However, a community with a significant law enforcement presence will usually indicate a higher number of safety incidents.

Lack of Local Businesses

A safe neighborhood attracts shops, family-friendly restaurants, and other thriving businesses. An unsafe one will see more local enterprises closing down and moving elsewhere.

Inadequate Street Lights and Road Signs

A lack of street lights and road signs creates an unsafe environment for commuters and residents.

To check the general traffic and get an idea about the overall safety condition of streets, you must visit the neighborhood during different times of the day, especially in the evening and at night.

Natural Disasters

Crime is not the only factor that could make a city unlivable. Recurring natural calamities, such as storms, floods, and wildfires, could have the same effect.

Therefore, be sure to research climate and geography-related catastrophes in the local area when house hunting.

Low Home Prices

An important sign of crime and similar safety threats is below-average home prices.

Remember, when a neighborhood is not conducive to living, more homeowners would want to sell their houses and move to a new area. However, due to low demand, properties in such communities are usually listed with a lower price tag. They would also remain on the market for a longer period, even in market upswings.

How to Ensure Your Family’s Safety When Moving to a New Neighborhood

signs of a bad neighborhood

Your family’s security is essential whether you are relocating to a new state or town.

But what measures can you take to assure the safety of your loved ones?

Get to Know Your Neighbors

Never leave this until the last moment when shifting to a new place.

Ideally, you should find out whom you will be sharing a community with even before you make a decision to purchase or rent a property.

Introducing yourself to your potential neighbors is always the easiest option to get to know them better. To learn more about them and find their contact information, you can reverse search their addresses.

Join Neighborhood Watch Groups

Some areas will already have local watch groups to keep an eye on signs of suspicious activities and unfamiliar individuals. If your neighborhood has one, too, consider joining it to be part of the local efforts to ensure the community’s safety.

In addition, check whether there are neighborhood groups online on social media and apps, such as Nextdoor and WeAlert. These can help you connect with residents and alert each other about security concerns.

Secure Your Home

Installing a security camera system, alarms, and digital locks for the front door could all help strengthen your home security, protect your valuables, and make you feel safer.

Another important solution is to install a video doorbell. With a video doorbell in place, you will be able to see the people who came to your house and talk to them.

Also, it is essential not to forget to lock all the windows. Windows are common entry points for criminals who want to break into a house. Therefore, if they are protected, there is a low possibility of unwelcome visitors.

Remain Vigilant

Staying alert for potential threats and taking adequate precautions is crucial, even in good neighborhoods.

For instance, remember to pay extra attention to unfamiliar individuals and vehicles in the neighborhood. Avoid traveling alone at night, and always take well-lit streets with plenty of people around.

Be also careful when using public transportation and taxis — never get into empty carriages if you need to use trains in the night, and share your location with someone close to you.

And instead of staring down at your phone, pay attention to your surroundings. This will help assess potential threats and remove yourself from such situations before things escalate.

To Summarize

it is essential to secure your home

Finding an area with an impressive safety track record is a top priority for anyone moving to a new city or suburb.

Signs of bad neighborhoods typically include abandoned houses and those that lack upkeep, increased crime, unusually high security measures, frequent police presence, and lack of local businesses. Inadequate street lights and road signs, recurring events of natural disasters, and low home prices could also signal trouble.

To assess a community’s livability, spend time in a neighborhood, speak to local residents, and research online before making an offer.

And once you purchase your dream home and move into it, adopt sufficient measures for personal safety. For instance, get to know your neighbors, strengthen your home security, and join local neighborhood watch groups. In addition, remain vigilant and practice caution, both at home and when commuting.


What are the risks of moving to a bad neighborhood?

The most obvious risk of an unsafe neighborhood is the threat to personal safety.

Constantly living with fear and anxiety will rob you of your mental and physical well-being, too.

In addition, property crime and vandalism expose you to potential asset losses and expenses, not only in terms of repairing damages and installing security systems but also with high insurance premiums.

Safety issues can also drive down property value in a neighborhood. This is because when there is less demand and more homeowners looking to sell, house prices can dramatically decline below the market rates. As a result, you could lose out significantly when it is time to sell your home and move into a new community.

What should I do if I feel unsafe in my neighborhood?

Taking adequate protective measures will help you strengthen personal safety. For instance, set up security cameras and alarms at your home and avoid commuting alone after dark.

If there is a specific factor that makes you feel uneasy, determine what steps you can take to address it. For example, if an unruly neighbor is bothering you, inform law enforcement.

However, declining neighborhood safety due to factors beyond your control might mean it is time to move on. So, if there is little you can do to change the situation, finding a new neighborhood would be a better long-term solution.

What is the easiest method to check the crime statistics in my area?

There are several tools that could help you identify local crime levels with up-to-date data on several types of offenses, including violent and sex crimes.

FBI’s Crime Data Explorer is a valuable federal database that provides free crime reports for each state based on reported incidents. Reverse searching your address is important to identify possible sex offenders in the area and learn more about them.

Speaking to several neighbors and checking news stories online are also worthwhile steps for identifying any recent incidents.

Which U.S. states have the highest crime rates?

Forbes Advisor’s latest ranking places New Mexico in the number one position among the most dangerous states in America. The state has a fairly high rate of violent crimes at 7.80 per 1,000 people. Property crime is 29.84 per 1,000 people, and the likelihood of encountering a violent crime is 1/128.

Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado, and California follow New Mexico with a high overall crime score.

What is the safest city for families in the United States?

According to an analysis by MoneyGeek, Thousand Oaks, California, ranks as the safest American city due to its significantly low crime cost of only $241 per capita.

Other cities considered safe include Fishers, Indiana, Pembroke Pines, Florida, Pearland, Texas, and Gilbert, Arizona.

Eugene Kirdzei
Eugene Kirdzei

Chief Technical Officer at Nuwber
With nearly two decades of experience in the IT industry, Eugene possesses comprehensive knowledge across his professional field, including in data management, data protection, and information search. Through his writing, he aims to provide valuable insights and practical advice on how to safely explore the online environment and leverage digital tools to enhance people’s lives.