Dangerous Neighborhoods: How to Identify and Avoid Them

Let’s run through a scenario for a moment. You are moving across the country. Maybe you’re doing this for work. You have a compelling job offer, and the company wants you without delay.

Let’s say the company has an Indianapolis home base. You don’t know about Indianapolis, though. 

You’ve never lived there, and you have very few details about it.

Maybe you start looking into various Indianapolis neighborhoods. How can you figure out which one makes sense? You want a safe area where you can park your car without someone breaking into it and where you can walk down the street safely at night.

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can identify safe neighborhoods and dangerous ones.

Look at Online Crime Stats

If you look online, you can learn a great deal about cities and neighborhoods. Using the Indianapolis example again, you might find out online that the area called Fishers has lower crime than 63% of US cities. You can immediately target it as a possibility for an apartment rental or an eventual house purchase.

Online crime statistics reveal a lot. You can look at a neighborhood and see whether it has higher or lower crime stats when you look at the neighborhoods and areas surrounding it.

You can also see detailed crime breakdowns. You can see what crimes happened in that neighborhood and their frequency. You might look at stats that reveal robberies, burglaries, murders, assaults, rapes, etc.

If you see an area with high violent crimes, you would naturally avoid it. If you see an area with very few crimes, that’s a better choice. You want peace of mind, and you can’t have that in a dangerous area.

You might also peruse crime stats and see whether you’ve got violent crimes like murder in a neighborhood or whether you’re seeing quality-of-life crimes like vandalism or public urination. Something like those last two probably won’t seem so bad.

Few reported crimes always mean you’re moving into a better neighborhood, but relatively mild crimes always sound better. You might feel okay living in an area where teens tag subway walls with spray paint. You won’t feel too good knowing that murders happen in your neighborhood on a weekly basis.

Visit the Police in that Area

If you are in your new city and looking around, you can check out crime stats online, but you might also question the police. Visit the police station in your area. You can ask the person behind the desk about living there.

You can explain your situation. You can tell the cop behind the desk that you’re moving into the city and you’re considering a particular neighborhood. You can ask them their opinion. They might know whether you’re moving into a safe area or one that you should avoid.

They might suggest certain streets rather than others. Sometimes, living a couple of streets over makes a huge difference. You might have a dangerous element on a certain city block, but things get better close by.

Visit the Neighborhood Through the Week

If you’re targeting a neighborhood, you might visit on a Wednesday morning. Look around and see what’s happening there. Do you feel safe during the daylight? Do you see anyone dangerous-looking walking past, giving you the eye?

If you feel safe on a weekday morning, that’s great, but what about on the weekend? Go back there on a Saturday night and look around again. That’s usually a rowdier time. If you feel safe there on the weekend after dark, that’s a good sign.

Visit the neighborhood several times throughout the week and see how you feel. You might ask yourself whether you feel safe walking around, and you should also note the neighborhood’s general atmosphere.

Do you see and hear parties going on? If you want peace and quiet, maybe you should select a different neighborhood. You don’t want robberies and assaults, but perhaps you don’t like loud get-togethers either.

See What’s in that Area

You can find out about crime stats and visit the neighborhood throughout the week. You should also note the demographics and the businesses.

If you’re moving into a neighborhood with older adults and retirees, then a quieter experience makes sense. If you’re moving into an area with rowdy college kids, expect parties and noise.

Do you see anyone using drugs? You can visit some neighborhoods and immediately see a drug’s vicious ravages. You might see junkies and discarded syringes on the ground. That’s probably a neighborhood worth avoiding.

Do you see nice restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, and well-maintained public parks? Do you see broken glass and other trash strewn everywhere? Do you see many police officers patrolling, or very few?

You should make mental notes when you visit an area. You can usually trust your best judgment. The more anecdotal evidence you gather, the more you’ll know whether you’ve found a safe place where you can feel comfortable.

If you feel reasonably sure you might move somewhere, you can look into online message boards as a final resource where you might gather some information. Sites like Reddit usually talk about different cities and neighborhoods.

There, you might ask questions. You can explain your situation and ask about certain neighborhoods and even individual streets. You may ask about living there as a young person, a middle-aged person, or an older adult. You can ask about crime, but you might also ask about grocery stores and other amenities you’ll presumably need.

Moving into a completely new city and neighborhood isn’t easy sometimes. You might feel excited, but you may also feel a bit nervous. That makes sense. You don’t know the area, and you should feel safe while you settle in.

You might also rent an apartment or house just for one year or even six months if that’s an option. Once you’ve lived somewhere for a little while, you should have a better understanding of what it offers.

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