Your home should be a place where you and your family feel relaxed, safe, and comfortable, and a safe neighborhood makes a real difference. The tools below can help you learn more about a neighborhood’s safety whether you’re considering a move or looking at your current neighborhood more closely.
Free tools for finding the safest neighborhoods
NeighborhoodScout lets you look at lots of data about specific cities—you can even look up crime statistics by ZIP code. If you’re considering a move, you can find out ahead of time if one area has an abnormally high property crime rate or a higher rate of violent crime. And even if you do end up living in that area, you’ll be more prepared to protect yourself and your home.
We particularly like that NeighborhoodScout breaks down cities by neighborhood and tells you which ones have higher safety ratings.
Like NeighborhoodScout, AreaVibes gives you crime statistics for US cities. Since you can look specifically at crime reports, AreaVibes makes it easy to compare the statistics for one city to state and national statistics. This makes it easier to put the numbers you see in perspective if you’re comparing cities.
This site maps where people on the sex offender registry live. While this data can be helpful when considering a neighborhood, remember that the severity of crimes on this registry varies drastically. There may be people on this registry who are not actually a threat to your family, so don’t immediately panic if you see quite a few names for your area. Fortunately, Family Watchdog lets you look at the charges and conviction dates for each name, so you can make a more informed decision about whether or not you feel safe in that area. If you want a more detailed report, you can download it, but you’ll be redirected to BeenVerified—a website that provides background checks.
Smart Growth America data
Crime might be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about neighborhood safety, but road safety is equally important—and traffic may be a more common threat to your family than crime. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian deaths increased by an alarming 9% from 2015 to 2016.1 Smart Growth America collected data about pedestrian safety in cities all over the country. Check out this data when you’re evaluating a potential neighborhood.
HRC’s Municipal Equality Index
The Human Rights Campaign created a Municipal Equality Index to score cities on important safety factors including nondiscrimination laws, hate crime statistics, anti-bullying policies in schools, and whether or not employers offer transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits. While the index doesn’t include every city in the US, you can look up cities in every state to get an idea of how safe and welcoming an area is for members and supporters of the LGBTQ community.
What to look for in a neighborhood
Looking for a safe neighborhood? Check for the following factors that can boost an area’s safety.
- Easy-to-access crosswalks
- Cyclist paths
- Well-lit streets
- A well-staffed fire department
- Lower crime statistics (violent crime and property crime)
- Nearby hospitals or urgent care centers
- Nondiscrimination laws
- Supportive community groups for youth
Staying safe in any neighborhood
You can’t control everything that happens around you, but there are quite a few things you can do to improve your safety in your home and around your neighborhood.
In the home
- Install a home security system to prevent break-ins and burglaries.
- Anchor heavy furniture so it won’t fall down on your child or pet.
- Store potentially dangerous items carefully (medicine, cleaning supplies, power tools, guns, etc.) so children and teens can’t access them without supervision.
- Put a smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm near each sleeping area.
- Get motion sensing lights and outdoor security cameras to discourage package theft, deter burglars, and light your path home.
Around your neighborhood
- Use crosswalks when crossing the street.
- Stay attentive as a pedestrian. (If you’re crossing a busy intersection, that cute cat on Reddit can wait.)
- Take a friend along if you’re going for a walk or run in the dark.
- Get a ride home if you aren’t sober.
- Always wear a seat belt and insist your kids do the same.
- Make sure your kids are in the appropriate car seat.
- Get to know your commute to work, school, the store, etc. Once you’ve learned traffic patterns, where your turns are, and which lane you need to be in, it will be easier to avoid traffic accidents.
Finding a good home security system
A professionally monitored home security system can help protect your family and property whether your neighborhood is quiet and peaceful or a target for property crime. Look for a system that offers mobile access, home automation integration, 24/7 monitoring, and superb customer support. Check out our home security company review for more help finding the perfect system.
What do you think makes a neighborhood safe?
Are there specific things you look for when you’re evaluating a neighborhood? Share your tips in the comments below!
1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “USDOT Releases 2016 Fatal Traffic Crash Data”