Moving your family can be scary. If you’re looking at a new neighborhood, it’s safe to say that safety is your number one priority. Fortunately, you can alleviate a lot of worry by doing a little research up front. Here are 5 tips for keeping your family safe while moving to a new neighborhood.
Check the Neighborhood’s Safety Score
Researching neighborhoods is just as important as researching homes. It’s all well and good to compare window treatments or kitchen floors, but when it comes to family safety, it’s outside of the home that really matters.
There are a variety of sites you can look at to get an idea of your new neighborhood. Google Maps will show you what’s around (parks, businesses, churches, schools), but sites like NeighborhoodScout or AreaVibes will give you a lot more in terms of assessing a neighborhood’s safety, livability, amenities, etc.
Both allow you to search any area and see how it stacks up against national averages of crime, quality of schools, cost of living and more.
Take a Walk
AreaVibes or NeighborhoodScout are helpful, but nothing beats first-hand experience. Take a walk by yourself or with your partner to get the lay of the land before you allow your kids to roam your new neighborhood.
Familiarize yourself with the places around the home that may pose dangers: unsafe parks, busy intersections, unsavory empty lots, etc. This will help you get a real idea of where your children will be playing, going to school and meeting friends (or strangers).
Get to Know the Neighbors
As a parent, your child’s safety comes first, and that means it’s crucial to know who lives next door.
There are many sites you can use to research neighbors. People search engines like Spokeo allow you to reverse search an address and get information on current residents, including names, ages, home value, criminal records, sex offender status and more.
You can also search government sites such as the National Sex Offender Registry to see nearby predators and search people by name or location.
Explore the Area at Night
Areas that feel safe during the daytime may change character once the sun goes down. Take a drive around at night to get a sense of what your neighborhood at night.
If you notice suspicious people coming out and feel the urge to lock your car doors, it may not be a good place to raise your kids. Feeling like you can’t leave the house at night may make you feel trapped like a prisoner in your own home. Always get a feel for what your new neighborhood looks like after dark.
Research/Join Neighborhood Watch Group
Neighborhood watch groups are community organizations dedicated towards preventing crime and vandalism. If you’re thinking about moving to a certain area, it’s a good idea to find out about your local group and get involved.
Joining one right away will help make you feel more aware about any safety issues facing the community. It’s also a good way to meet your neighbors and build trust.
Doing research on a new neighborhood will take time, but it will give you peace of mind. As with any other major life change, a little planning can go a long way.