Safety first, and for those of us lucky enough to be buying a house these days, there are some safety questions that are vital to consider before signing anything.
Is the neighborhood prone to crime?
This may seem like an obvious one, but truthfully the neighborhood can play a huge role in the safety of your home. Whether the neighborhood has a high crime rate, or is a gated community there are some things we need to consider. Protect your home has a great neighborhood safety infographic that compares the 'hoods in some of the U.S's biggest cities. If your next move is to one of these places, it is definitely worth another look.
Even if its not its a good idea to check out crime reports about your neighborhood, and the areas around it. Crime report maps are a good place to find out about the types of crime in your are.
How do you feel in the neighborhood?
Its always a good idea to take a stroll, or hang out in the area for a little bit. You need to, at the very least, feel safe."If I can finish the bag of chips and feel safe the whole time, I'll buy real estate in that neighborhood," says Issamar Ginzberg who buys residences in New York (taken from an article on realestate.msn).
If you're walking around a prospective neighborhood and you're uncomfortable, or your gut is saying something is wrong, then that's probably a good reason not to pursue a home there. Of course, if you're like me, your gut freaks out all the time so it may not be the best resource.
What are the neighbors like?
This is often one of the first things considered, and it should be. Your neighbors can be some of the best safety resources you have, if trusted. Programs like Neighborhood Watch are only effective if your neighbors are considerate and wanting to protect your place there almost as much as theirs. One thing to look at is how the neighbors treat their own homes. Signs of neglect can be a safety flag because it begs the question, "My neighbors neglect their homes, is there a chance they'll neglect mine/me/my family?" More neglected areas also point to crime.
Where are the closest emergency services?
Another thing to consider is the location of fire and police departments, ambulances, hospitals etc. This question is especially important if you've got a child or family member that ever so often needs emergency care, or is prone to things like strokes or seizures. The need for relatively close emergency professionals is relevant in every family situation.
You never know when you're going to need to rush to a specialist, or call an emergency medical service. Other things to look for are places like a Doc in the Box, or walk-in clinics.
After you've deduced that the neighborhood is safe and suitable for you and your family, you can then consider other things like the schools, grocery stores, hospitals, and entertainment, because lets be honest, they're almost as important.
About the author: Naomi Broderick is a mother and a safety advocate. She often writes about real estate and home safety.