How do I learn if a neighborhood is low-crime?

I’m looking at several apartments, but some I’ve seen listed are in a neighborhood I’m not familiar with. Is there a way to find out if it’s a safe area? Do the police have statistics I can study?

Yes, they may have them online at their website. Additionally, and this may give you a more complete and possibly “better” view, a lot of places have “code enforcement maps”, which is a map of where people have been busted for city code enforcements like long grass, cars on blocks, etc. The one for my neighborhood is telling - right after my street the thing goes crazy with unmown vacant lots, nonworking cars, trash cans not taken in (okay, so I have one of those) - tells ys you something about how nice and law abiding and grass cutting the place is.

You can talk to the cops and see what they know, but you can also look at I don’t know what the coverage is, and for my neighborhood there’s a week or so lag before they get up a report on a specific crime, but it should give you an idea.

In Chicago it’s hard to tell. You can literally have one side of a street be fine and the next a disaster area.

I found a good way is to look at the businesses. For instance, I live on Kedzie, a huge street in Chicago. As you start going west, the business look more and more shabby. The bars on the window grow bigger and the businesses more gated. As you go east from Kedzie the business stop having bars on windows, after dark people are still out and such.

When I first moved to Chicago, I lived in Logan Square and it was a bad neighborhood, but my building was fine. Logan Square has improved 100% since I moved in 15 years ago, (It’s backsliding now though unfortunately).

Beware of marketing tactics. For instance, Bucktown in Chicago is a trendy neighborhood, so they have West Bucktown. That is not the west part of Bucktown that is the new name for the neighborhood directly past Bucktwon which is Humboldt Park and is bad.

The best way is just to walk around the neighborhood and get a feel. Do you feel safe waiting for a bus? Walking to the local store? Walking to the library? Are there bars on the windows of the business? Can you see people doing drug deals? When you’re in a park, and a group of small kids come, do some slightly older kids usually then show up fast (drug deals)?

Actually gangs are less of a threat to personal safety than you’d thing. A gangbanger isn’t gonna risk an assult on you (unless you’re an easy target, like carrying money in your hand and waving it about :)) 'cause if he should get caught, that is time away from the street where he’d make his real killing trafficking drugs.

It’s the petty thugs and small groups of people hanging out on corners that are more likely to get you. In otherwords the people who BUY from the gangbangers not the other way around.

Crime stats don’t really tell you anything, 'cause I’ve lived in Logan Square (Chicago) and we had drive by shootings, we’ve had shop keepers getting murdered, but I’ve never once had a problem. (Like I said Logan Square got much better over the years).

Oh yes here is an excellent website called City-Data (dot) Com. Look up your neighborhood in a search of cities. Or if it isn’t there start a new thread on the neighborhood. has crime (and other) data for a number of major US cities. The data for Chicago crimes is from a police database, also viewable here