How should local crime rate affect choice of home?

There’s a home my wife and I are eyeing which is perfect in many, many ways, but one negative is the local crime rate. It’s listed by some websites as “moderately high” and by other websites as various equivalents of superlatively high.

One website (hosted by the city itself) lets us look at the actual crimes that were committed and where they happened. When we filter this to just ‘crimes against property’ (which is what we’d mostly be concerned about) it shows about four incidents in the last six months (all of them over two blocks away as it happens but…)

In practical terms, just exactly how much significance does a high local crime rate have as regards the chances of any particular house in the area being victimized?

I have read here and there that a better predictor of being a crime victim is actually your social network rather than your physical neighborhood. Do you know if this is true? (Googling’s not helping me right now.) The idea was that victims of crime are usually friends of friends with the perpetrator, so if you’re not friends of friends with any criminals, you’re much safer by virtue of that fact. Sound legit? Relevant to crime statistics for neighborhoods?

Another thing my wife and I noticed is that the house we like is about two blocks east of a really rich area, and about two blocks west of a really seriously run-down area. So it also seems possible that a high crime rate for the zip code might just mean things are really bad in that run-down area, while having no such strong implications for the house itself.

Well anyway, that’s a lot of vague information but my question is pretty general, I’m just looking to hear people’s thoughts on how important a local crime rate should be in deciding where to plop down for the next twenty years to life.

It would be tops on my list of considerations.

That said, do you know what crimes predominate in this high-crime area? The type of crime would make a difference to me. Is it petty theft? Drugs? Homicide? I’d also look at the local school districts. Even if you don’t have or want kids, the school’s ratings can tell you a lot about the place you’re settling down.

Statistically we live in a high crime area.

When we dug into the details, practically all of the crime is centered at Walmart and the streets immediately behind it. Walmart sits in a far corner of our statistical area. Our street and several of them surrounding us are just fine.

“four incidents in the last six months”? When you have small number of incidents, that number can fluctuate massively.

Why don’t you walk through the neighborhood and talk to some people living there?

How does the crime rate of your prospective neighborhood compare against the city as a whole?

I live in a city with a relatively high crime rate. It’s crime index score is 7 (out of 100). There are really nice neighborhoods here (think blocks as opposed to streets), but I wouldn’t say the things that make these neighborhoods “nice” have much to do with their safety. The crime is different from what you find in the “bad” neighborhoods, but they aren’t what I would call particularly “good crime”. Sometimes you hear people complaining of break-ins and theft and saying “I never thought that would happen here!” where “here” is the cool, hip neighborhood full of bohemian art professors and their college students. But college kids are easy victims, walking around with their gadgets and bikes and whatnots. And bohemian art professors aren’t shy about calling the cops when someone steals the Boston ferns from their front porches (I’m guessing that sometimes the thieves turn out to be the college kids living next door).

Of course, there is violent crime here. In the neighborhood I lived in three years ago, someone came into my downstair neighbor’s apartment in the middle of the night and beat him up. But I don’t think this was random street crime. Someone smoking as much herb as that guy did (evidenced by the odor always wafting into my unit) probably wasn’t a Boy Scout.

Forgive me for asking a personal question, Frylock, but why is it so important to move into a house right now, before you get settled in the area and build security with your new job? I’d be very worried about buying a home in a neighborhood I don’t know anything about. I moved to Richmond pretty much sight unseen and happened to land in a neighborhood that wasn’t too terrible. But as soon as I discovered that my neighborhood was mediocre compared to places just as affordable only a half mile away, I regretted being so hasty. Fortunately for me, I was able to move easily.

Anyway, I hope my question’s not too personal. Good luck in your searches.

Definitely do plan to do that.

ETA: We’ve spoken briefly to two neighbors both of whom said things in the area of “it’s a quiet neighborhodd” and “we like living here,” so that seems positive. But I was hoping to go through a more intentional process at some point.

[quote=“monstro, post:5, topic:708810”]

Not a problem.

As you may have heard here and there about the boards, (because as a few others have remarked, I kind of won’t shut up about it sometimes…) I’ve got a family of six. We’ve been desperate to move out of our three bedroom small apartment for a couple of years now, but affordable apartments with minimally four and preferably five (!) bedrooms are really hard to come by here. The job I’m moving out of was actually much more unstable than my new one–I’m going from a continuously practically bankrupt institution also constantly in trouble with accrediting bodies, to a very large, very well established institution with no similar troubles at all. Moreover I kind of just lucked into my old job, whereas my new job is one where they actually asked me to please apply because they liked working with me when I did some consulting for them. For these reasons we actually feel more secure now that I’m moving into the new job.

Of course. That’s why I’m trying to find out all I can about the neighborhood–and also get advice as to what to do with the information I find.

FTR our home search is very wide. This one house just happened to really catch our eye as it happens, but it’s not like we zeroed in on it and are ignoring everything else. We go see other houses all the time. It’s not an exclusive relationship. :wink:

But for our price point, and our space needs, it really hits basically all our positives. Schools are a problem but our kids are “G&T” types in our present school district so that will be less of a problem. The only real problem is the crime rate.

Oh another negative, possibly: For a reason I have not yet discerned, the home’s “zestimate” (’s estimate of value) dropped precipitously from about $200,000 to about $90,000) in jut the past year. I have got to figure out why that happened.

Cool, Frylock.

FYIW, I grew up in a high crime neighborhood in Atlanta. We had regular break-ins and occasional encounters with winos taking up residence in my dad’s car, but none of us were traumatized for life by these incidents. In fact, we wear our survival skills as a badge of pride. We didn’t have problems finding good kids in the neighborhood to play with, and my parents were able to find friends to socialize with as well. The only downside was that we were bussed to far-away schools, since the neighborhood schools weren’t good. If there hadn’t been a bussing program, I don’t know what the outcome would have been. Maybe it would have been the same, but statistically speaking, this is unlikely.

Ironically, my parents moved to a safer suburb after all the kids flew from the nest.

It’s not something I really thought was important a few years ago but after living in Little Rock, Arkansas for seven years my perspective has changed. Within the first two weeks of moving into our house I had an air compressor and gas can stolen from under the carport, someone smashed several car windows throughout the neighborhood and rifled through them them for valuables, and I had to call the police because 15-22 males aged from adolescence through their early 20s decided by yard was the perfect place to have a brawl. In the seven years I lived there my car was broken into three times, my neighbor shot and killed a home invader, I learned to stop worrying about gunshots unless they were extremely close to the house, I lost count of the number of times I had to call the police because of gunshots or because of drunks screaming on the street at 1 am, and I lost count of the number of times the homes of my immediate neighbors were broken into. I still remember a the woman who moved out of her rental two weeks after moving in because someone broke into home and another woman who moved out after her home was broken into for the second time, this time while she was home.

I was pretty miserable but couldn’t afford to move elsewhere. I was afraid to leave my house overnight for fear that someone would break in, I was constantly afraid someone would break in while we were at work, I was afraid to leave my wife home alone overnight, I had to keep everything outdoors --lawnmower, grill, etc.-- chained up. Seriously, I used a lock and chain to preserve my items. I had a corner lot and people would constantly cut through my yard or throw their trash in it.

And the thing of it is there were a lot of nice people in my neighborhood. Obviously there were some pretty crappy ones too. Prior to moving in my wife and I drove through the neighborhood during the day and at night and everything looked nice, quiet, and peaceful. Most people actually took care of their houses and lawns, I didn’t see any bars in windows, and during the day I didn’t see a lot of idle young men.

As far as I’m concerned the local crime rate should be an important factor in your decision to live somewhere. I don’t ever want to find myself in the position I was in while living in Little Rock.

I used this site when I was house hunting
The other thing to consider is resale value of the home
If the neighborhood is going down or has a high crime rate you may have trouble selling the house in the future.

I have to be doing something wrong. When I use that site, I get no crimes, whatsoever, within the entire city of Indianapolis, no matter what address I start with. I’ve definitely checked off the appropriate “crime category” boxes.

Try this address (it’s not the one I’m looking at for a home): 26 Parkview Ave, Indianapolis.

Do you see any crimes there? If so I’m doing something wrong

Uhh…maybe because he doesn’t want to get robbed, raped and murdered (not necessarily in that order)?

We don’t frighten easily so its no consideration to us. And we live in an area of Pittsburgh that even the police are frightened of sometimes.

Your friends and social circle can more affect your chances of violent crime than crime itself. We have had several houses robbed around us and where any sort of perp was ever found it was a stranger. Or someone clued in by a workman. Burglars around here are more likely to just move along the street until they find a good target rather than go out seeking good intel. For someone hearing your cousin Bob talking about your stuff to some friend at work and that friend then robbing your house? Not a great chance.

Our block is pretty safe and so are several around us; two blocks away is totally nuts. Could ours go that way? Maybe. But we like it here and we’ll deal with it however it goes.

Not all police departments report to Maybe Indianapolis doesn’t. In my area about half the cities do, half don’t. So the crimereports map is like a patchwork: some areas show crimes, others don’t.

Statistically I live near an epicenter of murder, astoundingly high murder rate! You’d think either serial killers or Mad Max type conditions.

Except it is all gang warfare related killings in a next area nearby, most of the neighbors that aren’t family are elderly and retired people that lived here their whole lives and the immediate area is very quiet and the last time I can recall a crime in the immediate area was someone’s playstation being stolen during a house party. If I didn’t watch the news or read the paper or listen to scuttlebutt I’d never even know about it. Your best bet on avoiding being a crime victim is to not be in a gang, and don’t try to muscle in on someone’s drug turf.

Hilariously I’ve seen tourists fret about the murder rate, when 99.9% of them will never ever come near to the areas where these gang related murders are happening.

I guess what I am saying is crime statistics can be misleading.

It would be my number one concern and as you describe it would be a deal breaker if I could afford anything else. With kids schools are another factor that is probably number two. I can go to private school to mitigate educational deficiencies - can’t very well lower crime.

What’s the point of a home if you are not secure? There’s no guarantee of safety in lower crime areas but at least you reduce your risk. I’d be willing to endure a longer commute to attain a safer neighborhood.

People make excuses for bad neighborhoods but a low crime rate is one my top priorities as well. I grew up in a rural area with an extremely high crime rate and I now live in the statistically safest small city in the nation. Not everyone here has lots of money but the difference is like night and day. If you drop your wallet somewhere, people will locate you to return it intact (I had it happen twice). You don’t need to worry about thugs attacking your kids and you can leave anything in plain sight with the expectation that it will be there when you return, whenever that is. The intangible benefits to a low crime rate are immense but they are only the tip of the iceberg. A high crime rate implies societal breakdown and everything that is associated with that even if it is localized. I want absolutely nothing to do with it these days.

[quote=“Frylock, post:7, topic:708810”]

Have you considered trying to rent a house instead of an apartment? Several times over the past 35 years I have rented a house instead of a flat, and the cost is comparable in many ways. Two of them were multiyear contracts, and 3 of them were normal 1 year leases, and one was a short winter/off season rental where the place was a summer rental on a beach.

Yes, but it’s more expensive per month than buying a house will be, even after taking into account utilities, maintenance, insurance etc. That was another reason we decided to look into buying.