Here is a dreaded question that makes just about every person in the property management world shake their head: “Is it a safe place to live?” It is a great question. It is a needed question. It is a question that professionals wish they could confidently and accurately address. However, it is a question that every person must answer for themselves because only you know when you feel safe. As you are considering a place to move into, whether you are renting or just squatting with a good friend, there are some steps you can take to reassure yourself you have chosen wisely.
- Call the police department and ask for a record of the activity in the area you are contemplating moving to. They will give you a lengthy report that you will need to assess for yourself. You may ask for another record for a neighborhood/area different from your first choice to give you a comparison. But here too, you will need to make your own determination.
- While you are talking to the police, ask them what type of patrol they routinely conduct in your area. While crime is a movable target and our servicemen have to drop regular beats to take care of emergencies, there is a planned schedule they work from in the quiet times.
- Visit the website Family Watchdog to see if there is a registered sex offender in the area. That may not be an issue for you, but you have the legal right to know.
- Ask, ask, ask the neighbors their opinion of what it is like living in that area! They know better than anyone!!
- Visit your place at night. What type of street lighting is available? What type of parking lot lighting? What type of neighborhood activity happens?
- Understand that steps of prevention do not guarantee safety. For example, gated communities may deter crime, they do not prevent crime. You may be careful to always close the gate behind you, but there may be another resident who is very comfortable leaving the gate propped open for their buddy to come in later that evening. Know that living in community brings the challenge of people’s differing interpretation of what is “right”.
- Check your own locks regularly for proper function-the locks on your doors and windows. Before you rent, check the locks that are available and be sure you think they seem secure. Consider where you feel the most vulnerable in your home and spend some time securing that area. You be in control of your feelings of safety. And as silly as this sounds, lock your doors! It’s a habit that you will be glad you formed.
- Establish your own routine for safety. The Crimson Choice program at the University of Alabama encourages students as well as townspeople to cultivate an awareness of their surroundings before they walk from their car to their home or store. Visit their website for some more of their suggestions.
- Consider joining or establishing a Neighborhood Watch Program. It’s a great way to know the people who live around you and be on the offense rather than the defense. If there is not a program already in place where you live, click here to get more information. Or call the Tuscaloosa Police Department at (205) 349-2121.
Feeling safe in our homes is important but only we can determine what that is like. With proactive steps we can make certain we have done what we know to ensure safety. It is a responsibility you should take because your Home Matters.