If you want to get an idea of how safe or crime-ridden a town may be, do some casual observing including at night:
- Are women walking or jogging alone at night?
- Are people hanging out in the evening having a good time?
- Are children mysteriously absent on a sunny weekend afternoon?
- Are there a lot of "for sale" signs among the houses?
- Do many houses have security signs in their yards?
- Are there any other tell-tale signs that the town is safe-or seedy? Like many taverns and only one recreation center?
Before moving to a particular town, you should also chat with its residents. Maybe you shouldn't reveal you're thinking of moving there, as they may tell you things you want to hear. Pretend you're a resident and strike up a conversation at the local diner or some place like that, a comment that would lure someone into giving information about the safety-or danger-of the town.
But of course, you can just be more upfront and honest and flat-out ask about the crime rate, safety, etc. Ask if it's safe for children to walk to and from school by themselves (I don't mean six-year-olds, of course).
Ask if there's a neighborhood watch and why it was established. Inquire about safety measures the townsfolk are taking.
Safety also means the condition of roads and sidewalks, not just for motor vehicles but bicyclists and pedestrians. Are roads in good condition? Are intersections well lit? Are stop signs easily visible?
If your move is long-distance and you can't in-person visit the town:
- It's time for some googling. Type in "city of (name of town)" to view its website and various stats such as "crime rate."
- Also visit the town's police department's website. See if it has a Facebook page. A lot of local buzz is reported on a police department's Facebook page.
- Read the town's major online newspaper to see what's usually cooking.
- Find out what the town's news station is and visit its site.
- Are the sites laden with crime stories? Over time, have there been a lot of sexual assaults or home robberies?
- Any continuous complaints about the schools?
For more comprehensive research, visit the following: