When shopping for real estate, the most common things we look for are neighbouring property prices, schools, gyms, local supermarkets, decent cafes and the general things we deem necessary for day-to-day living right? But another issue for consideration is safety and far too few of us give this the attention it deserves. Not giving consideration to how safe your new neighbourhood is can be disastrous. If you understand how to investigate crime rates before you purchase property, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and potential expense in the future.
Safety issues cover a broad spectrum. Your priorities could be whether it’s safe for your kids to ride their bikes, while others might wonder how safe it is to walk home from the train late on a Saturday night. Your personal safety is of course important – you want to be able to walk the streets and safely park cars in your neighbourhood – but you should also understand what kind of safety issues specifically relate to your property and the best way to do this is to research the local crime rates.
You can start by understanding the general demographics of your area to get a sense of who lives there, what the average income is and its general prosperity. The Australian Bureau of Statistics is a good place to start. On the statistics page, under ‘Snapshots of Australia’, choose ‘data by region’. Once you enter your chosen suburb name you can find the local shire or council and pull up demographic information about the area based on the last census.
If you want to go deeper and get specific information about crime you can look on the relevant state police website. This is a rabbit hole you may struggle to come out of however as there is lots of useful information. You can find out what community safety initiatives are in place in different areas and how to prevent crimes to your house, property, family, against your personal safety and more. State by state reporting of crime statistics differs but information about things such as numbers of victims of crimes, crimes by location and types of crimes are all available with some digging. Victoria Police for example deliver their statistical information about crime through the Crime Statistics Agency website. While Western Australia Police have a Crime Statistics Portal within their website that you can explore for detailed information.
Another perspective altogether can be gained by seeking out community Facebook pages, seeing what the main topics for discussion are and reading the comments on different posts. There can be some considerable bias in these groups so maintain an open mind, but often if there is a lot of crime in the area this will be the focus of much of the comments and discussion. Local news services – either their websites, or social media accounts - will also give you more specific information about crimes than the statistics might.
Managing safety is not just about your own personal health and wellbeing. Spending some time understanding how to investigate crime rates before you purchase property will have a more positive outcome where your finances are concerned too. Insurance premiums may be higher in areas of increased crime and you’re likely to find the property harder to sell after you’ve been broken into 6 times and decided to move on. Do your research, compare the figures of neighbouring suburbs and make your property investment decisions with your head rather than your heart.