Moving to a new neighborhood and apartment building with your family requires some extra research. You want to live in a safe environment so you can raise your kids with peace of mind. As you begin your search, take a look at this parent’s guide to make the processes a little easier:
Research Area Crime Rates
Neighborhood non-discrimination laws may prohibit realtors and leasing agents from telling you how safe one area is compared to another, which means you’ll have to research on your own. Talk to the local police and visit crime data websites for specific information. You may also want to talk to potential neighbors to get an accurate picture of what the neighborhood is like on a day-to-day basis. Choose an apartment in the safest area you can afford.
Find Good Schools
Research school districts near the neighborhood you’re considering. You’ll want to know the average class size, test scores and graduation rates. Look for apartments within the boundaries of the schools that appeal to you most. Also look for extracurricular programs nearby (such as the public library or park district) and playgrounds.
Check for Lighting
The hallways, lobby and outside areas of your apartment complex should be well lit. Burglars prefer to target dark spots because they will be concealed. Request to tour the apartment at night so you can get a more accurate view of how illuminated the premises are. If the lighting seems inadequate, ask the landlord if he or she plans on installing more lights or replacing burned-out bulbs. You should also have good fixtures inside your apartment.
Examine the Door Locks
The exterior doors of the individual unit should be outfitted with deadbolt locks. They are much harder to pick, which dissuades burglars from attempting to enter. The building itself should also feature key access. The windows must have working locks. If any of these are missing, you may want to continue your search for a safe family apartment.
Check for Gas and Smoke Detectors
The apartment should have both a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, and depending on the size of the unit, it may have more than one. A smoke detector should be located just outside each bedroom (in a small apartment, it could be in the hallway). If you don’t see either device during your visit, don’t hesitate to ask the landlord about it.
Talk to Neighbors
The people living in the building now are your best resource for getting to know the truth about the apartment building and the neighborhood. Come up with a list of questions to help you get a better picture of what it will be like to live there. A few security-related questions might include, “Do you feel safe here?” and “Has anyone ever been robbed in the building?”
Install Home Security Systems
Once you’ve found an apartment in a safe community that you feel your kids can grow up in, take the next step in securing your property. Install a home security system in the apartment in order to detect any intruders and catch the act on video. You’ll want a glass break sensor (to monitor the windows), a motion sensor (to detect movement) and cameras. Position the video cameras so they face the entryways of your apartment (including the windows). You may also consider getting the SMART Connect app, which allows you to arm and disarm your security remotely, as well as watch live video feed from your phone or computer.
Teach your kids how to use the security control panel device, especially if they’ll get home from school before you return from work. You can even give your kids their very own home security passcode and set up your SMART Connect alerts to inform you when they’ve arrived home.
By Nick Baur