In a great piece in The Wall Street Journal, Glenn Ruffenach answers a question by a retiree who is looking to move. She wants a safe neighborhood, and Ruffenach explains that while most retirees looking to relocate are focused on the fun aspects of life like “climate, lifestyles, housing, shopping, cultural events,” they should also be paying attention to things like “taxes, health care—and crime.”
Face it, if you’re scared, sick or broke, it doesn’t matter how many restaurants or shows are on Main Street, your retirement isn’t going to be any fun at all. Ruffenach continues:
Beyond the obvious—feeling comfortable about walking through a prospective neighborhood at any hour of the day or night—you should check several sets of information, if available: property crime rates, violent crime rates and victimization surveys.
Start with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s report titled “Crime in the United States.”Here, you’ll find information about violent crime, (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) and property crime (burglary, larceny, motor-vehicle theft and arson) in cities and towns with a population of 100,000 or more and some metropolitan areas. Keep in mind that the statistics include only those crimes that were reported to the FBI by local law-enforcement authorities, but they still provide a good snapshot for large locales.
Next, check with the police and sheriff departments in your target destinations. A growing number of departments are publishing crime statistics, and many of these figures are available online. (A simple search might include the name of the town and the words: police department crime statistics.) Again, it’s difficult to know just how many incidents are actually reported to—or by —local officials. (Does a stolen bicycle make the cut?) Not surprisingly, some towns are reluctant to paint a detailed picture of misdeeds in their neighborhoods.
Several other questions to consider regarding safety: Would you feel comfortable leaving your new home for extended vacations? Is there a neighborhood watch program or a homeowner’s association that makes safety part of its focus? And are there reasonable response times for emergency services?
Choosing where you retire is a very personal process, and one with nearly infinite variables. As part of your retirement life, there isn’t much that is as important as where you spend it. Be sure to take every aspect into account before you make your choice.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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