How to Find The Safest Neighborhoods in Your City

There’s no doubt that moving is a stressful time, but what happens when you’re ready to move but don’t know which neighborhood to choose? For most people, one of the biggest priorities is finding a place that is, first and foremost, safe. The problem is that while you’re looking at potential properties, there is little you can do to figure out the safety level of any given neighborhood. Real estate agents are not permitted to give either positive or negative comments about a particular neighborhood’s safety due to fair housing laws. This means it’s time to strap on your gumshoes and do a little detective work.

Trulia.com's Austin, TX Crime Map

Trulia.com’s Austin, TX Crime Map

Online Data

Fortunately, the question of neighborhood safety is so common that several websites have sprouted up to answer this precise inquiry (for example, checkout Trulia.com’s Austin crime map pictured above). You’ll be able to find fancy overlaid maps with crime statistics and tons of data, but it often doesn’t tell the whole story. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid areas with high instances of property or physical crime, but how comprehensive is the data you’re looking at? In most cases, the incidents are only those that are reported and a police report has been filed. While this information is useful, nothing beats an actual visit to the neighborhood to see what’s going on.

The Seeds Of Crime

One of the most interesting correlations in neighborhood crime rates is found in houses that are in disrepair. For some reason, criminals prefer areas that have plenty of broken windows, abandoned lots, and houses that are falling apart. The psychological theory is that vandals feel more confident attacking these types of neighborhoods than those that are in a more pristine state. From a positive perspective, this means that areas with what appear to be more modest housing options may actually be safer if they are obviously well-maintained with mowed yards and no litter on the ground. On your walk through the neighborhood, be on the lookout for these signs, especially in the close vicinity of the property you’re thinking about buying or renting.

Talk To People

The general feeling of being a neighbor may not be as common as it was 50 years ago, but the truth is that your potential neighbors will have the best information about how safe the area is. In addition, they will generally not have a vested interest into whether you move to the neighborhood or not, meaning that they will be likely to give honest answers to your questions. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to knock on some doors with a nice gift of flowers or chocolates and a list of safety-related questions. Chances are high that you’ll get the exact information you’re looking for.

While nobody can predict how crime can rise and fall in the coming years, it certainly helps to move into a neighborhood that is currently safe. Doing due diligence will take very little time and the rewards for making the right neighborhood are immense. Follow these tips and you’ll stand the best chance of finding a safe place to live in your city.

President Shawn Wood of Student Movers

About the Author
Shawn Wood is the founder and President of Student Movers, a California moving company that helps families and businesses relocate across the Golden State. Shawn is a member of the California Moving & Storage Association, supporter of many charities, and an avid snowboarder. Connect with Shawn on Facebook and Twitter. You can also book a moving labor crew from Student Movers to load or unload your belongings through HireAHelper.com.

Do Movers Always Add on Extra Fees After a Job?

A customer tweeted a review of their helper yesterday that reminded me, again, of one of the main reasons we’re trying so hard to let everyone know about HireAHelper.

Screenshot of HireAHelper Customer Review

It’s too often that customers note, and appreciate the fact that they aren’t charged additional fees at the end of jobs booked on HireAHelper.com. This should be the industry standard! I understand it takes more effort than usual to go up 5 flights of stairs or to safely carry a baby grand piano out of a house. Those parts of moving that require extra skill or energy should be compensated with appropriate additional fees. But let the customer know up front what all the fees and costs are. It only takes a few seconds to say “Here’s our price, plus we charge $100 to move upright pianos, and $10 per flight of stairs above 3 flights.”

I don’t walk into In-N-Out, order a double-double, extra cheese, animal style, sit down and enjoy it, to then get up and be met at the door by an employee asking me for a $3 seat-fee. I know exactly what I’m paying and why, and so I return to In-N-Out regularly (plus the burgers are great). More and more people each year are scared away from using the moving industry to help them relocate because of terrible past experiences, most involving bogus extra charges that surprised them at the end of a job.

My plea with those of you in our glorious moving industry is simple:

Be clear and upfront with your pricing and fees.

Charge what you need to in order to make a good living – you work hard and deserve that. Just be as forthright as you can with what they can expect to pay, and we’ll all see the moving industry established in the mind of the consumer as the professional service it really is.

And if you’re a customer wondering if you’ll always have to worry about fees being added on to your bill at the end of your move, our answer is a resounding, “No!” Quotes on HireAHelper are as clear as we can possibly make them – a flat cost for the first set of hours, and one hourly fee for any time used beyond that. The extra hourly fee doesn’t change as the job gets closer, and there are no hidden travel fees or gas costs to be worried about. Thanks for letting me vent a little. Have a great rest of your Tuesday.

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How to Avoid Moving Scams

Picture of a Moving Truck Not to Hire

By Daniel Horning

Hi world wide web. Just wanted to say, as I was reading through moving-related news today, I noticed most the articles were about moving scams. What frustrates me the most is that we’re now going on decades of this behavior without a clear end in sight. You’d think at some point the criminals would be caught and locked up leaving the rest of us a little less stressed about our next move. Moving is stressful enough even if it all goes perfectly. So I put together a quick note with some tips on how to avoid moving scams. Continue reading

Moving Con Men Myths – Counterpoint to The Daily Finance Blog

A post showed up recently on the Daily Finance blog that pointed out the terror of full service moves, called “How to Tell When the Moving Man Is a Con Man.” I agree with most of the points as valid regarding movers and how customers should be cautious when trusting someone with belongings. However, there are a couple of proposed “indications” of an illegitimate company that aren’t always true.

Image of Cowboy BanditsThe post highlights a warning that demanding for payment upfront is a sign of a shady business. I’d have to respectfully disagree as our company charges before each move to protect the customer (and have done so on the several thousand moves we’ve booked over the past 4 years). Continue reading

Avoid Theft During Your Move

I had a recent conversation with my friend Jim who used to work for a moving company in Illinois.  While he did only local moves for this company, he has also moved several family members across the country.  The stories he’s obtained from moving short and long distances are pretty humorous, but those can be told at another time and place.
However, one particular story has stuck with me, during which his sister’s TV was stolen from her car while moving from Atlanta to Los Angeles.  This story has served as a catalyst for me to pass along some wisdom and tips that will help you minimize the chances of theft during your move.

1.  Lock your doors and roll up your windows.  This should possibly go without saying, but there are times when it’s easy to forget.  For instance, it may only take a couple minutes for you to hop out of your car or truck and refuel; however, it also takes even less time for someone to grab your purse or other items as you swipe your card, hit the credit option, choose the type of fuel you want, etc.  It may also be tempting to leave your windows cracked if the weather is hot, however this leaves your car or truck open to theft.

2.  Keep valuables out of site.  Keep things covered and hidden as much as possible.  One thing I had never considered was the value of prescription drugs.  Apparently these are a hot commodity for thieves, so keep those out of site along with mp3 players, laptops, cell phones and the like.

3.  Stop as little as possible. While travelling across the country, stopping to sleep, refuel and eat is unavoidable, but keep in mind that the more you stop, the higher your chances are of having items stolen.

4.  Use common sense and trust your instincts. Choose well-lit areas if you have to park your car somewhere – whether to rest or eat.  If the area is poorly-lit, there are not many people around, or you’re feeling uneasy about the surroundings, pick a different location.

5.  Service your car or truck before packing and heading out. Though life is commonly hectic before a big move, it pays to take care of your car beforehand as it will be taking on the extra weight of being loaded down.  The last thing you want is to break down alongside the road with all your belongings.  Most towing companies will not tow or change a tire on a vehicle that is loaded for a move.  So you would either need to get another vehicle out there to switch all the belongings, leave your car there while you go and get a vehicle, or unload all your belongings right there.  All three choices are my definition of a nightmare and could easily lead to theft!

6.  ID Theft. This is another thing that hadn’t crossed my mind prior to several conversations with those who have seen the worst.  I had always considered Identity Theft to be more of a danger with credit cards and online spending.  However, apparently ID thieves also watch people preparing to move because people are going through files and tossing old mail, statements, and even junk mail offers.  Thieves waiting for the lucky break of finding partial credit card numbers or bank account numbers.  As you pack and clean, be mindful of what you’re tossing out.  Make sure anything important is completely shredded.

While there is nothing you can do to prevent all mishaps during a move, there are definitely steps you can take to minimize the possibility.  By following the tips listed above, you will be on your way to creating a safe and happy moving experience.

Photo courtesy of http://pendletonpanther.files.wordpress.com/