Living in a safe neighborhood and, moreover, building a community around you and your family that you can trust is one of the factors that most strongly impact your life-quality. Almost anyone would agree that this is a pretty straightforward proposition. If this is true, how much you know your neighbors could have a significant impact on your wellbeing and that of your loved ones.

But what does the science say? Is it true that the perceptions you have about your neighborhood have an impact on your life? And if so, what are the consequences of feeling safe/unsafe within your community? The science around this topic is quite clear. This article will explore several interesting studies that prove how important the environment is for several important aspects of one’s life.

Given the importance of this topic, it is worth taking the matter in your own hands. The first step towards creating a harmonious environment is to get to know your neighbors. Here we guide you through some important points that you will want to take into consideration to create a feeling of trust in your community. We recommend a twofold approach. First, to give you a general idea, check the general crime-statistics in your neighborhood. Then we recommend you to do some background checks on your neighbors. After you build this initial trust, it will be easier to open yourself and develop deeper relationships with your neighbors.

Safe Neighborhood – What does Science say? 

Researchers have studied the effect of our environment in different aspects of our well-being:

Physical Health: 

In terms of physical health, living in what is perceived to be an unsafe neighborhood has been proved to have an impact on getting poorer health outcomes like the probability of having coronary heart disease. Research also suggests that people living in neighborhoods where there is a higher perceived social cohesion show lower levels of hypertension.

Psychological Health

The perception to live in an unsafe neighborhood has proven to be linked with higher levels of anxiety. It has also been found that neighborhood social cohesion, is an important factor that can prevent depression. Interesting results have shown that in particular for adolescents, the presence of an effective and safe community is proven to be strongly related to their resilience (defined as their capacity to recover from difficulties).

Social Health

This aspect of wellbeing is defined by the social components of life. Research shows that an individual’s perception of living in a safe neighborhood is significantly related to how much and how deeply they participate and interact with their community. Moreover, evidence suggests that whether individuals perceive a sense of community (both in terms of cohesion and in shared values) has an important impact on how they rate the overall quality of their lives.

There is one last study that we want to mention because of its surprising results. In an analysis from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey, researchers found a significant relationship between the perception of being unsafe in one’s neighborhood and the Body-Mass-Index (BMI). BMI is a doctor’s way of assessing whether one is underweight, normal weight or overweight (defined as the quotient between the weight and the height). To put it plainly, people that report feeling unsafe in their neighborhood have a higher BMI than the ones that feel safe (weight more after taking into account differences in heights). The magnitude is striking: For someone that is 5.4 tall (1.65 m.), this means that they are, on average, 17 pounds (7.7 kg.) heavier.

Some interesting mechanisms were identified by the researchers. Living in an unsafe neighborhood is likely to increase the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol, which are known to cause weight gain and depression. Moreover, people that are afraid of their environment will also be afraid of performing any outdoor physical activity and will remain more time indoors. This has both a negative impact on physical health and decreases the chances of meeting people. Feeling unsafe is also likely to lead to higher-rates of stress-related eating.

Know your neighbors – What should you take into consideration?

It is settled: people’s assessment of the safety of their neighborhoods is very important. This means it is worth making active efforts to develop trust in the people around you. What should you do?

Crime Statistics of Your Neighborhood

It is advisable that, before you commit to moving to a new neighborhood, you search for the crime statistics of that place. Even if you are already living somewhere, this information can still be very valuable. Although you might already have an idea of the type of crimes that occur in your neighborhood and how often, getting the statistics might give you new information, or a new perspective of already known information. The best way to find out this information is to visit the local justice clerk’s office. They should provide you with free information.

Background checks of your Neighbors

For people that are not familiar with them, background checks might sound like something from the movies where you hire a private investigator to follow people around. This is not how it works. It is important to know that doing a background check to get to know your neighbors is 100% legal. With the new possibilities that technology brings to us, you can do a background check on any person in the United States online and at no cost or very little cost.

The best technology in the market is provided by Nuwber. Their team has created cutting edge technology that allows you to type the name of a person and their system searches in a multiplicity of databases and public records and provides very detailed and accurate information concerning:

  • Criminal Records
  • Judgments
  • Evictions
  • Liens
  • Business Records
  • Advanced contact information
  • Chronological Residential history
  • Mortgage and Property Details
  • And a lot more

Probably the most important thing you will want to know from your neighbors will be, of course, whether they have any criminal records. These include arrest records, misdemeanor offenses (minor crimes), felonies (serious crimes), sex offenses, serious traffic violations or any conviction records. If no records are found, you will know that this person has no criminal records around the country (since the search is done, not just in the current city/county/state, but everywhere in the country).

Having done this preliminary search, now the path is clear to get to know your neighbors. Knowing that you and your family can be safe around the people in your community, allows you to involve yourself more to create more cohesion and a general feeling of trust, which will lead to higher life-quality and better health for everyone.