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Does Low Rent Equal High Crime? Not in These 2 Surprisingly Safe Bargain Cities

philadelphia-center-city

Phaucet/iStock

One of the harsh realities of apartment hunting in big cities is that low-rent areas often seem to come with high risks—namely, crime. But are cities with cheap rent always brimming with muggers, burglars, and other dangerous characters? To find out, RentHop compared crime rates with rent prices in a sampling of eight major U.S. cities and came to some surprising conclusions.

For starters, the most crime-ridden metro of the eight studied turned out to be Atlanta, which suffered 3,024 crimes per 100,000 residents over a recent six-month period. That was followed by Houston, Miami, Dallas-Forth Worth, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, with New York City coming in dead last of the group (surprise!).

And as for rent? Well, crime-riddled Atlanta and Houston notched the lowest median rent of the eight cities, between $1,000 and $1,500. New York City was again at the opposite end with the highest median rent, upward of $3,000 (and that’s for a shoebox). Check out the graph below, and you’ll definitely see a strong trend: High rent equals low crime; low rent equals high crime.

rent crime comparison chart
Typically, high rent equals low crime and low rent equals high crime.

RentHop

Two cities with low rent and low crime

Still, the study also suggests that Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth have somehow managed to pull off that magic combo of affordability and safety. As a result, “these two cities are ideal for renters looking for a place with low rent and low crime rates,” says Shane Lee, a data analyst at RentHop.

The same should hold true for home prices, Lee says.

“Safety is usually one of the most important criteria for buyers—especially for buyers with kids and senior citizens—so we expect to see similar negative correlations between house prices and crime rates in different cities,” Lee says.

But you shouldn’t just pick up and move anywhere in Philly or Dallas, because the neighborhood you pick will make a huge difference with both how much you pay in rent and how safe you really are.

“Renters who look to move to these cities should double-check prices and crime rates by neighborhood, as they can vary greatly,” says Lee. For instance, of New York City’s five boroughs, crime rates are highest in the Bronx, followed by Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens.

What’s more, certain types of crime were also more prevalent in certain boroughs, which could help renters hone their home search further.

“For instance, for parents who have teenage kids or people who had drug issues in the past, they might want to avoid renting in the Bronx, as it has the highest drug crime rate among all five boroughs,” says Lee.

One downside of nice neighborhoods

However, high rents do seem correlated to one type of crime: property theft. Which makes sense; nicer homes have more to steal.

“This study inspired me to take a look at two neighborhoods in Philadelphia,” says Denise Supplee, a Realtor® in Philadelphia and operations director for SparkRental.com. “The first is Germantown, where a two-bedroom typically goes for under $1,000 per month. In 2016, there were 227 violent crimes and 752 property crimes there. Move a bit farther northeast, and the apartments increase in rent by approximately 26%. However, the crime for the last year was 139 violent crimes and 1,448 property crimes. In other words, the higher-rent areas considered ‘safe’ do have lower violent crimes, although the property crime has doubled.”

All of this means that when shopping for a safe place to live—to rent or own—it pays to do your homework and check the crime statistics in particular neighborhoods (you can start by entering a town or ZIP code in realtor.com/local). You never know; certain areas might have a much worse rap than they deserve. New York City is a classic example of that.

“New York City is infamous for crime,” says Jameson Tyler Drew, president of Anubis Properties, with rental properties throughout the country. “That being known, if you were to live there, would you not be more mindful of your surroundings than a relatively safe-looking suburb or smaller city and double-lock a door? Property crime, more often than not, is one of convenience. A purse is left in full view, a slider door left unlocked, these things happen much less often in New York City because its inhabitants are hypervigilant. This isn’t true for Atlanta or Houston.”

In other words, wherever you live, it’s always wise to lock your door.

The post Does Low Rent Equal High Crime? Not in These 2 Surprisingly Safe Bargain Cities appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.