When buying a home, all of us have our internal checklist of must-haves, amenities and features that can make or break the sale. With each successive house sold and bought, the list is amended and enhanced to suit lifestyle demands, personal preference and aesthetic appeal. For Boomers looking to purchase a home in retirement, the top two items on that list are safety and security.
The importance of these criteria is due in part to the vulnerability Boomers feel as they age and as a result of the continuous media hype of violence and crime in society. Statistics show that urban crime rates are 75% higher than rural and 37% higher than suburban crime rates. The increase in urban crime rates is in part the reason that over 70% of Boomers prefer moving to a small community or rural setting when they retire.
Relocating to a small town provides some measure of increased security and safety. However, additional measures may be taken by these small communities to further enhance the well-being of their residents. Research by HUD, the Department of Justice and many law enforcement agencies has identified a number of planning techniques which significantly reduce a neighborhood’s appeal for criminal activity. This methodology for reducing crime is known as Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). CPTED is based on the realization that the criminal mind works on certain predictable patterns which, if understood, can be utilized to reduce criminal activity.
To that end, research notes that one of the most important considerations of criminals is avoiding identification by witnesses. The other obvious factor is to ensure a route of escape after the criminal act. Both of these factors can be mitigated by thoughtful neighborhood planning. When a neighborhood is planned to minimize non-resident traffic, it will be easier to identify persons who do not belong. Simply minimizing the number of streets entering and leaving a neighborhood significantly reduces thru traffic by non-residents. Another strategy harnesses the power of observation by residents. This method ensures that people who do not belong in public areas such as streets, alleys and parks are observed, thereby enhancing the criminal’s chance of being identified. CPTED has identified many other techniques and programs to protect residential areas against criminal activity.
For small towns to enhance their appeal to retirees looking to relocate, it is vital to incorporate safety and security practices and programs in community design. Providing Boomer home buyers this environment allows them the peace of mind to embrace and enjoy their new community.
If you are interested in other measures recommended by CPTED, please contact me and I will be happy to forward information on this topic.