Tips to Help Find Safe Housing

One of the posts I have had the most response to on this blog is about gypsy markings in neighborhoods. Many people worry about their safety and the safety of their children while in Italy. I firmly believe that Italy is probably safer than many areas in the U.S. The vast majority of people living in this community have no problem with safety or crime. I don’t want to freak out anyone. Moving to a new country is scary, but Italy is not a scary place. These tips are meant to help keep everyone safe not scare them into sleeplessness.

To help you find a house that is safe and secure, I have compiled a house hunting tip list.

Here are some things to look for in no particular order:

In the town or village:

  • Are there gypsy encampments around the outskirts of town?
  • Are local police visible in the community?
  • Do a lot Americans live in the community?

As you drive into a town, you may see a group of RV’s, vans and tents in an abandoned lot.  Most likely this is a gypsy camp. Gypsies tend to just set up their camps where they can. I have seen several on the outskirts of Vicenza. Some of these camps are more or less permanent. Some camps come and go depending on the time of year and activities in town.

When you look at a house, you probably won’t be there long enough to see the local police. If you want information on local police, ask the interpreter where the local police station is. In my town, I see a police car out and about almost every day.

Living in a community with large numbers of Americans in it is a mixed bag. Having Americans nearby can make life easier, because you will have more support and someone who shares your language and background. Unfortunately, criminals who think Americans are all rich may target communities with larger populations of Americans.

In the neighborhood:

  • Does the neighborhood seem well cared for? Are the hedges trimmed back?
  • Is there graffiti on the walls of buildings or fences?
  • Are there sidewalks?
  • Can you see people outside working in their yards?
  • Are there street lights nearby?

Common sense goes a long way when looking at houses. If there are empty houses and overgrown yards in the area, you may want to keep looking even if the house is beautiful. Notice any graffiti nearby. Check and see if there are street lights outside the rental. Are the neighbors outside? Bright lights and lots of people around tend to discourage criminals who want it to be easy to steal.

At the rental house:

  • Do the doors and windows have secure locks?
  • Are there scrapes or pry marks around the windows or doors?
  • Does the yard have a secure fence and locking gate?
  • Are there lights at each entry, including doors and the garage?
  • Is it okay to install an alarm if one is not already present?

Check the doors and windows. Scrape marks or pry marks around windows or doors may be evidence of a past break-in at a house, just be aware of this fact. If the locks don’t work well or seem flimsy and you love the rest of the house, ask to have them replaced before signing a lease. Same thing goes for the gate. Lights are a good thing at the entries to a house. Bright lights are good things for safety. If there is not light near a door, it would be worth your time to see if the landlord will put one in for you.  I know people with and without alarms here. If  you could not sleep without an alarm, then ask if you can install one.

These tips came from talking with other people here in the Vicenza area. I am sure I have missed some obvious points, so please add your tips in the comment section! I love comments! : )

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