Safety is a huge issue to consider before you decide where to live. You should find out before you sign your lease how safe your apartment complex is. When discussing safety, there are two areas to consider in your St. Pete apartment: inside your home and the community around it.
Finding out how safe your community in St. Petersburg is will take some research on your part. Your first step should be to ask your potential landlord. If your landlord lives on-site, they may be able to offer some information, such as “I leave my windows open and night without worry,” or “I live alone and feel safe walking my dog at night.” Some complexes don't allow their leasing agents to give out any official information. If this is the case, you will need to do some more work on your own. Even if you do get some information, it wouldn't hurt to verify it.
You can find several websites that will offer a map showing the frequency of crime in a given area. When scoping out an apartment in St. Pete, check out a few of these websites. One to start with is Crime Reports. Type in your future zip code, and the map will show you recent crimes. The map will only show you one month of crimes at a time, which is a limitation. It also lets you know if there are registered sex offenders living in the area, which can be turned on or off by choosing ‘Advanced Search.' Another crime-mapping tool for choosing a St. Pete apartment can be found here. This map can show all crimes or only specific crimes, like burglaries or arrests. The crimes show the date they were committed, and the default map shows the past two months worth of crime.
Once you have an idea of the area, you should also look around the St. Pete apartment complex. Are the paths between your parking and your door well-lit? This may require a visit during the night. Visiting during different times of the day will also help you to notice if there seem to be suspicious-looking characters wandering around during certain hours.
For added safety, look into an apartment in St. Pete complex with gated access. Our search tool can help! On the left, choose the “+” next to “Community Features” and choose “Yes” next to“ Gated Community”. The list will update automatically and show you only apartments with gates.
When choosing your specific unit, ask your landlord for the second or third floor, if possible. Windows that are on the ground floor are much easier to break into than those 10 or 20 feet in the air. In an upper level apartment in St. Pete, there is really only one entry for burglars. Ask you landlord if the house comes with a deadbolt, and if not, ask them to install one or ask for permission to install one yourself. You may also ask about a security system.
Finally, if you are willing, ask your future neighbors. They will have the best understanding of what living in this apartment in St. Pete is like. Do they feel safe walking to their home at night? Do police sirens outside their door wake them up once a week? Do they have five deadbolts and seem paranoid? Their answers to these questions can be invaluable.
Happy (safe) apartment searching!