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What do you look for to know if you are in the 'bad' part of town? Answered

I like to wander around, but, growing up in the country/farmland, I don't know how to read the city.  Does anyone have any practical ways to tell if I should be choosing different areas?

BTW, naming neighborhoods is useless, because I don't know where I'll be using the info.  I'm looking for things that I could see while walking without a map.


Well, personally living in a bad-ish part of town...
  • Graffiti, not small stuff, large stuff on buildings. Graffiti on passing trains isn't to be worried about either, as it can easily come from any part of the country.
  • Drug dealers, look for shifty guys standing near corners, not walking an any particular direction... just meandering, watching cars.
  • Cursing, anybody standing in their yards, shouting curses at other neighbors/kids... yeah. Self explanatory.
  • Abandoned buildings. Excess of any old run down factories or markets  is a sure sign of a equally run down neighborhood.
  • Poorly maintained roads, if it were a nice place, someone would be taking care of it.
  • Litter, any roadside litter is too be expected ( At least in good ole USA), but excess of trash on sidewalks is a bad sign.
That should have covered about everything.

You need to add "Unmowed fields" and "poor condition houses" to the list.

nick' has most of it covered, but you should feel a "vibe", and weigh up the people. If you can speak to people you can get much more than observational things. That is what matters really, so if you look at people and don't feel like going near them - you're in the wrong place.


nickodemus covered the answer well. I would add- use your own personal senses- some call it intuition. If you sense danger it is probably there. I grew up on the farm and moving to the city (Los Angeles) wasn't that tough- having learned to take care of myself in one environment enabled me to take care of myself in another environment.

Some times you can find a list of police reports online. I suggest you see if you can find one for the town you're intrested in.

Nickodemus gives a good list for VERY bad neighborhoods. Here are a few to look fore in a SLIGHTLY bad neighborhood. * Lots of liquor stores * Lots of pawn-shops * Lots of rental apartments and rental furniture stores. * Lots of Pay-Day-Loan stores !!! or Title-Loan. * Lots of Out-Of-Business empty commercial buildings * Houses with iron bars on doors and windows. * People asking you for a dollar because of xxx sadluck (lies) story. they really want the money to buy illegal drugs. * People walking carrying OLD looking plastic bags or pushing grocery carts stuffed with old junk and aluminum cans (no grocerystore nearby). * More pitbull dogs than you ever saw before. Rottweilers too. I am seeing some of those in my neighborhood. My wife and I were amazed to drive a 3 or 4 mile section of road and count almost TWENTY pay-day-loan or Title-loan places within that distance! My neighborhood is not really BAD... but these things are signs it is going that way in my opinion.

If the people around you don't act like you then you might be in a bad part of town.

If you get into an area where it seems to be deserted you might be in a bad part of town.

If you hear gunshots then you probably are in a bad part of town.