Warning Signs of a Bad Alley


Alleys are just harmless backstreets that don't matter, right? Sometimes.

However, anyone who has ever had a problems living in a place because of the alley behind their house knows that alleys can make a tremendous difference.
Here are some warning signs of a "bad" alley:

1. There are office buildings with loading docks.

If you share an alley with corporate offices, you can expect a lot of noise and activity that you wouldn?t usually expect. There is a constant flow of delivery trucks, food suppliers, UPS men, and garbage collectors that may come with these businesses. They are loud and fill the air with beeps and bangs so, if you plan on being at home during the standard delivery times, you should consider the distance of a place from these loading docks. These trucks also make parking in the alley difficult at times by blocking the entrance to the alleyway and/or your parking spot.

2. There is a restaurant/bar/nightclub

There are side-effects of sharing an alley with a restaurant that should be taken into account. There is increased activity as most restaurants prefer their staff to smoke cigarettes or socialize outback, rather than in front of the restaurant. Therefore, you can expect to have groups hanging out in the alley during the night as well. Another great contribution of restaurants is an infestation of rats. Now, you can find a healthy supply of rats in any urban setting, but when you add dumpsters filled with left-over food, I have noticed that the rat population increases as well.

3. There is a homeless person sleeping in an alcove

I?m not against homeless people and recognize that everyone needs to sleep somewhere. However, it can be intimidating to walk past people sleeping, especially at night or when you are alone. In general, it is probably best to avoid walking into an alley during those times, but if you park behind your house, often times it is hard to avoid finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation.

4. There is a main street nearby

If there is a high-traffic, high-activity street nearby, people tend to use the alley as a thoroughfare. In this situation, the more NOT the merrier, especially if the main street has a thriving night life. The more accessible the alley, the more likely problems may occur, especially when alcohol is added to the equation. Drunken arguments, fights, or simply loud conversations last long into the night, as people stumble home from the local watering hole.

5. There are beer cans/trash/graffiti

Any signs that people hang out in the alley can signal that an alley may be undesirable. At the very least, it can be noisy and annoying to have people hanging out behind your house. Furthermore, this situation tends to create problems for the residents, as the increased activity may be associated with higher occurrences of vandalism or break-ins that affect the overall safety of yourself and property.


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The alley should be included in your assessment of a house, as it may have a negative effect on your overall standard of living. While some people may not be bothered by things like noise, everyone should consider how an alley may affect their safety and security. Check the local police department?s crime reports to see whether there have been incidents of criminal activity reported in the area. If you see some of these warning signs of a ?bad alley,? talk to neighbors and residents and ask about any complaints they may have.

Bottom line: Acquire as much information as you can before moving in to a new place and never sign a lease without thoroughly checking out the surrounding area.


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