I grew up in West Palm Beach (Lake Worth, FL) and went to school in Gainesville before moving to Jacksonville 9 years ago. I have lived in gated communities, older neighborhoods and the historic districts and realize crime happens everywhere.
It is a matter of being aware of your surroundings and not putting yourself at the wrong place at the wrong time. I look at these news stories and pay attention to not only the area of town, but time of day these things happen too. Are there "safer" areas of Jacksonville? Yes. Accidents and crimes happen in Clay County and St Johns too. Look at the recent hit and run bicycle accidents in St Johns County.
I love the city, love the beaches, and the rest of what Jax has to offer. Drive neighborhoods, stop and ask neighbors, Realtors, friends and even businesses what they think about where they live. Let me know if you need help with your research. The transition to a new town isn't always easy ;)
As licensed real estate agents, we are not allowed to talk about neighborhoods. You are very prudent though to check any neighborhood out through http://www.JSO.com prior to any purchase or rental.
Watson Property Management
Thank you for your question,
Brenda Waters, Realtor
Sam Folds, Inc.