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There are a lot of reasons to have a scanner nearby. You can use a scanner to follow local police and fire activity, often times hearing about things well before they're reported on the news. You can also use a scanner to listen to ham radio, and get the benefits of traffic reports ham operators share with one another. You can even use a scanner for a good, if unfortunate, laugh every now and then.
Before buying a scanner you'll want to do a bit of homework. You'll want to find out what types of frequencies you're most likely to hear in your area. You can go on the Internet to RadioReference.com, which will give you frequencies for your own hometown. You can also talk to anyone who's used a scanner near where you live. Depending on your location, you might be able to hear anything from civilian aircraft communications, fire and police frequencies, even taxi and forestry exchanges.