Here in CA, they're almost always in the garage and on a pedestal above the floor (never really knew why), and often, maybe typically, close to the "front" of the garage near the overhead door. They also must be secured to studs in the wall behind or next to them (earthquake/seismic code). I've had almost every water heater I've ever owned "fail," and they all did leak but always caught the problem before anything could be damaged. One trick I've used for many years now is to shut off the water supply to the house any time we go away for a day or more, and turn it back on when we're back. That can save no end of problems. I have the "big shutoff valve" near the front door and it's easy to reach, so this effort takes about fifteen seconds.