When looking for the best places to live in the US, our safety and that of our loved ones plays a huge role in the decision process. Questions such as What’s the traffic like? and Is the water okay to drink? are rarely the first ones we ask—no, the most common first question when moving to a new area is What are the crime rates? and Is the city safe to live in? In order to help with choosing your new city, we’ve compiled a list of the safest cities in America using the data available in last year’s FBI Crime in the US report.
Top 10 Safest Cities in The US Infographic
Albuquerque, New Mexico
With the population of 559,721 people, Albuquerque has 965.8 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. And when it comes to property crimes, Albuquerque has an average of 6,073.2 crimes per 100,000 residents, with over 4,000 of those classified as larceny-theft.
Disneyland Park is far from the only thing that Anaheim has to offer. The city of 350,000 sits at the top of the list of the safest cities in California and is one of the safest cities in the US, overall. Anaheim reports 363.7 violent crimes per 100,000 residents annually, and 2,872.3 property crimes. The majority of the violent crimes reported last year were aggravated assaults, at 196.
Anchorage, the beautiful Alaskan city that is closer to Russia than it is to the US, has a population of 301,239. Crime rates per 100,000 people in this corner of the US amount to 1,070.9 violent crimes and 3,917.5 property crimes.
Arlington is populated by 387,565 people, according to the 2016 census. This city sees 502.1 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, and 3,443.6 property crimes. The most common violent crime in one of the safest cities in Texas is aggravated assault, accounting for more than 50% of all violent crimes in Arlington.
The capital, as well as the most populated city of Georgia, has an estimated population of 486,000. Atlanta has managed to lower its crime rates significantly in the last decade, denouncing its reputation as one of the most prominent gang towns in the US. Nowadays, Atlanta has 1,119.6 violent and 5,499.3 property crimes reported yearly, per 100,000 inhabitants.
With a population of 360,237, a violent crime rate of 460.8, and a property crime rate of 2,936.7 per 100,000 residents, Aurora definitely earns its spot on the list of the top 100 safest cities in the US. Last year, Aurora had 6.7 murders and manslaughters per 100,000 people, and 232.3 aggravated assaults—the most common violent crime in the US.
Austin is the fourth most populous city in Texas and the eleventh most populous city in the United States, with 967,629 people living in it. Austin is the fastest-growing city in America, as the city gained over 200,000 new residents since the 2010 census. This city has impressively low crime rates per 100,000 residents; there were 372.5 violent crimes and 3,771 property crimes last year in Austin.
California can boast having more than one city on our list of the safest cities in America, with a population well over 100,000. Even though it’s part of the notoriously violent West, Bakersfield—with its 373,887 residents, 484.1 violent crimes, and 4,161.4 property crimes per 100,000 people—definitely deserves a spot on that list.
15 years after The Wire, Maryland has managed to repair its reputation significantly. Still, Baltimore is not the first city that comes to mind when you think of the safest place to live in the US. The city has 621,252 residents, and in 2017, it had 1535.9 violent crimes and 4980.4 property crimes reported per 100,000 residents.
Boston, home of the Red Sox, has a population of 665,258. Last year, this city had 706.8 violent crimes and 2,316.1 property crimes reported per 100,000 people.
Buffalo, New York
The second-largest city in the state, Buffalo is one of the safest places to live in New York. According to the data available from the 2016 census, Buffalo has 258,096 residents. The FBI’s 2017 data shows that the city’s violent crime rate is 1,118.6 per 100,000 members of the community, while property crime sits at 4,330.2.
Chandler, a prominent suburb of Phoenix, is one of the most peaceful cities in the US, according to crime statistics. This city has a population of 258,875 and a violent crime rate of just 189.3 per 100,000 townsfolk. The property crime rate in Chandler, Arizona, is 2,083.2 per 100,000 residents.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte is the largest and one of the safest cities in North Carolina. It has a population of 877,817 and a violent crime rate of 677.6 per 100,000 people. The property crime rate is equally impressive, especially for this large city, sitting at 3,767.9.
Chicago is the largest city yet on this list, with 2,728,695 residents. The rate of violent crime this city saw last year was 903.8, while the property crime rate was 2,946.3 per 100,000 people.
Chula Vista, California
Have you been wondering Which state is the safest place to live? California might be your answer. Chula Vista, located right next to San Diego, is the 14th largest city in the state. This California town has 265,215 people living in it and a violent crime rate of just 265.8 per population of 100,000. The property crime rate in Chula Vista was equally impressive in 2017, with the FBI reporting it to be only 1,741.6 per 100,000.
Now that we’ve introduced the first few safe US cities to live in and we all understand the importance of these statistics, let’s look at the rest of the 100 Safest Cities in America, based on the FBI’s 2017 report.
Violent crime and property crime rates are per 100,000 inhabitants.
The Methodology Behind Choosing the Safest Cities in America
The FBI does not recommend using the data available for rankings, as they can lead to simplistic and incomplete analyses that may cause misleading perceptions about the actual safety of the cities listed. This is the reason why the cities are ranked alphabetically.
The data presented by the FBI should also not be used to judge the efficiency of law enforcement agencies, as there are numerous other factors impacting these US city crime rates.
Because most agencies are not required to report statistics other than murders, Wikipedia was actually a helpful resource in making this list. The data compiled on the website helped shed some light on information that is often more difficult to obtain.
How Can You Improve Your Community?
For those not looking to move, there are multiple ways to improve the safety of your own community and get it on the list of the safest cities in the US.
According to the West Yorkshire Police, there are some steps that can be taken by residents, in addition to those taken by local police departments, to increase safety and reduce the crime rate in any area:
Increase the security of your own home.
This step requires the implementation of basic safety measures, like locks on your doors and windows. Sash jammers help protect vulnerable and exposed windows and doors. Online safety is another major concern that can easily be put to rest just by using secure passwords.
Keeping packages out of plain sight and your car in a garage are both major contributors to reducing crime rates and increasing safety.
Control the access to your property.
The cities with the lowest crime rate stats have managed to reach that status by their residents employing methods such as locking the doors to their homes and vehicles, as well as implementing security systems in the areas that are more prone to crime. In some instances, building a physical barrier, such as a fence, is necessary, especially for commercial sites.
Removing tall hedges and avoiding fences that are too tall can also prove to be major factors in crime prevention, as they provide a perfect cover for criminals to work unseen.
Take care of the neighborhood’s appearance.
When it comes to both the safest small towns in America and the biggest cities, multiple studies show that areas with graffiti, broken street lamps, and overall physical disorder have higher crime rates than the clean ones. Gathering your community together to cover up the graffiti in your neighborhood, reporting broken street lighting to the city, and cleaning up after yourself can prove to be just what your town needs in order to deter potential offenders.
Establish a neighborhood watch.
Some of the lowest crime rate cities actively maintain neighborhood watches or have organized groups of civilians who are devoted to preventing crime and vandalism within the neighborhood. They work together to educate residents on proper safety measures, as well as on the proper process of reporting any crimes they may witness.
Neighborhood watches should work with the local police department and should not begin operation without consulting them first. All suspicious activities should be reported to the police, and the members of the watch should not put themselves or others at risk by intervening.
There are numerous other factors that go into making the safest cities in America as safe as they are, but the ones listed above should be more than enough to start noticing a difference in your community.
Crime 20 Years Ago and Now
According to the FBI’s official data, the number of crimes across the US has been on a slow but steady decline, ever since the end of the 1990s. Back in 1998, the number of reported violent crimes in the US was 1,533,887. In 2017, that number sat at 1,247,321, meaning that the violent crime rate, on the federal level, went down from 567.6 to 382.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Crime rates have been decreasing across the nation, meaning even less crime in the already safest cities in the US. This is partially due to the new technologies available to law enforcement, as well as the advancements and developments in the science that crime prevention has become.
Taking into account the fact that the number of aggravated assaults went down from nearly a million (976,583) in 1998 to just above 800,000 (810,825) in 2017, while the population of the US increased by over 50 million during the period, we can confidently say that crime rates are on a declining spiral.
Where is the safest place to live?
The FBI’s data shows that certain regions of the US have significantly lower property and violent crime rates than others.
The Northeast had 1,558.6 property crimes and 304.7 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, meaning this region is the safest one in the US.
The Midwest reported 2,207.8 property crimes and 380.7 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants during 2017.
The South is where things get a bit more violent. Questions such as Which state has the lowest crime rate? are unlikely to include many of the states from this region in the list of answers. With 2,609.9 property crimes and 423.8 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in 2017, the South is the second most violent region in the country.
The data provided by the FBI shows that the Western region of the US is statistically the most unsafe part of the country, as there were 2,688.6 property crimes and 423.1 violent crimes reported last year per 100,000 residents.
What Are the Safest Cities to Live In?
Avoiding cities and areas with high crime rates can prove to be a difficult task. Those choosing colleges, moving for better business opportunities, changing cities due to an increased cost of living, or escaping an already violent town can face the toughest decision of their lives when deciding on the city they want to move to.
Although there’s no such thing as a crime-free city, some parts of the US come really close to this status and therefore earn their spot on this list of the 100 safest big cities in America (meaning cities with more than 250,000 residents).