While the country’s most dangerous cities tend to be industrial and sometimes impoverished satellites of major cities, our ranking of the country’s 100 safest cities is mostly made up of a different type of urban satellite: the bedroom community.
We’re able to compare the safety of cities across the country of different sizes by factoring in population — giving you a rate for individual types of crime per thousand residents. As opposed to our most dangerous cities ranking, which is based on violent crimes – what makes cities really dangerous - this ranking is about safety from all crimes. Here cities are ranked by overall crime rate, which includes both violent and property crimes. Types of crimes taken into consideration are: burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, homicide, rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault.
What makes NeighborhoodScout’s analysis more comprehensive than others is the fact that we take into account all 17,000 law enforcement agencies in America for each city with a population more than 25,000. Many cities across the country are served by more than one agency: they include municipal police, county sheriff, transit police, campus police, public school police, park and port police, tribal police, and more. By using this unique method, we’re able to provide an accurate and holistic representation of total crime known to occur within a city or town - not just those reported by a single agency.
Reported results on individual cities reveal our chance of becoming a victim of crime, either violent or property, if you live in the city. Take Zionsville, IN, for example (1, safest in the country) — here, you have only a 1 in 10,000 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime. In Camden, NJ, the most dangerous city in the country, those odds shrink to a troubling 1 in 39. By ranking on a rate per 1,000 people scale, we’re able to level the playing field and accurately compare cities of vastly different population sizes.
Upscale commuter towns are part of any metropolitan area, and while overall crime is down the United States, suburbs such as these manage to maintain the lowest overall crime rates relative to their populations — which aren’t large to begin with.
You can see this in the geography: the list is dominated by smaller cities and towns clustered around some of the country’s largest cities and most vibrant economies. The Northeast is of particular note here — it has the highest concentration of cities on this ranking. More than 10 of them are in or orbit the New York City metropolitan area: Bergenfield NJ 3, Fort Lee NJ 27, and Ossining NY 69, among others. Similarly, around 11 other cities circle Boston, and even more than that hover outside of Chicago — especially to the North. Also notable are a collection of cities between San Francisco and San Jose.
Connecticut has several cities on this list as well — with ‘safe’ towns outside of Hartford, New Haven, and Danbury, and in southern Connecticut in the commuter shed of New York City. There are other cities with a couple or more safe satellites on the list — like Denver (with Centennial 94, Parker 78, and Castle Rock 66), Salt Lake City (with Syracuse 42, Kaysville 36, and Pleasant Grove 87), and Dallas (with Keller 43, Flower Mound 17, Little Elm 85, and Wylie 91).
Notably, this ranking differs from our 100 most dangerous cities list in that the safest cities are more dispersed across the country. Especially when you consider the safe cities in the Pacific Northwest and across the Great Plains — neither of which had any cities on the most dangerous roster.
U.S. crime rates peaked in the 90’s, at a time when most analysts expected the rate to keep climbing at a steady rate, rendering our biggest cities nearly unlivable. However, crime rates began to fall mid-decade — the reasons for which are still hotly debated today. Was it a rise in abortions of unwanted children 20 years earlier, as suggested by some research, increasing incarceration rates, or police reform? Some even suggest that video games and the internet factor in — increasingly popular forms of entertainment that keep kids from playing outside and possibly getting into trouble.
Moreover, we’ve seen some other trends that may help to explain the nature of this ranking. For example, rural areas can actually be more dangerous because of their high rates of fatal automobile accidents.
Bedroom communities like the ones on this list exist somewhere in between big cities (which still have large crime counts), and these more-dangerous industrial satellites. There could be something to be said of the fact that the safest towns are overwhelmingly places where people live, but do not work: the types of communities that are populated by the gainfully employed and their families, who can afford to relocate specifically for quality of life. Many of the safest cities also have the best school systems and high rates of college graduates. High paying jobs are not far away. What this illustrates is that access to opportunity (nearby high paying jobs), combined with amenities in the community (like good schools), can drive home values up and crime down.
Our map of states ranked by their affordability of housing roughly corresponds to this list, however our list of the best schools in affordable neighborhoods provides examples of places where good public education and affordable housing coexist.
Click on any city name below to get a report