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What makes a city safe to live in?
Each year, local law enforcement agencies across the country report crime data for their communities to the FBI. The information reported covers both violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, etc.) and property crimes (burglaries, robberies). Together, they help to paint a picture of how safe a particular community may — or may not — be.
An analysis of this FBI crime data by SafeHome.org, a security research and advice site, found that of America’s largest cities, Seattle had the most burglaries and Memphis the largest number of larceny-theft reports in 2020, for example.
This type of information, of course, impacts the value of real estate in a community. Property in areas that are viewed as safer are typically more costly than those that have a reputation of being troubled by high crime rates.
Average crime statistics in the U.S.
Analysis of the most recently released FBI crime data from the FBI, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and other sources shows:
- The murder rate in the United States increased 30 percent between 2019 and 2020, the largest single-year increase in more than 100 years
- Violent crime increased by 12 percent in U.S. cities between 2010 and 2020
- Property crime in U.S. cities decreased 33 percent between 2010 and 2020
- The state with the most crime in 2020 was New Mexico (per capita)
- The state with the least crime in 2020 was New Hampshire (per capita)
Rankings for the safest cities to live
Cities are ranked in order of annual crime rate per 1,000 residents.
1. Zionsville, IN
- Population: 31,702
- Median Household income: $137,265
- Median House Price: $600,000
Self-described as one of the most desirable places to live in the country, Zionsville offers a small-town feel and character and is located just 20 minutes outside of Indianapolis. Zionsville is in the 51st percentile for safety. The annual crime rate is only about 2.5 crimes per 1,000 residents.
2. Boston, MA
- Population: 654,776
- Median Household income: $76,298
- Median House Price: $789,000
A big, bustling and historic burg made up of a diverse range of neighborhoods, Boston averages a solid B for safety, ranking in the 43rd percentile among large cities. The annual crime rate is a low 2.93 crimes per 1,000 residents.
3. Naples, FL
- Population: 21,750
- Median Household income: $118,141
- Median House Price: $699,000
Located along the Gulf of Mexico, Naples is known for its luxury shops and art galleries — often housed in pastel-colored Art Deco buildings — and being home to more than a few CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. The violent crime rate in the city is 3.28 incidents per 1,000 residents.
4. Glen Cove, NY
- Population: 28,131
- Median Household income: $79,131
- Median House Price: $729,000
Glen Cove is in Nassau county just 20 miles outside of New York City on the north shore of Long Island. The crime rate here is much lower than the average U.S. city. It is in the 98th percentile for safety in the United States. Just 2 percent of cities are safer than Glen Cove and 98 percent are more dangerous. There’s about 8.38 crimes per 1,000 residents each year.
5. Santa Clarita, CA
- Population: $224,593
- Median Household income: $100,932
- Median House Price: $769,900
Just north of Los Angeles, the small community of Santa Clarita is known for being a tight-knit, family friendly and safe place to live. And for good reason. Santa Clarita ranks in the 66th percentile nationally for safety, which leaves just 34 percent of cities with a safer rating and around 66 percent being more dangerous. Santa Clarita’s crime rate is 9.9 crimes per 1,000 residents.
6. Lake in the Hills, IL
- Population: 28,945
- Median Household income: $96,470
- Median House Price: $289,500
Just 41 miles from Chicago, Lake in the Hills is known for offering a hiqh quality of life. It’s also a nationwide leader when it comes to low crime rates. Lake in the Hills scores in the 94 percentile: A mere 6 percent of cities are safer. The crime rate sits at about 10.8 crimes per 1,000 people.
7. Glens Falls, NY
- Population: 14,722
- Median Household income: $55,496
- Median House Price: $229,000
Established in 1908, Glens Falls has a reputation for being home to friendly neighborhoods as well as many successful corporations and businesses. It ranks in the 83rd percentile for safety — 17 percent of cities in the country are safer than Glens Falls, while 83 percent experience more crime. There’s about 15.49 crimes per 1,000 residents each year in Glens Falls.
8. Ridgefield, CT
- Population: 25,011
- Median Household income: $152,630
- Median House Price: $872,000
A 300-year-old community, Ridgefield is known for its historic Main Street and its Norman Rockwell-esque feel. The crime rate in Ridgefield is lower than the average U.S. city. It is in the 79th percentile for safety. About 21 percent of the cities in the country are safer and 79 percent are more dangerous. The’s about 16.8 crimes per 1,000 residents each year in Ridgefield.
9. Midland, MI
- Population: 83,445
- Median Household income: $64,078
- Median House Price: $223,500
Located in the center of the state of Michigan, the city of Midland has been recognized for being a great place to raise a family and find a job. Midland is also known for its excellent school system. Crime in Midland is lower than the average U.S. city with about 18 crimes per 1,000 people each year.
10. Port St. Lucie, FL
- Population: $217,523
- Median Household income: $62,380
- Median House Price: $420,000
The third largest city in south Florida, Port St. Lucie is about 50 miles north of West Palm Beach. The city is known for its diverse housing offerings and economic opportunities as well its park system and golf courses. Port St. Lucie’s crime rate is lower than most U.S. cities, ranking in the 70th percentile for safety. There’s about 19 crimes per 1,000 residents each year.
11. McKinney, TX
- Population: 202,690
- Median Household income: $100,775
- Median House Price: $560,600
Just under 30 miles from Dallas, the small community of McKinney is known for being a picturesque place with tree-lined streets and a historic downtown. McKinney has also been recognized for being the location of growth-industry jobs. The crime rate in McKinney is slightly lower than most other cities in the country: It is in the 65th percentile for safety. About 35 percent of cities in the U.S. are safer and 65 percent are more dangerous. There’s about 21 crimes per 1,000 people annually.
12. Frisco, TX
- Population: 210,719
- Median Household income: $128,761
- Median House Price: $734,500
A wealthy suburb about 25 minutes outside of Dallas, the community of Frisco is home to many white collar professionals who work throughout the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area. Frisco’s crime rate is in the 47th percentile for safety, meaning about 53 percent of cities are safer, while 47 percent are more dangerous. There’s about 27 crimes per 1,000 residents each year in Frisco.
13. Sunnyvale, CA
- Population: 152,258
- Median Household income: $150,464
- Median House Price: $1.6 million
Sunnyvale is just outside of San Francisco in the heart of Silicon Valley. A number of Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here including Yahoo, Spanson, Maxim and Network Appliances. The crime rate is 31 incidents per 1,000 residents.
14. Portland, ME
- Population: 68,313
- Median Household income: $61,695
- Median House Price: $489,000
Located on the southern coast of Maine, Portland is the largest city and the economic hub of the state. Full of entrepreneurs, it’s also a popular tourist destination known for its historic Old Port area. There are about 44.5 crimes per 1,000 residents annually in Portland.
Cities are ranked using CrimeGrade.org statistical data that calculated a number of crimes per 1,000 residents in a particular municipality. Other data on each city is derived from U.S. Census Bureau information, the municipality’s own official sites, and local real estate listings.
Among America’s largest cities, with populations of 500,000 or more, on a per-capita basis, Detroit had the most incidents of murder and rape in 2020, according to a SafeHome.org analysis of 2020 FBI crime data. Seattle, however, had the most reported burglaries per capita and Memphis, Tenn. led the country in larceny-theft incidents.
The state with the highest rate of crime in the country in 2020 was New Mexico. There were 3,620 crimes per 100,000 people, according to Statista data.
In 2020, New Hampshire had the lowest crime rate. There were about 1,245 crimes per 100,000 people, according to Statista data.
Property crimes involve a person’s possessions, goods and chattel — any type of real and personal property — being stolen or destroyed. These sorts of crimes do not necessarily involve the use of threat or force against the crime victim. Examples of property crime include burglary, theft, vandalism and arson.