Picking a place to live often comes down to practicality. It’s important to know whether or not you can afford the area; but from there come the specifics. How is the school system? The employment rate? Perhaps the most important question of all, however, is how safe you’ll be living there.
Knowing just how important this last factor is, the Movoto Real Estate Blog has previously ranked the safest suburbs and safest mid-sized cities in the country, and today we’re moving on to America’s larger cities. Which one came out on top? It turns out that Irvine, CA is the safest, closely followed by these cities:
Three out of the 10 cities are in both California and Arizona, and two are from Texas. Just what are these states doing to make their cities so safe? Keep reading to find out and learn more about the method behind our ranking.
How We Created This Report
In putting this report together, we started by gathering a list of the 100 most populous cities in the U.S. from the 2012 Census (excluding Tucson, Honolulu, Columbus, and Toledo, as these cities did not report thefts in a way acceptable to the FBI). We then looked at each of these cities in terms of the following criteria, using official statistics from the 2012 FBI Uniform Crime Report:
- Vehicle theft
We then divided these crimes into four distinct categories:
- Violent crimes
- Property crimes
- Total crimes
We wanted to create an equal playing field for both our larger and smaller cities, so we used the number of crimes per 100,000 people annually, rather than the total number of crimes. Then, we ranked each city from 1 to 100 in each category, with 1 being the safest.
From there, we weighted the results so that murder, violent crime, and property crime each comprised 30 percent of the final score and the total number of crimes made up 10 percent. The average of these weighted scores was used to determine the safest city.
For a complete list of all 100 cities and how they fared, head to the bottom of our post; or keep reading as we take a closer look at just what makes each of our top 10 so safe.
1. Irvine, CA
Irvine, the first of the three California cities in our top 10, placed highly for its low number of overall crimes per 100,000 people, but particularly for its low number of violent crimes. In 2012, Irvine saw a total of just 51 violent crimes per 100,000 people, which included one murder. Additionally, Irvine had 1,519 property crimes per 100,000, adding up to a total of 1,570 crimes per 100,000 people.
For comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at another California city: Stockton, CA. Here, not only were there 1,548 violent crimes per 100,000 people, but 24 of those were murders. Additionally, there were 5,101 property crimes per 100,000, resulting in a total of 6,649 crimes per 100,000 residents. Or, think of it this way: In Irvine, you have just a 1 in 64 chance of being the victim of a crime; in Stockton, your odds are 1 in 15.
2. Fremont, CA
This Bay Area city ranked well for its low number of crimes per 100,000 people; murders in particular. Considering the city’s size of 221,927 residents, one murder per 100,000 people is really quite remarkable. Then again, so is the fact that it only saw 1,945 property crimes per 100,000 people in 2012, giving residents just a 1 in 48 chance of being the victim of any type of crime.
Perhaps it’s all of those Silicon Valley commuters keeping this place low key and safe, or maybe it’s just the influence of being surrounded by such natural beauty; whatever you’re doing (or rather, not doing), Fremont, keep it up.
3. Gilbert, AZ
Located southeast of Phoenix, AZ, Gilbert has all of the benefits of being near the capital city without any of the drawbacks (namely, the crime). Of course, with just over 214,000 residents, Gilbert has a population almost seven times smaller than that of Phoenix—which is precisely why we didn’t consider the total number of crimes, but instead focused on the number of crimes per 100,000 people.
In 2012, Gilbert only had total of 2,084 crimes per 100,000 people, broken down into 139 violent crimes (including one murder) and 1,945 property crimes per 100,000. The most prevalent crime overall was theft, with 1,143 cases per 100,000 people. So, if you’ve been thinking about moving to Phoenix (ranked 48th on our list), perhaps you should take another look at Gilbert. It has the same setting with a lot less crime.
4. Plano, TX
Named for the vast, flat plains of East Texas, this Collin County city is by no means flat, as in dull. In fact, in 2005, 2006, and 2011, Plano was named the best place to live in the Western United States by CNN Money—and as our analysis shows, much of that has to do with how safe it is, particularly in terms of its lack of violent crime and murder. With just 130 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2012, none of which were murder, Plano came in third in the category of violent crimes, and along with Boise, ID, first for its lack of murder. With just 2,487 crimes per 100,000 people in 2012 and a population of 273,816, Plano residents had a 1 in 40 chance of being the victim of a crime.
5. Henderson, NV
Located in the Las Vegas Metropolitan area, Henderson has all of the benefits of being near the City of Lights, without all of the drawbacks, like noise, pollution, overcrowdedness, and crime. Focusing on crime, though, the nearby Las Vegas doesn’t even compete with Henderson.
For example, where Henderson saw just 169 violent crimes (including two murders) per 100,000 people, Vegas had 783 violent crimes and five murders per 100,000 people. Where Henderson had just 2,009 property crimes per 100,000 people, Vegas had 3,138. So, if you want to live near Vegas without the crime that comes with it, go for the place where your chance of being the victim of a crime is just 1 in 46; not 1 in 25.
6. Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale ranked among the top 10 on our list for its low number of violent crimes, particularly murders. For every 100,000 people, there was only one murder and just 147 violent crimes in all of 2012.
Of the violent crimes, a majority were assaults (76), followed by 51 robberies and 19 rapes per 100,000 residents. In addition to the 147 violent crimes, this Maricopa County city had a reported 2,707 property crimes per 100,000 people, the majority of which were cases of theft.
7. Chula Vista, CA
Located just a few miles from downtown San Diego and the Mexican border, Chula Vista is at the center of one of the most culturally diverse economic centers in the U.S. With one of the lowest crime rates in the country, this city has been growing quickly in recent years.
Just how low is the crime rate in Chula Vista? According to our analysis, there were only 2,266 total crimes per 100,000 people in 2012, including 232 violent crimes, 2,034 property crimes, and three murders per 100,000 people. Of the property crimes, a vast majority (1,262) were thefts, and the majority of the violent crimes (125 out of 232) were assaults.
8. Boise, ID
The capital of Idaho seems to have something for everyone—hiking and biking, a zoo and aquarium, shopping, skiing, and, of course, the one thing that makes all of this work so well: safety.
For every 100,000 people, Boise saw just 2,792 crimes in 2012, only 267 of which were violent, and none of which were murder. The vast majority of crimes reported were thefts (2,019), followed by 432 burglaries and 202 assaults per 100,000. All told, Boise residents had just a 1 in 36 chance of being the victim of a crime—about three times better than Detroit, MI or Atlanta, GA.
9. Irving, TX
Not far from the other Texas city on our list, Irving came in among our top 10 mostly for its low number of violent crimes, and lack of murder in particular, in 2012. With just 226 violent crimes, including one murder, 12 rapes, 60 robberies, and 153 assaults per 100,000 people, Irving came in 8th place in terms of violent crimes and 3rd for murder.
Of course. it sounds a bit overwhelming all spelled out like this, but consider another Texas city, San Antonio, where there were 503 violent crimes, including six murders per 100,000 people, and you’ll see why Irving made our top 10.
10. Chandler, AZ
This idyllic Phoenix suburb is the quintessential family friendly city. There are museums, parks like Paseo Vista and Veterans Oasis Park, Tumbleweed Park Playtopia; there theaters, shopping, tons of restaurants, and the cherry on top, this city is one of the nation’s safest. That’s because in 2012, Chandler saw just 258 violent crimes, including two murders, and 2,707 property crimes, for a total of just 2,965 crimes per 100,000 people.
To put that into perspective for you, take a look at nearby Phoenix (ranked No. 48 on our list), where there were 636 violent crimes, including eight murders, and 4,092 property crimes, for a total of 4,728 crimes per 100,000 people.
The Most Dangerous Cities In America
Now that we’ve told you about the 10 safest cities in the U.S., we don’t feel like we’d be doing our job without at least mentioning the five most dangerous. Starting with the most dangerous, the five cities at the very bottom of our list were: St. Louis, MO, Oakland, CA, Birmingham, AL, Detroit, MI, and Memphis, TN.
If you find yourself in one of these five cities, well, maybe you should take a look at Irvine. We hear it’s just lovely this time of year.