The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Safest Mid-Sized Cities In America

How do the country’s mid-sized metros fare when it comes to crime? Our latest ranking takes a look.

Randy Nelson

Content Manager

119 articles, 53 comments

Embed Gallery

While sometimes safer than their larger counterparts, mid-sized cities aren’t entirely without crime-in fact, in some cases, they can actually be worse than major metros. It’s with this in mind that the Movoto Real Estate has decided to rank 100 of the country’s mid-sized cities in terms of safety.

After conducting our study, we determined that these are the 10 safest mid-sized cities in the nation:

1. Glendale, CA
2. Santa Clarita, CA
3. Sunnyvale, CA
4. Naperville, IL
5. Cary, NC
6. Thousand Oaks, CA
7. Oxnard, CA
8. Aurora, IL
9. Huntington Beach, CA
10. Torrance, CA

As you can see, seven of the top 10 cities are located in California, with six of those in Southern California and one in Northern California. Next up, we’ll explain our methodology and drill down into where each of the top 10 cities did best. You’ll also find a ranking of the top 50 cities (and the bottom five) at the end of this post.

How We Created This Report

In putting this study together, we looked at 100 cities with populations between 126,047 and 210,309 residents–ranked 101 to 201 in terms of size out of all U.S. cities.

This ranking is based on FBI crime data from 2013, the latest available from the agency. It includes incidents of:

  • Burglary
  • Theft
  • Vehicle Theft
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Assault

In order to make a fair comparison, we looked at the number of crimes per year per 100,000 residents, rather than the total number of crimes reported in each city. The types of crime listed above were consolidated into three categories: total crimes, property crimes (burglaries, thefts, vehicle thefts), and violent crimes (murders, rapes, assaults). We then determined the likelihood that residents would find themselves the victims of such crimes and ranked each city in relation to the others, with one being best and 100 being worst.

The rankings were then combined to produce a final score, weighted such that the chance of being the victim of a crime accounted for 20 percent, the chance of being the victim of a property crime accounted for 30 percent, and the chance of being the victim of a violent crime accounting for 50 percent.

Here is a look at how each of the top 10 safest mid-sized cities fared when evaluated this way:

1. Glendale, CA

Glendale, CA

Source: Wikipedia user Gedstrom

Our safest mid-sized city, Glendale, is a suburb of Los Angeles, CA, a big city oft-maligned when it comes to the topic of crime. With a population of 194,478 residents, Glendale has a total of 1,913 crimes per year per 100,000 residents. Of these, 133 are violent crimes and 1,780 property crimes.

Residents of Glendale have a 1 in 102 chance of being the victim of a crime. The chance of this being a violent crime is 1 in 1,462 while the chance of it being a property crime is 1 in 109. While Glendale has 326 more crimes per year per 100,000 residents than our No. 2 safest mid-sized city, Santa Clarita, it actually has 14 fewer violent crimes per 100,000 residents, giving it an edge in the ranking.

2. Santa Clarita, CA

Santa Clarita, CA

Source: City of Santa Clarita

Also located in the Los Angeles area, Santa Clarita sees fewer overall crimes per year than Glendale per 100,000 residents, but the number of those that are violent is actually higher. Whereas Glendale had no murders during the 12-month period covered by the FBI’s data, Santa Clarita recorded three for every 100,000 people. Total crimes per 100,000 for the city were 1,587; 147 were violent crimes, 1,440 were property crimes.

The chance of being a victim of a crime in Santa Clarita is 1 in 113. In terms of violent crimes, it’s 1 in 1,218; the chance of being a victim of property crime in this city is 1 in 124.

3. Sunnyvale, CA

Sunnyvale, CA

Source: City of Sunnyvale

Heading north to the San Francisco Bay Area, Sunnyvale is part of Silicon Valley and a suburb of San Jose, CA. A neighbor of Mountain View, CA, the home base of Google, has 146,197 residents and an overall crime rate of 1,495 per 100,000 people annually. Of those, 106 are violent and 1,389 are property-related.

People living in Sunnyvale have a 1 in 98 chance of being the victim of a crime. That number shrinks to 1 in 1,379 when it comes to the chance of being a violent crime victim. As for property crimes, it climbs back up to a 1 in 105 chance.

4. Naperville, IL

Naperville, FL

Source: Flickr user Ian Freimuth

Chicago, IL has seen its fair share of negative press regarding crime in the past couple of years–particularly when it comes to firearms–but Naperville, a suburb of the Windy City, doesn’t have to worry about getting lumped in with its big city neighbor. That’s because, with 146,197 residents, Naperville saw only 1,563 crimes per 100,000 residents. Violent crimes accounted for 79 of these, while property crimes made up 1,484.

There’s a 1 in 92 chance overall of being the victim of crime in Naperville. For violent crimes, the chance is 1 in 1,819. The chance of being the victim of a property crime there is 1 in 97.

5. Cary, NC

Cary, NC

Source: Flickr user Selena N.B.H.

The eastern-most city in our top 10, Cary is also the second smallest. At 145,693 residents, this suburb of Raleigh, NC reported 1,607 crimes per 100,000 residents in 2013. The violent crime rate per 100,000 residents in Cary was tied with Naperville at 79. Property crimes were a bit more prolific at 1,528 per 100,000.

Looking at the odds of being the victim of crime in Cary, residents have a 1 in 91 chance overall. Those who live there have the least chance of being the victim of a violent crime of anywhere we studied at 1 in 1,844. The odds of being a property crime victim in Cary are 1 in 95.

6. Thousand Oaks, CA

Thousand Oaks, CA

Source: City of Thousand Oaks

Next door to Southern California’s exclusive seaside community of Malibu, CA, Thousand Oaks sits in the Conejo Valley and is home to 128,412 people, making it the smallest municipality in our top 10. It saw 1,503 reported crimes per 100,000 residents in 2013, 108 of which were violent and 1,395 of which were property-related.

The likelihood of being a crime victim in Thousand Oaks comes out to 1 in 85. Violent crimes occur to 1 in 1,189 people in the city, while the odds are 1 in 92 of being a property crime victim.

7. Oxnard, CA

Oxnard, CA

Source: City of Oxnard

Due east of Thousand Oaks lies the coastal city of Oxnard, home to 201,55 residents–making it the largest metro in our top 10. Oxnard has 2,056 crimes per 100,000 people, and sees the second-highest rate of violent crimes–309 per 100,000–in our top 10. Property crimes occur there at a rate of 1,747 per 100,000 residents.

Oxnard residents have a 1 in 98 chance of being a crime victim, while their odds of being a victim of violent crime are 1 in 652. Property crimes are more likely, with those odds being 1 in 115 people.

8. Aurora, IL

Aurora, IL

Source: Flickr user Steve Krave

Right next door to our No. 5 safest mid-sized city, Naperville, sits Aurora, a Chicago suburb of 199,932 people. While they might share a border, the two cities have fairly significant difference in crime rates. In fact, Aurora has 329 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in our top 10. Its rate of 1,925 property crimes per 100,000 is the second-highest. In terms of total crimes, there are 2,246 per 100,000, making it the second-highest overall rate in our top 10.

The odds of being a crime victim in Aurora stand at 1 in 89. For violent crimes, this number is 1 in 623, the worst odds in our top 10. Things get better when it comes to property crimes, with the chance of being a victim being 1 in 104.

9. Huntington Beach, CA

Huntington Beach, CA

Source: Flickr user Dave Klukken

Down the coast from our other Southern Californian cities, Huntington Beach is a suburb of Long Beach, CA with 194,708 residents. The total number of crimes per 100,000 people in this city happens to be the highest in our top 10 at 2,598. Violent crimes actually occur at the third highest rate, 211 per 100,000. Property crimes are where Huntington Beach fares worst; there are 2,387 there per 100,000 residents, the highest in our top 10.

Huntington Beach residents have a 1 in 75 chance overall of being crime victims. This breaks down into a 1 in 923 chance of being the victim of a violent crime and a 1 in 82 chance of being the victim of a property crime.

10. Torrance, CA

Torrance, CA

Source: City of Torrance

The final mid-sized city in our top 10 is also located in Southern California. Torrance is home to 147,027 people and has an overall crime rate of 2,007 per 100,000 residents. This works out to 126 violent crimes and 1,881 property crimes per 100,000.

When it comes to the odds of being a crime victim, Torrance ranks lowest in our top 10 with a 1 in 73 chance. Fortunately, the chance of being a victim of a violent crime is comparatively low at 1 in 1,167. It’s the odds of property crime that bring this city down; they’re 1 in 78.

Putting Things Into Perspective

The number of crimes and odds of being a victim of one in our top 10 cities don’t paint the entire picture. For that, you need something to compare them to. That being said, the least safe mid-sized city we looked at was Little Rock, AR.

This city of 197,537 residents saw 9,441 total crimes per 100,000 people last year, a number that is 3.6 times more than Huntington Beach, the city with the most crimes per 100,000 in our top 10 safest cities. The odds of being a victim of crime in Little Rock are 1 in 21, with a 1 in 132 chance of being a violent crime victim and property crime odds of 1 in 25.

The five least-safe cities overall (in descending order) were Jackson, MS, Springfield, MO, New Haven, CT, Dayton, OH, and Little Rock, AR.

(click to enlarge table)

Safest Mid-Sized Cities In America

(click to enlarge table)

Least Safe Mid-Sized Cities In America

Like This Post? You’ll Definitely Love These:

Facebook Facebook Like

posted on: January 16, 2014
138,140 views, 4 comments


  1. Tina

    I live in Santa Clarita and know that for at least the last 10 years we have been in the top 5 safest cites. They have had reports on the news the last couple of years. So I am sure some of their findings are correct. We live in a very comfortable area. Also, they do say “mid-sized” so maybe you may be thinking of a smaller or larger town. I know Simi Valley used to be ranked very high but did not see them on the list. Though they did only go through 100.

  2. Debbie

    Having grown up in and around most of the So Cal cities (I’m from Ventura) and now living in the Ohio Valley, I can say that I felt safer in Cali than I have since moving here. Plus all of them have far better weather!! Good to see some positive news about “home”.

  3. Nick N

    Oxnard is west of Thousand Oaks, not east.

  4. Cindy

    Oxnard is west of Thousand Oaks, and border Malibu to the south. Thousand Oaks does not border Malibu. Please correct the mistakes.


Leave a Reply