Whether you’re new to the Heart of Dixie or you’re just looking for a home in a new city, we’re here to help. Of course we’d be more than happy to help you find your new place in Alabama—but first, we think there are a couple of things you should know.
First of all, this state is awesome. Second of all, there are certain places within its borders that are much safer and therefore even more awesome than others.
And according to the latest Saturday night science here at the Movoto Real Estate Blog, the safest of them all is Vestavia Hills… and Helena. Wait, what?
Here are the 10 safest places in Alabama:
1. City of Vestavia Hills (tie)
1. City of Helena (tie)
3. City of Pelham
4. City of Moody
5. City of Alabaster
6. City of Hartselle
7. City of Athens
8. City of Mountain Brook
9. City of Daphne
10. City of Hoover
As you can see, we have an almost unprecedented tie for first place in Alabama: both Vestavia Hills and Helena earned the exact same safety score. To find out more about how we got these scores, just keep reading.
Just recently, the FBI released the 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report. So to celebrate, we thought we’d create some new and updated lists for this year. To begin this exciting process, we looked at all of the places in Alabama’s crime report with 10,000 people or more, according to the following criteria:
- Vehicle Thefts
Then we divided these crimes into four categories:
- Violent Crimes
- Property Crimes
- Total Crimes
And then we calculated the crimes in each of these categories per person (or per capita) in order to better compare the 54 places on our list. We ranked each place with a score from one to 54, where the lower scores were the safer places.
The next step was to weight murders, violent crimes, and property crimes a bit more heavily than the total crimes, so they all made up 30 percent of the overall score, while the total number of crimes made up just 10.
And finally, we averaged these weighted rankings into one overall Big Deal Score, where the lowest score went to our safest place… Or rather, places: Vestavia Hills and Helena.
To see more than just these top 10, feel free to hop to the bottom of the post. Otherwise, let’s take a look at what makes each of these 10 places safer than the rest.
1. Vestavia Hills
Out of all of the places we looked at, Vestavia Heights ranked the best… in addition to Helena, that is. It doesn’t happen often, but this year, these two cities tied for first place for having the lowest scores in our analysis.
The reason Vestavia Heights scored so well was for its particularly low number of violent crimes. In 2013, it had just 17 for the entire year. With its population of just over 34,000, this meant Vestavia Heights had the lowest number of violent crimes per person—none of which were murders.
Additionally, it had the fourth lowest number of property crimes, with just 561, all adding up to the fourth lowest number of total crimes per person.
Congratulations to Helena, not only for making first place this year, but last year as well. So just why is this city so safe—still? That would be because, once again, it had the fewest property crimes per person and therefore the fewest total crimes per person in the state.
Specifically, that meant that in 2013, Helena had a total of just 187 crimes, 169 of which were property crimes and 18 of which were violent crimes. Like most of the others in our top 10, there were no murders in Helena.
With such low numbers in all of our categories, Helena residents had just a 1 in 93 chance of being the victim of a crime, which is by far the lowest in the state.
Unlike our two No. 1 cities, Pelham is a newcomer to this year’s list. The reason that it took over the No. 3 slot this year—aside from the fact that last year’s No. 3 is now one of our No. 1s, Vestavia Heights—is simple. Much simpler than all that, anyway.
With a total of just 457 crimes for the year, Pelham had the fifth lowest number of crimes per person. These crimes included 431 property crimes and 26 violent crimes, both of which were the sixth lowest number per person in their respective categories.
All told, residents in Pelham had a 1 in 49 chance of being the victim of a crime, and compared to some place like Bessemer where the chance is just 1 in 7, we’d say that’s looking pretty good.
This St. Clair County city is another that made our list two years in a row and another that rocketed up in the rankings, from 10th place to fourth. The reason for this increase in awesome has a lot to do with a decrease in murder. Sure, in 2012 Moody had just one reported murder, but for such a severe crime, one murder makes a big difference in our rankings.
In 2013, Moody had zero murders, but it didn’t stop there. It also had just 257 total crimes, including 236 property crimes and 21 violent crimes, ranking it sixth, fifth, and 11th in each category, respectively.
There are some things in life that you can just plain count on. Alabaster’s charm is certainly one of those things, but apparently, so is its safety. What we mean is that last year Alabaster ranked No. 5 on our safest places list for many of the same reasons that it did this year.
For example, in this most recent FBI Crime Report, Alabaster had a total of 684 crimes for the year. With its population of just over 31,000, that gave it the seventh lowest number of crimes per person.
It also had a pretty consistent number of violent and property crimes—a total of 44 and 640, respectively, where last year it had a total of 49 and 683. This may be more, but remember, the population has also increased significantly over the year, which balances out the per-capita calculation.
Another reliable city, Hartselle kept its sixth place ranking from last year, mostly due to its consistently low number of violent crimes.
In fact, Hartselle actually lowered its number of violent crimes by two over the year, going from 21 in 2012 to just 19 in this latest report (that’s the seventh fewest per person). None of these included murder.
It also had a low number of property crimes—just 360 for the year. With its population of just over 14,500, that gave Hartselle the 10th fewest per person.
This Limestone County city ranked well in our analysis mostly for its particularly low number of violent crimes. In 2013, Athens had just 16 violent crimes. With a population of just under 24,000 people, that meant Athens had the third fewest violent crimes per person.
This, plus its 755 property crimes, or the 15th fewest per person, gave Athens a total of 771 crimes for the year at the 14th fewest per person.
Like many in our top 10, none of these crimes included any murders.
8. Mountain Brook
Okay, Mountain Brook, here’s the good news: You made the list two years in a row! Congratulations! The bad news is, you went from second place last year to eighth this year.
Interestingly, the overall number of crimes actually went down over the year—from 311 to 306. The reason Mountain Brook didn’t rank as well was because of one major thing: In 2013, there was one reported murder. Because this crime is so severe, it is weighted more heavily in our rankings (as explained in our methodology section), which, hate to say it, really ruined its chances of being higher up.
That being said, Mountain Brook actually had a very impressive number of violent crimes overall and property crime, ranking at the second and third lowest per person, respectively.
According to Daphne’s website, this beautiful city has increased in population by 30 percent over the past few years. That may be a lot, but in looking at these numbers, it’s no real wonder why.
First of all, Daphne had the eighth lowest number of total crimes per person, with just 557 for the year. It also had the ninth lowest number of property crimes and the eighth lowest number of violent crimes per person.
Unfortunately, among those violent crimes, Daphne had one reported murder in 2013, which is why it didn’t rank higher on our list.
The final spot on our list goes to the peaceful city of Hoover… which, according to our analysis, may have been a tad less so in 2013 than in the previous year.
What we mean is, last year, Hoover came in as the ninth safest place on our list. This was mostly due to its low overall number of crimes. In 2013, Hoover still had a pretty low number of crimes (the 13th lowest per person), however, it ranked 20th in the category of murders per person.
That’s because in 2013, Hoover had two reported murders for its population of just over 84,000 people. Luckily, this violence didn’t seem to extend into the other subcategories of violent crimes as Hoover had just 74 total violent crimes for the year, giving it the fourth lowest number per person in the state.
Heart of Safety
Alabama may be known as the Heart of Dixie, but these 10 places are the heart of safety… or hearts of safety. You know what we mean.
If you’re interested in moving someplace a little more like Vestavia Hills, Helena, or one of these other stellar Alabama cities, feel free to get in touch.