If you ask your friends what they think of when they hear “Florida,” you’ll probably get a variety of responses. White sandy beaches, Disney World, humidity, big hair, and maybe even retirement communities and a slower, more relaxed pace of life. With all of the answers you could get though, more often than not, “unsafe” is not among them.
Of course that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any crime in Florida at all—in fact, some places like Opa Locka and Florida City are downright unsafe. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are places like the 10 below that are veritable safe havens. How do we know? We got our facts straight from the FBI. But more on that in a moment; for now, here are the 10 safest places in Florida:
1. City of Parkland
2. City of Weston
3. City of Marco Island
4. City of Sanibel
5. City of Punta Gorda
6. Town of Longboat Key
7. Town of Bay Harbor Islands
7. City of Niceville
9. City of Valparaiso
10. City of Groveland
Just how safe is Parkland? And does Niceville really live up to its name? To find out how Movoto Real Estate came up with this ranking of just what makes these places the safest, read on. Or if you want to see where your city ranked in the list, skip down to the bottom of the post for a more in-depth ranking.
How Did We Make This Report?
In order to get this list of the 10 safest places in Florida, we looked at the FBI’s 2012 report of crime statistics. We selected the Florida cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more, which left us with 202 locations in total. Then, we looked at each of these locations in terms of these three criteria:
- Property crime (theft, burglary, motor vehicle thefts)
- Violent crime (rape, murder, assault)
- The chance a resident will be a victim of crime
For violent crime and property crime, we calculated the number transgressions per resident. In order to determine a resident’s chances of being the victim of a crime, we used the total number of crimes in a city. Then, we ranked each city from one to 202 across these three criteria; the lower the number, the better the score.
We then weighted the criteria with a greater emphasis placed on violent crime, followed by property crime, and then, the chance a resident could be the victim of a crime. In other words, violent crime made up 50 percent of our ranking, property crime made up 30 percent, and a resident’s chances of being the victim of a crime made up 20 percent.
To put that into perspective for you, consider this. There were 421,192 total crimes reported in 2012 across all of the cities in our analysis. This means that residents had a 1 in 22 chance of being the victim of any crime overall. The good news is, most of these crimes were not violent crimes—about 87 percent of them were property theft, or 367,308 reported crimes.
Out of all of the places on our list, the one that ranked at the very bottom, the most unsafe, was Florida City. This city had a total of 1,396 reported crimes, for just 11,668 residents. This means that residents had a 1 in 8 chance of being the victim of a crime.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the least safe places on our list, let’s continue on to our 10 safest, starting with our No. 1, Parkland, Florida.
Out of more than 200 places on our list, Parkland came in as the safest. This city of over 24,000 residents saw a mere 255 crimes total in 2012—only 20 of which were violent.
As for the other 235 crimes in 2012, 73 percent of these property crimes were theft—or 171 reported crimes. This was followed by 52 total reported burglaries for the year.
Numbers like these were the reason Parkland placed, not only No. 1 for the lowest chance of crime for residents; but No. 1 in our study overall.
With 67,452 residents, Weston is the largest city on our top 10. That being said, it makes sense that this larger city should have a larger number of reported crimes (723 total); but proportionally, Weston’s safety is hard to beat.
Out of their 723 crimes, only about 9 percent were violent crimes, and of these 62 crimes, only two were murder or nonnegligent manslaughter. So that’s the good news. The bad news, and the reason Weston didn’t rank higher in our study, was for the number of reported burglaries (148) and incidents of theft (493).
All told, though, residents in Weston only have a 1 in 93 chance of being the victim to any type of crime, easily making it one of the safest cities in the Sunshine State.
3. Marco Island
Marco Island made our list for its impressively low number of crimes overall—228 total—and in particular, its low number of violent crimes. In fact, Marco Island reported zero incidents of murder, violent robbery, or arson last year, and just one incident of rape, and 11 aggravated assaults.
Sure, this doesn’t exactly sound pleasant, but considering this city’s population of 16,985, this number is very low. In fact, Marco Island residents only had a 1 in 74 chance of being the victim of any crime at all in 2012, placing it as No. 6 in this criterion.
Located on Sanibel Island, our No. 4 city is literally an island of safety among Florida cities. With a population of less than 7,000, Sanibel ranked high on our list for just 114 total reported crimes last year—only three of which were violent crimes, and of those three, all were aggravated assault.
As with most places on our list, the majority of property crime was theft, with 76 total reported for 2012.
Of course with such a small population, each crime reported weighs more heavily. For example, residents in Sanibel have a 1 in 59 chance of being the victim of a crime, which sounds downright scary compared to our No. 1 city, Parkland’s odds of just 1 in 97.
5. Punta Gorda
This city in Charlotte County reported only 11 violent crimes in 2012—pretty impressive considering Punta Gorda has a population of almost 17,000 people. Of those violent crimes, four were robberies and seven were aggravated assault. Granted, these are still violent crimes, but kudos to Punta Gorda for not scoring anything worse.
Punta Gorda had 278 reported property crimes in 2012, nearly all of them, 223 to be precise, being theft. All told, residents in Punta Gorda had a 1 in 56 chance of being involved in a crime. Compare that to, say, Panama City Beach where residents have a 1 in 9 chance of being involved in a crime, and you’ll see why Punta Gorda made it to the top of our list.
6. Longboat Key
With just two violent crimes and 123 crimes involving property reported in 2012, Longboat Key made it to the top of our list—and ranked as one of the safest in terms of violent crime in particular.
Of the 123 property crimes, 17 were burglaries and the rest were theft—which means there were no reports car theft for the entire year of 2012. To put that into perspective, just take a look at Arcadia, with roughly the same population as Longboat Key (just over 7,000). In Arcadia, there were 85 burglaries, 106 cases of theft and three motor vehicles stolen. Looking good, Longboat Key.
7. Bay Harbor Islands
The No. 7 spot on our list was given to two cities: Bay Harbor Island and Niceville. Bay Harbor Island had only 71 reported crimes in all of 2012, only seven of which were violent. Of course, this is one of the smallest towns in our top 10—with just over 5,800 residents, but even proportionally, this town outside of Miami is very safe. For example, residents here only have a 1 in 82 chance of being involved in any type of crime.
Just a short drive away in Miami, on the other hand, residents have a 1 in 15 chance of being involved in a crime, making it one of the least safest cities on our list.
Just as the name suggests, Niceville really is one of the nicest cities in Florida. With a population of over 13,000, this kind little city had just 212 total crimes in 2012—14 were violent and 198 were theft-related. To break this down further, of those violent crimes, two were rape, two were robbery, and 10 were aggravated assault.
Of the property-related crimes, the vast majority, 87 percent, were theft, followed by burglary at 10 percent, or 20 reported incidents. All told, residents have a 1 in 62 chance of being involved in any type of crime in Niceville—hence the name.
With just a 1 in 92 chance of being involved in crime for residents, it is no wonder Valparaiso made our top 10. Certainly the smallest city on our list, with just over 5,100 residents, Valparaiso had only 56 reported crimes in 2012—seven of which were violent, and of those, zero were forcible rape or murder.
Once again, of the reported property crimes, the vast majority were larceny/theft—71 percent to be precise—the rest being car theft (three) and burglary (11.)
With just 144 reported crimes in 2012, Groveland comes in as the final city on our list. This city of nearly 9,000 people had only 11 reported violent crimes in 2012—two robberies and nine aggravated assaults. Of their property crimes, 80 were theft, 46 were burglaries, and seven were motor vehicle theft.
All told, residents have just a 1 in 62 chance of being involved in crime in Groveland, making it significantly safer than our least safe city, Florida City, where your chances are just 1 in 8. So good job, Groveland!
Crime Scene: Do Not Enter
Now that we’ve covered all of our safest cities in Florida, here’s a quick rundown of the places you should probably steer clear of. As previously mentioned, the place that ranked the lowest on our list was Florida City, where there were not only a lot of total crimes (1,396), but of those, 242 were violent crimes. Just slightly safer (which isn’t saying much) was Opa Locka, with 1,706 total crimes and a population of just under 16,000. That means residents have a 1 in 9 chance of being involved in a crime here.
All told, the places that ranked the lowest were: Florida City, Opa Locka, Lake City, Cocoa, and Lake Park.
Featured Image Source: Flickr user TimothyJ
Who is Movoto Real Estate, you might ask? Movoto is a national online real estate brokerage. Our blog has been recognized for its unique approach to city-based research by major news organizations around the world such as Forbes, CBS News, and The New York Times.