Michigan is known for many things—the Great Lakes, the Detroit Lions, the Pistons, and, of course, the abso-freaking-lutely freezing temperatures in the winter.
Of all of these things, “safe” is usually not one of the first that comes to mind—especially if you’ve seen “8 Mile”. Here at Movoto Real Estate, though, we’re not ones to simply let unwarranted stereotypes like this go unchallenged. We’ve already shown you some of the best places in the Great Lakes State, we’ve discussed the stereotypes in Grand Rapids that actually are true, and we’ve even given you 30 reasons to move to Detroit.
In today’s post, we’re taking it one step further and bringing you the 10 safest places in Michigan, in our ongoing series to uncover some of the safest places in the country. We’ve seen the winner in Florida; we’ve taken a look at New York’s safest city, the Town of Elmira; and today, we proudly present Michigan’s safest city, Grosse Ile. Of course it faced some stiff competition to get to the top. Here are the 10 safest places in Michigan:
1. Grosse Ile Township
2. Hamburg Township
3. South Lyon
3. Village of Milford
5. City of Berkley
6. City of New Baltimore
7. Bloomfield Township
8. City of Riverview
8. West Bloomfield Township
10. City of Rochester
To learn about the methodology behind this list, keep reading. We’ll also discuss each place’s crime stats in detail, why each ranked the way it did, and, at the bottom of the post, you’ll find a complete list of the safest cities in Michigan.
The Method Behind this List
In order to create this list of the 10 safest cities in Michigan, we looked at the FBI’s report of crime statistics from 2012. For our locations, we selected the places in Michigan with a population of 10,000 or more, which left us with 102 places in total. Then, we looked at each of these places in terms of three criteria:
- Violent crime (rape, murder, assault)
- Property crime (theft, burglary, motor vehicle thefts)
- The chance a resident will be a victim of crime
For violent crime and property crime, we calculated the number of 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 the city. Then, we ranked each city from one to 102 across the three criteria. The lower the number was, the better the city’s score.
When we weighted the criteria, we placed a greater emphasis on violent crime, followed by property crime, and then the chance a resident might be the victim of a crime. 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.
Think of it this way: In total, there were 175,567 total crimes committed last year across all of the places in our ranking. The good news is, most of these crimes were not violent crimes—about 82 percent of them were property theft, or 143,667 reported crimes.
When all was said and done, Grosse Ile turned out to be our safest place. What about the most dangerous? It was Benton Harbor. This city had a total of 1,100 reported crimes for just over 10,000 residents; so, residents here had a 1 in 9 chance of being the victim of a crime. This means that residents of Detroit, with a 1 in 12 chance of being the victim of a crime, can rest (relatively) easy.
More on Detroit later. Now that we’ve taken a look at our least safe city, let’s continue on to our 10 safest.
1. Grosse Ile Township
Michigan’s safest place, Grosse Ile, is named after the French words which mean “Big Island.” Not only is the township of Grosse Ile situated on several islands in the Detroit River, but it truly does seem to be an oasis of calm and safety.
In 2012, Grosse Ile only saw a total of 89 crimes total out of over 10,200 people. That is the same amount that the city of St. Clair Shores saw in motor vehicle theft alone. Of course, Grosse Ile has a much smaller population than this other city, but proportionally Grosse Ile is still the clear winner. Grosse Ile had no reports of murder, forcible rape, or robbery; in fact, almost 100 percent of the total crimes were property theft, and of those 88, 76 were larceny. Residents here have a 1 in 115 chance of being the victim of a crime of any type.
2. Hamburg Township
Located in Livingston County, Hamburg Township scored well for a total crime rate of just 117 in 2012. To break that down for you, Hamburg only saw 10 violent crimes, none of which were murders or robberies. Compare this to Muskegon Heights with a population half the size and 200 violent crimes total—one of which was murder, and 52 of which were robberies.
Hamburg Township’s remaining crimes consisted solely of property theft (things like burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft), but of those property crimes, 66 percent were larceny/theft, which while still a crime, is at least better than being robbed at gunpoint.
3. South Lyon
South Lyon, located in Oakland County, made our list for just 120 reported total crimes for a population of 11,408. That means residents have a 1 in 95 chance of being the victim of any crime.
Looking closer at these figures, South Lyon only had four violent crimes in 2012, two of which were forcible rape, one robbery, and one aggravated assault. As far as property crime goes, South Lyon saw 21 burglaries, 92 cases of larceny/theft, and three stolen motor vehicles.
Tying with South Lyon on our list was another place in Oakland County, the township of Milford. With a population of nearly 16,000, Milford saw a total of just 159 crimes in 2012, meaning that residents here have a 1 in 99 chance of being the victim of a crime.
Of those 159 crimes, 96 percent were merely property crimes, like larceny, car theft, and burglary; and of the remaining seven violent crimes, none were murder–which, we think everyone can agree, is always good news.
Another Oakland County City, Berkley has just over 15,000 residents and scored well in our ranking for a number of reasons—all of which added up to a total of just 141 reported crimes in 2012. The majority of those crimes (132 of 141) were property crimes. Of those property crimes, only 24 were burglaries, nine were motor vehicle thefts; the rest of which were simple larceny/theft.
Only nine of the 141 crimes reported in 2012 were violent crimes, and of those, the majority were aggravated assault. Compare this to the similarly sized Owosso, which had a total of 61 violent crimes in 2012—including one murder and 13 forcible rapes.
6. New Baltimore
This historic coastal resort community in Macomb County may share a name with Baltimore, MD, but when it comes to safety, the similarities end. With a population of just over 12,000 residents, New Baltimore had only 66 reported crimes total in 2012. That’s about half the crime of the similarly populated Rochester, and less than half the crimes reported in Rochester, also a town with a similar population size.
If you’re wondering how in the world New Baltimore ranked No. 6, when Rochester ranked No. 10 on our list after reading this, it’s because of how we weighted the criteria. Sure, New Baltimore only had 66 crimes while Rochester had 141 total, but of those crimes, New Baltimore’s leaned more heavily toward violent crimes—10 out of the 61. This was mostly thanks to the nine aggravated assaults reported in 2012.
No matter how you slice it, though, with just a 1 in 183 chance of being the victim of a crime, residents in New Baltimore can rest easy.
7. Bloomfield Township
Yet another place in Oakland County, Bloomfield Township (usually referred to simply as Bloomfield), has, up until this point, been known as one of the most expensive suburbs in Michigan, and even in the U.S. It can now add “one of the safest cities in Michigan” to its resume.
Bloomfield saw a total of 474 crimes in 2012, but considering this township’s population of 41,367, this is not bad at all. In fact, this means residents only have a 1 in 87 chance of being the victim of a crime at all.
Like most of the places on our list, the majority of the crimes in Bloomfield were property crimes—452 of the 474. Of the crimes that were violent, though, 68 percent were aggravated assault, which, of course, is still a violent crime; but at least it isn’t murder. (Note: there was one murder reported in 2012—that’s one out of 41,367 residents.)
Located along the Detroit River in Wayne County, Riverview tied for the No. 8 spot on our list, mostly for its very low number of violent crimes. Of the 103 total crimes reported in 2012, just 11 were violent. More impressive still, none of these reported violent crimes were murder or forcible rape, which at least makes Riverview one of the least terrifying on our top 10 when it comes to types of crimes.
Of the 92 reported property crimes in 2012 the majority—78 out of 92—were theft/larceny. Residents here have just a 1 in 120 chance of being the victim of a crime.
8. West Bloomfield Township
By far the largest place in our top 10 with a population of over 65,000, West Bloomfield Township tied with Riverview for safety. This township had a total of 726 reported crimes in 2012, which may sound like a lot, until you consider its overall population. In fact, residents here only have a one in 90 chance of being the victim of a crime, and with 95 percent of those non-violent crimes, chances are you won’t get hurt.
That may sound like little to get excited about, but when you look at cities like Highland Park where 26 percent of the total crime was violent, we’d imagine West Bloomfield residents will sleep a little more soundly.
The final city on our list was Rochester. Also located in Oakland County just outside of Detroit, Rochester had only 141 reported crimes in 2012—132 of which were non-violent. To break this down a little more for you, let’s look at the property crimes. The majority, 101, were property theft/larceny, followed by 24 reported burglaries, and seven cases of motor vehicle theft.
Of the mere nine reported violent crimes, none were murders, one was forcible rape, two were robberies, and six were aggravated assaults. With a population of just over 12,800, residents in Rochester have just a 1 in 91 chance of being the victim of a crime.
Don’t Go There
Now that we’ve covered all of our safest cities in Michigan, here’s a quick look at some of the places you should avoid. As previously mentioned, the place that ranked the lowest on our list was Benton Harbor, where there were not only a lot of total crimes (1,100), but of those, 236 were violent crimes—and the population is just over 10,000!
Slightly less dangerous was Flint. With a population of over 100,000 residents, Flint reported a total of 8,419 crimes in 2012, giving residents a 1 in 12 chance of being a victim. The third most dangerous city on our list was Detroit. Yes, you knew it would grace the list somewhere—unfortunately, it’s just at the bottom, and with a total of 55,967 reported crimes, 15,011 of which were violent, and 386 of which were murder or “non-negligent manslaughter,” it’s no wonder why.
All told, the places that ranked most dangerous in our study, from relatively most safe to least safe, were Benton Harbor, Flint, Detroit, Muskegon Heights, and Highland Park. So, if you’re thinking about visiting one of these places, be sure to keep an eye out– perhaps for the nearest bus out of town.
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.