When COVID-19 hit the United States in March 2020, millions of business shifted to having employees work remotely to protect them and their families.
Without the need to be physically present in an office, many Americans started considering if there were better places to live. Instead of residing in crowded, expensive cities, people started looking at areas with much cheaper real estate with more space to work and live in.
With many companies expected to permanently shift to remote work in 2021 and beyond, it’s likely that more people will move to different areas that better fit their new work and living situations.
To help these people assess different options, we analyzed the FBI Crime Database to find the safest cities and towns with populations of 10,000 or more. This database includes information from over 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the nation, providing detailed insight into the crimes that occur in these areas.
To rank cities, we considered the rate of violent crime, other crimes to persons, and other crimes to property. Law enforcement agencies in some areas did not report data to the FBI, so the following tables do not include every city and state.
Safest Cities & Towns in the U.S.
The following table ranks cities and towns from safest to most dangerous on a national and state level. After removing all areas with populations under 10,000, as well as those with no data or insufficient data, we were left with 1,432 in total.
The amount of crime in each area was normalized by its population and weighted based on the type of crime. Violent crimes were assigned a five times weight, other crimes to persons were assigned a two times weight, and other crimes to property were assigned a one times weight. We used a percentile rank formula to come up with the final score for each area.
Here is a description of select table columns included:
- Violent Crimes Per 1,000: The rate of violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes, as defined by the FBI, include aggravated assault, murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, and robbery.
- Other Personal Per 1,000: The rate of other crimes to persons per 1,000 residents. See the Methodology section for a full list of these crimes.
- Other Property Per 1,000: The rate of other crimes to property per 1,000 residents. See the Methodology section for a full list of these crimes.
Safest States in the U.S.
To rank states from safest to most dangerous, we consolidated all of the above city data for each state. We used the same weighting system and percentile rank equation for states as we did for the cities, and total crime numbers were normalized by the total population of the cities included for each state. (** Scores are not available for select states because the FBI excluded their city and town data for being underreported or overreported. These states appear on the map as ‘N/A’.)
All data used in this report come from the FBI’s 2019 National Incident-Based Reporting System. This report was published by the FBI on December 9, 2020. Since the report is released on a delay each year, data for 2020 likely won’t be available until September to December 2021.
We only considered cities and towns with populations of 10,000 or more that reported complete data to the FBI. Not all cities and towns reported to the FBI. The FBI also excluded some areas because it determined the data were either underreported or overreported. We did not consider data reported by law enforcement agencies of metropolitan counties, nonmetropolitan counties, universities and colleges, states, tribal areas, and those designated as “Other”.
For each city, we considered the number of violent crimes, other crimes to persons, and other crimes to property per 1,000 residents. We used a percentile rank formula to calculate the final score shown in the table above. The following crimes are included in each category as defined by the FBI:
- Violent crimes (5 times weight): Aggravated assault, murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, and robbery.
- Other crimes to persons (2 times weight): Simple assault, intimidation, negligent manslaughter, justifiable homicide, commercial sex acts, involuntary servitude, kidnapping/abduction, sodomy, sexual assault with an object, fondling, incest, and statutory rape.
- Other crimes to property (1 times weight): Arson, bribery, burglary/breaking & entering, counterfeiting/forgery, destruction/damage/vandalism of property, embezzlement, extortion/blackmail, false pretenses/swindle/confidence game, credit card/automated teller machine fraud, impersonation, welfare fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, hacking/computer invasion, pocket-picking, purse-snatching, shoplifting, them from building, theft from coin-operated machine or device, theft from a motor vehicle, theft of motor vehicle parts or accessories, all other larceny, and motor vehicle theft.
To rank states from safest to most dangerous, we summed up all of the above crimes in the included cities for each state. These numbers were normalized by the total population of the included cities for each state. The same weights and percentile rank formula were used to score states as were used for cities.