We all want to live in a safe home, a safe neighborhood, and a safe city. So what exactly makes all these areas safe? How do you define a “safe city”? Usually, a safe city is described as a crime-free or crime-less city. A low crime rate gives citizens relative peace of mind and a sense of security as they go about their daily lives.
But what if a natural disaster hits? A dangerous amount of violent crime might not cause as much damage to a city as a single natural disaster can. So we might as well include the possibility of a natural disaster to evaluate the relative safety of a city.
Say we have a city with almost no crime, and it’s least likely to suffer a natural disaster. Crime and natural disasters are not on the list of citizens’ problems. But suddenly, the city comes under financial crisis. Industry and trade are at a standstill, and citizens are hard-pressed to feed themselves and their families. Is the city’s safety from crime and natural disasters enough to make it a desirable place to live in, even if its finances are in shambles?
This introduction might seem a bit grim, but it should give you an appreciation of the extent of a safe city’s definition. There might be other variables as well, but this list of safest cities in America by is created with three core variables in mind: Home and community safety, natural disaster safety, and financial security. These three variables are based on a sum of 41 metrics.
10 Safest Cities in America
Based on how low a city ranks in natural disaster risk and financial safety risk and how high in home and community safety risk, the ten safest cities in America are:
- Columbia, Maryland
- Yonkers, New York
- Plano, Texas
- Gilbert, Arizona
- South Burlington, Vermont
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Bismarck, North Dakota
- Nashua, New Hampshire
- Chandler, Arizona
- Warwick, Rhode Island
1. Columbia, Maryland
Looking at home and community, Columbia is considered the 3rd safest city in the country. Looking at natural disasters, Columbia’s risk of earthquakes is much lower than the country’s average, and the risk of tornados is a little above average. There have been 43 tornado events above magnitude 2 in and around Colombia between 1950-2010. The total fatality count of these tornados is four. Overall, Columbia is ranked the 63rd safest city when it comes to natural disasters.
Columbia’s unemployment average is 0.5% below the country average. The median household income is almost double the country’s, and the poverty rate of 7.38% is lower than the national average. Among the 182 safest cities in the country, Columbia’s financial safety ranking is 77. Considering all this, Columbia is regarded as one of the safest cities in America.
2. Yonkers, New York
Runner up on this list is Yonkers. This 202,127-population city is the safest in the state and is ranked first in this list’s home and community safety category. The crime rate in the city is 49% lower than the country’s average. Yonkers is pretty safe regarding tornados, ranking 262 in the country’s tornado index. The probability of an earthquake is relatively higher than the national average. Yonkers is 39th among the safest cities in America regarding natural disasters.
The financial safety ranking of Yonkers is 116. The median household income in Yonkers is near the country’s median. The poverty rate of 16.4% is higher than the national average. The unemployment rate in the city is also higher than the national average of 3.6%, indicating a correlation between poverty and employment.
3. Plano, Texas
Third on our list is Plano, second in home and community safety, 44th in financial safety, and ranked 113 when it comes to natural risk disasters. It’s a prosperous community with a higher than national median household income and a lower poverty rate. The unemployment rate is also lower than the national average.
When it comes to natural disasters, Plano is very safe from earthquakes but gets hit by more tornados than the national average. Historically, there have been few fatalities because of tornadoes in the area. Violent crimes per 100,000 are less than half the national number. Property crimes (theft and burglary) exceed the country’s average per 100,000.
4. Gilbert, Arizona
Gilbert is 7th in terms of home and community security. It’s also one of the safest cities in America regarding natural disasters, ranking 14th in natural-disaster risk. The risk of tornados and earthquakes is much lower than anywhere else in the country.
The city is very safe for violent crimes, with only about 0.85 violent crimes per 1,000 people. This is way below the national median of 4 crimes per thousand people. Property crimes are also very low compared to the national and Arizona median.
Gilbert also has a small poverty rate of 5.87%. The median household income of Gilbert is also higher than in the country. The unemployment rate of 3.4% is also very low compared to the state of Arizona. All these good numbers earned the city’s financial risk rank of 66.
5. South Burlington, Vermont
The tiny city of South Burlington is home to only 19,141 people. It’s also the home of Ben & Jerry’s headquarters. This small city is safe against tornados and other natural disasters and one of the safest cities in America against financial setbacks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Burlington has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. The poverty rate is also very low, at 5.73%. It earns this little city the 3rd rank in the financial safety category, despite the city’s median household income being just above the national median.
Regarding home and community safety, South Burlington is the least safe city on this list. However, the violent crime rate is low at 1.99 per thousand, which is still higher than the state’s median. The property crime rate of 26.64 per thousand is even higher than the national median of 24. These statistics are odd for such a small and financially stable city.
6. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach is one of the 50 most populous cities in the country and the most populated one on this list, with a population of 454,856 people. It’s the most popular city in the state and a major tourist attraction with its beaches and resorts. Despite being on the shore, Virginia beach is relatively safe from natural disasters, with a rank of 44.
The city is also safe in terms of crime. The median violent crime and property crime are lower than the national median though the property crimes per thousand people are higher than in the state of Virginia.
The poverty rate of 8% is high but not as high as the national poverty rate. But the unemployment rate of 4% is a bit higher. The city pulls ahead in terms of median household income.
7. Bismarck, North Dakota
North Dakota’s capital, Bismarck, is a relatively small city, with a population of only 73,112 (with the overall metro area population being 128,673). It’s the safest city when it comes to volcanoes and one of the safest against earthquakes. The probability of tornados is higher than the state’s but not the country’s.
Bismarck’s home-and-community safety rank is 26. The city has 3.51 violent crimes per 1000 people, which is higher than the state’s median of 2.81. And there are more property crimes per 1000 people than in either state or country.
The unemployment rate of Bismarck at 2.6% is reasonable, but the poverty rate is high at 9.29%. A median household income of $66,467 is also higher than the national average. But the city ranks high in the financial safety category, 9th place.
8. Nashua, New Hampshire
With a population of 89,246, Nashua is the second-largest city in the state after Manchester. It’s ranked 16 in home-and-community safety. The city’s violent crime rate (1.7) and property crime rate (13.47) are very low compared to the national median. For natural disasters, Nashua has a higher probability of tornadoes and a lesser probability of earthquakes than the rest of the state.
The financial safety stats of Nashua aren’t very flattering. The poverty rate is very high, at 10.8%. The city once saw a massive textile industry, which is now part of the Boston region. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of 2.5 is much better than the national rate of 3.5. The city ranks 45th in financial safety.
9. Chandler, Arizona
Chandler is the fourth most populated city in Arizona, with a population of 257,165. It’s technically a suburb of Phoenix. It’s very safe for natural disasters, ranking 8th in the natural disaster risk category. But its financial safety is a different matter.
The unemployment rate is high at 3.6%, and the poverty rate is 9.12%. Although the median household income of $77,278 is very high compared to the national average, the cost of living in Chandler is also relatively higher.
The home and community safety rank of Chandler is quite decent at 17. Though the violent crime rate of 2.55 and property crime rate of 22.9 is high compared to other cities on this list, they are low compared to the state of Arizona.
10. Warwick, Rhode Island
Closing the list is the city of Warwick, the second-largest city in Rhode Island. The population of the city is 80,847. Rhode Island is a safe state when it comes to crimes. Warwick’s stats are in keeping with the state’s good safety numbers. The violent crime rate of 1.26 is very low, and the property crime rate of 17.61 is still on the smaller side.
The city’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, but the poverty rate is relatively low, at 6.7%. The median household income has grown in the past few years and is now $71,191.
Warwick’s natural disaster risk rank is 22. The city is well sheltered from tornadoes, but the probability of earthquakes is higher than in the state.
Some FAQs About Safe Cities
What is the safest US city?
A: As per our analysis, Columbia, Maryland, is the safest city in the US.
What is the safest city in America in 2019?
A: For the year 2021, many studies found Columbia, Maryland, the safest city in America. Though some sources also lean towards Alexandria, Virginia, and Virginia Beach, Virginia, as the safest cities this year.
What US city has the lowest crime rate?
A: According to a source, the small city of the lake in the hills, Illinois, has the lowest overall crime rate in the country.
Human beings are creatures of habit. Once we get used to a particular lifestyle, it’s tough to make any drastic changes in our lives. Especially when it comes to where we live, we find it hard to change our home, area, or city. But it’s a part of life. People relocate for work, family, and other reasons.
So it’s a good idea to know about the safest cities in the country. Safety isn’t usually the first item on many people’s list of relocation, but it should be an important factor in making your choice. A city’s relative safety and security have a lot of impact on its citizens. Even if you don’t become an unfortunate victim of a crime, you will still have a hard time feeling comfortable if the city’s crime rate suddenly rises.
Similarly, every year, a relatively small percentage of the country’s population falls victim to the horrors of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. The stories of victims and footage of the disasters are enough to shake us all.
Just as bad are the financial dangers; if trade and industry are dropped in a city, the population feels its short-term and long-term impacts. People are evicted from their homes because they can’t pay their mortgages; the crime rate starts to rise. The safety and lifestyle of the city start to plummet.
Considering all these risks and dangers, it’s smart to seek safe cities to live in. But relocating is not always an option.
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