The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the seventh annual Safest Cities report.
Massachusetts’s 20 Safest Cities of 2021
Here are the 10 safest cities in Massachusetts for 2021
See if your city made the full list.
In our 2021 State of Safety survey, Massachusetts residents were equally as likely to have a high level of daily concern for their safety as most Americans (47%). This is a big jump over last year, when just 39% of Bay Staters had a high level of concern.
This is interesting because Massachusetts residents had fewer experiences with violent crime and gun violence compared to 2020. Still, all 20 of the safest cities in Massachusetts had lower crime rates than the state, region, and country at large.
2021 Massachusetts crime rates
Even with higher overall levels of concern, Massachusetts's crime rates continued to drop year over year. There was a slight decline in violent crime from 3.4 per 1,000 people to 3.3 while property crime dropped from 12.6 per 1,000 to 11.8.
In the New England region, Massachusetts had the highest violent crime rate at 3.3 compared to the next lowest, Rhode Island, which stands at 2.2. But it jumps to the opposite end of spectrum with the lowest property crime rate, just ahead of New Hampshire.
This year, Massachusetts continued to have lower violent crime and property crime rates compared to the rest of the country. Among all 50 states, Massachusetts had the lowest overall property crime rate of any state and ranked twenty-fourth-lowest in terms of violent crime rate.
Level of concern and experience with crime in Massachusetts
Even with an eight-point increase in daily concern in the past 12 months, Massachusetts residents didn't exceed the national average of 47%. While Massachusettsans reported a significant drop in experiences with violent crime and gun violence, the relative number of experiences with property crime stayed the same at 11%.
Crime concerns in Massachusetts
We asked Massachusetts residents which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if Massachusetts residents are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.
View the complete 2021 State of Safety report.
Violent crime in Massachusetts: Fear vs. reality
Massachusetts has a lower overall violent crime rate than most of the US, but it's more or less in the middle of the pack. Still, most residents report feeling safe in The Bay State and had fewer personal experiences with violent crime and gun violence in the last year.
- 65% of Massachusettsans report feeling safe in their state compared to 55% of Americans.
- Just 5% of survey respondents reported having personal experience with violent crime in the last year—3% lower than the previous year.
- Murder accounted for just 0.7% of violent crimes in The Bay State (US 1%) with only a single murder reported among the 20 safest cities overall.
- Rape makes up 9.8% of Massachusetts's violent crimes but clocks in at 14.9% in the safest cities.
- 19% of survey participants use some form of personal protection like pepper spray—well below the national average of 34%.
- 46% of Massachusetts residents say their personal safety has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 44% of Americans.
Attitudes about police and gun violence in Massachusetts
- 6 in 10 participants named gun violence as a top safety concern, which is higher than the US average of 53%.
- Only 1% of Massachusetts residents reported an experience with gun violence in the last 12 months, which is 3% lower than last year.
- There were 5 mass shootings in Massachusetts in 2019 and 8 in 2020.
- Bay Staters (45%) are slightly more likely than average Americans (40%) to worry about police violence on a daily basis.
- Participants reported average levels of confidence in law enforcement, matching the 56% national average.
- There were 22 officer-involved shootings in 2020, an increase from 18 in 2019.
Property crime in Massachusetts: Fear vs. reality
Massachusettsans currently enjoy the lowest property crime rate in the United States. The property crime rate saw a modest decrease, and residents reported a year-over-year drop in personal experience with property (from 13% to 11%).
- Massachusetts overtook New Hampshire this year as the state with the lowest property crime rate in the United States (11.8 per 1,000 people).
- Massachusetts is the only state with a property crime rate under 12 per 1,000 people.
- Burglaries account for 15% of all property crimes in the state (the 20 safest cities average 13%), similar to the national rate of 16%.
- 21% of participants reported experiencing package theft in the last 12 months, putting Massachusetts just above the US average of 20%.
- 42% of survey respondents use some form of property protection—lower than most Americans (62%).
- The top form of property protection among Massachusetts residents this year is a home security system with 24% using them (25% US).
- 27% of Bay Staters say the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the security of their property, compared to 29% nationally.
A closer look at the safest cities in Massachusetts
For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
- Franklin & Hopkinton traded spots to make Franklin number 1—keeping Hopkinton from a third consecutive year in the top spot.
- Most of the top 20 cities changed ranks this year, but Norton saw the biggest drop among repeat cities from last year—down 7 ranks.
- There are 4 new cities in the top 20 this year—Grafton, Duxbury, Sudbury, and Northborough.
- While Massachusetts has the highest violent crime rate in its region (3.3), its safest cities average just 0.5.
- Hopkinton was the only city with 0 reported violent crimes.
- Every city reported fewer than 25 violent crime incidents each, with 50% reporting in single-digits.
- As with last year, Norton had the fewest total number of property crime reports (13) and the lowest property crime rate (0.7).
- 75% of cities reported fewer than 100 total property crimes.
How we determined the safest cities
Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.
How to make a safe home anywhere
Didn't find your city in the top 20?
We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population. See how the remaining cities ranked in the list below.
NOTE: If you don’t see your city on the list, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2019.
VC per 1,000
PC per 1,000
Find the safest cities in each state
Click on the state image or dropdown menu below to check out the safest cities for each state.
Related articles on SafeWise
FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting Program, “2019 Crime in the United States,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
US Census Bureau, "Data Explorer," Accessed November 18, 2020.
Best Places, “Find a Place Search Tool,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
SafeWise, “2021 State of Safety survey,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “Past Summary Ledgers,” Accessed January 6, 2021.
Gun Violence Archive, “General Methodology,” Accessed March 15, 2021.
Melody Hicks, Ben Stickle, Joshua Harms, American Journal of Criminal Justice, “Assessing the Fear of Package Theft,” January 04, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2021.
For definitions and more on data sources, see our methodology page.