The 50 Safest Cities to Raise a Child in 2020

Finding a healthy home for your family involves more than financing and schools. It’s also about feeling safe. While no living situation is worry-free, some places rank four to ten times lower than the most dangerous cities for things like property crime, violent crime, or sex offenders.

To better help current and prospective parents make decisions about where they live, we created a list of the safest cities to raise a child. We discovered that population plays a role—a lower population typically indicates a lower crime rate.

For the purposes of this report, the terms “safest” and “dangerous” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.

Safest Cities to Raise a Child 2020 map

Here are the ten safest cities in the US for families in 2020:

  1. Naperville, Illinois
  2. Johns Creek, Georgia
  3. Newton, Massachusetts
  4. Carmel, Indiana
  5. Cary, North Carolina
  6. Arlington Heights, Illinois
  7. Flower Mound, Texas
  8. Fishers, Indiana
  9. San Ramon, California
  10. Plymouth, Minnesota

See the full list of America’s 50 safest cities for families.



Why look at cities for family safety?

Our Safest Cities in America series covers many bases, but we thought it would help to focus on the crimes that impact families. The safest cities on our list rank low for property crimes, violent crimes, and the number of sex offenders.

As we consider these factors, we also realize that 2020 brought the new challenge of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus as a concern for families

Parenting during a pandemic brings new challenges and decisions to keep your family safe. As of October 22, 2020, there are over 8.3 million cases of the novel coronavirus in the US, and we’re facing upwards of 221,000 deaths and rising.1 

We know that people under the age of 21 are far less likely to die from COVID-19, but difficulties with sickness or long-term effects are still possible.2 Kids can still transmit the coronavirus at significant rates too.3

We saw a link between higher populations and higher crime rates, but population density isn’t the sole factor for higher coronavirus infection rates.4 Experts are still detailing other socioeconomic and cultural factors that contribute to spreading, but living in a bigger city doesn’t always mean more coronavirus exposure.

A closer look at crime in America’s safest family cities

If your family is looking for a new place to call home, we’ve done the safety research for you. Crime statistics won’t tell you everything, but they’re a good indicator of how safe or dangerous a neighborhood is—knowing what you’re getting into before moving can save you a lot of trouble.

The top 50 safest cities for families see far less criminal activity than the national average. The top 50 cities had far lower populations and significantly reduced violent crime, property crime, and sex offender rates.

AveragesPopulationSex offenders per 1,000Violent crime per 1,000Property crime per 1,000
Top 50 safest cities116,7980.511.1311.46
50 most dangerous cities321,348 4.4211.4449.30
All analyzed cities238,308 1.934.6728.15

And just because these populations are smaller doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get a taste of big city living either—many of these cities are close enough to urban centers to commute.

Choosing to live in a safe city lowers your risk significantly. Compared to the safest cities, the most dangerous cities saw these stats (per 1,000 people):

  • Nearly nine times more sex offenders
  • Ten times more violent crime rates
  • Over four times as many property crimes
Safest cities for families: 2020 violent crime infographic

In 2019, the FBI reported 1,203,808 violent crimes nationally.5 The national violent crime rate is 3.7 per 1,000 people—nearly three times higher than the safest cities for families (1.13 per 1,000). 

  • Cary, North Carolina, has a violent crime rate of 0 per 1,000. 
  • 21 cities had a violent crime rate of less than 1 per 1,000. 
  • Somerville, Massachusetts had the highest rate (2.15 per 1,000) out of any of our safest cities but still falls below the national average of 3.7 per 1,000.

Violent crime rates are decreasing year over year, but there’s always more to consider when it comes to keeping your family safe.

Safest cities for families: Property crime

Safest cities for families: Property crime infographic

The safest cities for families have a property crime rate of 11.46 per 1,000 people—roughly half the national average of 22 per 1,000 people. And these cities are far safer than the most dangerous cities, which have a property crime rate of 49.30 per 1,000.

  • Naperville, Illinois, had a crime rate of 0 per 1,000, which is quite exceptional. 
  • The next lowest property crime rate was 6.23 per 1,000 in Johns Creek, Georgia.
  • The average property crime rate for the top 10 safest cities was 7.77 per 1,000.

Property crimes have decreased nationally by nearly 23% from 2009 to 2018,6 but in our State of Safety survey, most people (67%) think crime is on the rise.

Safest cities for families: Sex offenders

Safest cities for families: Sex offenders infographic

The top 50 safest cities for families average far fewer sex offenders than the national rate of 1.93 per 1,000. But for some cities, their sex offender rate is virtually non-existent.

The following cities had less than 0.10 sex offenders per 1,000 people: 

  • Mount Pleasant, SC (0.02)
  • Johns Creek, GA (0.02)
  • Newton, MA (0.04)
  • Plymouth, MN (0.05) 
  • Santa Clarita, CA (0.07)

Hampton, Virginia was the only top 50 city that had a higher rate of sex offenders (3.47 per 1,000) than the national average (1.3 per 1,000).

Key Findings about America’s Safest Cities to Raise a Child

Statistically speaking, smaller cities are safer than bigger cities. The average population of the safest cities is three times less than the most dangerous cities.

Population

  • The average population of the top 50 safest cities is 116,798.
  • The average population of the 50 most dangerous cities is 321,348.
  • The average population of all cities analyzed is 238,308. 

Even the safest small towns still have crime, but knowing where a city ranks for crime is an easy step you can take to feel secure in your home.

States, regions, and cities that stand out

  • California and Texas: The two states with the most cities on our top 50 list are California (13 cities) and Texas (9 cities). Last year, California had 14 cities on the safest cities list. Texas had seven.
  • Eastern US: Aside from those two states, most of the top 50 cities are spread throughout the eastern half of the U.S.
  • Los Angeles: Eight different cities surrounding Los Angeles made the list, meaning parents who love the city life can still visit downtown without facing higher crime rates at home.
  • New York: For folks looking to live near New York City without paying the in-city prices or dealing with higher crime rates, Clifton, NJ, and New Rochelle, NY, made the top 50 lists.
  • Texas: The Lone Star State has plenty of safe options for those who want to live near bigger cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston.
  • North Carolina: North Carolina had 10 cities with a 0 per 1,000 violent crime rate. Cary, NC, was the only city that ranked in the top 50 for all three categories. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC was the only city to have a 0 per 1,000 rate for sex offenders.

The safest towns vs. the most dangerous towns

  • Compared to the safest cities for families, violent crime is over ten times more prevalent in America’s most dangerous cities.
  • Detroit, Michigan had the highest crime rate per 1,000 (20.08), followed by Memphis, Tennessee (3.54), and Birmingham, Alabama (2.94). 
  • The average violent crime rate for the safest cities was 1.13 per 1000.
  • Property crime is ten times less in America’s safest cities for families compared to the most dangerous cities.
  • Two cities had a 0 per 1,000 property crime rate: Naperville, Illinois, and Hampton, Virginia.
  • The most dangerous cities had as many as 4.42 sex offenders per 1,000 people, whereas the average rate for the safest cities was 0.51 per 1,000 people.

The Top 10 Safest Cities to Raise Children

1.
Naperville, Illinois
(
8
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  • Circle Population
    Population
    148,457
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.20
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.69
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.00

Image source: Facebook @NapervilleIL

johns creek, georgia
2.
Johns Creek, Georgia
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1
Up
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    85,446
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.02
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.40
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    6.23

Image source: Facebook @JohnsCreekGAgov

newton, massachusetts
3.
Newton, Massachusetts
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  • Circle Population
    Population
    89,505
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.04
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.65
  • Circle Population
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    7.03

Image source: Facebook @CityofNewtonMA

4.
Carmel, Indiana
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4
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  • Circle Population
    Population
    94,128
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.16
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.46
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    7.61

Image source: Facebook @CityofCarmel

Cary, North Carolina
5.
Cary, North Carolina
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New
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    170,518
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.19
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.00
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    9.77

Image source: Wikipedia

Arlington Heights, Illinois
6.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
(
New
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    75,688
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.37
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.37
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    8.30

Image source: Wikipedia

flower mound, texas
7.
Flower Mound, Texas
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2
Down
)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    78,542
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.20
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.57
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    8.44

Image source:Facebook @FlowerMound

fishers, indiana
8.
Fishers, Indiana
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4
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  • Circle Population
    Population
    94,035
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.32
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.49
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    8.67

Image source: Facebook @fishers.indiana

san ramon, california
9.
San Ramon, California
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2
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)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    76,569
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.14
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.56
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    10.27

Image source:Facebook @citysanramon

plymouth, mn
10.
Plymouth, Minnesota
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4
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)
  • Circle Population
    Population
    79,559
  • Circle Population
    Sex Offender Rate (per 10,000)
    0.05
  • Circle Gun
    Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    0.55
  • Circle Property
    Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)
    11.36

Image source: Facebook @plymouthmn

The rest of the 50 Safest Cities to Raise Children

RankCity Population Sex offenders per 1,000Violent crime per 1,000Property crime per 1,000
11Farmington Hills, MI81,239 0.730.858.38
12New Rochelle, NY 80,3400.451.228.29
13Irvine, CA288,0520.130.5612.7
14Bolingbrook, IL 75,4510.611.487.85
15Mission Viejo, CA 96,4190.431.179.72
16Thousand Oaks, CA 129,3190.280.9711.44
17Santa Clarita, CA 216,5890.071.3511.25
18Murrieta, CA 114,7060.460.8012.31
19Lake Forest, CA 85,3020.321.868.92
20Port St. Lucie, FL 193,1370.931.139.58
21Gilbert, AZ 247,4630.191.1313.23
22Frisco, TX 187,8890.190.8713.64
23McKinney, TX 189,5550.501.5210.45
24Chino Hills, CA 81,1770.340.9513.29
25Troy, MI 84,2210.580.6213.74
26Allen, TX 103,1680.501.0812.38
27Cedar Park, TX 79,0870.421.2312.21
28Franklin, TN 80,8250.471.4712.15
29Mount Pleasant, SC 89,7330.021.5413.61
30Sterling Heights, MI 133,0550.841.810.03
31Glendale, CA 204,724 0.270.9915.19
32San Marcos, CA 98,088 0.432.0610.73
33Missouri City, TX 75,6281.261.3510.78
34Pearland, TX 124,179 0.620.9514.83
35Parma, OH 78,968 1.181.5710.71
36Hampton, VA 133,9653.472.360.00
37Simi Valley, CA 127,2220.851.6811.72
38Somerville, MA 82,1610.152.1512.41
39Clifton, NJ 85,7320.341.1315.79
40Folsom, CA 78,916 0.411.0815.78
41Coral Springs, FL 134,640 0.181.5515.05
42Surprise, AZ 136,6110.461.2115.39
43League City, TX 108,2750.331.0116.75
44Roswell, GA 95,6770.341.3215.68
45Cape Coral, FL 187,8690.771.4214.38
46Sugar Land, TX 89,919 0.540.9117.09
47Pleasanton, CA 84,9920.251.2917.00
48Edmond, OK 93,5570.861.3615.22
49Meridian, ID 103,7741.541.5912.14
50Danbury, CT 85,8181.181.5513.55

America’s 10 Most Dangerous Cities to Raise a Child

No place is ever crime-free, but out of the 448 cities we reviewed, these cities had the highest crime rates for violent crime, property crime, and sex offenders.

Rank
City
Population
Violent crime per 1,000
Property crime per 1,000
Sex offenders per 1,000
1Richmond, VA229,9275.1838.329.24
2Saint Louis, MO306,87518.0059.128.57
3Memphis, TN652,22619.4364.063.54
4Birmingham, AL210,56419.1263.142.94
5Springfield, MO168,53713.1670.194.90
6Detroit, MI671,27520.0843.055.22
7Kalamazoo, MI76,02013.2613.269.43
8Flint, MI95,67718.1827.019.82
9Little Rock, AR199,28814.4665.482.16
10Baltimore, MD605,43618.3344.952.59

Geography and population

  • The 50 most dangerous cities to raise a child are heavily concentrated in the Southeast and Great Lakes regions. 
  • These cities had a median population of 216,837 and an average population of 321,348. 
  • Both Kalamazoo, MI (#7) and Flint, Michigan (#8) had relatively lower populations but still faced higher crime rates, particularly for sex offenders.

Violent crime

  • Detroit, Michigan, had the highest violent crime rate of 20.08 per 1,000, followed by Memphis, Tennessee (19.43), and Birmingham, Alabama (19.12).
  • Richmond, Virginia, had the lowest violent crime rate out of the most dangerous cities at 5.18 per 1,000.

Property crime 

  • Miami Beach, Florida had the highest property crime rate at 74.76 per 1,000 people.
  • The average property crime rate for the top 10 most dangerous cities was 52.56 per 1,000.  

Sex offenders

  • By far, Richmond, Virginia, had the highest number of sex offenders on the list at 29.24 for every 1,000 people. 
  • The next highest sex offender rates were Flint, Michigan, (9.82), and Kalamazoo, Michigan (9.43).

Although these cities have intimidating crime rates and moving isn’t always an option, you can always find ways to proactively increase your personal security and engage your community to build a safer neighborhood.

 

Cities that made last year’s Top 50 Safest Cities to Raise a Child

As cities either see a reduction or increase in crime rates, they’ll jump around a bit on the charts. Compared to last year’s list, 11 cities improved their rank, while 22 cities dropped in position.

2020 rankCity 2019 rankYear-over-year change
1New Rochelle, NY 98
2Bolingbrook, IL 31
3Cedar Park, TX 2-1
4Sterling Heights, MI 1-3
7San Marcos, CA 5-2
8Missouri City, TX 4-4
9Pearland, TX 7-2
10Parma, OH 6-4
11Farmington Hills, MI2211
13Irvine, CA10-3
15Mission Viejo, CA 11-4
16Thousand Oaks, CA 171
17Santa Clarita, CA 258
18Murrieta, CA 202
19Lake Forest, CA 13-6
20Port St. Lucie, FL 4121
21Gilbert, AZ 12-9
22Frisco, TX 14-8
23McKinney, TX 296
24Chino Hills, CA 273
25Troy, MI 19-6
26Allen, TX 16-10
28Franklin, TN 324
29Mount Pleasant, SC 15-14
31Glendale, CA 5019
38Somerville, MA 34-4
40Folsom, CA 24-16
42Surprise, AZ 35-7
43League City, TX 18-25
44Roswell, GA 33-11
45Cape Coral, FL 45
46Sugar Land, TX 21-25
47Pleasanton, CA 30-17
48Edmond, OK 31-17

More changes to the safest cities for families list this year

  • 32% (16) of the safest cities for families made the list for the first time this year.
  • Port St. Lucie (+21) and Glendale (+19) saw the most significant increases in rank from last year.
  • League City (-25) and Sugar Land (-25) saw the most significant drops but still made the list.
  • Cape Coral, Florida, remained ranked 45th safest city in the US for families.

Our other Safest Cities reports

How we picked the safest cities for families

We compiled the list of the safest and most dangerous cities to raise a child by analyzing the FBI’s 2018 violent and property crime report statistics (the most recent data available at the time of our analysis). 

Cities were ranked according to the rate of reported violent crimes (including aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). By considering crime data alongside the number of currently registered (during the week of Sept. 28) sex offenders per capita, we calculated our final safety score.

Violent crime and property crime were each weighted as 30% of a city’s score. Sex offenders per capita made up 40% of the score. Scores were then standardized to calculate our rankings for the safest cities to raise a child. This year, unlike the 2019 report, we did not account for graduation rates in our ranking or data analysis.

Cities were excluded from this list if they fell below the population threshold of 75,000 or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI. To level the playing field, violent and property crime rates were calculated per 1,000 people in each city.

How to make a safe home anywhere

Wherever you live, feeling safe in your home can bring greater peace of mind and happiness. Whether your city made our list or not, we recommend adding extra security to your home with monitored security services provided by the nation’s leading home security providers.

To learn more about the home security options available to you, check out SafeWise’s picks for the best home security systems.

Child Safety Resources on SafeWise


Sources

  1. CDC, “United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State,” Accessed October 21, 2020.
  2. CDC, “SARS-CoV-2–Associated Deaths Among Persons Aged <21 Years — United States, February 12–July 31, 2020,” September 18, 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  3. Andy Larsen, Salt Lake Tribune, “What We Know about Utah’s School Outbreaks and How Kids Can Transmit the Coronavirus,” September 16, 2020. Accessed October 21, 2020.
  4. Jeremy Hsu, Scientific American, “Population Density Does Not Doom Cities to Pandemic Dangers,” September 16, 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  5. FBI, “Violent Crime,” Accessed October 22, 2020.
  6. FBI, “Property Crime,” Accessed October 21, 2020.
Trevor Wheelwright
Written by
Trevor Wheelwright
Trevor's written professionally for five years for editorial publications and retail/e-commerce sites. He lives in Salt Lake City and enjoys photography and making music in his spare time, or you can catch him on your local dance floor bustin' a move.
  • peachy029

    This article is a joke! I can tell you Port Saint Lucie aka Port St. Lousy is a horrible place to raise kids! Kids getting hit my car because there are hardly any sidewalks. The school system is in the news a lot for some type of abuse on children! Need to re-evaluate your list again!!!

  • Leland Fried

    Why was my post deleted???

  • Shawn @ WebShowing

    Will you update for 2021 and beyond? I would think most large metros are going to become quite unstable.

    • Rebecca Edwards

      Shawn,

      Thanks so much for your question. We will be updating this post as well as our safest and most dangerous metros. Updates will start coming out in June and will continue into September. In the meantime, we’ve been keeping an eye on crime trends during the pandemic. If you want to see some of the things we’ve discovered, check it out https://www.safewise.com/blog/covid-19-crimes/ (we update it once a week and have supportive content on our YouTube channel as well). Thanks again and stay posted – the updates are coming!