So many things are out of your control when you send your kid off to college, but one thing you can do is make sure they’re heading to a college town with a good safety record. Our latest roundup of the safest college towns in America represents 28 states and more than 50 colleges and universities.
To deem a college town “safe,” we zeroed in on violent crimes per 1,000 people for each city.¹ Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. We also looked at property crimes (burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson), but those numbers didn’t impact our final determination unless there was a tie on the violent crime rate—so don’t stress if you see a safe city with higher property crime rates ranking better than one with lower property crime rates.
Here’s a closer look at some of our findings:
29 of the safest college towns made the list for the second year in a row—that’s 58% of the list.
21 of the safest college towns are on the list for the first time—that’s 42% of the list that’s brand new this year.
Ohio has the most safe college towns with five; California is next with four.
Half of the cities had fewer than one violent crime incident per 1,000 people.
19 of the towns had 25 or fewer violent crimes reported in 2017, but none had zero.
Deerfield, Illinois—the second-safest city—had the smallest number of violent crimes with five.
There were 35 total murders reported among the safest college towns, but 68% of the cities reported zero murders in 2017.
Virginia Beach reported the most murders with 14, but it’s also the biggest city on the list with nearly half a million people.
Just over half of the cities (27) are above the national median income of $57,652.
23 of the cities are below the national median income.
The Top 30 Safest College Cities
Princeton, New Jersey
Average Monthly Rent$1,890
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.22
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)7.19
Image source: Facebook @Princeton University
Princeton jumped five places to claim the top spot on this year’s ranking. The city reported a total of 236 crimes in the FBI’s most recent crime statistics—that’s 12 fewer than the previous year. It seems the city’s commitment to crime prevention and awareness is having an impact.
The Princeton police department keeps residents informed about criminal activity with an interactive community crime map. The map shows the type of incident (residential burglary, assault, etc.) and where it happened. Both citizens and law enforcement can submit information for inclusion on the crime map.
Although the city of Princeton is making positive strides to reduce crime, the Princeton University campus saw a slight uptick. Princeton University recorded five more violent crimes on campus than the prior year—increasing from 23 to 28 total, with the majority being sexually-related crimes.
Average Monthly Rent $1,439
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.26
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)6.80
Image source: Facebook @Trinity International University
Deerfield remains the second-safest college town in the country. The city’s violent crime rate stayed the same year over year, but its property crime rate increased a small amount, from 6.41 last year. Overall, the city reported a total of 135 violent and property crimes, with the majority of those (75%) categorized as larceny-theft. Trinity International College reported a total of three criminal offenses on campus in 2017, down from 14 in 2016.
Those who call Deerfield home probably worry about Mother Nature more than crime. The village is in a flood plain and has seen its share of flooding in recent years. On our state of safety survey, 51% of respondents in Illinois expressed high concern about flooding. Deerfield helps keep the costs of flooding damage low for its residents as a FEMA CRS (Community Rating System) accredited community. That means flood insurance is available at lower premiums for Deerfield homeowners.
Average Monthly Rent$728
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.38
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)6.13
Image source: Facebook @BYU-Idaho
This is the third year in a row that Rexburg claimed the number three spot in our rankings—despite a miniscule uptick in violent crime (from 0.32 to 0.38). On the BYU–Idaho campus, there were 16 violent crimes reported in 2017. That’s an impressive number for a school with upwards of 50,000 students.
Part of what helps Rexburg hold onto its safe college town status is collaborative programs like the pedestrian safety video series that local and campus police put together a few years ago. The initiative was spurred by pedestrian fatalities and was designed to promote awareness for the general Rexburg population as well as students on the BYU-Idaho campus.
Average Monthly Rent$1,868
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.41
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)4.45
Image source: Facebook @Wellesley College
Both property and violent crime rates decreased over the past year to help Wellesley move one spot closer to the safest college town in America. This city reported just 12 violent crimes in 2017, and Wellesley College saw only four violent crimes in 2017—a decrease from 11 in 2016.
A strong sense of civic engagement is part of what makes Wellesley such a safe place to call home. And that spirit is in evidence through citizens like the five Wellesley women who received their Girl Scout Gold Award at the Massachusetts Statehouse in July. The award is given to young women who create lasting, meaningful change in their community. Projects honored addressed issues like homelessness, childhood literacy, and the balance of mental health and academic success.
Average Monthly Rent $820
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.42
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)7.42
Image source: Facebook @Balwin Wallace University
Rounding out the top five safest college towns is newcomer Berea, home to Baldwin Wallace University. Baldwin Wallace was one of the first colleges in the nation to admit students regardless of color or race—five years before the Civil War.
That progressive mindset continues throughout the Berea community today, from citywide recycling programs to proactive training for a community emergency response team (CERT). There were only eight violent crimes reported in Berea in 2017, and 140 property crimes. For the same time period, there were only nine total crimes reported on the Baldwin Wallace campus, down from 10 in 2016.
University Park, Texas
Average Monthly Rent$1,765
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.44
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)12.45
Image source: Facebook @SMU
Home to Southern Methodist University, this Texas town limited violent crimes to just 11 incidents in 2017—besting the university’s record of 14 violent crimes that year. One of the programs that helps keep residents safe in University Park is the police department’s direct alarm monitoring service. This service lets police dispatch monitor your home security system alarm, which makes response times faster in the event of a break-in or other emergency.
Smithfield, Rhode Island
Average Monthly Rent $1,060
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.46
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)10.88
Image source: Facebook @Bryant University
Smithfield moved up two spots on this year’s list, with just 10 violent crimes reported in 2017, which is two fewer than the previous year. And violent crime on the Bryant University campus also decreased by two for a total of five violent crimes on campus in 2017. But it’s not just higher education that focuses on safety in Smithfield. The city received a $454,000 school safety grant in late 2018, which will allow for every school to undergo a safety audit to identify needed improvements.
Clemson, South Carolina
Average Monthly Rent$870
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.49
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)19.16
Image source: Facebook @Clemson University
Clemson University is the highest-ranked national university in South Carolina, and it also gets high marks for safety. Clemson University reported a dozen violent crimes on campus in 2017, but its hometown did even better. There were only eight violent crimes reported by the city of Clemson in the same timeframe. Community participation in events like the National Night Out help build relationships between public safety officers and residents, which helps increase awareness and overall safety.
Average Monthly Rent$940
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.53
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)7.46
Image source: Facebook @Virginia Tech
Blacksburg jumped 13 spots this year and cut its violent crime rate nearly in half. Property crime also dropped, with the rate decreasing by two incidents per 1,000 people this year. Ongoing cooperation between Blacksburg police and Virginia Tech police is a big factor in keeping this college town safe. The departments signed a memorandum of understanding that allows them to share jurisdiction and resources, including radio and security camera access.
Durham, New Hampshire
Average Monthly Rent $1,868
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.54
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)4.95
Image source: Facebook @University of New Hampshire
This New England college town reported fewer than 100 total crimes to the FBI in 2017. Durham had just nine violent crimes and 83 property crimes. But it’s not just the city that’s safe, the University of New Hampshire reported a total of 62 criminal offenses on campus in 2017. That’s an impressive number for a campus with more than 13,000 undergrads.
Average Monthly Rent $2,551
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.61
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)13.16
Image source: Facebook @University of California, Irvine
Irvine’s population jumped by about 10,000 people in the past year, but the city still maintained a stellar safety record. The city’s property crime rate decreased by nearly one incident per 1,000 residents, but the violent crime rate rose slightly from 0.57 to 0.61 incidents per 1,000 people. On the UC–Irvine campus, criminal offenses were cut in half from 2016 to 2017, with only 45 incidents reported for the campus of more than 35,000 students.
Average Monthly Rent$1,265
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.63
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)6.27
Image source: Facebook @University of Southern Maine
Property crime in Gorham dropped by more than five incidents per 1,000 people this year, helping this safe college town climb four spots on our list. Violent crime also decreased from a dozen incidents last year to 11 reported in 2017. Criminal offenses on the University of Southern Maine campus followed suit with just 11 total incidents reported on campus in the most recent crime report.
Bristol, Rhode Island
Average Monthly Rent $1,060
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.67
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)4.36
Image source: Facebook @Roger Williams University
Bristol improved across the board this year, with a drop in both violent and property crime rates. The city saw just 15 violent crimes in 2017 and 97 property crimes were reported. Roger Williams University did even better with a dozen total criminal offenses reported on campus, which is down two from 2016. Volunteer programs like the university’s Community Partnership Center help foster safety and civic responsibility on both the campus and the surrounding area, including Bristol.
Upper Dublin Township, Pennsylvania
Average Monthly Rent $1,200
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.68
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)9.00
Image source: Facebook @Temple University Ambler
This Philadelphia suburb was in the top five last year, but it should still be proud of its standing as one of the country’s safest college towns. When it comes to crime rates, Upper Dublin saw small increases for both violent and property crime, but the city still kept violent crime incidents to under 20 counts in 2017. On the Temple University campus there were 54 total crime offenses recorded with 24 of those classified as violent.
Average Monthly Rent $836
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.68
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)15.22
Image source: Facebook @WSU Pullman
Home to what’s been considered one of the biggest party schools in the West, Pullman is shaking off that party reputation with its impressive safety record. Pullman reported 23 total violent crimes in 2017, and the Washington State University campus recorded just 16 violent crimes on campus. The university is also working to change its party school reputation and be recognized more as a top research college. One step is dropping the familiar “Wazzu” nickname that was associated with the school’s former party image.
Average Monthly Rent $863
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.70
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)20.35
Image source: Facebook @Utah Valley University
Orem saw a significant decrease in property crime this year, dropping by five incidents per 1,000 people. But violent crime rose slightly, which may be why this college city slipped one spot in this year’s ranking. At Utah Valley University there were just 14 total criminal offenses reported on campus, and there were no reports of aggravated assault or murder.
State College, Pennsylvania
Average Monthly Rent$1,075
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.76
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)10.59
Image source: Facebook @Borough of State College
Both property crime and violent crime rose in State College over the past year—property crime increased by two incidents per 1,000 people. And although the city reported four more violent crimes than last year (44 in 2017 compared to 40 in 2016), both violent and property crime rates remain significantly below national averages. On the Penn State campus, there were fewer violent crimes reported in 2017 than the year before.
Average Monthly Rent$1,868
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.76
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)11.23
Image source: Facebook @Wheelock College
Last year this college town claimed the top spot, but due to an increase in violent crime Brookline dropped 17 places. Violent crime incidents increased from 14 in 2016, to 45 in the most recent FBI crime report, but there were no counts of murder and only one count of rape. In addition to the usual public safety concerns, e-scooters hit Brookline’s streets in April, adding a new safety issue to the city’s streets. But as of mid-June, there was only one accident and one crash reported, although police reported more than 200 stops for scooter violations.
Glassboro, New Jersey
Average Monthly Rent $1,210
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.84
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)19.62
Image source: Facebook @Rowan University
Glassboro is home to Rowan University, one of the 10 best osteopathic medical schools in the country. It’s also home to an impressive safety record, with just 17 violent crimes reported in Glassboro in 2017. Rowan University reported 27 violent crimes on campus in 2017 on its most recent crime report. The university is committed to both the emotional and physical safety of its students, with a pet therapy program called Paws for a Break. The program helps ease anxiety, homesickness, and other challenges that Rowan’s students face.
Cortland, New York
Average Monthly Rent$1,050
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.85
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)17.03
Image source: Facebook @sunycortland
There were only 16 violent crimes reported in Cortland in 2017, and the city saw dips in both the property and violent crime rates over the past year. The SUNY–Cortland campus had 17 violent crimes in 2017, which was an increase from 2016. The biggest increase was in reports of rape and fondling on campus. Hopefully, the higher numbers are indicative of better awareness and a stronger feeling of safety around reporting sexual assaults, which could be a positive sign for the campus.
Average Monthly Rent$886
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.91
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)10.72
Image source: Facebook @Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Edwardsville jumped 16 spots this year and reduced its violent crime rate to fewer than one incident per 1,000 people. The city also reported a lower property crime rate this year, dropping to 10.72 (from 11.46) incidents per 1,000 people. Even better, the Southern Illinois University campus reported a total of 10 criminal offenses, which is nine fewer than 2016.
Average Monthly Rent$1,590
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.92
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)11.60
Image source: Facebook @North Central College
As one of the largest cities on our list, Naperville does a great job of keeping its residents and its student population safe. At North Central College, there were only 10 criminal offenses reported on campus in the most recent crime report. And even though violent crime rose slightly (from 0.62 to 0.92), this large city still kept the violent crime rate under one incident per 1,000 people.
Average Monthly Rent$801
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.92
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)13.76
Image source: Facebook @University of Wyoming
The violent crime rate in Laramie took a big drop this year, dipping below one incident per 1,000 people—that works out to a 21% reduction year over year (last year’s rate was 1.17). Overall, this western college town saw only 30 violent crime incidents in 2017. On campus at the University of Wyoming there was a slight uptick in reported crimes, with 28 total in 2017 compared to 22 the year before.
Average Monthly Rent $720
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.94
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)13.28
Image source: Facebook @Utah State University
Logan, home to Utah State University, makes its first appearance on our list of safe college towns. In 2017 this northern Utah city saw a total of 48 violent crimes, which keeps its violent crime rate below one incident per 1,000 residents. Utah State University reported 21 total criminal offenses in 2017, which is lower than 2016 numbers. Most encouraging was a decrease in reports of rape on campus—year over year the number was nearly cut in half, from 12 incidents to seven. The USU Title IX office works to provide resources, counseling, and victim advocacy for victims of sexual assault.
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Average Monthly Rent $1,350
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)0.99
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)11.27
Image source: Facebook @Barry University
At nearly 200,000 people, Port St. Lucie impresses with a violent crime rate that remains just under one incident per 1,000 people. The city’s police department offers a broad range of resources aimed at crime prevention, including home security inspections. Home security checks are free and evaluate security vulnerabilities (like outside lighting and landscaping) as well as provide recommendations for security systems. Nearby Barry University reflects the city’s commitment to safety with only three violent crime incidents reported on campus in 2017.
Average Monthly Rent $1,220
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)1.06
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)15.75
Image source: Facebook @Wesleyan University
Middletown is home to Wesleyan University and its sprawling 340-acre campus. Middletown is the first city on our list with a violent crime rate that exceeds one incident per 1,000 people—that represents a total of 49 violent crimes reported in this town of just over 43,000 people. On campus, Wesleyan reported a total of 23 criminal incidents in 2017—that’s 21 fewer incidents than the year before. Most significantly, the number of rape offenses was cut in half from 24 to 12.
West Hartford, Connecticut
Average Monthly Rent$1,343
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)1.07
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)29.60
Image source: Facebook @University of Hartford
This college city was number 13 on last year’s rankings, but increases in both violent and property crime bumped West Hartford further down the list. The city’s property crime rate is higher than the national average of 27.11, but its violent crime rate is still well below the national rate of 4.49. There were 69 violent crimes reported in 2017, but 61 were robberies and there were zero murders and just one rape. On campus, the University of Hartford reported 10 violent crimes in 2017—that’s three fewer than in 2016.
Average Monthly Rent $1,505
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)1.10
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)28.64
Image source: Facebook @Colorado School of Mines
The city of Golden doesn’t take a passive role when it comes to keeping its citizens safe. On the second Monday of every month, the city conducts the Golden Safety Academy. This class has a number of rotating topics ranging from how to evaluate the security of your home to active shooter responses and lifesaving techniques like CPR and first aid. The city’s efforts are paying off when it comes to violent crime—there were just 23 incidents reported in 2017. But the city’s property crime rate is slightly above the national average of 27.11. At the Colorado School of Mines, campus crime is minimal, with only 11 incidents reported on campus in 2017.
Average Monthly Rent$730
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)1.22
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)18.31
Image source: Facebook @Ashland University
Although Ashland had small increases in its property and violent crime rates, it still moved up in our rankings this year. The city saw only 25 violent crimes in 2017, and Ashland University reported just three violent offenses on campus the same year. With nearly 6,500 students enrolled, that small number of violent crimes on campus is extraordinary.
Average Monthly Rent$827
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000)1.26
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000)12.06
Image source: Facebook @Northwood University
Rounding out the top 30 safest college towns is Midland, home to Northwood University. While Midland’s safety record is impressive, Northwood’s is exceptional. The campus reported a mere four criminal offenses on campus in 2017, and there were zero in 2016. Northwood’s philosophy is that all students are responsible for their personal safety and that of their fellow students. One tool that helps keep students aware and safe is the NU Now emergency alert system that keeps everyone on campus notified of any dangerous situations.
Complete Rankings: 50 Safest College Towns
Upper Dublin Township
Port St. Lucie
*per 1,000 people
How We Ranked the Safest College Towns
To identify our top 50 safest college towns for 2019, we analyzed the most recent crime report statistics and population data from the FBI for each city that met our criteria. To be in the running, cities needed to exceed the median population of 15,000 residents and be home to an accredited college that offered four-year degrees. We excluded for-profit institutions, technical and vocational schools, community colleges, seminaries, field-specific institutions, schools that offer only two-year degrees, and those with fewer than 2,000 students enrolled annually.
We ranked cities based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) in each city. To level the playing field, we calculated the rate of crimes per 1,000 people in each city. The rate of property crime incidents (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 1,000 people was considered in the event of a tie in the violent crime rate. Cities that fell below the population threshold were excluded, along with cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI.
If you would like to contact a SafeWise Safest Cities Analyst, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Make a Safe Home Anywhere
No matter where your student pursues their next level of education, you can help keep them safe—whether it’s in the dorms or an apartment off campus. Whether your kid’s college town made our list or not, we recommend adding extra security with monitored security services provided by the nation’s leading home security providers.
Campus crime statistics found in the US Department of Education Campus Safety and Security database. To find a specific college, enter the college name or the city name in the Search field. Select the correct campus and proceed to View Data, Criminal Offenses.
Median income found on the US Census Bureau American Fact Finder. Enter the city name in the Search field to find income data for a specific city.
Average monthly rent data found on bestplaces.net. To find a specific city, enter the city name in the Search field. Average rent is based on a two-bedroom house or apartment.
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more