We all want a safe place to call home, but how can you tell if your city or neighborhood is a safe one?
For years, we’ve been trying to answer that question—and today the answers seem more elusive than ever. In our quest to provide the most useful and timely information in our reports, we’ve changed things up this year.
Read on for a deeper dive into the metro areas that report the lowest numbers of crime incidents—including demographic information and other community insights.
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.
Here are the 10 safest metro areas in America for 2020
Portland-South Portland, Maine
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York
Naples-Marco Island, Florida
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pennsylvania-New Jersey
Find out the statistics for every metro area that made our list.
To start with the most level playing field, we used FBI crime statistics to determine the rankings for the “safest” metro areas in the country. This data isn’t perfect—it’s self-reported by law enforcement agencies each year—but it’s the most comprehensive crime data available.
We looked at both violent and property crime, and we calculated the rate of each per 1,000 people. That’s where the ranking list comes from—if a metro area reported the lowest collective violent and property crime rates per 1,000 residents, it landed at the top of the list. Those with higher crime rates fell to the bottom.
Crime statistics don’t tell us everything about whether or not a community is “safe” or “dangerous.”To help deliver a broader picture of each metro area that ranked in the top 10, we researched a number of additional factors.
Median income and poverty data¹
High school graduation rates¹
Household access to high-speed internet³
City budget allocations⁴
We selected these data points because we’ve observed that socioeconomic factors often correlate to reported crime rates. To see how accurate that observation is, we dug into metrics that reflect the general socioeconomic climate of each metro area we ranked—things like income data, city budget allocations, and access to resources like internet service.
This additional data wasn’t used for ranking purposes. Rather, it provides more holistic insight into each metro area.
And while it doesn’t tell us everything about these communities, it gives us a place to start comparing and contrasting trends in cities that consistently report low or high crime numbers.
Median income: 80% of the safest metros report a median household income above the national average of $61,937. In fact, the average median income among the safest metro cities is 108% higher than the national average, landing at $66,895 annually.
Poverty line: 90% of the safest metro areas are below the national average (13.1%) for people who live beneath the poverty line.
An outlier: The Poughkeepsie-Newburg-Middletown, New York metro area is the only one among the top 10 that is both below the national average for median income and above the national average for households that live below the poverty line.
Redlining: About half the metro areas on our list have a known history of redlining—an action that directly impacts the economic growth and development of people who live in what are deemed “bad neighborhoods.” That’s on par with how prevalent the practice is in the metro areas that landed at the bottom of our list.
Internet access: Only one city—Green Bay, Wisconsin—has less internet access than the national average. Nationwide, 69.6% of households have high speed internet access, compared to 67.3% in Green Bay.
Graduation rates: 40% of the safest metro cities produce fewer high school graduates than the national average of 88.3%. Among the most dangerous metros, that number jumps to 60%.
Free and reduced lunch:⁶ 90% of the safest metros report a higher number of economically disadvantaged students than the national average—that’s identical to the most dangerous cities.
City budgets: On average, the safest metro cities allocate about 31% of city budgets to public safety and police, compared to just 23% among the most dangerous cities. The safest cities dedicate around 9% to community services—that’s 300% higher than the average among the most dangerous cities. Those metros allocate about 3% to community services.
Violent crime rates: All of the safest metro areas reported crime rates that are below the national averages for both property and violent crime. On average, the safest metros saw around 2 violent crime incidents per 1,000 residents, versus 3.7 nationwide.
Property crime rates: Every safest metro city had fewer property crimes per 1,000 people than the national average of 22.0. On average, the metros that made our list reported 12.6 property crimes per 1,000—that’s about 43% below the rest of the country.
The 10 safest metro areas in America
We’ve compiled the data we discovered in our research into three tables below. For easy comparison among the cities, we grouped together similar factors such as crime rates, economic information, and access to resources.
Every safest metro area on our list is new to our rankings this year. This is due to the addition of property crime as a weighted factor and the focus on metro areas instead of single metro cities.
Note: In most cases, data represented is for the most populous city within the metro area. We selected the largest city within the area as a representative sample of the entire metro area and refer to these as “anchor” cities.
1. Median income, poverty line, and high school graduation statistics
Provo City Corporation, “Provo City Adopted Budget FY 2021,” Retrieved from General Fund Summary, page 32, line items “Police” and “Comm & Neighborhood Srvcs” for FY2021. Accessed July 7, 2020.
City of Lancaster, “Adopted 2019 Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Expenditure Summary, pages 2–3, line items “Public Safety” and “Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization for 2019 budget. Accessed July 7, 2020.
City of Green Bay, “2020 City of Green Bay Budget,” Retrieved from City of Green Bay Expenditures by Department, page 2, line items “Police Department” and “Community & ED Dept.” Accessed July 7, 2020.
City of Poughkeepsie, “City of Poughkeepsie Adopted Budget with Schedule A Changes,” Retrieved from Expense Budget Worksheet Report, page 112, 2020 Mayor’s Preliminary, line item “Police Totals” and Expense Budget Worksheet Report on page 146, 2020 Mayor’s Preliminary, “Development Services Totals.” Accessed July 7, 2020.
City of Naples, “Adopted Budget Fiscal Year 2019–2020,” Retrieved from General Fund Financial Summary, page 21, line items “Police Department” and “Community Services.” Accessed July 7, 2020.
City of Harrisburg, “2020 Approved Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Expenditure Analysis Summary graphic, page 29, line item “Public Safety” and Bureau of Neighborhood Services, page 142. Accessed July 7, 2020.
City of Reading, “2019 Department Budget Summaries,” Retrieved from Police Department Share of 2019 General Fund Budget graphic and Department of Community Development Share of 2019 General Fund Budget graphic.
City of Albuquerque, “Fiscal Year 2020 Approved Budget,” Retrieved from FY/20 Approved Budget graph on second page, line items “Public Safety” and “Community and Cultural Engagement.” Accessed July 8, 2020.
City of Memphis, “FY2020 Adopted Operating Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Expenditures, FY2020 Adopted Budget Expenditures graph, page 114, line items “Police” and “Housing & Community Development.” Accessed July 8, 2020.
Pennsylvania Department of Education, “Public Schools Percent of Low-Income Reports,” Retrieved from 2018–2019 Public Schools Percent Low Income, 1819 LIP by LEA, Lancaster SD Percentage of Low Income Families. Accessed on July 7, 2020.
Pennsylvania Department of Education, “Public Schools Percent of Low-Income Reports,” Retrieved from 2018–2019 Public Schools Percent Low Income, 1819 LIP by LEA, Allentown City SD Percentage of Low Income Families. Accessed on July 7, 2020.
Pennsylvania Department of Education, “Public Schools Percent of Low-Income Reports,” Retrieved from 2018–2019 Public Schools Percent Low Income, 1819 LIP by LEA, Harrisburg City SD Percentage of Low Income Families. Accessed on July 7, 2020.
Pennsylvania Department of Education, “Public Schools Percent of Low-Income Reports,” Retrieved from 2018–2019 Public Schools Percent Low Income, 1819 LIP by LEA, Reading SD Percentage of Low Income Families. Accessed on July 7, 2020.
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. 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