The 10 Safest Big Cities in the US for 2021

Find out which metro areas reported the most crimes in our Dangerous Metro Areas report.

There’s no avoiding the fact that violent crime—especially gun violence—is on the rise in America’s biggest cities. The issue is so critical that New York’s Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency and The White House unveiled a plan to tackle the scourge of gun violence across the nation.

While today’s headlines are jarring, there is some good news to be found. In our analysis of America’s major metro areas, we found a ubiquitous drop in crime rates year over year—regardless if a metro reported the most or the fewest crimes to the FBI.

This gives us hope that a one-year rise in violent incidents may turn out to be more of a blip than a trend—especially if you look at the 10 metro areas that were ranked the safest in the US. If you live in a major metro area, or know someone who does, take a deeper dive into the big cities that report the lowest numbers of crime incidents—including demographic information and other community insights.

Light Bulb
How worried are you about gun violence?

Learn more about gun violence across the US—and how much Americans worry about it—in our ongoing coverage of the facts and the fears surrounding this important topic.

Here are the 10 safest big cities in the US for 2021:

  1. Rockingham County-Strafford County, New Hampshire
  2. Provo-Orem, Utah
  3. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Massachusetts
  4. Portland-South Portland, Maine
  5. Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Michigan
  6. Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York
  7. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
  8. Green Bay, Wisconsin
  9. Naples-Marco Island, Florida
  10. Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, Maryland

How these cities ranked safest

When it comes to looking at crime rates and trends across the most populous areas of the US, we decided it made more sense to compare metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) instead of standalone big cities. MSAs include both major “anchor” cities and the outlying communities that have high social and economic integration with the anchor city. So it paints a more accurate picture of both crime and the socioeconomic factors that impact the quality of life for residents.

Interestingly, we found that when you compare the crime rates of a big city proper with those of its MSA, the number of crimes per 1,000 people tends to go down.

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 US crime data available.

We looked at both property and violent 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 weighted and normalized 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.

If a metro area didn’t submit a complete report to the FBI, or didn’t meet our population threshold of at least 300,000 people, it wasn’t considered for ranking. 

Read our complete safest cities reporting methodology.

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.

What it’s like to live in the safest metro areas in America

We all know that big cities come with more people, and that can mean more big-city headaches like traffic, pollution, and finding an affordable place to live. But big cities come with perks too. Things like museums, more job opportunities, and better public transportation help make life easier when you call a big metro area home. 

And if you live in one of our safest metros, things typically get even better. Chances are, if you live in one of the safest metros, you might relate to the following findings. 

People in these metros worry more about violent crime and property crime.

Violent crime in the safest metros vs. national average
  • People from the states that are home to our safest metros are 4% more worried about crime and safety than the national average.
Property crime in the safest metros vs. national average

People in these metros are less likely to live below the poverty line. 

  • The percentage of people in the safest metros who live below the poverty line is 29% lower than the US average. 

Salaries in these metros are higher than the national average.

  • The average median household income among the safest metros is $84,137—that’s 28% above the national average.

These metros spend more on public safety than the most dangerous cities we ranked. 

  • The safest metros spend around 18% more on public safety than the most dangerous big cities.

These metros spend more on community services than the most dangerous cities we ranked.

  • The safest metros spend 138% more on community resources than the most dangerous big cities.

These metros have more high school graduates than the average American city.

  • Over 92% of people who live in the safest big cities have a high school diploma or higher—that’s 4% more than the national average.

Unemployment rates in these metros are lower than the average American city. 

  • The average unemployment rate among the safest metros (5.0%) is nearly two percentage points below the rate in the most dangerous cities (6.9%).

How has crime changed in the last year in the safest metros?

Across the board, crime rates in both the safest and most dangerous metros saw steeper declines year over year than the nation did overall. This is good news during a time when we’re seeing a lot of headlines about crime increasing in big cities—especially homicides and gun violence. 

America’s violent crime rate remained unchanged year over year, holding steady at 3.7 incidents per 1,000 people. In the safest metros, though, the average violent crime rate is just 1.7 incidents per 1,000. 

Violent crime downward trend YoY

Nationwide, property crime decreased by 4% year over year, but that’s far less than the 10% drop among the safest metros. And the most dangerous metros did even better—the property crime rate in those big cities fell 11% year over year.

Chances are, this year’s final crime numbers won’t turn out to be as encouraging, but there’s reason to celebrate lower crime rates in this year’s report.

Are people flocking to the safest metros?

Low crime rates could be one reason people are moving to the nation’s safest metro areas. Only one metro among our top 10 safest saw a net drop in population between 2010 and 2019. 

The Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York metro area saw a 1% decline in population, while both Naples-Marco Island, Florida and Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, Maryland saw jumps of over 11% each.

Interesting safest and most dangerous metro findings

Safest metro area in America: Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH

Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH tops our list for the first time this year. Here’s why it was named the safest big city in America:

  • Your risk of being the victim of a property crime in Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH, is 1 in 93, based on the latest FBI crime data. Your risk of being a victim of violent crime is 1 in 1,017. 
  • By comparison, in Anchorage, AK (our most dangerous metro), your risk of being a victim of a property crime is 1 in 23. Your risk of being a victim of violent crime is 1 in 84.

New cities among the safest metros in the US for the first time

4 of the safest metros hit our list for the first time, including our brand new number one, Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH. Here are the other three newbies:

  • Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA, number 3
  • Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI, number 5
  • Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, MD M.D., number 10

The safest metros don’t see much murder

The top 10 safest metros reported a combined total of 171 murder and non-negligent manslaugher incidents. 

  • That’s 80% fewer murders than reported by the 10 most dangerous metros (that grand total is 870).
  • The combined number of murders in the safest metros is 45% fewer than Detroit, the city on our lists that reported the most overall, 313.

Grand theft auto: Many cars swiped in the most dangerous metros

Car theft was big business during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. Here’s how common auto theft was in the safest and most dangerous metros before that trend.

  • Just 8,013 car thefts were reported in the 10 safest metros—78% fewer than in the most dangerous. 
  • 36,571 motor vehicle thefts were reported in the 10 most dangerous metros.

Crime rates in the safest metro areas

2021 rankMetro area Metro populationViolent crime per 1,000Property crime per 1,0002020 rank
1Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH441,3390.98 10.81New
2Provo-Orem, UT646,5300.90 12.78 1
3Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA2,406,4892.089.27New
4Portland-South Portland, ME539,9241.1512.56 3
5Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI2,578,3492.01 10.01New
6Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY672,5351.8810.965
7Bridgeport-Stamford, Norwalk, CT929,479 1.74 12.087
8Green Bay, WI323,107 2.2610.98 4
9Naples-Marco Island, FL383,360 2.34 11.24 6
10Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, MD1,314,4011.65 13.44 New
National averageN/A3.7021.1N/A

Income and education in the safest metros

2021 rankMetro area Median income% below poverty lineUnemployment rate% high school graduates
1Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH$86,6195.1%3.0%95.1%
2Provo-Orem, UT$79,15210.0%2.8%95.6%
3Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA$98,5957.5%5.0%92.4%
4Portland-South Portland, ME$71,9137.7%4.6% 94.3%
5Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI$73,5497.9%4.8%93.1%
6Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY$85,15210.7%4.9%90.8%
7Bridgeport-Stamford, Norwalk, CT$97,053 9.1%6.9%90.2%
8Green Bay, WI$65,026 10.0%4.0% 92.2%
9Naples-Marco Island, FL$76,025 9.3% 4.7% 88.9%
10Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, MD$108,2827.1% 6.3%90.7%
National average$65,71212.3%6.1%88.6%

City budget in the safest metros

2021 rankMetro area % budget for public safety/police% budget for community services
1Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH22.0%Not available
2Provo-Orem, UT29.3%3.5%
3Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA21.6%21.9%
4Portland-South Portland, ME17.4%15.3%
5Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI37.2%11.3%
6Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY19.1%1.7%
7Bridgeport-Stamford, Norwalk, CT30.3% 1.3%
8Green Bay, WI25.0% 3.0%
9Naples-Marco Island, FL34.6% 24.1%
10Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, MD28.3%3.4%

How to make a safe home anywhere

Whether your metro area made our list or not, we encourage everyone to be proactive about protecting your home and family. One of the best ways to stop a burglary before it happens is to add a home security system.

We found the best home security options for nearly every budget, including self-monitored systems with no monthly fees and professionally monitored systems starting as low as $10 per month.

Learn more about your home security options—and find out which companies we recommend for every budget and lifestyle in our roundup of the Best Home Security Systems.

Find the Safest Cities in each state

Click on the state image below to check out the safest cities for each state—and find out how people in your state feel about crime and safety in our State of Safety report.


Endnotes

1. Median income, poverty line, and high school graduation statistics

US Census Bureau (2018), “American Community Survey 1-year estimates,” Retrieved from Census Reporter Profile page for each metro area. Accessed August 2, 2021.

2. Unemployment rates

US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Unemployment Rates for Metropolitan Areas, Annual Averages,” June 2021. Accessed August 2, 2021.

3. City budget allocations

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.

Rockingham County, “Fiscal Year 2021 Delegation Approved Budget,” Retrieved from page 1. Accessed July 13, 2021.

Provo City, “Adopted Budget FY 2022,” Retrieved from page 39. Accessed July 12, 2021.

Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council, “Annual Budget 2020–2021,” Retrieved from page 109. Accessed July 13, 2021.

City of Portland, “FY20 Municipal Budget,” Retrieved from page 23. Accessed July 13, 2021. 

City of Warren, Michigan, “Budget, Fiscal Year June 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021,” Retrieved from page 27. Accessed July 13, 2021.

Dutchess County, “2021 Adopted Budget,” Retrieved from page 26. Accessed July 13, 2021.

Bridgeport, Connecticut, “Annual Operating Budget Fiscal Year 2020–2021,” Retrieved from page 39. Accessed July 13, 2021.

City of Green Bay, “2021 Budget,” Retrieved from page 4. Accessed July 13, 2021.

City of Naples, Florida, “Adopted Budget Fiscal Year 2020–2021,” Retrieved from page 32. Accessed July 13, 2021.

The City of Frederick, “Fiscal Year 2022 Adopted Budget,” Retrieved from pages 71 and 169. Accessed July 13, 2021.

Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
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 eight. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime reports and spotting trends. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, NPR, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips.

Recent Articles

happy older women sitting together
Best Medical Alert Necklaces
If you find yourself in an emergency, a medical alert necklace can contact trained professionals...
Large craftsman style house at twilight with lights on
Best Home Security Systems of 2021
After hundreds of hours of tests and research, plus a combined 50+ years of experience,...
couple sitting on floor with moving boxes and a dog
Best Home Security Systems for Renters
These renter-friendly home security systems keep your house or apartment safe and require less commitment...
watching camera feed on tablet
Best Wireless Security Systems
Wireless home security systems are more popular than ever. They’re easy to install and hard...
  • james

    High, is there a listing for large cities only? Your metholodoly would be more interesting to have not just a population threshold but it should include also city population >250 and metro >500 or something like that. Thanks! Because your safest city is a 2-county census area, it makes no sense to me? Cool stuff!

  • ICantThinkOfAUsername

    This is Liberal BS, Bridgeport is a Safe City?

  • J Q

    Bullshit! Chicago ??! Where the f is Chicago??

  • Jimmy

    Its amazing when they say they can’t figure out why certain areas are violent. Have to stick to the PC culture I guess. Hawaii is safe because its mostly asian. The northeast areas of Maine and Vermont are safe because its all white. Every big city and small city will be safe or more violent sole on the percentage of black people. Whites and asians are less violent then blacks period. The higher the percentage of black people the more violence you have. Look at Memphis and St Louis compared to Virginia beach and San Diego. You find this all over the world in every country. Japan, Denmark, New Zealand, Iceland, Switzerland, and Australia have no violence while Somalia, Sudan, Congo, Nigeria, and Egypt are death traps. The lighter the skin the less violence and the darker the skin the more violence. Facts are not racist.

    • rory

      This statement is incredibly ignorant. Socioeconomic status is the biggest factor in crime rates. People of color, especially black people, tend to have a lower socioeconomic status. Safer places tend to have a higher median income and more dangerous places have a lower median income. What you said isn’t facts, it’s wrong. Studies have shown that when comparing white people under the poverty line and black people under the poverty line the rates of crime are the same. (In fact poor white people have slightly higher crime rates than poor black people, but only marginally). As for the countries you listed. You compared some of the most affluent rich counties to some of the poorest counties. North Korea and Syria are also dangerous and they are “lighter skinned” and Mauritius, in Africa, which has a 92% employment rate, has a lower crime index than many predominantly white counties such Russia, Poland, And parts of the UK. Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world and also one of the richest and only about %3 percent of the population is white.
      Skin color has NOTHING to do with violence. And to say other wise is, indeed, racist and not factual.

  • Vicki

    As a former resident of Kansas City, I’m not surprised that the city isn’t ranked higher for crimes. Most who live in the urban center don’t report crimes unless it’s something big. The cost of insurance for the area is very expensive.

  • JerseyJoe

    LOL talk about manipulating statistics?? Have you visited some of your safe citys? who paid you for this scam?

  • jwbam167 .

    I avoid El Paso because of the high crime

  • 1bud2

    Lexington KY – ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Do you look at murder & crime rates or are you paid by politicians to put places on this list… major center for harboring illegal aliens laundering drug money & dealing drugs – entire middle class neighborhoods turned into dangerous third world slums – stabbings and/or shootings almost every night.

    • http://www.reviews.org Scott T.

      Our 2018 metro cities report only includes cities with a population over 300,000. Our rankings this year were based on the number of violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) that were reported to the FBI in each city. Lexington’s violent crime rate was 3.39 violent crimes per 1000 people, which is well below the median rate of 7.07 per 1000 for the US.

      You are right to point out that this ranking does not mean there isn’t any crime. Lexington’s property crime rate is the highest among the top 10 safest cities, and slightly above the US median rate at 41.08 per 1000 people. Property crime includes burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.

      Our main goal with these reports is the educate the public and raise awareness so that everyday citizens can be empowered to protect themselves and get involved at the local level to help prevent crime in their neighborhoods.

    • Jeremy Fink

      1bud2, your comment is way off point. As a Lexingtonian who lives in a middle class neighborhood and has friends/family who live in other neighborhoods in the city, I can tell you there’s nothing to substantiate your comment. We’ve not had one shooting in my neighborhood since I moved here. Maybe you’re confusing Lexington with another city?

  • Bernie Cyrus

    New Orleans shouldn’t be on any safe list even if it is last among the honorable mentions! Mitch Landrieu it’s recent mayor is now running for President as he calls himself a Radical Centrist . But, to our city he is a radical self centered failure .His crime statistics rival Chicago. He used “unconstitutional” traffic cameras to rob the people of their hard earned money without the benefit facing their accuser in proper jurisprudence. His family owns paid parking and he tried to boot cars for one ticket! He could have spent that money on more crime cameras. Black unemployment for young men has reached fifty percent. He bragged when it went to the forties!

    Sadly, murder, robberies, carjackings, burglaries are part of everyday life in New Orleans. Yet, he irresponsibly cut the budget of the District Attorney by over five hundred thousand dollars. As a former Felony Investigator, for a District Attorney, I can attest money is always needed. His indigent defender program is hanging on a thread and once was broke! Oh h is infamous for taking down Confederate statues while he co-authored – Confederate license plate as a State Representative!

  • Ivan Terrible

    “Both property and violent crime were equally weighted”

    So murder or rape is wighted as bicycle theft. No wonder Chicago and Baltimore made the list. Idiocy

    • BeccaLeigh

      That was the list for most violent cities!