50 Safest Metro Cities in America — 2017

Oct 19, 2017 |

Safest Metro Cities in America

Deciding to move to the big city can be a daunting prospect, but it’s not necessarily a dangerous one. The crowded streets and bustling thoroughfares that make up some of America’s largest metro areas probably aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think of safe spaces. But the idea of cities as centers of crime is a bit of a cliché. Statistically, cities have less crime per capita than many rural or suburban areas in America. Studies have shown, in fact, that the risk of fatal injury is over 20% higher in the countryside, where accidents are much more common.1

While living in the country might be an idyllic concept, a majority of Americans find themselves gravitating closer to cities where the economy is booming and cultural opportunities are bursting on the scene. To help you find the best urban spot to hang your hat, SafeWise inspected FBI crime data to see which major cities around America are the safest places to live.

Yes, that’s the Big Apple sitting pretty in the number-one spot, where the reality of daily life is probably quite different from the latest blockbuster filmed in New York’s gritty streets. The Golden State also makes a big splash on this list, with the highest number of America’s safest metro areas clustered along the coast and throughout southern California.

Break out the moving boxes and head for the hustle and bustle of one of these metros where your safety is the city’s top priority.

Did your metro make the list? Share your city pride on social media.

1. New York, New York

Safest Metro Cities in America

The Big Apple is not only the most populated city in America; it is also, surprisingly, the safest. Although most of the United States has enjoyed a downward trend in crime rates since the 1970s, New York City has exceptionally low per-capita rates of both violent and property crime for such a densely populated metro. 1 While the city’s stop-and-frisk program does not appear to have significantly changed overall crime rates, targeted operations to take down gangs have helped lessen violent crime across the city. 2

2. El Paso, Texas

Safest metro Cities in America

Because El Paso is a border town, its low crime rate may surprise you, but it shouldn’t. Officials say that this community is made stronger by the hard-working ambition of immigrant families and individuals who make border towns their home. Additional law enforcement resources from the federal government to address immigration also help to create a more stable, safer city for all residents to enjoy.

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Safest Metro Cities in America

While some might think of Virginia Beach as a tourist town, many residents call this safe city home. Plummeting crime rates haven’t been this low since the 1960s and are attributed to policing programs that reduce the use of force and address drug addiction.3 Virginia Beach police chief Jim Cervera claims that in 2016, not a single police officer discharged a weapon at another person in the line of duty—an unprecedented statistic for a city this size.4

4. San Diego, California

This sunny city is the jewel of Southern California, but it offers lots more than surf and sand to locals. San Diego is one of our top five safest metro cities, an accolade earned by focusing on creating safe neighborhoods and increasing community involvement. San Diego’s police department has also committed to a responsible and compassionate response to crime, and recent use of body cameras, facial recognition software, and a gunshot-detection system has led to overall decreases in both violent and property crime.5

5. Santa Ana, California

Safest Metro Cities in America

Another California coastal city, Santa Ana is famous not just for swaying palm trees but also for a safer community. The city has focused on addressing gangs, which is where much of the violent crime was occurring.6 Conducting compliance checks, working with the marshal’s office to keep tabs on known gang members, and employing a community-oriented policing policy since the 1970s have all contributed to lower crime rates and safer streets in Santa Ana.

6. San Jose, California

Safest Metro Cities in America

Just south of Silicon Valley, San Jose struggled with the nearby tech boom that has the population bursting at the seams. Despite these challenges, property crime has fallen in recent years as the police successfully busted up burglary gangs operating in the city. In some neighborhoods, break-ins have decreased by up to 50%.7

7. Tampa, Florida

Safest Metro Cities in America

Florida is known as a tourist mecca, but it’s also a safe space for Tampa’s residents, who enjoy lower rates of crime overall. Property crime, in particular, has fallen in recent years, and police credit, in part, a focus on intelligence-led policing for that drop.8 An effort to get business owners to register their surveillance cameras is also underway, which would help a larger portion of the city be effectively monitored and kept safe from crime.

8. Mesa, Arizona

Safest Metro Cities in America

Southeast of Phoenix, Mesa keeps the heat on criminals by effective policing that utilizes community outreach and increased training and transparency for better accountability. Residents of this high-desert city enjoy both lower-than-average rates of crime and wide economic and racial diversity among neighborhoods.

9. Los Angeles, California

Safest Metro Cities in America

The City of Angels doesn’t have an angelic reputation when it comes to safety, but recent advances in fighting crime are changing that perception. Police have become increasingly effective in addressing drugs and reducing gang-related activity, which seems to have contributed to lower crime rates. The LAPD credits increased community involvement with much of its success, along with a more focused police response that emphasizes de-escalation.

10. Boston, Massachusetts

Safest Metro Cities in America

In Beantown’s twisting, crowded streets, you might be more likely to get lost than to be the victim of a crime. Boston makes our top ten list for Safest Metro Cities in America due to its falling rates of violent and property crime.9 The police department actively works with programs focused not only on addressing gun violence among youth, but also on providing increased opportunities for young people and creating deeper community connections between residents and police.

11. Anaheim, California

12. Honolulu, Hawaii

13. Long Beach, California

14. Riverside, California

15. Chicago, Illinois

16. Las Vegas, Nevada

17. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

18. Arlington, Texas

19. St. Paul, Minnesota

20. Phoenix, Arizona

21. Sacramento, California

22. Omaha, Nebraska

23. Corpus Christi, Texas

24. Fort Worth, Texas

25. Dallas, Texas

26. Austin, Texas

27. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

28. Jacksonville, Florida

29. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina

30. Columbus, Ohio

31. Bakersfield, California

32. Fresno, California

33. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

34. Nashville, Tennessee

35. Anchorage, Alaska

36. Minneapolis, Minnesota

37. Houston, Texas

38. Miami, Florida

39. Stockton, California

40. San Antonio, Texas

41. Washington, DC

42. Detroit, Michigan

43. Kansas City, Missouri

44. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

45. Wichita, Kansas

46. Indianapolis, Indiana

47. Tulsa, Oklahoma

48. Seattle, Washington

49. Baltimore, Maryland

50. Atlanta, Georgia

Honorable Mentions

While these cities didn’t make our top fifty list of Safest Metro Cities in America, the following seven areas have shown improvement in crime rates over previous years and deserve a nod for efforts to create safer communities.

  • San Francisco, California
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Oakland, California
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • New Orleans, Louisiana

How We Rank

Our rankings of the safest metro cities in America are based on an aggregation of violent crime and property crime per 1,000 residents. Both property and violent crime were equally weighted and city ranking was determined by the per capita rate of crime according to the most recent FBI crime statistics from 2015. We also evaluated overall improvement in crime rates from previous years and included some of those most improved cities in our honorable mentions list.  In order to make the cut, cities had to have a population threshold of greater than 300,000 residents.

If you would like to contact a SafeWise Safest Cities Analyst, please email safestcities@safewise.com.

1. Annuals of Emergency Medicine, “Safety in Numbers: Are Major Cities the Safest Places in the United States?
2. The Washington Post, “The Facts about Stop-and-Frisk in New York City
3. The Virginian Pilot, “Virginia Beach’s Low Crime Rate on Par with What It Was in the Mid-1960s, Police Chief Says
4. WTKR, News 3, “Crime Rate in Virginia Beach Has Decreased over the Past Five Years
5. The San Diego Union-Tribune, “Crime in San Diego Drops to New Lows
6. Eyewitness News, “Santa Ana Police Department Looks to Combat Increased Gang Violence
7. Mercury News, “East Palo Alto’s Porsche-Driving Gang: 7 Arrested in 200 San Jose-Area Heists
8. Tampa Bay Times, “Did Crime Go Up or Down in 2015 in Hillsborough County?
9. Boston Globe, “Major Crime Falls to 10-Year Low in Boston

Written by Kaz Weida

When she's not chasing two little ones around the house, Kaz spends her time reviewing products to keep your family safe. Learn more

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  • Anonymous5252525

    You included Santa Ana but not Irvine?