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100 Safest Small Towns in America 2020

Written by | Updated September 28, 2020
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Last Updated: 1 month ago
See how the coronavirus is impacting crime across the country. Read our coronavirus crime update for details.

Living in a safe place has always been important, but these days it feels more vital than ever. Between the global pandemic and continued civil unrest, it can be hard to know where to start when you’re looking for a safe place to call home. 

We discovered that many people are feeling the pull toward smaller towns amid the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you’re looking to move out of a bigger city thanks to new flexibility, economic changes, or a little bit of both—these safe small towns are a great place to start your search.

SafeWise Safest Small Towns 2020 map graphic

Here are the 10 safest small towns in America in 2020

  1. Lewisboro Town (tied for #1)
  2. Luzerne Township (tied for #1)
  3. Sleepy Hollow Village
  4. New Hanover Township
  5. Wayland
  6. Kirkland Town
  7. Russell Township
  8. Russell Township
  9. Highlands Town
  10. Elmira Town

See the full list of America’s 100 safest small towns.

Why look at safety in small towns?

As part of our safest cities series, we look at crime rates in cities of all different sizes. On top of our overall 100 safest cities in America report, we think it helps to hone in on crime trends in cities of similar sizes. So we’re reporting on both major metro areas and smaller towns.

But, as with pretty much everything in 2020, there are new factors to consider right now. On top of crime rates, the novel coronavirus also impacts our sense of safety.

The coronavirus has people re-thinking big cities

The COVID-19 pandemic has kicked off a nationwide migration to smaller towns. After all, if you’re working from home, why not put that home wherever you want it?

Since the pandemic hit, over 40% of urbanites have been browsing the web looking for smaller towns to call home.

Crime and the coronavirus

See how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting crime trends and everyday life across the US in our coronavirus crime roundup.

But not all small towns are quaint, rural outposts. We found 70% of the cities that made our list are suburbs nestled against the bustle of a major metro area. We don’t think that disqualifies them from a spot among America’s safest small towns, though.

There’s no question that lower population density equals lower risk when it comes to exposure to the novel coronavirus, and that’s not the only thing that makes the cities on our list safer. These tiny enclaves (all the cities on our list are home to between 5,000 and 15,000 residents) report far fewer crimes than the national average—but that doesn’t mean they’re crime-free.

Small towns still have crime

Last year, the 100 cities that made our list collectively reported zero violent crimes. But they still experienced property crimes like burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.

This year, we raised our minimum population threshold from 2,500 residents to 5,000. Whether or not that made the difference, we saw a lot fewer cities reporting zero violent crimes. Even so, the number of reported crimes in these small towns falls significantly below the national average.

In fact, the safest small towns boast an average violent crime rate that’s more than 28 times lower than the rest of the country.

When you look at property crime, these cities report more than 8 times fewer incidents than most cities coast-to-coast.

At the end of the day, there’s definitely less crime in these tiny towns, but it’s not non-existent.

A closer look at crime in America’s safest small towns

If you’ve felt the pull to greener (or, frankly, any) pastures, we did the initial research for you—looking at how many crimes get reported in small towns across the country. Crime is only one factor that can contribute to how safe or dangerous a city or neighborhood is, but it can be a telling one.

All of the small towns we researched report much lower crime rates than national and even state averages. And even though these cities are smaller, many of them are close to bigger urban centers.

Safest Small Towns 2020 violent crime graphic

In 2019, none of our safest small towns reported any violent crimes. This year, just under half (44) of the cities that made our list reported zero violent crimes.

That means we saw a small uptick in the average violent crime rate of the safest small towns year over year (0.0% vs. 0.13%). But nationwide, the violent crime rate dropped by 3.9%—rounding out two decades of declining violent crime rates.

Safest Small Towns 2020 property crime graphic

The average property crime rate among the safest small towns dropped nearly 15% year over year. That drop reflects a national trend—across the US, the average property crime rate fell from 27.11 incidents per 1,000 people in 2019 to 22.0 this year.

Overall, the nationwide property crime rate saw a 6.9% decrease year over year—and a 27.7% decrease since 2009.

Despite overall crime decreasing year-over-year for nearly two decades—whether you live in a small town or a big city—67% of the people we talked to in our annual State of Safety survey think crime is on the rise.

Key findings about America’s safest small towns

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.

Cities that made last year’s 100 safest small towns in America

This year, 21 cities made a repeat appearance on our list—including Lewisboro Town, New York, which is tied with Luzerne Township, Pennsylvania for number one. Last year Lewisboro Town topped both our safest small towns list and our overall list of the safest cities in America (regardless of size).

2020 RankCityState2019 RankYoY changePopulationViolent Crime per 1000Property Crime per 1000
1Lewisboro TownNY1012,8230.000.00
4New Hanover TownshipNJ627,5040.000.27
6Kirkland TownNY39348,3550.000.72
8MatawanNJ54468,8640.001.13
13Chesterfield TownshipNJ47347,5670.001.85
14Adams Township, Cambria CountyPA61475,5810.001.97
16Campton HillsIL24811,3050.091.5
17East Marlborough TownshipPA34177,4160.002.02
18Tewksbury TownshipNJ59415,8250.002.06
20Mendham TownshipNJ15-55,7570.002.08
23Lapeer TownshipMI72495,0360.002.18
29NorwoodNJ75465,8360.002.57
33Sagamore HillsOH562310,9560.002.74
48Chatham TownshipNJ671910,2880.003.21
49Malverne VillageNY42-78,6260.231.97
50EastonCT19-317,5900.003.29
51CumberlandME5108,2740.242.05
59BoxfordMA45-148,3550.242.39
68Willistown TownshipPA77910,9830.272.64
78Millcreek Township, Lebanon CountyPA55-235,7140.004.38
90Old TappanNJ37-535,9980.173.67

More changes to the safest small towns list this year:

  • 79% (79) of the 100 safest small towns are on our list for the first time this year. 
  • 62% (13) of the cities that made our list for the second consecutive year moved up in ranking. 
  • 29% (6) of the cities that made our list for the second consecutive year dropped in ranking.
  • 44 cities reported zero violent crimes, compared to 100 reporting zero last year. 
  • Only two cities, Lewisboro Town and Luzerne Township, had zero incidents of both violent and property crime.
  • No town on our list reported more than 0.55 violent crimes per 1,000 people. Independence Township, New Jersey had the most, but its crime rate is still 6.7 times lower than the national average of 3.7.
  • All of the safest small towns reported fewer than five property crime incidents per 1,000 people. Hawthorn Woods, Illinois had the most with 4.7—but thanks to zero violent crime incidents, it landed at 95 out of 100.

States that stand out

States with the most safe small towns 2020 graphic

High-level findings

  • This year there are half as many states represented on our list—just 12, compared to 24 in 2019.
  • None of the safest small towns are in the western or southern US. Last year California had one city, and Tennessee, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina all made a showing. This year every town is in the northeast or midwest. 
  • 90% of the most dangerous small towns are in western and southern states. Maryland is the only outlier among the cities at the bottom of our list. 
  • Ohio’s safest small towns have the lowest average violent crime rate among the cities on our list—0.06 incidents per 1,000. That’s less than half the average of all the safest small towns (0.13).
  • Maine and Michigan are tied for the highest average violent crime rate among the cities on our list. They each reported an average of 0.22 violent crimes per 1,000. The average among all 100 safe small towns is 0.13 violent crimes per 1,000.
  • Minnesota boasts the lowest average property crime rate among the cities on our list—1.24. The average of all 100 safe small towns is 2.46 property crimes per 1,000 people. 
  • Connecticut has the highest average property crime rate among the cities on the list, with 2.98. That’s just over the collective average of 2.46 for all 100 small towns on our list.
  • New Jersey toppled Pennsylvania as the state with the most safe small towns—claiming 27. That’s nine more safe towns than New Jersey boasted last year. 
  • New Jersey also dominates for safe cities in our other reports—25 out of our 100 safest cities in America hail from the Garden State.
  • Even though Pennsylvania fell from the top spot, its total number of cities increased from 19 to 21 year over year. 
  • New York comes in third place for the total number of cities, with 17. But 23 of the small towns on our list are suburbs of the Big Apple.

The safest small towns vs. the most dangerous small towns

  • The average violent crime rate in the most dangerous small towns is 19.6 incidents per 1,000 people. That’s 5.3 times higher than the national average of 3.7. 
  • The average violent crime rate (19.6) in the most dangerous small towns is around 150 times higher than the average violent crime rate (0.13) in the safest small towns.
  • Florida City, Florida has the highest violent crime rate of all the cities we looked at, with 30.5 crimes per 1,000.
  • Glendale, Colorado reported 8.9 violent crimes per 1,000, but a property crime rate of 158.3 incidents per 1,000 put it at number 3 on our list of the most dangerous small towns. 
  • The average property crime rate of the most dangerous small towns is 90.0 incidents per 1,000 people. That’s more than four times higher than the national average of 22.0.
  • The average property crime rate (90.0) in the most dangerous small towns is around 36 times higher than the average property crime rate (2.46) in the safest small towns.
  • Emeryville, California, reported the most property crimes of all the cities we looked at, with 167.6 incidents per 1,000. That’s nearly eight times more than the national average and about 67 times higher than the average of the safest small towns. 
  • 60% of the most dangerous small towns are suburbs of major metro areas, compared to 70% of the safest small towns.
  • Crime rates seem to be slightly higher in small towns that are suburbs of bigger cities. The average property crime rate of the safe small towns that are suburbs is 2.61 incidents per 1,000, versus 2.11 in the non-suburbs.
  • Violent crime in the safest small towns is basically the same regardless of proximity to a big city. Non-suburbs reported 0.14 incidents compared to 0.13 per 1,000 in the suburban safe towns.
  • Both violent and property crime are higher in the most dangerous small towns that are suburbs of bigger cities. Suburban dangerous towns reported an average of 20.0 violent crimes, compared to 18.8 in the non-suburban towns.
  • Property crime in the non-suburban dangerous towns is 81.9 crimes per 1,000, versus 95.8 in the suburban dangerous towns. That puts the suburban dangerous town around 14 more incidents per 1,000 than the towns that aren’t near a big metro.

America’s 100 safest small towns

#1 Tie for Safest Town

Lewisboro Town, New York

0

Building in Lewisboro, NY
Population 12,823
Image Source Facebook @TownofLewisboro
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00

#1 Tie for Safest Town

Luzerne Township, Pennsylvania

New

Luzerne Township, Pennsylvania
Population 5,940
Image Source Wikipedia, Luzerne Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00

#3

Sleepy Hollow Village, New York

New

Sleepy Hollow Village, New York
Population 10,267
Image Source Facebook, Sleepy Hollow NY
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.000
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.1

#4

New Hanover Township, New Jersey

2

Population 7,504
Image Source Wikipedia, New Hanover Township, New Jersey
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.27

#5

Wayland, Massachusetts

New

Wayland, Massachusetts
Population 14,088
Image Source Wikipedia, Wayland, Massachusetts
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.07
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.07

#6

Kirkland Town, New York

34

Population 8,355
Image Source Wikipedia, Kirkland Town, New York
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.72

#7

Russell Township, Ohio

New

Russell Township, Ohio
Population 5,216
Image Source Wikipedia, Russell Township, Ohio
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.96

#8

Matawan, New Jersey

46

Matawan, New Jersey
Population 8,864
Image Source Wikipedia, Matawan, New Jersey
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.13

#9

Highlands Town, New York

New

Highlands Town, New York
Population 8,328
Image Source Wikipedia, Highlands Town, New York
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.12
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.48

#10

Elmira Town, New York

New

Population 5,665
Image Source Wikipedia, Elmira Town, New York
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.18
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.18

#11

Oconomowoc Town, Wisconsin

New

Population 8,692
Image Source Wikipedia, Oconomowoc Town, Wisconsin
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.12
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.15

#12

Dover, Massachusetts

New

Dover, Massachusetts
Population 6,104
Image Source Wikipedia, Dover, Massachusetts
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.8

#13

Chesterfield Township, New Jersey

34

Chesterfield Township, New Jersey
Population 7,567
Image Source Wikipedia, Chesterfield Township, New Jersey
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.85

#14

Adams Township, Cambria County, Pennsylvania

47

Population 5,581
Image Source Wikipedia, Adams Township, Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.97

#15

Briarcliff Manor Village, New York

New

Briarcliff Manor Village, New York
Population 8,044
Image Source Wikipedia, Briarcliff Manor Village, New York
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.99

#16

Campton Hills, Illinois

8

Campton Hills
Population 11,305
Image Source Facebook @vlgcamptonhills
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.09
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.5

#17

East Marlborough Township, Pennsylvania

17

Population 7,416
Image Source Wikipedia, East Marlborough Township, Pennsylvania
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 2.02

#18

Tewksbury Township, New Jersey

41

Population 5,825
Image Source Wikipedia, Tewksbury Township, New Jersey
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 2.06

#19

Kings Point Village, New York

New

Kings Point Village, New York
Population 5,299
Image Source Wikipedia, Kings Point Village, New York
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 2.08

#20

Mendham Township, New Jersey

-5

Mendham NJ
Population 5,757
Image Source Facebook @TownshipofMendham
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 2.08

#21

North Caldwell, New Jersey

New

North Caldwell, New Jersey
Population 6,716
Image Source Wikipedia, North Caldwell, New Jersey
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 2.08

#22

Kasson, Minnesota

New

Kasson, Minnesota
Population 6,444
Image Source Wikipedia, Kasson, Minnesota
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.16
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.24

#23

Lapeer Township, Michigan

49

Lapeer Township, Michigan
Population 5,036
Image Source lapeertwp.org
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 2.18

#24

Elburn, Illinois

New

Population 5,900
Image Source elburn.il.us/elburn-chamber
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.00
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 2.2

#25

Norfolk, Massachusetts

New

Population 11,872
Image Source Wikipedia, Norfolk, Massachusetts
Violent Crime Rate (per 1,000) 0.08
Property Crime Rate (per 1,000) 1.77

The rest of the top 100 safest small towns

We calculated crime rates for every small town in the country that met our criteria. See which cities round out the top 100 safest small towns in America.

2020 RankCityState2019 RankYoY changePopulationViolent Crime per 1000Property Crime per 1000
26Olmsted FallsOHN/ANew8,91202.24
27MontvaleNJN/ANew8,72902.29
28Fox ChapelPAN/ANew5,29702.45
29NorwoodNJ75465,83602.57
30WestonCTN/ANew10,35102.61
31GrovelandMAN/ANew6,83302.63
32LowellINN/ANew9,7110.12.16
33Sagamore HillsOH562310,95602.74
34Chester TownshipNJN/ANew7,80902.82
35Butler Township, Schuylkill CountyPAN/ANew5,62502.84
36Mukwonago TownWIN/ANew8,1460.370.86
37River Vale TownshipNJN/ANew10,1570.12.36
38Olmsted TownshipOHN/ANew13,4250.152.09
39Reading TownshipPAN/ANew5,8370.341.03
40Upper Yoder TownshipPAN/ANew5,0930.390.79
41South Park TownshipPAN/ANew13,3320.231.73
42Upper Saddle RiverNJN/ANew8,33003
43KinnelonNJN/ANew10,0800.12.48
44Plattekill TownNYN/ANew10,23503.03
45Addison TownshipMIN/ANew6,5980.152.27
46Washington Township, Bergen CountyNJN/ANew9,29903.12
47Stillwater TownNYN/ANew7,3020.271.64
48Chatham TownshipNJ671910,28803.21
49Malverne VillageNY42-78,6260.231.97
50EastonCT19-317,59003.29
51CumberlandME5108,2740.242.05
52South Heidelberg TownshipPAN/ANew7,3780.271.9
53Northport VillageNYN/ANew7,36203.4
54Woodcliff LakeNJN/ANew5,84403.42
55Iron MountainMIN/ANew7,3270.411.23
56Poland TownshipOHN/ANew11,8880.172.61
57Park RidgeNJN/ANew8,8580.341.69
58Kinross TownshipMIN/ANew7,4320.272.15
59BoxfordMA45-148,3550.242.39
60Upper Providence Township, Delaware CountyPAN/ANew10,4780.381.72
61WatervilleOHN/ANew5,49003.83
62Woolwich TownshipNJN/ANew12,63603.96
63TenaflyNJN/ANew14,7420.272.51
64Franklin ParkPAN/ANew14,7060.22.92
65Glen RockNJN/ANew11,93704.1
66KirtlandOHN/ANew6,81904.11
67Spring Township, Centre CountyPAN/ANew7,9050.382.02
68Willistown TownshipPA77910,9830.272.64
69Andover TownshipNJN/ANew5,9360.342.36
70ReddingCTN/ANew9,2420.223.03
71Irvington VillageNYN/ANew6,6310.32.56
72Kent TownNYN/ANew13,3260.083.83
73Whitestown TownNYN/ANew9,1750.223.05
74Chester TownNYN/ANew8,0530.372.24
75Clinton TownshipNJN/ANew12,8240.083.9
76Bedminster TownshipPAN/ANew7,2410.412.07
77Indiana TownshipPAN/ANew7,1950.422.08
78Millcreek Township, Lebanon CountyPA55-235,71404.38
79AdaOHN/ANew5,5560.183.42
80GilbertsILN/ANew8,2540.362.42
81Turtle CreekPAN/ANew5,1920.392.31
82Adams Township, Butler CountyPAN/ANew14,1050.213.26
83Eden TownNYN/ANew7,66704.43
84ChathamNJN/ANew8,79304.44
85West Deer TownshipPAN/ANew11,9730.084.01
86HopedaleMAN/ANew5,9840.332.67
87East Vincent TownshipPAN/ANew7,23204.56
88Geneva TownWIN/ANew5,03204.57
89HamiltonMAN/ANew8,0880.253.21
90Old TappanNJ37-535,9980.173.67
91RumsonNJN/ANew6,8350.153.8
92Hasbrouck HeightsNJN/ANew12,1630.084.19
93SabattusMEN/ANew5,0570.23.56
94ManhattanILN/ANew7,8790.253.3
95Hawthorn WoodsILN/ANew8,50404.7
96Tuckahoe VillageNYN/ANew6,6770.452.25
97Franconia TownshipPAN/ANew13,3430.223.52
98Robbinsville TownshipNJN/ANew14,7100.144.01
99Independence TownshipNJN/ANew5,4950.551.82
100Raisin TownshipMIN/ANew7,7160.263.37

America’s 10 most dangerous small towns

These are the 10 towns that landed at the bottom of our ranking. These cities reported the most crimes among the 2,443 small towns that qualified for our ranking.

2020 RankCityStatePopulationViolent Crime per 1000Property Crime per 1000
1EmeryvilleCA12,01614.15167.61
2Florida CityFL12,28430.5371.23
3GlendaleCO5,2938.69158.32
4FairfieldAL10,62521.0880.47
5GlobeAZ7,33021.4273.81
6Ocean CityMD6,95011.94119.71
7Muskegon HeightsMI10,72022.3958.77
8MarksvilleLA5,45019.4572.48
9BelenNM7,06122.851.27
10OsceolaAR6,81923.1746.05

Looking For Your City?

Don’t see your state listed? Click on the state image below to check out our “Safest City” winners for each state.

Other safest cities reports

How we picked the safest small towns in America

We looked at FBI crime report data and population information for 2018 (the most recent year for which complete data was available).

We excluded towns with populations below 5,000 and above 15,000. Because cities with populations under 2,500 are considered rural by census definitions, we ruled them out of this study.

In addition, we found that an overwhelming number of cities between 2,500 and 5,000 residents reported zero crimes. We felt that a large percentage of cities reporting zero crimes skewed any meaningful examination of the data. It also resulted in a 30-way tie for the first place honor.

After deliberation, we raised our minimum population threshold to 5,000 this year, instead of using the US Census definitions as our only guide.

Our maximum threshold was determined by the national median population, which is 15,000. Cities outside those population parameters and those that failed to report complete crime data to the FBI were excluded.

To rank each city or town, 50% of the score was determined by the number of violent crimes per 1,000, and 50% of the score was determined by the number of property crimes per 1,000.

Each measurement was normalized on a 0–1 scale with 1 corresponding to the measurement that would most positively affect the final score. These adjusted measurements were then added together with the weights mentioned above to get a score of 100.

Get all the details about how we rank the safest cities in our full methodology.

How to make a safe home anywhere

Whether or not your town is closer to Main Street or Wall Street, it’s always smart to be proactive about home security. We think the best way to watch out for your home and loved ones is with the added reassurance of a monitored home security system.

To learn more about your home security options—for rural settings, metro areas, or a college dorm room—check out our picks for the best home security systems.

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 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

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