The 20 Safest Big Cities in the U.S.
Violence may seem like an omnipresent concern for cities in America, but its prevalence varies dramatically depending on where you live. While some communities are besieged by worrying rates of violent crime, there are others -- mostly smaller in size and population -- that enjoy next to none. Perhaps surprisingly, even some of the bigger cities are still relatively safe. Among America's larger population centers (over 200,000 residents), these are the 20 safest big cities in the U.S. in 2017 according to data from neighborhood watchdog site, Niche.
Home to hospitals, sports stadiums (Go Rangers, Cowboys and Wings!), theme parks like the first Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor, and manufacturing plants, Arlington is proudly its own principal city within the larger Dallas-Fort Worth sprawl. Nicknamed the "American Dream City," it has a low murder rate for such a large city (only two incidences per 100,000 people) but ranks near the national average in most other crime metrics.
Thanks in large part to the opening of Disneyland in 1955, the city of Anaheim quickly evolved from a rural community into the urban heart of Orange County while keeping crime rates low. A revitalized downtown, new dining and shopping destinations, and outdoor activities, help make the city a safe place. Similar to other California cities on this list, car theft is the only major crime with an abnormally high rate of incidence (478 per 100,000 people).
Straddling several counties in the Denver metropolitan area, Aurora is the "Gateway to the Rockies" with plenty of outdoor activities. Aurora still ranks as one of the nation's safest cities despite some worryingly high scores when it comes to safety. At seven incidences per 100,000 people, the murder rate just exceeds the national average, as do rates for theft (2,1119 per 100,000), auto theft (350), and rape (98, over double the average of 41).
North Carolina's capital and second-largest city is a burgeoning Southern metropolis with a rich history and great opportunities in the fields of education, technology and science. Raleigh has notably low rates of violent crime, particularly rape and murder, but less impressive rankings for property crimes -- burglary is especially high in the so-called "City of Oaks," occurring at a rate of 736 incidences per 100,000 residents.
On the southern end of the San Francisco Bay area, San Jose is California's third-largest city and anchors the thriving tech hub that is Silicon Valley. No doubt thanks in part to its booming economy, the city boasts low crime rates across the board, with one exception -- a whopping 679 motor vehicle thefts occur per 100,000 residents annually, well surpassing the national average of 263.
For a city so dense and populous, the Big Apple is still an exceptionally safe place to live compared to other cities. It may surprise those who think of high crime rates in the past, but a citywide effort to improve quality of life and crime management tactics helped dramatically improve safety. It ranks especially low on property crimes, while the incidences of violent crimes like assault (357 per 100,000 people) and robbery (198 per 100,000 people) are high enough to surpass the national average.
Home to a thriving music scene, a booming culinary world, and a proudly weird culture, Austin is an increasingly popular destination. Though it frequently ranks as one of America's fastest growing cities, Texas's fast-changing capital city has nonetheless managed to keep its crime rates low, particularly for violent crime. Burglary and theft are the only unusually high metrics, respectively averaging out to 533 and 2,990 incidences per 100,000 residents.
Though large in population and area, San Diego has managed to stay one of America's safest metropolitan centers. With a laid-back and youthful vibe, it's especially great if you love living near the beach, enjoy craft beer, and are looking for fun outdoor activities for kids and adults. The only crime metric for which the sunny border city exceeds the national average is in auto theft, with a rate of 364 incidences per 100,000 people.
A suburb of Phoenix, Mesa is Arizona's third-largest city and also one of its safest, home to a well-rated schools system and numerous undergraduate institutions. Colorful Mesa offers the vibrancy of a metropolis with the relaxed vibe of the suburbs, plus baseball fans can catch Spring Training with the A's and Cubs. While property crimes are universally low, Mesa has comparatively high rates of assault and rape, both only slightly exceeding the national average.
The predominantly-Latino city of Laredo ranks as both one of America's least diverse cities and one of its safest. The city offers excellent dining options, a rich cultural history, and a eclectic arts scene. The only metrics in which it ranks worse than the national average are rape (52 incidences compared to an average 41) and theft (2,844 incidences compared to 2,081).
Madison is known for its numerous bodies of water perfect for those in search of outdoor activities, as well as for its two most prominent employers -- the state government and the University of Wisconsin. The state's capital and second largest city is also its safest, though incidences of rape and theft still barely exceed the national average.
A suburb near the center of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Irving is home to many Fortune 500 headquarters as well as the world's largest equestrian sculpture -- a big draw for art enthusiasts and horse lovers alike -- in the planned community of Las Colinas. It's also one of Texas's safest cities, with notably low crime rates in every category, except maybe motor vehicle theft, for which there are 255 incidences per 100,000 people.
The capital and second largest city in Nebraska, Lincoln offers plenty for fans of arts and culture, farmers markets, golfing and historic sites and tours. Last year Lincoln was one of few major cities with a murder rate of zero per 100,000 residents, though it fared less well by other metrics. Both rapes and thefts well exceeded the national average, with 70 incidences of the former and 2,655 of the latter.
In the far-west corner of Texas along the Rio Grande, El Paso combines with Las Cruces and Juarez to form a bilingual, international and thriving metropolitan area. The Texas portion of this unique district offers residents a rich cultural and culinary history, low real estate prices, and crime rates, with only the rates of assaults (257) and rapes (47) nearing (or in the latter case, exceeding) the national average for each.
Located within the Las Vegas metropolitan area, Henderson is Nevada's second largest city, trailing Vegas itself. An oasis in the Mojave Desert, Henderson is just a short drive from the Strip, yet also close to beautiful outdoor sites such as Lake Mead and Clark County Wetlands Park. It's ranked as one of the nation's safest cities for years now, helped along by an extraordinarily low rate of violent assault (69 incidences per 100,000 people). This year was no exception.
Scottsdale is a Phoenix suburb known for its relaxing spas and pristine golf courses that boost its thriving tourism industry. Rates of property and violent crime are both low in the resort town, with only the incidence of rape (45 per 100,000) surpassing the national average of 41.
Virginia Beach is a picturesque coastal city without a county, located where the Atlantic Ocean meets Chesapeake Bay. As the state's largest city, Virginia Beach boasts an extraordinarily low rate of assault (52 per 100,000 people, compared to a national average of 273), but a relatively high incidence of murder (four per 100,000 people).
Idaho's capital and most populous city boasts affordable home prices and well-rated public schools to complement its low crime rate. The rate of theft is comparatively high at 1,848 incidences per 100,000 residents, while the murder rate for 2017 remains at an impressive zero incidences. Boise also has an increasingly booming tech industry, not to mention one of the most picturesque botanical gardens in the country.
On the northern side of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area lies Plano. Like Irvine, the city is an affluent suburb and home to many big name corporate headquarters. Only violent crime is notably higher here, though still very low, with only one murder and 78 assault cases reported annually per 100,000 residents.
This planned city in central Orange County is notable for its highly-rated public school system as well as its low rates of violent crime and property crime. You'll also find plenty of sunshine, outdoor activities, and a growing food scene. Founded by the Irvine Company, the sprawling town is also home to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and numerous corporate headquarters.