Much has been made about the number of dangerous cities to live in and call home in the United States. This writer even wrote a piece on the most crime-filled places of residence in America a while back. While it is unfair to wholly categorize most cities, even larger ones, in the U.S. as totally unsafe, take a massive city like New York for example whose level of crime is well below the average for a city of it’s size, in comparison to the majority of Canadian or Western European cities. The statistics don’t lie.
The vast majority of American cities are just less safe, and residents are far more prone to being a victim of crime than their Northern, or Western European counterparts. There are many reasons for this; a much larger discrepancy in wealth between rich and poor, creating deeply entrenched poverty lines, a greater racial divide further perpetuated by said poverty, a larger gang culture, and easier access to guns all create a recipe for crime, most often of the property, robbery or violent variety in most U.S. cities.
That said, not all American cities and towns are places where you have to look over your shoulder while walking down the street at night. Here are the five safest places with a population of at least 30,000 or more to live in America. Keep in mind; the population of these cities and towns is relatively low, potentially making crime less of an issue than certain larger cities, though in all fairness some of the most violent places in America are in fact smaller places themselves. Furthermore, all statistics are from the comprehensive national crime database Neighborhood Scout which not only culls its research from over 17,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, but also finalizes its statistics based on when the FBI considers crime reported as “finalized and closed.”
5. Rancho Santa Margarita, California
Located in Orange County in Southern California, Rancho Santa Margarita is a master-planned community built on rolling hills that maintains a high quality of life. In fact, the reality television show The Real Housewives of Orange County is predominantly filmed there, as the cast tends to do their shopping, dining and socializing within Rancho Santa Margarita. If the city of nearly 50,000 people if safe enough for them, then it must be safe. And in fact, it is. The city’s violent crime rate is 0.55 per 1,000; the national average is 3.9 per 1,000. With a property crime rate of a mere 6.51 per 1,000, Rancho Santa Margarita ranks well below the U.S. average of 28.6 per 1,000. If you can afford to live in beautiful Southern California, and if you want to brush shoulders with reality TV stars, Rancho Santa Margarita may not be a bad place to call home.
4. Greenwich, Connecticut
Ironically, for such a small state, there are three cities in Connecticut, Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford that made the list of the 25 most dangerous places to live in America, but not Greenwich. An extremely affluent hedge fund community of nearly 62,000 residents that typifies the Connecticut stereotype, Greenwich is remarkably safe. The violent crime rate is miniscule at 0.37 per 1,000 people, a far cry from the 14.45 per 1,000 of Connecticut’s most dangerous city, New Haven. The proliferation of gangs growing in Connecticut over the past decade has left Greenwich thus far unscathed, with even property crime falling well below the national average at 5.94. Greenwich exemplifies the American dichotomy of how a state with just over 3 and a half million people can not only have the fourth safest place to live in the country, but also three of the most dangerous places all within its borders, and all extremely close to one another.
3. Parma, Ohio
Considering Parma directly borders Cleveland, America’s fourth most dangerous city to live in for 2013, one would be remiss to assume it may be relatively unsafe; but again, there’s another relatively unique Americanism. The suburbs, no matter how close to or how dangerous to the city they border, see little of the crime that plagues the urban areas. Consider this, Cleveland’s violent crime rate is 13.84 per 1,000 residents; Parma’s is 0.69. Furthermore, Cleveland’s murder rate is 18.3 murders per 100,000 people while Parma reported zero murders in 2013. Based on Neighborhood Scout’s crime index scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the safest, Cleveland scored a 2, meaning it is only safer than 2% of all American cities while Parma scored a 90, proof that nine miles can make all the difference in the world when it comes to safety.
2. Bergenfield, New Jersey
Another case of the suburbs being untouched by the crime perpetuated within the cities, Bergenfield, New Jersey is America’s second safest place to live. A small city, perhaps more appropriately a town, with a population of only 27,000 residents, Bergenfield is a very well-to-do community where the average house price hovers around $300,000 and the median home income is about $80,000. What’s astounding about this, as in Parma’s case, is Bergenfield’s close proximity to one of America’s most dangerous cities. Bergenfield is only a short 20-mile drive to Newark, America’s sixth most dangerous city. While Newark’s violent crime rate is 11.71 per 1,000, Bergenfield boasts a rate of a mere 0.7. As far as property crime is concerned, Bergenfield sits at 5.47, well below the U.S. average of 28.6. In fact, in Bergenfield a resident has a 1 in 183 chance of being a victim of property crime, in the state of New Jersey as a whole a 1 in 49 chance, and 20-miles a way in Newark, a 1 in 26 chance of being a victim of property crime. Bergenfield is yet another example that, by and large, the suburbs are where the money is, and where the money moved, to avoid the urban areas that are more economically and racially divided, and thus more prone to crime.
1. Franklin, Massachusetts
At number one on the list of safest places to live in America is Franklin, Massachusetts. A town of 33,000 residents, Franklin has a rich history, having been settled in 1660 and became an official town in 1778. Furthermore, it is also named after Benjamin Franklin, who donated a plethora of books to what became America’s first public library, aptly named Franklin Public Library. Beyond the history, Franklin is also extremely wealthy; an average home price nears $400,000 dollars, and the average household makes almost $100,000 per year. Along with this affluence comes safety. There were no murders, and less than 20 violent crimes in the town in 2013, keeping their violent crime rate at .37 per 1,000. Property crime is only 5.2 per 1,000; again both well below the national averages. In fact, according to Neighborhood Scout your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Franklin are 1 in 2,678, and a victim of a property crime 1 in 192.
It seems clear, and really should come as no shock, that with wealth comes safety, not just in America, but even more so in America. Upon analyzing the data and realizing that one can live mere miles from some of the most dangerous cities in the country, but live in nearly complete safety due to the affluence of their community, it further highlights the divide between the have and the have nots in the United States, and illustrates the growing turmoil in many U.S. cities as the rising tide of poverty and crime is being completely unseen by those with wealth in the suburbs.