In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. In fact, the National Association of Realtors’ annual survey of homebuyers from 2022 found that nearly half of all buyers (49%) cited the quality of a neighborhood as the No. 1 factor for determining where to live, ahead of both affordability (37%) and proximity to friends and family (37%).
While popular restaurants and shops can be convenient in a neighborhood, safety remains a primary concern. With this in mind, SmartAsset set out to learn which cities in the U.S. are safest. We analyzed data from 200 of the largest cities in the country across the following five metrics: violent crime, property crime, vehicular mortality rate, drug poisoning mortality rate and the percentage of the population engaging in excessive drinking.
We also examined the affordability of the 35 safest cities. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read the Data and Methodology section below.
For an earlier SmartAsset study on the safest cities in America, take a look at the 2022 edition here.
- These cities in the Lone Star State rank safest. Texas is home to several of the nation’s safest cities according to our metrics. Four out of the top five cities with the highest safety ratings are located in Texas, including top-ranked Frisco. All four have violent crime rates lower than 90% of the cities across the study.
- Safety doesn’t always come with a high price tag. In fact, the top five cities in our study are relatively affordable. Housing costs are less than 20% of the median household income in seven out of the 35 cities with the highest safety rankings. Within the top five, Santa Clarita, California, is the most expensive (25.19%) and Frisco, Texas, is the most affordable (18.91%).
- Los Angeles is the safest big city in America. Los Angeles, which ranks 46th, is safest when compared with other cities that have a population of over 1 million. The City of Angels is followed by San Diego (50th), San Antonio (113th), Philadelphia (115th), New York (126th), Dallas (130th), Chicago (139th), Phoenix (148th) and Houston (157th) in our safety rankings.
Top Five Safest Cities
1. Frisco, TX
Frisco ranks No. 1 for safety for the second year in a row. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Frisco has the fourth-lowest violent crime rate (95 crimes for every 100,000 residents) and the sixth-lowest property crime rate (901 for every 100,000 residents). Frisco and the surrounding area also averaged eight drug poisoning deaths per 100,000 residents in 2022, which ranked fourth-lowest across our study.
2. McKinney, TX
McKinney, which borders Frisco to the east, has the fifth-lowest property crime rate out of all 200 cities in our study. In 2021, 887 property crimes were reported for every 100,000 residents. This city, with a population of 202,000 people, also has the 10th-lowest violent crime rate (127 for every 100,000 residents). And like Frisco, McKinnney’s drug poisoning mortality rate is tied for the fourth-lowest.
3. McAllen, TX
Located along the U.S.-Mexico border, McAllen is a city with nearly 144,000 people and it ranks third overall for safety. McAllen and the surrounding Hidalgo County have the second-lowest drug poisoning mortality rate (five deaths for every 100,000 residents) in our study and the seventh-lowest percentage of people engaging in excessive drinking (15.27%). The city records 179 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents, which is the 18th-lowest violent crime rate.
4. Santa Clarita, CA
Santa Clarita may be best known as the home to Six Flags Magic Mountain, but the city has been ranked among the safest cities in the country in the last three years. Santa Clarita has the eighth-lowest property crime rate across our study (988 for every 100,000 residents) and the 11th-lowest violent crime rate (131 for every 100,000 residents). And just over 17% of the population in Los Angeles County, where Santa Clarita is located, engage in excessive drinking (35th).
5. Plano, TX
Plano, like nearby Frisco and McKinney, has the fourth-lowest drug poisoning mortality rate. There are 157 violent crimes reported here for every 100,000 residents, making it the 17th-lowest among the 200 cities evaluated for this study.
Most Affordable Safe Cities
As part of this study, SmartAsset also set out to determine which of the safest cities are most affordable. To do this, we ranked the 35 safest cities according to a home affordability metric: median annual housing costs as a percentage of median household income. The top five cities where housing costs make up the lowest percentage of income are discussed below.
1. Cary, NC
Cary slipped from No. 7 to No. 18 for safety in this year’s study, but it remains the most affordable safe city in the U.S., according to our metrics. Median annual housing costs ($18,804) in this town of 178,500 people are just 15.18% of the median household income ($123,857).
2. Olathe, KS
Olathe, which ranks 16th overall for safety, is second in affordability. While the median household income in this city of 143,000 residents is $99,631, the median annual housing costs are just $17,496. As a result, housing costs are 17.56% of household income in Olathe.
3. Naperville, IL
Median annual housing costs in Naperville are 17.57% of the median household income, making this Chicago suburb one of the most affordable safe cities in America. Naperville ranks 14th overall for safety, thanks in large part to a property crime rate that’s the lowest in our study (320 for every 100,000 residents).
4. Overland Park, KS
Located between Kansas City and Olathe, the city of Overland Park ranks 21st for safety, but fourth for affordability. With almost 200,000 residents, median annual housing costs here are 18.52% ($16,536) of the median household income ($89,280).
5. Frisco, TX
Frisco is the only city to rank in the top 5 for both safety and affordability. It has one of the highest median household incomes ($130,118) out of the 35 safest cities. That means Frisco’s median annual housing costs ($24,600) are 18.91% of the median household income.
Data and Methodology
To find the safest cities, SmartAsset compared 200 of the largest U.S. cities across the following metrics:
- Violent crime rate. The number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2021 Uniform Crime Reporting Database; missing crime data was supplemented by NeighborhoodScout.com
- Property crime rate. The number of property crimes per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2021 Uniform Crime Reporting Database; missing crime data was supplemented by NeighborhoodScout.com
- Vehicular mortality rate. The number of deaths due to traffic accidents per 100,000 residents. Data is from the 2022 County Health Rankings.
- Drug poisoning mortality rate. The number of drug poisoning deaths per 100,000 residents. Data is from the 2022 County Health Rankings.
- Percentage of the population engaging in excessive drinking. The percentage of adults who consumed more than four drinks of alcohol for women or five drinks of alcohol for men on a single occasion over a 30-day period, or who engage in heavy drinking, which is defined as drinking more than one drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men on average. Data is from the 2022 County Health Rankings.
The vehicular mortality rate, drug poisoning mortality rate and percentage of the population engaging in excessive drinking are all measured at the county level. Both violent and property crime rates are at the city level.
We ranked each metro area in every metric, giving an equal weighting to all five metrics. We then found each metro area’s average ranking. The metro area with the best average ranking places first in our study while the area with the lowest average ranking places last.
To measure the housing affordability of the 35 safest cities, we compared them across the following metrics:
- Median annual housing costs. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Survey from 2021.
- Median household income. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Survey from 2021.
We divided median annual housing costs by median household income for each of the 35 safest cities to calculate our affordability rankings.
- Set an appropriate budget. Families that spend more than 30% of their income on rent, mortgage and other housing needs are considered housing cost-burdened. We have a tool designed to help you determine just how much house you can afford so you won’t be one of the millions of cost-burdened households.
- Don’t forget about closing costs. When getting a mortgage, be sure to use our closing costs calculator to get a better sense of how much these fees will be for you. These extra fees can range from 2% to 5% of your loan amount.
- Work with a financial professional. Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll make. A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan to save for your down payment. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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