Find out which metro areas reported the most crimes in our Dangerous Metro Areas report.
The 10 Safest Big Cities in the US for 2021
There’s no avoiding the fact that violent crime—especially gun violence—is on the rise in America’s biggest cities. The issue is so critical that New York’s Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency and The White House unveiled a plan to tackle the scourge of gun violence across the nation.
While today’s headlines are jarring, there is some good news to be found. In our analysis of America’s major metro areas, we found a ubiquitous drop in crime rates year over year—regardless if a metro reported the most or the fewest crimes to the FBI.
This gives us hope that a one-year rise in violent incidents may turn out to be more of a blip than a trend—especially if you look at the 10 metro areas that were ranked the safest in the US. If you live in a major metro area, or know someone who does, take a deeper dive into the big cities that report the lowest numbers of crime incidents—including demographic information and other community insights.
Learn more about gun violence across the US—and how much Americans worry about it—in our ongoing coverage of the facts and the fears surrounding this important topic.
Here are the 10 safest big cities in the US for 2021:
- Rockingham County-Strafford County, New Hampshire
- Provo-Orem, Utah
- Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Massachusetts
- Portland-South Portland, Maine
- Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Michigan
- Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
- Green Bay, Wisconsin
- Naples-Marco Island, Florida
- Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, Maryland
Learn more about every metro area that made our list
How these cities ranked safest
When it comes to looking at crime rates and trends across the most populous areas of the US, we decided it made more sense to compare metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) instead of standalone big cities. MSAs include both major “anchor” cities and the outlying communities that have high social and economic integration with the anchor city. So it paints a more accurate picture of both crime and the socioeconomic factors that impact the quality of life for residents.
To start with the most level playing field, we used FBI crime statistics to determine the rankings for the “safest” metro areas in the country. This data isn’t perfect—it’s self-reported by law enforcement agencies each year—but it’s the most comprehensive US crime data available.
We looked at both property and violent crime, and we calculated the rate of each per 1,000 people. That’s where the ranking list comes from—if a metro area reported the lowest weighted and normalized violent and property crime rates per 1,000 residents, it landed at the top of the list. Those with higher crime rates fell to the bottom.
If a metro area didn’t submit a complete report to the FBI, or didn’t meet our population threshold of at least 300,000 people, it wasn’t considered for ranking.
Read our complete safest cities reporting methodology.
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.
What it’s like to live in the safest metro areas in America
We all know that big cities come with more people, and that can mean more big-city headaches like traffic, pollution, and finding an affordable place to live. But big cities come with perks too. Things like museums, more job opportunities, and better public transportation help make life easier when you call a big metro area home.
And if you live in one of our safest metros, things typically get even better. Chances are, if you live in one of the safest metros, you might relate to the following findings.
People in these metros worry more about violent crime and property crime.
- People from the states that are home to our safest metros are 4% more worried about crime and safety than the national average.
People in these metros are less likely to live below the poverty line.
- The percentage of people in the safest metros who live below the poverty line is 29% lower than the US average.
Salaries in these metros are higher than the national average.
- The average median household income among the safest metros is $84,137—that’s 28% above the national average.
These metros spend more on public safety than the most dangerous cities we ranked.
- The safest metros spend around 18% more on public safety than the most dangerous big cities.
These metros spend more on community services than the most dangerous cities we ranked.
- The safest metros spend 138% more on community resources than the most dangerous big cities.
These metros have more high school graduates than the average American city.
- Over 92% of people who live in the safest big cities have a high school diploma or higher—that’s 4% more than the national average.
Unemployment rates in these metros are lower than the average American city.
- The average unemployment rate among the safest metros (5.0%) is nearly two percentage points below the rate in the most dangerous cities (6.9%).
How has crime changed in the last year in the safest metros?
Across the board, crime rates in both the safest and most dangerous metros saw steeper declines year over year than the nation did overall. This is good news during a time when we’re seeing a lot of headlines about crime increasing in big cities—especially homicides and gun violence.
America’s violent crime rate remained unchanged year over year, holding steady at 3.7 incidents per 1,000 people. In the safest metros, though, the average violent crime rate is just 1.7 incidents per 1,000.
Nationwide, property crime decreased by 4% year over year, but that’s far less than the 10% drop among the safest metros. And the most dangerous metros did even better—the property crime rate in those big cities fell 11% year over year.
Chances are, this year’s final crime numbers won’t turn out to be as encouraging, but there’s reason to celebrate lower crime rates in this year’s report.
Are people flocking to the safest metros?
Low crime rates could be one reason people are moving to the nation’s safest metro areas. Only one metro among our top 10 safest saw a net drop in population between 2010 and 2019.
The Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York metro area saw a 1% decline in population, while both Naples-Marco Island, Florida and Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, Maryland saw jumps of over 11% each.
Interesting safest and most dangerous metro findings
Safest metro area in America: Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH
Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH tops our list for the first time this year. Here’s why it was named the safest big city in America:
- Your risk of being the victim of a property crime in Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH, is 1 in 93, based on the latest FBI crime data. Your risk of being a victim of violent crime is 1 in 1,017.
- By comparison, in Anchorage, AK (our most dangerous metro), your risk of being a victim of a property crime is 1 in 23. Your risk of being a victim of violent crime is 1 in 84.
New cities among the safest metros in the US for the first time
4 of the safest metros hit our list for the first time, including our brand new number one, Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH. Here are the other three newbies:
- Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA, number 3
- Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI, number 5
- Frederick-Gaithersburg-Rockville, MD M.D., number 10
The safest metros don’t see much murder
The top 10 safest metros reported a combined total of 171 murder and non-negligent manslaugher incidents.
- That’s 80% fewer murders than reported by the 10 most dangerous metros (that grand total is 870).
- The combined number of murders in the safest metros is 45% fewer than Detroit, the city on our lists that reported the most overall, 313.
Grand theft auto: Many cars swiped in the most dangerous metros
Car theft was big business during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. Here’s how common auto theft was in the safest and most dangerous metros before that trend.
- Just 8,013 car thefts were reported in the 10 safest metros—78% fewer than in the most dangerous.
- 36,571 motor vehicle thefts were reported in the 10 most dangerous metros.
Crime rates in the safest metro areas
|2021 rank||Metro area||Metro population||Violent crime per 1,000||Property crime per 1,000||2020 rank|
|1||Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH||441,339||0.98||10.81||New|
|4||Portland-South Portland, ME||539,924||1.15||12.56||3|
|5||Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI||2,578,349||2.01||10.01||New|
|7||Bridgeport-Stamford, Norwalk, CT||929,479||1.74||12.08||7|
|8||Green Bay, WI||323,107||2.26||10.98||4|
|9||Naples-Marco Island, FL||383,360||2.34||11.24||6|
Income and education in the safest metros
|2021 rank||Metro area||Median income||% below poverty line||Unemployment rate||% high school graduates|
|1||Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH||$86,619||5.1%||3.0%||95.1%|
|4||Portland-South Portland, ME||$71,913||7.7%||4.6%||94.3%|
|5||Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI||$73,549||7.9%||4.8%||93.1%|
|7||Bridgeport-Stamford, Norwalk, CT||$97,053||9.1%||6.9%||90.2%|
|8||Green Bay, WI||$65,026||10.0%||4.0%||92.2%|
|9||Naples-Marco Island, FL||$76,025||9.3%||4.7%||88.9%|
City budget in the safest metros
|2021 rank||Metro area||% budget for public safety/police||% budget for community services|
|1||Rockingham County-Strafford County, NH||22.0%||Not available|
|4||Portland-South Portland, ME||17.4%||15.3%|
|5||Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI||37.2%||11.3%|
|7||Bridgeport-Stamford, Norwalk, CT||30.3%||1.3%|
|8||Green Bay, WI||25.0%||3.0%|
|9||Naples-Marco Island, FL||34.6%||24.1%|
How to make a safe home anywhere
Whether your metro area made our list or not, we encourage everyone to be proactive about protecting your home and family. One of the best ways to stop a burglary before it happens is to add a home security system.
We found the best home security options for nearly every budget, including self-monitored systems with no monthly fees and professionally monitored systems starting as low as $10 per month.
Find the Safest Cities in each state
Click on the state image below to check out the safest cities for each state—and find out how people in your state feel about crime and safety in our State of Safety report.
1. Median income, poverty line, and high school graduation statistics
US Census Bureau (2018), “American Community Survey 1-year estimates,” Retrieved from Census Reporter Profile page for each metro area. Accessed August 2, 2021.
2. Unemployment rates
US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Unemployment Rates for Metropolitan Areas, Annual Averages,” June 2021. Accessed August 2, 2021.
3. City budget allocations
Note: In most cases, data represented is for the most populous city within the metro area. We selected the largest city within the area as a representative sample of the entire metro area and refer to these as “anchor” cities.
Rockingham County, “Fiscal Year 2021 Delegation Approved Budget,” Retrieved from page 1. Accessed July 13, 2021.
Provo City, “Adopted Budget FY 2022,” Retrieved from page 39. Accessed July 12, 2021.
Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council, “Annual Budget 2020–2021,” Retrieved from page 109. Accessed July 13, 2021.
City of Portland, “FY20 Municipal Budget,” Retrieved from page 23. Accessed July 13, 2021.
City of Warren, Michigan, “Budget, Fiscal Year June 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021,” Retrieved from page 27. Accessed July 13, 2021.
Dutchess County, “2021 Adopted Budget,” Retrieved from page 26. Accessed July 13, 2021.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, “Annual Operating Budget Fiscal Year 2020–2021,” Retrieved from page 39. Accessed July 13, 2021.
City of Green Bay, “2021 Budget,” Retrieved from page 4. Accessed July 13, 2021.
City of Naples, Florida, “Adopted Budget Fiscal Year 2020–2021,” Retrieved from page 32. Accessed July 13, 2021.
The City of Frederick, “Fiscal Year 2022 Adopted Budget,” Retrieved from pages 71 and 169. Accessed July 13, 2021.