With crime rates on the rise, many Americans are asking: What are the safest and the most dangerous cities in the U.S.? WalletHub recently compared more than 42 key indicators of safety to rank 180 cities in America. It’s a useful list whether you’re traveling somewhere or looking for a new place to live.
“WalletHub is a finance website and traveling or deciding on a place to live are both financially motivated decisions to a certain extent,” says WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “Safety is obviously a key factor in choosing where to travel or settle down.”
WalletHub compiled its annual list of the safest and most dangerous cities in America by evaluating data points like the percentage of hate crimes and assaults per capita but also other indicators of safety, from weather disasters to unemployment to road quality to the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated.
The Safest Cities In America
Coming in at the top of the list as the safest city in America is Columbia, Maryland. A planned community, Columbia is located between Washington D.C. and Baltimore and is a sister of The Woodlands in Texas, which was named the best place to live in America in a recent report.
In addition to its safety record, Columbia is known for its natural beauty (including the 27-acre Lake Kittamaqundi) and an increasingly cool food and arts scene. Andy Shallal is an artist, activist and restaurateur who founded Busboys and Poets, a restaurant, bar, bookstore and community gathering place headquartered in Washington D.C. He chose Columbia as the setting for the latest location of his cutting-edge cultural outpost. “The area’s history of inclusiveness, safety and progressivism—along with its rich arts heritage—played a significant role in our decision to build our largest location in Downtown Columbia’s Merriweather District, and I believe it is a big contributor to why the area continuously ranks as one of the best places to live in the country,” says Shallal.
Columbia is also emerging as a creative hub for companies focused on technology and innovation. “The values on which the visionary city of Columbia was founded over 55 years ago—safety, inclusion and an exceptional quality of life—hold true today under the thoughtful stewardship of The Howard Hughes Corporation and are among the top attributes that attracted us to Downtown Columbia,” said Rick Kohr, CEO of Evergreen Advisors, an investment bank and corporate advisory firm that recently scrapped a plan to move to Baltimore and set up its headquarters in Columbia instead.
Coming in number two on the list as the second safest city in America: Nashua, New Hampshire, an historic and nature-oriented place set on the banks of the Nashua and Merrimack Rivers. “Nashua is the second safest city due to the lack of terrorist attacks, the lack of murders registered and the small number of assaults, thefts and pedestrian fatalities per capita,” says Gonzalez. “The city is also sheltered from natural disasters and ranks very high in terms of financial safety.”
The Most Dangerous Cities in America
In its analysis, WalletHub also looked at the most dangerous cities in the U.S. “Some cities have definitely been more affected than others by the pandemic, as well as protests and riots,” says Gonzalez. “We are still currently seeing a spike in crime rate that started in 2020. Homicide rates in particular are on the rise, with cities such as Kansas City, Detroit or St. Louis registering the biggest increases.”
Coming in at the bottom of the list was St. Louis, Missouri, which has been named the most dangerous city in America on a number of similar lists. “The high crime rate is definitely a good reason for travelers to avoid visiting the city,” says Gonzalez.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “St. Louis is the least safe city because of the large number of murders, assaults, thefts, sex offenders and drug overdose deaths per capita, as well as the high traffic and pedestrian fatality rates,” says Gonzalez. “In terms of financial safety, St. Louis has one of the largest numbers of personal bankruptcy filings per capita and a large share of seriously underwater mortgages, almost 18%.”
Surprisingly, one of the country’s most popular vacation getaways fared poorly on the list: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which was named the second most dangerous city in America. “Fort Lauderdale has a high pedestrian fatality rate, but its lack of safety is mostly in the financial sector. For example, the city has a large share of homeowners who spend more than 35% of their household income on housing,” says Gonzalez. “Plus, there is a large number of fraud and identity theft complaints registered.”
Safest Places In The U.S.: Surprising Results
According to Gonzalez, WalletHub made some slight updates to its methodology this year, resulting in a few surprising differences in the ranking. “Some of the most notable include South Burlington, Vermont dropping from second place last year to 15th place or Laredo jumping from 19th last year to third place,” says Gonzalez.
South Burlington dipped on the list due to a lower degree of home and community safety, plus a significant increase in hate crime incidents and traffic fatalities per capita.
Laredo, Texas, on the other hand, saw improvements both in terms of home and community safety and financial safety. “The city managed to vaccinate all of its residents against Covid-19, it had fewer hate crime incidents and a lower traffic fatality rate,” says Gonzalez. “Financially speaking, it has a lower poverty rate compared to last year, fewer identity theft complaints, better job security and employment growth, as well as fewer personal bankruptcy filings and underwater mortgages.”
Read on for the lists of the safest and most dangerous cities in America. You can also see WalletHub’s full report, which ranks 180 cities across the country and includes breakout lists like the places with the most and the fewest traffic fatalities per capita, highest and lowest unemployment rates, highest and lowest natural disaster risks and more.
10 Safest Cities in the U.S.
- Columbia, Maryland
- Nashua, New Hampshire
- Laredo, Texas
- Portland, Maine
- Warwick, Rhode Island
- Yonkers, New York
- Gilbert, Arizona
- Burlington, Vermont
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Lewiston, Maine
10 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- San Bernardino, California
- Detroit, Michigan
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Oklahoma City
- Oakland, California
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Chattanooga, Tennessee