With crime rates rising, many Americans are wondering: what are the safest and most dangerous cities in the US? WalletHub recently compared more than 42 key safety indicators to rank 180 cities across America. It’s a useful list whether you’re traveling somewhere or looking for a new place to stay.
“WalletHub is a finance site, and traveling or making housing decisions are both, to some extent, financially motivated decisions,” said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “Safety is obviously a key factor when choosing where to travel or where to stay.”
WalletHub has compiled its annual list of America’s Safest and Most Dangerous Cities by evaluating data points such as the percentage of hate crimes and assaults per capita, but also other safety indicators, from weather disasters to unemployment and road quality to the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated.
America’s Safest Cities
At the top of the list of America’s safest cities is Columbia, Maryland. Located between Washington DC and Baltimore, Columbia, a proposed community, 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 Kittamagundi) 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 meeting place headquartered in Washington DC. He chose Columbia as the backdrop for the latest location of his cutting-edge cultural outpost. “The region’s history of inclusion, safety, and progressiveness—along with its rich artistic heritage—played a significant role in our decision to build our largest location in the Merriweather District of downtown Columbia, and I believe this is a big one Contributes to why the region consistently 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 more than 55 years ago – safety, inclusion and an exceptional quality of life – are alive today under the thoughtful leadership of Howard Hughes Corporation and are among the key attributes that drew us to downtown Columbia” , said Rick Kohr, CEO of Evergreen Advisors, an investment bank and management consulting firm that recently scrapped a plan to move to Baltimore and set up its headquarters in Columbia instead.
Ranked number two as the second safest city in America: Nashua, New Hampshire, a historic and natural place on the banks of the Nashua and Merrimack Rivers. “Nashua is the second safest city due to lack of terrorist attacks, lack of recorded homicides, and low rate of assaults, thefts, and fatal pedestrian deaths per capita,” Gonzalez says. “The city is also protected from natural disasters and ranks at a very high level in terms of financial security.”
America’s Most Dangerous Cities
WalletHub also looked at the most dangerous cities in the US in its analysis. “Some cities have definitely been hit harder than others by the pandemic, as well as protests and riots,” Gonzalez says. “We are currently still seeing an increase in the crime rate that started in 2020. In particular, homicide rates are rising, with cities like Kansas City, Detroit and St. Louis seeing the biggest increases.”
Bottom of the list was St. Louis, Missouri, which was voted America’s most dangerous city on a number of similar lists. “The high crime rate is definitely a good reason for travelers not to visit the city,” says Gonzalez.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “St. Louis is the least safe city due to the large number of homicides, assaults, thefts, sex offenders, and drug overdose deaths per capita, as well as high traffic and pedestrian fatality rates,” says Gonzalez. “In terms of financial security, St. Louis has one of the highest rates of personal bankruptcy filings per capita and a large proportion of seriously waterlogged mortgages, nearly 18%.”
Surprisingly, one of the country’s most popular vacation spots fared poorly on the list: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which was named America’s second most dangerous city. “Fort Lauderdale has a high pedestrian fatality rate, but the lack of safety primarily affects the financial sector. For example, the city has a large proportion of homeowners who spend more than 35% of their household income on housing,” says Gonzalez. “There are also a large number of complaints about fraud and identity theft.”
Safest Places in the US: Surprising Findings
According to Gonzalez, WalletHub has made some minor updates to its methodology this year, resulting in some surprising differences in ranking. “Some of the most notable include South Burlington, Vermont, which dropped to 15th from second place last year, or Laredo, which jumped to third place from 19th last year,” says Gonzalez.
South Burlington popped up on the list due to lower levels of home and community safety and a significant increase in hate crimes and traffic fatalities per capita.
Laredo, Texas, on the other hand, saw improvements in both home and community safety and financial security. “The city managed to vaccinate all of its residents against Covid-19, it had fewer hate crimes and a lower traffic death rate,” says Gonzalez. “Financially, compared to last year, it has a lower poverty rate, fewer identity theft complaints, better job security and job growth, and fewer personal bankruptcy filings and underwater mortgages.”
Read on for lists of America’s safest and most dangerous cities. You can also check out WalletHub’s full report, which ranks 180 cities across the country and includes breakout lists such as places with the highest and lowest road deaths per capita, highest and lowest unemployment rates, highest and lowest natural disaster risks, and more.
The 10 safest cities in the USA
- Columbia, Maryland
- Nashua, New Hampshire
- Laredo, Texas
- Portland, Maine
- Warwick, Rhode Island
- Yonkers, New York
- Gilbert, Ariz
- Burlington, Vermont
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Lewiston, Maine
10 Most Dangerous Cities in the USA
- St Louis, Missouri
- Fort Lauderdale, Fla
- San Bernardino, California
- Detroit, Mich
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Oklahoma City
- Oakland, California
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
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