Top 25 Safest Cities for Families in the U.S.

Top 25 Safest Cities for Families in the U.S.

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The LDS Temple in Logan, Utah, home of the Safest City for Families. (image source: BigStock.com)
 
If you had to make a list of all the things that keep parents up at night, “crime” would undoubtedly be right at the top. When you raise a family, your job involves making sure that your children are protected at all times. They need a place where they can learn, play and develop as individuals, yes – but they also need someplace safe to live and grow.

Though it may seem like crime is everywhere judging by the nightly news, crime rates across the country have been on a decline for over a decade. Property crime rates in particular are falling fast. Even major cities have shown significant crime rate improvements, which should be a relief to parents everywhere.

Whether you’re thinking of starting a family and looking for a great new city or just want to move somewhere safe, there are 25 key cities that stand above the rest. Here’s our list of the 25 safest cities in the United States for families.
 

Top 25 Safest Cities for Families | Top 3 Cities by Category | Top 5 Cities (>1 Million) | Top 5 Cities (750K-999K) | Top 5 Cities (500K-749K) | Top 5 Cities (250K-499K) | Top 5 Cities (100K-249K) | Top 5 Cities (<100K) | Complete List | Methodology & Conclusion

 

Key Takeaways

 
Cities that fell into the 100,000 to 249,000 population range ranked among the safest cities for families in the country, bringing home the first, second and fourth spots.

Pennsylvania scored high on our safest cities for families list with three separate cities earning a spot, taking the second, seventh and tenth spots.

Cities in Utah and Pennsylvania hold unique distinctions on this list, as they are the only ones with positions that correlate strongly across all metrics, such as violent crimes, property crimes, education, etc. Logan, UT scored as the safest city in America for families overall, and the highest in the population group of 100,000 to 249,000 people. State College, Pennsylvania came in at second on both lists.

Statistically speaking, the safest state for families appears to be California. Though it doesn’t have any cities that make it into the top 25, it does have the most entries on the overall list of ranked cities with 26. Though that makes a certain degree of sense given its overall size and population density.
 


1. Logan, Utah
(Family Safe City Score: 2190.3)

Not only does Logan, UT hold the distinction of being the safest city for families, but it’s also a city on the rise with the population expected to reach 100,000 people by as soon as 2025. Logan is home to the esteemed Utah State University and features many wonderful arts and cultural attractions like a vendor-owned farmer’s market, the esteemed Ellen Eccles Theatre and more. The city has a violent crime rate of just 79.7 per 100,000 people.

2. State College, Pennsylvania
(Family Safe City Score: 2184.9)

According to the United States Census of 2010, State College, PA had a population of about 42,000 people with roughly 105,000 living in the surrounding townships. As the name suggests it’s a college town, home to the University Park campus of Pennsylvania State University, more commonly known as Penn State. It, too, is home to a wide range of cultural and family-friendly events like the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon and more. The violent crime rate is just 93.4 per 100,000 people.

3. Provo, Utah*
(Family Safe City Score: 2182.2)

Provo is the third largest city in Utah, with an estimated population of about 117,000 people as of 2017. The area is notable for its low rates of violent crime, property crime and motor vehicle theft. In addition to being one of the safest cities for families in the United States, it’s also among the “Best Small and Medium-Size Cities for Jobs” as voted by Forbes in 2015. Provo is home to Brigham Young University and for the last several years has been one of the major tech-focused areas in Utah.

4. Harrisonburg, Virginia
(Family Safe City Score: 2180.7)

Harrisonburg had a census-estimated population of 53,078 people as of 2016. In addition to being an incredibly safe city for families, it’s also the location of James Madison University – a public research facility with over 20,000 students. Notably, it’s also become a hub for ethnic and linguistic diversity in this part of the country over the last few years as 1,900 refugees have settled there since 2002. The city itself had just 128 incidents of violent crime reported in 2017.

5. Midland, Michigan
(Family Safe City Score: 2174.8)

In addition to being statistically safe for families, Midland was also named one of the best small cities in America to raise a family in by Forbes magazine in 2010. In addition to its local sports teams and stable infrastructure, Midland is also famous for being the founding location of both the American Fur Company in the 1820s and The Dow Chemical Company in 1897. The city has very low crime rates in terms of violent and property crime.

6. Wausau, Wisconsin
(Family Safe City Score: 2173.1)

As of 2016, Wausau had an estimated population of about 38,872 according to data obtained by the United States Census. In addition to being a safe place to raise a family, it’s also very notable for its strong economy. Nearly one third of the economy is based entirely in the manufacturing sector and other prominent industries include paper manufacturing and tourism. The city of Wausau had only 123 incidents of violent crime reported during the entire calendar year of 2017.

7. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
(Family Safe City Score: 2172.2)

Located in the heart of Adams County, Gettysburg had an estimated population of about 7,700 people as of 2016. It was the home to the famous Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War in 1863. Each year, Gettysburg welcomes thousands of people for re-enactments, community-organized gatherings and more. Tourism is one of the major boosts to the area’s economy. Gettysburg, including all of Adams County, had a violent crime rate of just 140.7 per 100,000 people.

8. Appleton, Wisconsin
(Family Safe City Score: 2171.7)

Appleton, Wisconsin had a population estimate of about 74,000 people as of 2017. Not only is it one of the safest cities to raise a family in, but it’s also one of the best from an education perspective. The Appleton Area School District has three high schools, four middle schools, 17 elementary schools, and is also home to the famous private liberal arts college Lawrence University. The violent crime rate in Appleton was 140.5 incidents per 100,000 people in 2017.

9. Mankato, Minnesota*
(Family Safe City Score: 2169.7)

According to 2016 estimates from the United States Census, Mankato, Minnesota has a population of about 41,000 people – making it the fifth largest city in the entire state. The area is known for the quality of its education and its higher education opportunities, including the famous Minnesota State University, as well as South Central College, Bethany Lutheran College and Rasmussen College. Per 100,000 people, Mankato had a violent crime rate of 164.5.

10. Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania*
(Family Safe City Score: 2168.9)

Bloomsburg has a population estimate of roughly 14,500 people as of 2016 according to the Census and holds the distinction of being the only incorporated town in the state of Pennsylvania today. Bloomsburg is home to the Children’s Museum and famous sights like the David Stroup Fountain, the Bloomsburg Fair (the largest in the state) and more. In 2017, the rate of violent crime per 100,000 inhabitants was just 194.9.

11. Rochester, Minnesota
(Family Safe City Score: 2166.7)

According to the 2017 Census, Rochester, Minnesota is home to about 115,700 people. For years, it’s been rated as one of the best places to live in the entire country by Money, and statistically speaking it’s also one of the safest cities to raise a family, too. Particularly notable is the city’s emphasis on education – it’s home to both St. Mary’s Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. The city of Rochester itself reported only 224 incidents of violent crime during the entirety of 2017.

12. Corvallis, Oregon
(Family Safe City Score: 2164.6)

Corvallis, Oregon was founded in 1845 and, as of estimates by the Census in 2013, was the home to about 55,000 people. Corvallis is known as a “Tree City” with 47 public parks and other incredible outdoor activities for families. In terms of education, Corvallis is also home to both the Benton Center campus of Linn-Benton Community College and Oregon State University. Per 100,000 people, the violent crime rate was just 138.7 during 2017.
 

13. Ames, Iowa
(Family Safe City Score: 2164.4)

Located approximately 30 miles north of Des Moines, Ames had a population estimate of about 66,000 as of 2017. The majority of the population of Ames is students, with 36,000 people attending Iowa State University. ISU itself offers leading agriculture, design, engineering and veterinary medicine colleges and is also the site of the renowned Ames Laboratory – one of the most prominent United States Department of Energy national labs in the country. The violent crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants was just 181.2 in Ames as of 2017.

14. Bangor, Maine
(Family Safe City Score: 2164.0)

Bangor, Maine had a population of about 32,000 people as of 2012. If you expand that to include the entire Bangor metropolitan area, that number climbs to 153,000 people. In addition to being safe, Bangor’s economy is very strong – making it another great choice for raising a family. The University of Maine, Eastern Maine Medical Center and Hannaford Supermarkets are all among the area’s top employers. The City of Bangor reported just 48 incidents of violent crime during 2017, according to the FBI.

15. Fort Knox, Kentucky*
(Family Safe City Score: 2162.9)

Fort Knox, Kentucky is unique among the entries on this list because such a large portion of it encompasses the 109,000 acre army base that the area is famous for. It’s also located very close to the United States Bullion Depository, which currently houses a significant portion of the official gold reserves in this country. As of the United States Census of 2010, Fort Knox had a population estimate of about 10,000 people – making it one of the smallest cities on our list. When you expand their crime statistics to the entirety of the surrounding Elizabethtown area, the violent crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants is still just 113 incidents.

16. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
(Family Safe City Score: 2162.2)

Fond du Lac has a population estimate of about 42,951 people as of 2016. As is true with many other cities on our list, low crime and the quality of education are a major draw to the area. Culture is also a major emphasis, as Fond du Lac is the home of Walleye Weekend – one of the biggest fishing tournaments in the United States. As of 2017, the violent crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants was just 144.8 incidents.

17. Dubuque, Iowa
(Family Safe City Score: 2162.1)

Dubuque, Iowa had a population estimate of roughly 58,000 people in 2016, making it the tenth largest city in the state. With its low crime rate, economy and education, Dubuque is an excellent place to raise a family. In 2005 it led the state in job growth in the Midwest and held the distinction of having the 22nd fastest growing economy in the United States during the same period of time. The violent crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants was just 193 incidents during 2017.

18. Eau Claire, Wisconsin
(Family Safe City Score: 2161.9)

The estimated population of Eau Claire, Wisconsin was about 68,000 according to the United States Census in 2016. The area has low burglary and motor vehicle theft crime rates specifically. Eau Claire is the location of a major campus of the University of Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley Technical College. The Mayo Clinic Health Care System also has one of the best family medicine residency programs in Eau Claire.

19. Charlottesville, Virginia
(Family Safe City Score: 2161.5)

As of 2016, roughly 46,000 people lived within the Charlottesville city limits. Charlottesville has a low crime rate and a strong reputation – former presidents James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson both called it home at one point during their lives. The University of Virginia Medical Center, the City of Charlottesville and the UVA Health Service Foundation are the area’s top three employers. 11,000 people work for the local government in some capacity. The rate of violent crime per 100,000 inhabitants was just 175.4 in 2017, as per the FBI.

20. Altoona, Pennsylvania
(Family Safe City Score: 2161.3)

Altoona, PA had an estimated population of about 44,000 people as of 2016. Families regularly flock to the area for the Ivyside Park Campus of Pennsylvania State University. Altoona is also known for its local sports teams including the Altoona Curve minor league baseball team, the Bishop Guilfoyle High School football program and the Altoona Area High School football program. Those teams have eight recent championships among them. The violent crime rate per 100,000 people in Altoona came in at just 202.7 in 2017, according to the FBI.

21. Oshkosh, Wisconsin*
(Family Safe City Score: 2161.0)

As of 2016, Oshkosh had a population estimated at 66,500 people. Oshkosh is statistically among the safest cities in the country per population, making it a great place to raise a family. It’s also home to a number of incredible tourist attractions including active fishing tournaments and a number of major music festivals during the summer. The city of Oshkosh itself reported just 157 incidents of violent crime during the entirety of 2017, fewer than other areas in Winnebago County.

22. Portland, Maine*
(Family Safe City Score: 2159.7)

As of 2017, the United States Census estimated that the population of Portland, Maine was about 66,000 people. The Downtown Portland area is home to an arts district that has become famous for the quality of its dining. The city ranks among the top cities in the country for restaurants and bars per capita and was home to about 389 different dining options in 2017 according to Trip Advisor. The crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants was 127.4 in 2017 when you include nearby areas like Cumberland and Sagadahoc Counties.

23. Sheboygan, Wisconsin
(Family Safe City Score: 2159.4)

Sheboygan, Wisconsin had an estimated population of about 48,000 people as of 2016. In higher education, the city is the home of a satellite campus of Lakeshore Technical College, Lakeland University and the Sheboygan campus of the University of Wisconsin. The Sheboygan Area School District is a distinguished school district in the state. Considering its population size, the fact that only 161 incidents of violent crime were reported across all of 2017 is particularly notable.

24. Idaho Falls, Idaho
(Family Safe City Score: 2158.2)

Idaho Falls, Idaho had a population estimated at roughly 60,000 people as of 2016. The city is notable for being one of the most prominent commercial, cultural and healthcare hubs in the entire state – another reason why it’s such a great place to raise a family. Idaho Falls is home to the College of Eastern Idaho. For families, check out the Museum of Idaho and the Idaho Falls Chukars minor league baseball team. The violent crime rate for all of the surrounding areas was just 238.9 in 2017.

25. Lynchburg, Virginia
(Family Safe City Score: 2157.3)

Rounding out the top 25 safest cities for families list is Lynchburg, Virginia with a population of nearly 81,000 people according to 2017 Census. Lynchburg is the home of the nation’s largest not for profit university, Liberty University, as well as institutions like the University of Lynchburg and Randolph College. The city of Lynchburg reported just 287 incidents of violent crime in 2017.

*The city is part of a larger area, called a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). For example: Atlanta, GA* is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA.

 

Top Safest Cities for Families by Population Group

When all cities in consideration were ranked, they were assigned a score based on a variety of factors, including population size, number of crimes per 100,000 people, and other factors such as the percentage of the population that are high school graduates and the percentage of the population that’s currently employed. Using those final scores, we determined rankings of the top five cities in each population size. Our ranges include cities with populations under 100,000 people, all the way up to massive cities with more than one million residents.
 

Top 5 Cities (Population Over 1 Million)

1. Grand Rapids, MI*
Top Category: Property Crime (40th)

Grand Rapids, MI came in at number one for its population size with an overall score of 2143.

2. Boston, MA
Top Category: Property Crime (19th)

The Boston area earned the second spot in this group with an overall score of 2138.

3. Pittsburgh, PA
Top Category: Nursery/Preschool Population (44th)

Pittsburgh, PA scored third place for this population size with an overall score of 2137.

4. Hartford, CT*
Top Category: High School Graduate Population (78th)

In fourth place we have the Hartford metropolitan area with an overall score of 2136.

5. San Diego, CA*
Top Category: Property Crime (62nd)

San Diego, California came in fifth place with an overall score of 2135.

*The city is part of a larger area, called a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). For example: Atlanta, GA* is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA.

 

Top 5 Cities (Population 750K – 999K)

1. Bridgeport, CT*
Top Category: Propety Crime (33rd)

Bridgeport, Connecticut scored slightly higher than second place to earn the top spot for this population group with an overall score of 2145.

2. Ventura, CA*
Top Category: Family Households Population (32nd)

Coming in at second place for this population group was Ventura, California with a score of 2144.

3. Allentown, PA*
Top Category: Property Crime (58th)

The beautiful Allentown area came in with a score of 2142, earning third place for this population group.

4. Worcester, MA
Top Category: Property Crime (24th)

The Worcester area came in fourth place for this population group with a score of 2134 (more exactly 2134.04).

5. Albany, NY*
Top Category: Population Above Poverty (61st)

Albany and the surrounding area came in at number five for this population group with an overall score of 2134 (more exactly 2133.94).

*The city is part of a larger area, called a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). For example: Atlanta, GA* is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA.

 

Top 5 Cities (Population 500K – 749K)

1. Provo, UT*
Top Category: Family Households Population (2nd)

Provo came in at third on the top 25 list and first in this population group with a score of 2182.

2. Portland, ME*
Top Category: Violent Crime (7th)

Portland was #22 on the top 25 list, but came in second for its population size with a score of 2159.

3. Ogden, UT*
Top Category: Family Households Population (9th)

Ogden, UT came in at third for its population size with an overall score of 2153.

4. Lancaster, PA
Top Category: Property Crime (21st)

Lancaster, PA is fourth on this list for this population size with an overall score of 2151.

5. Morgantown, WV
Top Category: Employment Rate (7th)

Morgantown, WV scored fifth place for its population size with a score of 2145.

*The city is part of a larger area, called a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). For example: Atlanta, GA* is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA.

 

Top 5 Cities (Population 250K – 499K)

1. Lynchburg, VA
Top Category: High School Graduate Population (30th)

Lynchburg, VA came in at number one for its population size with an overall score of 2157. It also came in at 25th on the top 25 list.

2. Green Bay, WI
Top Category: Employment Rate (15th)

Green Bay, WI was the second safest city for families in the United States for this population size with a total score of 2152.

3. Greeley, CO
Top Category: Population Above Poverty (13th)

Greeley, CO earned third place in safest cities for families for a city with its population, bringing home a score of 2149.

4. Manchester, NH*
Top Category: Property Crime (30th)

Manchester scored fourth place in this population group with a score of 2144.

5. Richland, WA*
Top Category: Violent Crime (51st)

Richland, WA rounds out the list of safest cities for families per populations of this size with an overall score of 2142.

*The city is part of a larger area, called a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). For example: Atlanta, GA* is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA.

 

Top 5 Cities (Population 100K – 249K)

1. Logan, UT
Top Category: Violent Crime & Employment Rate (2nd)

Logan holds the distinction of being first both on the top 25 list and on the one for this population group with a score of 2190.

2. State College, PA
Top Category: College Undergraduate Population (2nd)

State College PA also came in at number two on both lists with an overall score of 2184.

3. Harrisonburg, VA
Top Category: Property Crime (8th)

Harrisonburg, VA was fourth on the top 25 list but third on this one with a score of 2180.

4. Wausau, WI
Top Category: Property Crime (6th)

Wausau, Wisconsin was sixth on the top 25 list but fourth for a city with a population of this size with an overall score of 2173.

5. Gettysburg, PA
Top Category: Property Crime (1st)

Gettysburg scored seventh on the top 25 list and fifth in its population group with a score of 2172.

*The city is part of a larger area, called a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). For example: Atlanta, GA* is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA.

 

Top 5 Cities (Population Under 100K)

1. Midland, MI
Top Category: Property Crime (4th)

In addition to being fourth on the top 25 list, Midland, MI came in at number one for this population group with a score of 2174.

2. Bloomsburg, PA*
Top Category: Property Crime (9th)

Bloomsburg came in at #10 on the top 25 list of safest cities for families, but made it to number two for this population group with a score of 2168.

3. Corvallis, OR
Top Category: College Undergraduate Population (4th)

Corvallis was 12th on the top 25 list, but was third for this population group with a score of 2164.

4. Ames, IA
Top Category: College Undergraduate Population (1st)

Ames was 13th on the list of the top 25 cities, but comes in fourth place for this population group with a score of 2164.

5. Dubuque, IA
Top Category: Commute to Work (8th)

Finally we have Dubuque – 18th on the top 25 list, but fifth for this population group with a score of 2162.

*The city is part of a larger area, called a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). For example: Atlanta, GA* is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA.

 

Methodology

To determine the rankings of the safest cities for families and the breakdowns per population group, we used data from a combination of different sources. Violent crime and property crime data were collected from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) database, while data like unemployment rate and high school graduate percentage were collected from the United States Census.

In certain cases, data reported for a city was not that city by itself, but instead also included the surrounding metropolitan area. In those cases, one city was picked to represent the major metropolitan area (with Boston being perhaps the most notable example). Based on that, it’s important to keep in mind that data may not reflect a single city in the most literal way, but also the smaller cities and neighborhoods that surround it.

Also, in some cases, there was missing violent crime, property crime or population data for a city/Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). In each of these cases, the data from the most recent year was used in place of the missing data (the oldest data is from 2015). All of the data for nearly 90% of the cities/MSAs is from 2017.

Each category was assigned a certain weight which was used to compile the Family Safe City Score:

15% Each:

-Violent crime (per 100,000 residents)
-Property crime (per 100,000 residents)
-Percentage estimate of population 18 years or younger living above the poverty line
-Percent of households that are classified as families

10% Each:

-Estimated employment rate of population 16 years and older
-Percentage of population with a commute to work under 30 mins
-Percentage estimate of population aged 18 to 24 who are high school graduates

5% Each:

-Percentage estimate of population in nursery school or preschool
-Percentage estimate of population in college as an undergraduate

 

Conclusion

Picking a location to settle down and raise a family isn’t an easy decision. Fortunately we’ve done the research to help you pick a safe place for you and your family to grow and learn. Any one of the entries on this list would be a wonderful place to build a home and with more than 25 different cities, you’ve got a world of options to create your dream life.

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