The 8 Safest Big Cities in the US – Safest Cities in America 2023

What Are the Safest Cities in the U.S. Above 350 Thousand Residents?

Big cities can be dangerous. In fact, the most dangerous cities in USA are also among the largest (more about it in the next paragraphs). But it is not always like that, and in this article, I present to you the eight safest big cities in the US right now.

The idea for this article came after the amazing (and polemical) repercussion of three of my previous writings: The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Europe; Is São Paulo Safe? PS: Most People Answer It Wrong, and Is London Still Safe? Here is What Journalists Don’t Tell You.

And a few others about some US states, like:

I could write about the most dangerous cities in the US just like I did with Europe, but everyone knows where they are, and there are plenty of lists on the internet with the same names: Detroit, Baltimore, etc.

I could also write about the safest cities in the US overall, without specifying only big cities. But then it would be a list dominated by tiny towns from West Virginia to the Midwest.

That is how I came up with the idea of this list of the safest big cities in America.

But choosing the safest big cities in the US can be a difficult task — which starts by defining what “big” is. It’s certainly not easy to compare cities that are vastly different from one another.

In order to make your decision easier, we researched the data and gathered objective criteria to arrive at a definitive result about the big cities with the least crime.

The Criteria Used to Define the Safest Cities in America

I considered only cities with more than 350 thousand residents. Yes, it is an arbitrary threshold, but if it was much lower, it would not be about big cities, and if it was higher, the number of candidates would be too small.

The indicators considered were:

  • Murder rate per 100,000 people
  • Rape rate per 100,000 people
  • Robbery rate per 100,000 people
  • Aggravated assault rate per 100,000 people

The fact that all of them are calculated by 100,000 people guarantees a fair comparison between cities of distinct sizes.

All the data provided is either from the FBI and documents published in 2020 or from the U.S. Census Bureau. The data regarding European countries comes from the World Population Review.

The comparisons with European countries are between homicide rates because while murders often have accurate numbers independent of their location, other violent crimes (and also property crime) are subject to differences in the reporting methodology between countries.

Book cover of Moving Out, Working Abroad and Keeping Your Sanity: 11 secrets to make your expat life better than you imagine
Book recommendation: Moving Out, Working Abroad, and Keeping Your Sanity

The 8 Safest Large Cities in the US Considering Crime Rate

08 — Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida, de 8 Safest Large City in the US

Population: 384.360 inhabitants

Murder rate: 10.15

Comparable European country: Russia (8.21 murders per 100,000 people). Talking about Russia, check our article about what to do in case of war.

Rape rate: 31.48

Robbery rate: 105.63

Aggravated assault rate: 317.15

Total violent crime rate: 464.41

In 2021, this city, part of the 200 of the largest U.S. cities, had a median household income of around $54,599 (Source). Despite being one of the top five cities in Florida, it’s not immune to crime.

Recommended tourist attraction: The impressive Florida Aquarium (be aware that it may have lines to enter, but here you can buy tickets with skip-the-line).

Why Tampa is safe to live

Tampa, FL is the safest large city in Florida and the 8th safest in the entire United States. It is also a great place to live and work. Violent crimes are low compared to the rest of the United States, as are property crimes.

Florida is overall a safe state by US standards, and while the homicide rate of Tampa is quite high compared to other cities on this list, other crimes like burglary and theft have lower indicators.

Overall, it is a very safe city. For comparison, Orlando, also in Florida, has a violent crime 60% higher than Tampa.

07 — Mesa, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona

Population: 492,268 inhabitants

Murder rate: 4.67

Comparable European country: Lithuania (4.57 murders per 100,000 people)

Rape rate: 51.19

Robbery rate: 92.23

Aggravated assault rate: 267.74

Total violent crime rate: 415.83

Recommended tourist attraction: Aside from being entertaining, this scavenger hunt will teach you a lot about Arizona’s cultural capital.

Why Mesa is a safe place to live

Mesa, one of the larger cities in Arizona, has seen a steady increase in its population. The median household income in 2021 was approximately $58,181.

According to the local website Ktar News, Mesa maintains the pressure on criminals through effective policing that includes community outreach, enhanced training, and openness for better accountability Residents of this highland and arid city enjoy lower-than-average crime rates.

Other large cities in Arizona like Phoenix and Tucson also have remarkably low violence numbers. 

Check also: The World’s Dirtiest Cities

06 — Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Population: 971,949 inhabitants

Murder rate: 2.57

Comparable European country: Hungary (2.49 murders per 100,000 people)

Rape rate: 85.81

Robbery rate: 101.55

Aggravated assault rate: 224.91

Total violent crime rate: 414.84

Recommended tourist attraction: This small-group driving tour of the best of Austin with a local guide

Why Austin is a safe place to live

Named the safest city in Texas for the second year in a row, Austin’s median household income in 2021 was around $71,543.

It is a very active city with many ways to get involved in the community and meet people who share similar interests. The employment opportunities are abundant and unemployment rates are low.

Several other factors make Austin a safe place to live, including its police force and its community-oriented policies.

The Austin Police Department is well-trained and professional. The APD has more than 1,600 officers, making it one of the largest departments in the US relative to the size of the city.

05 — San Jose, California

Population: 1,037,529 inhabitants

Murder rate: 3.08

Comparable European country: Hungary (2.49 murders per 100,000 people)

Rape rate: 55.03

Robbery rate: 132.62

Aggravated assault rate: 212.91

Total violent crime rate: 403.65

Recommended tourist attraction: An exciting day trip from San Jose to the majestic sequoias and dramatic landscapes of Yosemite

Why San Jose is a safe place to live

San Jose is known for its high household income, which was a whopping $113,036 in 2021 (Source).

San Jose has a diverse economy that includes companies in advertising, biotechnology, computers, and electronic equipment manufacturing, food processing and packaging (canned fruit), healthcare services, hospitality management, insurance, medical technology, and software development.

This diversity helps to protect the city from economic downturns that lately are affecting more and more often Californian cities. The unemployment rate in San Jose is among the lowest in California.

The San Jose police department works hard to keep crime rates low through community policing and strategic enforcement techniques. They work with community groups like the Citizens’ Police Academy and Citizens on Patrol to engage citizens and create a safer place for everyone to live or visit.

Honor Police Officers for Keeping Our Cities Safe

A safe city to live, work, and visit relies on harmonious and normal resident relations and an active and comprehensive law enforcement system. The police officers among these are an essential part of keeping our community safe and connected.

Nowadays, police coins serve as a popular way to honor the bravery and dedication of our police department. If you are interested in showing thanks to the police officers in your community, adding meaningful ones to your coin collection, or planning to take part in activities in Police Week. Go visit GS-JJ to get inspiration with their online templates or design custom police challenge coins as you wish. Any logo, slogan, or quotation can be easily customized.

Police challenge coins. Good police coverage is one of the reasons why San Jose is a safe place to live.

04 — El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas, the 4th Safest Big City in the US

Population: 688,667 inhabitants

Murder rate: 2.76

Comparable European country: Hungary (2.49 murders per 100,000 people)

Rape rate: 53.87

Robbery rate: 58.08

Aggravated assault rate: 264.13

Total violent crime rate: 378.85

Why El Paso is a safe place to live

Despite being one of the safest cities in the U.S., El Paso’s median household income in 2021 was relatively low at $45,031.

El Paso is consistently ranked among U.S. cities with low crime rates because it has a large population of families and retirees who are attracted by the city’s affordable housing and high quality of life.

You read it correctly: Affordable housing. Despite its good quality of life, El Paso frequently tops the rankings of the most affordable homes in the US.

It’s affordable

You get more bang for your buck when living in El Paso. Many affordable neighborhoods offer good schools, parks, and restaurants with low crime rates. The cost of living is low compared to other major cities like Austin or Dallas making it easier on your budget.

The local Police Department has done a good job in deterring border crime. Because of El Paso’s proximity to Juarez, Mexico, they have an ample supply of people who can speak Spanish and can communicate with Mexican police officers when needed.

03 — San Diego, California

San Diego, the 3rd Safest Large City in the US

Population: 1,424,116 inhabitants

Murder rate: 2.46

Comparable European country: Hungary (2.49 murders per 100,000 people)

Rape rate: 39.25

Robbery rate: 99.01

Aggravated assault rate: 225.89

Total violent crime rate: 366.61

Recommended tourist attraction: Observe migrating whales and dolphins frolicking in the Pacific Ocean.

Why San Diego is a safe place to live

Followed by San Jose, San Diego is another safe haven in California with a median household income in 2021 of $79,673.

The overall crime rate in San Diego is extremely low by American standards. We may even consider it the safest big city on the US west coast (if we don’t consider the slightly safer Huntington Beach as a big city, of course). It is, for example, safer than Anaheim.

Many areas have a crime rate close to zero, meaning almost no crime has been committed there in recent years. These areas include Scripps Ranch, Carmel Valley, and Fairbanks Ranch.

In these districts, the crime rate is up to 83% lower than the national average.

There are also smaller cities near San Diego with decent safety numbers, like Santa Rosa, Escondido, or Chula Vista, close to the Mexican Border.

San Diego has adopted a data-driven approach to fighting crime and reducing re-incidence. The police force is highly trained and very well equipped. This is due in part to an exceptionally generous budget which allows them to recruit top officers and provide them with state-of-the-art equipment.

In addition, there are more officers per capita than in similar-sized cities, meaning you’re never far from assistance when you need it.

The fact that this city differs so much from San Francisco or Los Angeles (both also in California) is so curious that we wrote an entire article about safety in San Diego.

Budget Travelers Digital Nomad and Expats Book
Recommended book: Budget Travelers, Digital Nomads & Expats: The Ultimate Guide: 50 Tips, Tricks, Hacks and Ways to Free Stuff & Cheaper Flights

02 — Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii, the 2nd Safest Big City in the US

Population: 990,384 inhabitants

Murder rate: 3.23

Comparable European country: Moldova (4.1 murders per 100,000 people)

Rape rate: 28.78

Robbery rate: 91.68

Aggravated assault rate: 122.68

Total violent crime rate: 246.37

Recommended tourist attraction: On this popular Oahu snorkel tour from Honolulu, you may see dolphins in their native habitat and swim close to green sea turtles.

Why Honolulu is a safe place to Live

While in 2023 it got second place, only two years ago, In 2021, Honolulu was named the safest large city in the U.S. The median household income was $65,707.

The low crime rate in Hawaii compared to other states can be attributed to several different factors, including the strong law enforcement presence throughout the city and surrounding areas like Waikiki and North Shore Oahu.

There are also community programs like the Neighborhood Security Watch that train volunteers to be security monitors for their neighborhoods. These volunteers are then able to help out with issues like graffiti and littering, in addition to reporting crimes so they can be solved quickly.

There is also the obvious geographical advantage that makes Honolulu safe (maybe the most important factor of all). Since it is located on an island, there is a strong incentive against criminality since it is much harder for criminals to escape to other states or countries. In most rankings, no matter the measure, the safest city in the US is often a relatively isolated place.

The Safest Big City in the U.S: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach, the Safest Large City in the US

Population: 454,353 inhabitants

Murder rate: 3.08

Comparable European country: Hungary (2.49 murders per 100,000 people)

Rape rate: 22.45

Robbery rate: 59.87

Aggravated assault rate: 52.16

Total violent crime rate: 137.56

Recommended tourist attraction: A 2-hour kayak tour from Virginia Beach allows you to observe native dolphins in their natural habitat.

Why Virginia Beach is a safe place to live (and perhaps the safest city in the US)

Virginia Beach, with a population of over 1 million, is the safest big city in America in 2023. The median household income in 2021 was $76,610.

Virginia Beach residents benefit from a thriving economy, a 3.6 percent unemployment rate, a wellness culture, and the lowest tax rate in the Hampton Roads area.

This is combined with a long-standing core community that is strongly committed to the safety of Virginia Beach, both financially and in terms of time.

Regarding safety, Virginia Beach is a world away from most large American cities, and it may be the only large city in the US with a truly European level of crime (or even lower, if we consider some of the most dangerous cities in Europe).

Virginia Beach is a wonderful destination to visit, live, and raise a family. It is a tourism center in the state of Virginia, and it is heavily impacted by the hotel elite. That means things can get expensive, but not violent.

Read also: Things in Common Among the Most Dangerous Cities in Mexico (An Alert for the US).

Tips Valid For Both The Most Dangerous and the Safest Cities in the U.S.

If you are traveling to any of the cities listed in this ranking, you don’t need to be paranoid about crime. However, there are a few things you can do to travel even SAFER and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

1st – Buy travel insurance that also covers theft-related expenses. Although it is often very inexpensive to purchase such insurance in Europe, many people ignore this small precaution and end up disappointed. I recommend the company Ekta, which provides some of the most innovative solutions for travelers, allowing you to relax and enjoy your vacation without worry.

2nd – Don’t be taken in by “drivers” who offer to pick you up from the airport or train/bus stations. They are frequently con artists, which can be dangerous. I prefer to use GetTransfer, a website that compares multiple, reputable transfer providers and offers you the best price. It is the best way to plan ahead of time.

3rd – Avoid walking around with your luggage. Radical Storage is a website that shows safe locations where you can leave your luggage, pay a small fee, and pick it up after touring the city.

Key Takeaways: The Safest Cities in the US and The Safest Metro Areas

When we talk about the safest big cities in the USA, there are several notable contenders that consistently rank high on the list of safest places in the country.

But curiously, some states like California (often associated with dangerous cities and regions like the Skid Row in San Francisco) also have their safe havens. One such example is the city of San Diego placed among the safest in America, and known for its low crime rates and strong community bonds.

Property crime rates remain remarkably low in these cities, which sets them apart from the rest. While it’s important to acknowledge the existence of dangerous cities, focusing on the safest places allows us to highlight the efforts made to create secure environments for residents and visitors alike.

These cities, part of the safest cities list, are not only known for their low crime rates but also for their strong community bonds and high quality of life. However, it’s important to remember that no city is immune to crime, and residents should always be aware of any imminent danger of crime.

The 8 safest big cities in the US are:

  • Tampa, Florida
  • Mesa, Arizona
  • Austin, Texas
  • San Jose, California
  • El Paso, Texas
  • San Diego, California
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia (The safest big city in America)

Now some additional stats:

  • None of the safest cities in the US is located above latitude 37. The northernmost city is Virginia Beach. Meanwhile, when we consider the most violent cities in the US, the majority are in the northern portion of the country.
  • Five of the eight safest cities are close to the ocean.
  • The safest cities in the US are distributed among 6 states, where 2 are governed by Democrats and 4 by Republicans.

If you enjoyed this article about the safest big cities in the US, check also:

Is Rio de Janeiro Safe?

Argentina — Once a Paradise for War Criminals, Now a Great Place to Retire

The Best Cities to Retire in Europe

Best Place to Visit in Europe in Each Month of the Year

Levi Borba is the founder of The Expatriate Consultancy, creator of the channel The Expat, and best-selling author. Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, meaning that the author will have a commission for any transaction.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top