People often opt to move to the suburbs for myriad reasons – space, affordability, schools, employment and sometimes to seek safety. Violent and nonviolent crime rates, roadway safety, and drug and alcohol abuse within a community can affect the quality of life for an individual and family alike.
With this in mind, SmartAsset set out to determine which U.S. suburbs are safest. The study analyzed safety data for 370 suburbs of the 100 largest cities – and also compared the affordability of the safest areas.
1. Great Falls, VA
Located on the banks of the Potomac River, this Washington D.C. suburb ranks No. 1 for overall safety. Great Falls has the second-lowest violent crime rate (6.81 per 100,000 residents) and eighth-lowest vehicle mortality rate, with 4.35 traffic deaths per 100,000 residents. Meanwhile, less than 15% of the adults engage in excessive drinking – 16th-lowest of the 370 suburbs the study evaluated.
2. Carmel, IN
Carmel, located north of Indianapolis, has the 23rd-lowest violent crime rate with 48.29 incidents per 100,000 residents. Carmel and the surrounding area also demonstrate a strong commitment to road safety, as reflected by Hamilton County's vehicular mortality rate of 4.86 deaths per 100,000 residents (23rd lowest). Furthermore, the suburb ranks 25th lowest in property crime, with 654.82 incidents per 100,000 residents.
3. Bethesda, MD
Bethesda has the 10th-lowest percentage of people who drink excessively (14.57%). Located northwest of Washington D.C., Bethesda and the surrounding Montgomery County also have one of the lowest vehicle mortality rates across the study (4.98 deaths per 100,000 residents). That ranks 27th lowest out of 370 suburbs.
4. Fishers, IN
Like the neighboring city of Carmel, Fishers is located in Hamilton County and has the 23rd-lowest vehicle mortality rate across the study. The property crime rate in Fishers (672.49 per 100,000 residents) is among the lowest in the study (29th), while its violent crime rate of 77.63 incidents per 100,000 residents is lower than nearly 84% of the suburbs evaluated.
5. Noblesville, IN
Noblesville, another Indianapolis suburb, is among the safest in America. Like Carmel and Fishers, Noblesville's location within Hamilton County means its vehicle mortality rate is among the lowest across the study. Additionally, the city's property crime rate (751.98 per 100,000 residents) is lower than more than 90% of suburbs studied.
The study examined which of the safest suburbs are most affordable by ranking the 35 safest suburbs according to a home affordability metric: median annual housing costs as a percentage of median household income.
1. Carmel, IN
Carmel is the most affordable of the safest suburbs in America. In this community of nearly 100,000 people, households typically spend $18,048 per year on housing or 15.07% of the median household income ($119,772).
2. Fishers, IN
Median housing costs are only slightly higher in neighboring Fishers, where the typical household spends $18,324 on mortgage or rent payments. That means housing costs in Fishers make up just 15.59% of the median household income ($117,503).
3. Brownsburg, IN
Located west of Indianapolis, the town of Brownsburg ranks 24th overall for safety but third for affordability. Home to more than 28,000 people, median housing costs account for just 15.95% of the median household income ($93,147).
4. Brentwood, TN
Roughly 10 miles south of Nashville, Brentwood ranks 16th for safety and fourth for affordability. The median household income in this city of over 44,000 people is $165,948. As a result, typical households in Brentwood spend just 16.09% of their income on housing.
5. Papillion, NE
Residents of this Omaha suburb typically spend only $15,456 per year on their housing. As a result, their rent or mortgage payments take up 16.22% of the median household income ($95,293) in this city of almost 24,000 people.
To find the safest suburbs, the study compared data for 370 places that are within 15 to 45 minutes of the 100 largest U.S. cities by car, that have at least 5,000 residents, by the following metrics:
The vehicular mortality rate, drug poisoning mortality rate and percentage of the population engaging in excessive drinking are all measured at the county level. Both violent and property crime rates are at the city level.
To measure the housing affordability of the 35 safest suburbs, the study compared them across the following metrics: