America's Safest Cities

Violent crime in America increased last year, but these 10 cities have crime rates that are much lower than the national average. Mostly, they're located in the Southwest and West.

Although violent crime across the country increased, there are plenty of cities in the U.S. with rates much lower than the national average.

Business Insider has combed through the FBI statistics on crime to find the cities with populations more than 200,000 that have crime rates below the national average.

The top 20 safest cities mostly reside in the Southwest and West. Six cities are located in California, two in Nevada and two in Arizona. Only two California cities were on the list of the most dangerous cities. Texas is just behind California as the most represented state with a total of five cities in the top 20.

Interestingly, Business Insider pointed out that El Paso, Texas (the 14th safest city) is located directly across the border from Juarez Mexico, which has been named one of the most violent cities.

“Officials there say that drug cartels keep their base of operations in Mexico to avoid encounters with U.S. law enforcement.”

Business Insider also pointed out that difference crime reporting policies at police stations across the country may make some of the cities seem safer or more dangerous than they really are.

The listed populations are from the 2011 census. Other information from Business Insider and the FBI crime statistics report.

Here are the 10 safest cities on the list.

10. Chula Vista, Calif.

Olympic Training Center.

Population: 247,535

Murder rate: 32% below average

Rape rate: 50% below average

Robbery rate: 20% below average

Chula Vista is just the first of three California cities to make the top 10. The city has the smallest difference between its murder rate and the national average, but the rape rate difference is one of the bigger ones.

9. Chandler, Ariz.

Population: 240,101

Murder rate: 65% below average

Rape rate: 1% below average

Robbery rate: 46% below average

A suburb of Phoenix, which saw a huge increase in home values from October 2011 to October 2012. It’s just a 30 minute commute from Chandler to Phoenix, which reported one of the largest increases in worker compensation in the last quarter of 2012.

8. Henderson, Nev.

Population: 260,068

Murder rate: 68% below average

Rape rate: 13% below average

Robbery rate: 43% below average

Even though the state has a very attractive tax climate, foreclosures are high in Nevada, residents carry an average of $10,670 in credit card debt and the unemployment rate is still at 9.6%.

7. Boise, Idaho

Boise from Camelsback Park. Photo by Patrick R.

Population: 210,145

Murder rate: 90% below average

Rape rate: 35% above average

Robbery rate: 55% below average

Boise is the only city on the list where one of the rates is above average. Some of the cities in the top 20 also have above average robbery or rape rates, but Boise is the only to make it into the top 10.

6. Scottsdale, Ariz.

Scottsdale Waterfront in December. Photo by Joseph Plotz

Population: 221,020

Murder rate: 71% below average

Rape rate: 26% below average

Robbery rate: 55% below average

Perhaps because the area is so safe, Scottsdale is also a great place to regroup, mentally and physically, with one of the top health and wellness retreats. However, the city was named one of the rudest cities in America back in 2011.

5. Irving, Texas

Population: 220,702

Murder rate: 72% below average

Rape rate: 55% below average

Robbery rate: 47% below average

Irving used to be home to Texas Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, but the team now plays in Arlington. The city is close to Dallas, one of the best cities to retire in.

4. Madison, Wis.

Population: 236,901

Murder rate: 73% below average

Rape rate: unreported data

Robbery rate: 11% below average

Though the city may be safe, it suffered the longest from the recession. In December 2012, Madison was still in a full recession, according to a report from the Brookings Institute. Also, retirees might want to think twice about retiring in Madison as Wisconsin is the fifth worst state to retire in based on a variety of factors, including temperate and tax burdens.

3. Plano, Texas

Population: 269,776

Murder rate: 92% below average

Rape rate: 28% below average

Robbery rate: 47% below average

Not too far from number five, Irving, the city of Plano has the largest population of the cities in the top 10. The residents are doing quite well for themselves as the median household income in 2009 was $77,140

2. Fremont, Calif.

Mission Peak, Mount Allison and Monument Peak as seen from Fremont Central Park. Photo by David Ball.

Population: 216,916

Murder rate: 81% below average

Rape rate: 76% below average

Robbery rate: 47% below average

Not only is Fremont close to San Francisco, named the second-best city in 2012 by Condé Nast Traveler, but it’s close enough to Silicon Valley, that it’s sometimes associated with the region. This might explain why the median house value in 2009 was a whopping $607,000, when the country’s median sales price in 2009 was just $216,700.

1. Irvine, Calif.

Rue Rueda Gigante Square in Irvine Spectrum. Copyright Buchanan-Hermit.

Population: 215,529

Murder rate: 80% below average

Rape rate: 86% below average

Robbery rate: 86% below average

Not only is Irvine consistently the safest city in America (nine years running!), but was named one of the best small cities to live in, according to a Money Magazine report.