Although data shows that violent crime rates dropped in cities across the U.S. last year, crime is still a growing concern among many Americans—whose fears are only likely to increase with incidents like the recent mass shootings.

For the third year in a row, MoneyGeek—a personal finance technology company—has issued a list of the most dangerous cities in the U.S., as well as the safest cities in America. It’s a helpful report to consider, whether you’re traveling in the U.S. or just a concerned citizen.

“The report allows us to see what factors may connect safe and dangerous cities to each other. Readers can also learn a bit of what to expect from visiting or living in different cities,” says Doug Milnes, MoneyGeek’s chief of data analytics. “Being aware of the facts—rather than simply the reputations of different cities—is paramount before a big move or vacationing.”

MoneyGeek came up with this year’s list by analyzing the FBI’s crime statistics for 2021 (the most recent year of available data), including violent crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault, as well as property crimes such as home burglary and motor vehicle theft. The company looked at 263 cities with populations greater than 100,000.

MoneyGeek paired these statistics with academic research on the societal costs of different types of crimes to come up the cost of crime for each city. According to MoneyGeek, the cost of crime per capita in U.S. cities was $1,836—a 6% increase over 2020.

The Economic Impact of Crime

So why should people care about the cost of crime?

“The cost of crime per capita is not only a data point about how much crime happens in a given population, but it also demonstrates the severity of the crimes happening,” says Milnes. “For example, murders and high-level assaults have higher costs than larceny or simple theft. By aggregating each crime into an easily readable stat based on population, we can make broad comparisons about which are the most dangerous cities in the country.”

Depending on the total budgets of each local area, Milnes says that understanding the cost of crime is important in both how well each state or municipality is managing their crime-stopping efforts.

Another result: “Aside from the imminent danger of crime, people living in higher crime areas see depressed home values and pay higher prices for crucial needs, including home insurance, renters insurance and auto insurance,” says Deb Gordon, a writer for MoneyGeek.

The economic impact also paints a clearer picture of the dangers in a certain place than just looking at crime rates, which suffer from a grouping problem—since the overall crime rate treats property and violent crime the same. “The cost of crime methodology we’ve utilized takes a cost by each type of crime so that when we report the one number (cost of crime) on a per capita basis, it provides a weighting backed up by academic research on these different crimes,” explains Milnes.

In other words, if MoneyGeek had simply used crime rates, it’s likely they would have arrived at different results due to these differences in weight between the crime rates that the methodology solves for. For instance, the academic research MoneyGeek relied upon uses a cost of crime of about $9 million for murder while larceny is estimated to be around $3,500. “People can disagree on the exact value of a life, but the important part here is to understand the proportionality from this research: murder is 2,571 times worse than larceny,” says Milnes.

The Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.

Last year, St. Louis, Missouri was named the most dangerous city in America. This year it was once again named the most dangerous city, with the highest per-capita crime cost on the list—$8,457.

“St. Louis ranks high above the national average in both the cost of violent crimes and property-related crimes locally,” says Milnes. “On the travel side of things, while there are no 100% certain ways of avoiding danger, there are certainly areas that are safer than others. From what we’ve seen from local experts, there are certain areas in the North part of the city that are much more problematic than others.”

Coming in second on the list of most dangerous cities in America was Mobile, Alabama, followed by Birmingham, Alabama. “Mobile has been consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the country,” says Milnes. “The property crime rate and violent crime rate there is the highest in the country, only ranking below St. Louis for most dangerous (due to Mobile having less high-cost crimes like murder). Mobile and Birmingham both have higher than average crime rates and relatively lower standards of living.”

In its report, MoneyGeek also looked at mass shootings. As of January 30, 2023, there have been 49 mass shootings, according to Gun Violence Archive—a massive increase over the same time period in 2022 when there were 34 shootings. “Mass shootings are a particular scourge on American life,” says Gordon. “The emotional impact of mass shootings is incalculable, traumatizing families and entire communities.”

Mass shootings also have an economic impact. MoneyGeek calculated the total cost of mass shootings in 2021 to be $8 billion—which is a 33% increase in costs over 2020. Boulder, Colorado was the worst city in the U.S. for mass shootings, according to MoneyGeek, followed by San Jose, California and Indianapolis, Indiana.


According to Milnes, the biggest surprise was the lack of big cities on the lists of dangerous places. “The surprises are that from everything you might hear about larger cities on the coasts being quite dangerous, cities like New York and Boston are not as dangerous as their reputations would make you think,” he says.

The Safest Cities in the U.S.

MoneyGeek also ranked the safest large cities in America with populations over 300,000. This year, Honolulu was named the safest large city, with a per-capita crime cost of $528.

“Hawaii in general is extremely safe relative to other states with major metro areas,” says Milnes. “A number of factors can lead to any city being safe or dangerous, and while we didn’t look into the exact hows or whys of each city’s situation, Honolulu may be uniquely positioned due to its isolation from other major cities, and is among states with the strictest gun laws in the nation.”

Another thing going for Honolulu that it happens to share with the other safest cities: a combination of a high cost and standard of living. “Cities that have higher costs and standards of living tend to also have lower levels of violent crime,” says Milnes. “Overall what we’re seeing is that the cities that have both a higher cost of living and a more suburban-feel than our major metro areas tend to be safer. This is likely to be even more true for specific neighborhoods or sections of cities.”

Cities that have higher costs and standards of living tend to also have lower levels of violent crime. Overall what we’re seeing is that the cities that have both a higher cost of living and a more suburban-feel than our major metro areas tend to be safer. This is likely to be even more true for specific neighborhoods or sections of cities.

MoneyGeek also ranked the safest cities in America with populations over 100,000. The safest city on this list was Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. This city has an overall crime cost per capita of $156. Next on the list was Sunnyvale, California, followed by West Covina, California.

In total, there were six California locations on the safest cities list and three on the list of safest cities with a population over 300,000.

Read on for the lists of the most dangerous and safest cities in America.

15 Most Dangerous Cities in the US (#1 is the highest cost of crime)

  1. St. Louis, Missouri
  2. Mobile, Alabama
  3. Birmingham, Alabama
  4. Baltimore, Maryland
  5. Memphis, Tennessee
  6. Detroit, Michigan
  7. Cleveland, Ohio
  8. New Orleans, Louisiana
  9. Shreveport, Louisiana
  10. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  11. Little Rock, Arkansas
  12. Oakland, California
  13. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  14. Kansas City, Missouri
  15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

5 Worst Cities for Mass Shootings in the US

  1. Boulder, Colorado
  2. San Jose, California
  3. Indianapolis, Indiana
  4. Atlanta, Georgia
  5. Colorado Springs, Colorado

15 Safest Large Cities in the US (with a population over 300,000)

  1. Honolulu, Hawaii
  2. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  3. Henderson, Nevada
  4. El Paso, Texas
  5. New York City
  6. San Diego, California
  7. Mesa, Arizona
  8. Charlotte, North Carolina
  9. San Jose, California
  10. Boston, Massachusetts
  11. Raleigh, North Carolina
  12. Arlington, Texas
  13. Santa Ana, California
  14. Omaha, Nebraska
  15. Austin, Texas

15 Safest Cities in the US (with a population over 100,000)

  1. Naperville, Illinois
  2. Sunnyvale, California
  3. West Covina, California
  4. Carmel, Indiana
  5. Glendale, Arizona
  6. Meridian, Idaho
  7. Provo, Utah
  8. Joliet, Illinois
  9. Jurupa Valley, California
  10. Sugar Land, Texas
  11. McAllen, Texas
  12. El Monte, California
  13. Rancho Cucamonga, California
  14. Glendale, California
  15. Pearland, Texas


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