by Susan Gulliford
If you had to guess what the third biggest state by population was in America, what would you say? If you answered Florida, you would be right! It surpassed New York in 2014 to become America’s third most populous state. This 20 million person state has a median household income of $47,212, and 16.5% of its residents live in poverty. Florida attracts a wide variety of people: Almost 20% of its population is foreign-born, and almost 20% of residents are senior citizens.
With so many people moving to the Sunshine State, the ValuePenguin team analyzed violent and property crime data for 201 cities that have populations of 5,000 or more residents to determine the safest cities in Florida. Final crime scores for the state’s communities ranged from 328 to 8,221. The top five safest places are a mix of small, mid-sized and large cities.
5 Safest Places in Florida
These cities have an average crime score of 401, which is 83% lower than their typical peer in the state. With some of its lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.
Parkland (population of 27,160) offers safety to people and their property: It had the second lowest rate of property crime and the third lowest rate of violent crime in the entire state. The city is an 18-minute drive to Pompano Beach and a 30-minute drive to Fort Lauderdale. It is very affluent: The median household income is almost $127,000, and the poverty rate is only 4.3%. With 62% of the population having a bachelor’s degree or higher, it is a well-educated community.
2. Marco Island
This city is on an island in the Gulf of Mexico, and it prides itself on its beautiful white sand beaches. Marco Island had low crime scores for both violent (fourth safest) and property crimes (3rd lowest). It is the one mid-sized city (pop. 17, 343) in the top five. Per the last census, 46.7% of the population is 65 years of age or older, and the median household income for residents is $73,031. Boating, fishing and snorkeling are among some of the activities available to people in this community.
With a population of 69,129, this city is easily the largest on this list. It had the lowest rate of property crime of any city in Florida. Weston is in Broward County, and it is approximately 19 miles from Fort Lauderdale. It boasts a median household income of $91,613 and A-rated public schools. According to the U.S. Census, almost 40% of Weston’s residents are foreign-born, and almost 45% are Hispanic.
4. Longboat Key
Longboat Key is a small (population 7,129) barrier island community with the Gulf of Mexico to the west, Sarasota Bay to the east and beautiful beaches to enjoy. It had zero violent crimes reported in 2014; consequently, it had the lowest rate of violent crime of any city in this research. This community has many retirees, with 67.3% of its population 65 years or older and only .6% of the population under 5. It is also very affluent: The median household income is $84,403, over 90% of the population are homeowners, and the median value of those homes is $592,800.
5. Bay Harbor Islands
The smallest community in the top five, with a sub-6,000 population, is Bay Harbor Islands. It is a 31-minute drive to Miami and 29 minutes from Hialeah. There were only five violent crimes and zero murders and rapes for the year analyzed by ValuePenguin. Bay Harbor Islands has a middle-class population with a median household income of 55,196. Homes are more affordable here than the other top five communities; the median home value is $230,900. Over 40% of the Bay Harbor Islands’ population is foreign-born.
Although we adjusted for population in our crime rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small town to a large city. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: towns with populations between 5,000 and 15,000, midsize cities with populations between 15,000 and 40,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 40,000. Here are our findings:
Full List of Places in Florida
Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Florida” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the graph and see where your hometown ranks.
For 2016, ValuePenguin decided not to exclude cities with populations of less than 5,000. That removed the top two safest cities from last year’s study. The other three cities in 2015’s top five, Parkland, Weston, and Marco Island, made it into the top five for 2016.
Last year, only one community was in the western part of the state. In 2016, three cities were in the eastern part of the state and two were along the Gulf Coast. Small, medium, and large cities were in the top five both years.
There were changes to the parameters of the top 10 lists. The categories for 2015 were small cities had under 20K, medium cities had populations of 20K-45K, and large cities had populations of 45K+ so exact comparisons are difficult. However, all of this year’s top five were in the top 10 of their respective size categories in 2015. Also, eight of the ten safest places in the largest cities category were repeats from last year.
To rank these places, we collected data from the 2014 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 5,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.
We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a “crime score” by weighting violent crime at 80% and property crime at 20%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores.
Here is an alphabetical table of all cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See where your city lies!
Crime per 100K
Crime per 100K
|Final Crime Score|
|5||Bay Harbor Islands||5,907||85||931||479|
|147||De Funiak Springs||5,689||650||5,467||3,030|
|90||Fort Walton Beach||20,881||340||3,319||2,021|
|96||Green Cove Springs||7,062||666||2,889||2,136|
|11||Indian Harbour Beach||8,308||60||1,541||698|
|155||New Port Richey||15,132||800||4,553||3,240|
|92||New Smyrna Beach||23,391||385||3,138||2,043|
|24||North Bay Village||7,463||107||2,238||1,033|
|158||North Miami Beach||43,657||843||3,718||3,289|
|41||North Palm Beach||12,428||153||2,317||1,199|
|69||Palm Beach Gardens||51,210||148||2,826||1,610|
|193||Panama City Beach||12,186||1,009||9,043||5,345|
|27||Port St. Lucie||172,453||141||1,449||1,054|
|67||Royal Palm Beach||36,846||269||2,402||1,588|
|44||St. Augustine Beach||6,693||329||1,957||1,252|
|116||St. Pete Beach||9,503||431||4,388||2,432|
|29||Sunny Isles Beach||21,931||137||1,915||1,069|
|62||Village of Pinecrest||19,241||83||3,181||1,505|
|179||West Palm Beach||103,028||824||4,647||3,982|