Safest Cities for Women

 
 
 
 
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by Amy Orr

The modern world is full of dangers, especially for women.

One out of every six American women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape at some point in her lifetime, according to RAINN, and someone is sexually assaulted in America every two minutes.

We see the stories on the news, we hear the statistics and -- whether we are aware of it or not -- we all make choices to minimize our risk and protect our personal safety. Don't walk home; get a taxi. Don't leave your drink unattended at a bar. Travel in pairs. Know your workplace's harassment policies.

From violent crime to harassment to curtailed rights, women have much to consider, and not all places are created equal. We have compiled 31 different factors to consider the safest cities in the U.S. for women. Below you will find our results, as well as the methodology used to determine them.

The Safest Cities for Women

In our analysis of the safest cities for women, we studied not only crime statistics but also availability and access to appropriate healthcare, cancer rates, education levels, workplace policies, female representation at the mayoral level as well as in the police force, conviction rates of offenders and income levels. A full list of the factors considered can be found below. For now, here are our top five safest cities and where they ranked in four major categories.

  • Thousand Oaks, CA

    • Crime: 11
    • Healthcare: 10
    • Public Policy & Representation: 26
    • Education & Wealth: 7
  • Stamford, CT

    • Crime: 7
    • Healthcare: 32
    • Public Policy & Representation: 93
    • Education & Wealth: 2
  • Cambridge, MA

    • Crime: 37
    • Healthcare: 36
    • Public Policy & Representation: 26
    • Education & Wealth: 5
  • Fort Collins, CO

    • Crime: 34
    • Healthcare: 15
    • Public Policy & Representation: 126
    • Education & Wealth: 13
  • Amherst Town, NY

    • Crime: 8
    • Healthcare: 47
    • Public Policy & Representation: 101
    • Education & Wealth: 48

The Rest of the Best

The five above were tops, but 256 other cities were under consideration.

It is interesting to note that all of the cities ranked in the top ten for safety have populations of less than 300,000 people. Three of the top ten cities are in California, whilst three of the bottom ten cities are in Texas. The safest large city in the study was New York, coming in at number 11; whilst there was no one category in which New York particularly excelled, there was also no category in which it did poorly, and its strong performance across the board secured its high place in the rankings.

Where did your city rank?

OverallCityCrimePublic Policy & RepresentationHealthcareEducation & Wealth
1Thousand Oaks, CA1126107
2Stamford, CT793322
3Cambridge, MA3726365
4Fort Collins, CO341261513
5Amherst Town, NY81014748
6Concord, CA1191512
7Naperville, IL11018630
8Simi Valley, CA132623191
8Yonkers, NY491014721
10Irvine, CA42610168
11New York, NY541014748
12Mckinney, TX231267641
13Sunnyvale, CA282610159
14Torrance, CA272610171
15Waterbury, CT110931543
16Carlsbad, CA262610185
17Lowell, MA641783639
18Burbank, CA332610174
19Orange, CA301101105
20Green Bay, WI63226974
21Fremont, CA432610164
22Chula Vista, CA291101114
23Sterling Heights, MI2022636113
24Roseville, CA56110166
25Bellevue, WA691266725
26San Jose, CA1022626111
27Thornton, CO88149323
28Honolulu, HI111101528
29San Diego, CA70269754
30Bridgeport, CT121933246
31Daly City, CA4126101114
32Glendale, CA1526101170
33Rancho Cucamonga, CA4626101114
34Santa Rosa, CA109267345
35Virginia Beach, VA552267517
36San Mateo, CA4826101114
37Alexandria, VA15931666
38Elk Grove, CA5126101114
38Elgin, IL1410186168
40Grand Rapids, MI135933243
41Kenosha, WI5222642105
42Huntington Beach, CA5726101114
43Boulder, CO90143253
44Ann Arbor, MI3222615206
45West Covina, CA5926101114
46Cedar Rapids, IA761262212
47Worcester, MA891783688
48Corona, CA3526101176
49Fairfield, CA1342642101
50Aurora, IL1810186200
51Joliet, IL731018695
52Fargo, ND722264498
53Murrieta, CA1926101224
54Westminster, CO981269317
55Santa Clara, CA7526101114
56Temecula, CA4426101180
57Woodbridge Township, NJ310119825
58Peoria, AZ351418358
59Garden Grove, CA8526101114
60Rochester, NY20711770
61Edison Township, NJ910119825
62Surprise, AZ251418385
63El Monte, CA9126101114
64Moreno Valley, CA9426101114
65El Cajon, CA9526101114
66Gilbert, AZ1012618359
67Santa Ana, CA9926101114
68Fontana, CA741101184
69Colorado Springs, CO1911262324
70Sioux Falls, SD1211785861
71Pasadena, CA1162610188
72Madison, WI662264249
73Erie, PA11817823141
74Cape Coral, FL122621571
75Syracuse, NY1761113163
76Downey, CA8226101168
77Oceanside, CA8426101171
78Baltimore, MD25013218
79Washington D.C., DC23312171
80Sacramento, CA1402650166
81Fullerton, CA711101222
82Murfreesboro, TN1511786619
83Scottsdale, AZ3812618354
84Norwalk, CA6026101242
85Allentown, PA10117880103
86Providence, RI13610145161
87Peoria, IL1701014692
88Fort Wayne, IN10417865135
89Ventura, CA13226101114
90Chicago, IL1631018635
91Columbus, OH16912622135
92Escondido, CA8626101212
93Cary, NC217823511
94Chandler, AZ4712618361
95Frisco, TX612624032
96Toledo, OH1921426164
97Los Angeles, CA13926101114
98Aurora, CO1581269336
99Anaheim, CA9226101221
100Costa Mesa, CA14726101114
101Springfield, MA1921783656
102Lancaster, CA15526101103
103Long Beach, CA15326101114
104Columbia, MO12022632188
105Louisville, KY1561785996
106Plano, TX2412624034
107Charleston, SC6617817253
108Hartford, CT2169310134
108Kent, WA16512667100
110Chesapeake, VA7722616615
111Lexington, KY1601785996
112Lakeland, FL1661787651
113Buffalo, NY2351016108
114Carrollton, TX2212624052
114Richardson, TX3012624036
116Riverside, CA10526101235
117Hayward, CA1501101165
118Akron, OH20512620138
119Palmdale, CA10726101239
120Rialto, CA1131101244
121Jacksonville, FL1791788233
122Port St. Lucie, FL5178204138
123Coral Springs, FL2117822274
124Lakewood, CO1951269320
125Vancouver, WA15912667145
126Jersey City, NJ9710119825
127Pearland, TX4512624030
128Philadelphia, PA1981788014
129Hampton, VA8022616648
130Inglewood, CA11726101238
131Newport, VA9922616616
132Ontario, CA11426101250
133Warren, MI14422636192
134Des Moines, IA1831261252
135Pembroke Pines, FL3817822274
136Lincoln, NE13022626251
137Richmond, VA13122679148
138Miramar, FL6517822229
139Henderson, NV5722619569
140Lansing, MI16422618211
141Lewisville, TX6012624042
142Overland Park, KS7822616494
143Cincinnati, OH2471262699
144Gainesville, FL13617892155
145College Station, TX5014240149
146Spokane, WA2351266361
147Springfield, IL20310126216
148Round Rock, TX17126240149
149Santa Maria, CA128121856
150Clarksville, TN10726155208
151Manchester, NH18012654201
152Greensboro, NC1622616387
153Antioch, CA2172651203
154Topeka, KS1872268271
155Dayton, OH2481419222
156Salem, OR12626151199
157Visalia, CA14926100256
158Billings, MT16722652188
159Seattle, WA20212656178
160Vallejo, CA2322659180
161San Francisco, CA22526101114
162Provo, UT40178174237
163Berkeley, CA18226101209
164Everett, WA20812667161
165Tallahassee, FL21117854147
165Milwaukee, WI24222610141
167Athens-Clarke County, GA14317816464
168Norfolk, VA103226166110
169Paterson, NJ12310119892
170Victorville, CA1841101233
171Cleveland, OH25312613188
172Durham, NC1881781534
173Huntsville, AL18622686111
174Palm Bay, FL8617822274
175San Bernardino, CA23826101114
176Irving, TX6214240196
177Tampa, FL11517822221
178Montgomery, AL12622684247
179Pomona, CA17326101254
180Pueblo, CO25412626180
181Knoxville, TN2462663197
182Sandy Springs, GA5217826188
183Independence, MO17493160105
184Wichita Falls, TX124126207102
185Broken Arrow, OK42226219184
186Eugene, OR15426152239
187High Point, NC13817821938
188Kansas City, KS2442268566
189El Paso, TX83126240149
190Boise, ID81226191195
191Rockford, IL22610172231
192Brownsville , TX93126240149
193Newark, NJ146101198146
194Grand Prairie, TX96126240149
195Nashville, TN20026155179
196Elizabeth, NJ142101198160
197Tucson, AZ22912662248
198Albuquerque, NM25612674176
198Tacoma, WA25212667198
200Hialeah, FL79178222202
201Oxnard, CA11226212258
202Anchorage, AK2281781773
203Wilmington, NC189178154137
204Denton, TX68126240243
205West Palm Beach, FL2042622274
206Clearwater, FL17117822240
207Reno, NV14193195212
208Jackson, MS21517898205
209Columbus, GA20926166186
210Phoenix, AZ175126183158
211Miami Gardens, FL16117822274
212New Orleans, LA19712121074
213Tyler, TX106126215244
214Glendale, AZ181126183166
215Birmingham, AL23722676212
216Baton Rouge, LA206121159183
217North Las Vegas, NV152226195155
218Hollywood, FL133178222171
219Bakersfield, CA19026181241
220Detroit, MI25722656226
221Mesquite, TX125126240194
222Fort Worth, TX18514240149
223Savannah-Chatham, GA14417825888
224Tempe, AZ168126183234
225Corpus Christi, TX19414210218
226Lafayette, LA172121212192
227Chattanooga, TN223178155173
228Evansville, IN201178178175
229Atlanta, GA24317821910
230North Charleston, SC220178172155
231Arlington, TX178126240138
232Pompano Beach, FL21317822274
233Modesto, CA23126180225
234South Bend, IN218178178159
235Salinas, CA17726240226
236Mobile, AL156226205209
237Pasadena, TX148126240228
238Orlando, FL24517821747
239West Valley, UT199178174229
240San Antonio, TX22714206219
241St. Petersburg, FL23017822274
242Odessa, TX214126239108
243Salt Lake City, UT25526174229
244Fort Lauderdale, FL23417822274
245Kansas City, MO251226160143
246Stockton, CA23926182257
247Laredo, TX129126260261
248Dallas, TX222126212174
249Springfield, MO25922699260
250St. Louis, MO261226160143
251Abilene, TX196126208259
252Oklahoma City, OK241226193133
252Memphis, TN260178155203
254Lubbock, TX219126193246
255Beaumont, TX22114236235
256Wichita, KS249226150219
257Amarillo, TX210126209255
258Shreveport, LA224121236232
259Tulsa, OK258226191187
260Houston, TX240126238217
261Miami, FL212178259207

The Top (and Bottom) Five Cities for...

Next, let's look at how the cities in our study ranked in important categories -- crime and healthcare -- as well as how cities with 500,000 or more residents stacked up.

Crime

Crime is the most direct factor affecting personal safety. Women constitute slightly more than half of violent crime victims but represent a minority of offenders. The U.N. estimated that one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Below, we have broken down the safest and least safe cities by their ValuePenguin crime score. This crime score was reached by analyzing crime statistics as well as conviction rates and police strength (factors 1-13 listed in the methodology section below).

RankCityCrime Score
1Naperville, IL141
2Cary, NC217
3Woodbridge, NJ233
4Irvine, CA245
5Port St. Lucie, FL250
RankCityCrime Score
261St. Louis, MO1,939
260Memphis, TN1,836
259Springfield, MO1,829
258Tulsa, OK1,822
257Detroit, MI1,805

Healthcare

Health and healthcare is also an important factor when considering safety. Poor access to healthcare can significantly impact well-being and longevity, whilst environmental factors can be as significant or even more significant than lifestyle for some diseases. Whilst the most important indicator for an individual woman's access to healthcare may be personal wealth, the availability of healthcare to the general female population impacts the welfare of this demographic significantly. Below, we have broken out the safest and least safe cities by their ValuePenguin health score, arrived at by analyzing cancer rates, access to women's clinics and the female uninsured rate (factors 21-25 in the methodology section below).

RankCityHealth Score
1Des Moines, IA28
2Cedar Rapids, IA30
3Boulder, CO45
4Madison, WI51
5Concord, CA57
RankCityHealth Score
261Sandy Springs, GA315
260Laredo, TX299
259Miami, FL286
258Savannah-Chatham, GA285
257Pasadena, TX282

Big Cities

An interesting result from this analysis comes from looking at a city's overall score versus its population. The majority of the cities ranked as the safest have populations less than 200,000. It can be deduced that larger cities are, in general, less safe. Below we have broken out the larger of the cities in the U.S. -- those with a population of more than 500,000 -- to see which among these is the safest and least safe.

RankCity
1New York, NY
2San Jose, CA
3San Diego, CA
4Baltimore, MD
5Washington, DC
RankCity
26Houston, TX
25Oklahoma City, OK
24Memphis, TN
23Dallas, TX
22San Antonio, TX

Experts' Take

To vary our coverage of the best cities for new graduates, we put the data aside and sought out an expert for answers to five questions of concern.

Janet Heller is a professor and founder of Primavera in Michigan.

1. What factors should be considered when determining the safety of a city for women? Good lighting of streets, a good mass transportation system, strong housing policies and a good police system sensitive to harassment of women are all important safety factors. Adequate street lighting makes it harder for people with bad intentions to hide. A good mass transportation system enables women to travel with groups -- rather than being alone -- to and from work and other activities. Intelligent housing policies that require adequate doors, locks and windows can make it very difficult for an intruder to break into an apartment or a home. A good police system will patrol high-crime areas sufficiently and respond immediately to requests for help. A good police department will also have many women officers, who tend to be more sympathetic to and aware of safety issues for women. I also believe that a community sensitive to GLBTQ issues will create a safer environment for women. Everyone deserves to feel safe, regardless of gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

2. What are the most commonly overlooked issues that affect the safety of an area for women? Some people believe that any woman who travels around at night is asking for trouble. However, many jobs require some night hours: for example, hospital night shifts, evening classes at colleges, department stores open at night, et cetera. If we want to offer equal opportunity to women in the workforce, we need to make it safe for them to move around at night. Also, many people go out to eat, exercise, hear a speaker, attend a place of worship or see movies at night. Women may be alone or with family members, friends or coworkers. No one deserves to be a victiim for trying to have a full life that includes night activities.

3. How can public policy affect women's safety? I feel strongly that all girls and women should learn self-defense in elementary schools, high schools, colleges and workplaces. When I was attacked from behind in Chicago one night, I froze because I had never received training about how to counter an assailant. As a result, I lost my purse, suffered a blow to the head, and got pushed down hard, which permanently damaged a disk in my back. I was in pain for months due to this attack.

After consulting with friends, I took a practical self-defense class designed for women. I learned where people are most vulnerable to jabs and kicks: eyes, nose, ears, throat, fingers, knees and insteps. I also learned how to block blows aimed at me and to break away from different kinds of holds. The class members discussed verbal strategies for calming would-be robbers and attackers. We practiced our skills until we could react rapidly and effectively. This course gave me more confidence and knowledge of self-defense.

4. How are perceptions changing regarding women's safety? I think that many people now realize that all members of our society must be able to feel safe, work in safe environments, and travel safely at any time of the day or night. Also, the old assumption that all women have a father or brother or husband to support and protect them is crumbling. We now have more women living alone, more women choosing women partners, and more women heading single-parent families. Public policies must reflect the current reality, not a fantasy world.

5. What are the trends in women's safety issues, and what do you think the major issues will be 10 years from now? We now have many classes in self-defense offered in most cities. These include judo, kung fu, aikido, karate, tae kwan do, kobudo, jiu jitsu, et cetera. More and more women are learning the martial arts. In 2026, I anticipate that most schools will offer classes in self-defense as part of the physical education curriculum.

More workplaces have strong sexual harassment policies and are enforcing them. I anticipate that all workplaces will have such policies in 2026 and will fire employees who engage in inappropriate verbal, physical or psychological harassment of coworkers.

More houses of worship now have sexual harassment policies. However, current policies focus on the conduct of church, synagogue, or mosque employees, not all congregants. I predict that in 2026, houses of worship will insist that anyone who enters must respect all other individuals and refrain from harassment of any type. I think that those who persistently abuse women and other worshippers will be immediately expelled.

Methodology

In order to determine the safest cities for women, we looked at 31 factors with data taken from 11 reputable sources. These factors were grouped into four categories: crime; healthcare; public policy and representation; and education and wealth. The latter two categories -- public policy and representation and education and wealth -- were considered secondary factors rather than primary factors in affecting the safety of a city for women.

Education and wealth indicate a woman’s mobility and ability to avoid -- or remove herself -- from potentially dangerous situations, and public policy and representation indicate how well women’s rights are protected. Those cities with strong female-friendly workplace policies allow women to better care for themselves, their health and their safety. As second-order effects, these categories were given smaller weights in the final rankings than crime and healthcare.

Some non-gender specific crime statistics were included in the analysis; these statistics indicate crimes that affect both men and women, but have been included both because they affect women living in the city and because women are more likely to be victimized during non-gender specific crimes, and statistics of these crimes for only female victims is unavailable.

All factors were ranked from the safest (one) to the least safe. Null values were set to zero. Some factors only had state-wide data rather than city-by-city data; in these instances, we included the data for the relevant state. All data was normalized by population.

There were several factors we would have liked to include in this analysis that we simply could not wrangle. For example, street harassment is an important issue that affects the majority of women at some point in their lives, and it’s one that can seriously impact how safe a woman feels, but it is inherently an unreported crime. An excellent study on this issue was performed by Stop Street Harassment. Public transit safety was another such issue for which we could not gather data.

Every woman is going to have different considerations when deciding whether a city is safe or not; by incorporating 31 different factors, we have attempted to capture the most important issues. Safety can be viewed as a secondary factor to wealth, and as such this analysis has attempted to capture women’s social mobility and choice in an area as well as more straightforward factors such as crime.

This analysis varies from a previous ValuePenguin study performed in 2014 on the safest cities for women by addressing health as a fundamental component of safety, as well as including secondary factors that may affect safety, rather than focussing purely on crime statistics.

Below, we break down the statistics we used and their point of origin. Those items marked with an asterisk used state data rather than city data. Each of the sources to the right, so that you can click into the datasets as we originally found them.

Crime (13)

  1. Rape Rate (per 100,000 Women) / FBI
  2. Robbery Rate (per 100,000 Population) / FBI
  3. Assault Rate (per 100,000 Population) / FBI
  4. Burglary Rate (per 100,000 Population) / FBI
  5. Larceny Rate (per 100,000 Population) / FBI
  6. Motor Vehicle Theft Rate (per 100,000 Population) / FBI
  7. Arson Rate (per 100,000 Population) / FBI
  8. Stalking (% of Population, Lifetime Prevalence)* / CDC
  9. Non-Rape Sexual Violence (% of Population, Lifetime Prevalence)* / CDC
  10. Homicide Rate (Male on Female, per 100,000 women)* / Violence Policy Center
  11. Conviction Rate* / U.S. Justice Department
  12. Sex Offenders (% of Population)* / Parents for Megan's Law
  13. Number of Police Officers (per 100,000 Population) / U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics
  14. Women as a % of Police Force / U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

Public Policy and Representation (8) - Half-weighted in final rankings

  1. Safety Resources* / U.S. Department of Women's Health
  2. Paid Family Leave* / National Partnership for Women and Families
  3. Pregnancy Accommodations at Work* / National Partnership for Women and Families
  4. Right to Pump* / National Partnership for Women and Families
  5. Pregnancy Leave* / National Partnership for Women and Families
  6. Paid Sick Leave* / National Partnership for Women and Families
  7. State Workers Pregnancy Accommodations* / National Partnership for Women and Families
  8. Number of Female Leaders* / Center for American Women and Politics

Healthcare (5)

  1. Reproductive Clinics (per 100,000 Population)* / Planned Parenthood
  2. Breast Cancer Rates (per 100,000 Women)* / CDC
  3. Ovary Cancer Rates (per 100,000 Women)* / CDC
  4. Cervix Cancer Rates (per 100,000 Women)* / CDC
  5. Uninsured Rate (% of Women) / U.S. Census Bureau

Education and Wealth (4) - Half-weighted in final rankings

  1. % Women with High School Diploma / U.S. Census Bureau
  2. % Women with College Education / U.S. Census Bureau
  3. % Women With Post Graduate Education / U.S. Census Bureau
  4. Median Income for Women / U.S. Census Bureau

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