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Picking a place to live often comes down to practicality. It’s important to know whether or not you can afford the area; but from there come the specifics. How is the school system? The employment rate? Perhaps the most important question of all, however, is how safe you’ll be living there.

Knowing just how important this last factor is, the Movoto Real Estate Blog has previously ranked the safest suburbs and safest mid-sized cities in the country, and today we’re moving on to America’s larger cities. Which one came out on top? It turns out that Irvine, CA is the safest, closely followed by these cities:

1. Irvine, CA
2. Fremont, CA
3. Gilbert, AZ
4. Plano, TX
5. Henderson, NV
6. Scottsdale, AZ
7. Chula Vista, CA
8. Boise, ID
9. Irving, TX
10. Chandler, AZ

Fremont, CAThree out of the 10 cities are in both California and Arizona, and two are from Texas. Just what are these states doing to make their cities so safe? Keep reading to find out and learn more about the method behind our ranking.

How We Created This Report

In putting this report together, we started by gathering a list of the 100 most populous cities in the U.S. from the 2012 Census (excluding Tucson, Honolulu, Columbus, and Toledo, as these cities did not report thefts in a way acceptable to the FBI). We then looked at each of these cities in terms of the following criteria, using official statistics from the 2012 FBI Uniform Crime Report:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Theft
  • Vehicle theft

Gilbert, AZWe then divided these crimes into four distinct categories:

  • Murders
  • Violent crimes
  • Property crimes
  • Total crimes

We wanted to create an equal playing field for both our larger and smaller cities, so we used the number of crimes per 100, 000 people annually, rather than the total number of crimes. Then, we ranked each city from 1 to 100 in each category, with 1 being the safest.

From there, we weighted the results so that murder, violent crime, and property crime each comprised 30 percent of the final score and the total number of crimes made up 10 percent. The average of these weighted scores was used to determine the safest city.

For a complete list of all 100 cities and how they fared, head to the bottom of our post; or keep reading as we take a closer look at just what makes each of our top 10 so safe.

Source: Flickr user &koia&

Irvine, the first of the three California cities in our top 10, placed highly for its low number of overall crimes per 100, 000 people, but particularly for its low number of violent crimes. In 2012, Irvine saw a total of just 51 violent crimes per 100, 000 people, which included one murder. Additionally, Irvine had 1, 519 property crimes per 100, 000, adding up to a total of 1, 570 crimes per 100, 000 people.

Plano, TXFor comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at another California city: Stockton, CA. Here, not only were there 1, 548 violent crimes per 100, 000 people, but 24 of those were murders. Additionally, there were 5, 101 property crimes per 100, 000, resulting in a total of 6, 649 crimes per 100, 000 residents. Or, think of it this way: In Irvine, you have just a 1 in 64 chance of being the victim of a crime; in Stockton, your odds are 1 in 15.

Source: Flickr user Charlie Day Daytime Studios

This Bay Area city ranked well for its low number of crimes per 100, 000 people; murders in particular. Considering the city’s size of 221, 927 residents, one murder per 100, 000 people is really quite remarkable. Then again, so is the fact that it only saw 1, 945 property crimes per 100, 000 people in 2012, giving residents just a 1 in 48 chance of being the victim of any type of crime.

Perhaps it’s all of those Silicon Valley commuters keeping this place low key and safe, or maybe it’s just the influence of being surrounded by such natural beauty; whatever you’re doing (or rather, not doing), Fremont, keep it up.

Located southeast of Phoenix, AZ, Gilbert has all of the benefits of being near the capital city without any of the drawbacks (namely, the crime). Of course, with just over 214, 000 residents, Gilbert has a population almost seven times smaller than that of Phoenix—which is precisely why we didn’t consider the total number of crimes, but instead focused on the number of crimes per 100, 000 people.

In 2012, Gilbert only had total of 2, 084 crimes per 100, 000 people, broken down into 139 violent crimes (including one murder) and 1, 945 property crimes per 100, 000. The most prevalent crime overall was theft, with 1, 143 cases per 100, 000 people. So, if you’ve been thinking about moving to Phoenix (ranked 48th on our list), perhaps you should take another look at Gilbert. It has the same setting with a lot less crime.

Henderson, NV Scottsdale, AZ Chula Vista, CA Boise, ID

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