Safety in schools is an integral part of modern-day educational systems. School safety—which pertains to the protection of students from negative behavior like bullying, harassment, and violence (AIR, n.d.)—is a top concern for anyone. However, school safety must not be confined within the school premises. Rather, it should go beyond the campus walls and include the concern and support of the surrounding community.
The United States, which has the second-highest number of colleges and universities worldwide after India (Aneki, n.d.), is home to numerous university or college towns. It is also one of the perennial favorite destinations of international students. And this is why knowing which are the 50 safest college towns in America—presented here in this article—is always a worthwhile read for students and families alike.
Inside college and university campuses, crime rates are on a downward trend over the past 15 years across America. The total reported in-campus crimes went down by 32% for the 2001 to 2016 period (NCES, 2018).
Aside from providing the obvious need for protection against harm, school safety is related to better campus and student performance. In fact, both physical safety and the feeling of being safe are linked to academic performance (AIR, n.d.). Conversely, the same report says that victims of school violence or students who are among the perpetrators of crime themselves are at risk of having poor school performance and attendance.
The same declining trend is true outside these academic institutions. In 2019 and 2020, the FBI reported that, on average, the violent crime rate among the 50 safest college towns in the U.S. remained constant at 0.9 incidents for every 1,000 people (Edwards, 2020). On the other hand, for property crimes, the crime rate went down from 15.6 in 2019 to 8.6 in 2020, or a significant drop of seven percentage points versus the previous year (Edwards, 2020).
Living in college and university towns offers many advantages and ideal conditions for both permanent residents and students (Green, 2018). Aside from its tight-knit community where everyone seems to know everybody, a college town regularly holds various cultural festivals that most townfolks actively participate in. This type of town also tends to have reasonably-priced residential properties compared to non-college communities (IRL Staff, 2015).
However, living in a community whose character is influenced by the academic institution and its culture can also be unfavorable to some locals. For instance, some people find too much closeness with their neighbors as some sort of invasion of their privacy. Likewise, with so many young people roaming around a locality, peace and order tend to be at risk, especially with the presence of drugs and alcohol during student parties.
The following is the list of the top 50 safest college and university towns in the U.S. for 2019. This ranking is based on a report by Safewise.com, which primarily used the latest FBI crime statistics on violent and property crimes in places that include college towns. Other factors were also considered to enhance the analysis, including community outreach programs, security practices, and safety measures used in these college towns.
Source: Safewise.com, 2020
Milton City in Massachusetts is the safest college city in America for 2019. According to the FBI, only 60 property crimes and 12 violent crimes were reported. The city is also the fourth safest city in the State and the tenth safest in the entire country. Milton is known for its friendly and hospitable people. It was also voted as among the best places to raise a family in Massachusetts. It is famous for being the birthplace of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
The City of Rexburg is the second safest college town in America. Located in Madison County, Idaho, the city also ranked as the 39th safest city in the U.S. Only a total of five violent crimes and 135 property crimes were reported. It is often considered as “America’s family community” mainly due to its low crime rate.
Located in Morris County, New Jersey, Madison reported three violent crimes and 76 property crimes for 2018, making it become the third safest college town in the U.S. It was named after the fourth U.S. President, James Madison. It is also the 32nd safest city in New Jersey and is often ranked among the best places to live in the state. Aside from its low crime rate, Madison is famous for its historic railroad station, which is one of the very first commuter railroads in America.
Aside from being among the top 5 safest college towns in the U.S., Wellesley is also among the safest cities in Massachusetts and across America. In 2018, the city experienced some violent crimes, while the property crime rate went down versus the previous year. It is home to the famous Babson World Globe, a 28-foot, 25-ton freestanding giant globe at the entrance of Babson College.
With only 10 violent crimes and 89 property crimes reported, Bristol continues to sustain peace and order within its community and the surrounding areas in Rhode Island. In fact, the state is actually known for having one of the lowest crime rates throughout the U.S., with Bristol rated as the safest city in Rhode Island. It is known as America’s most patriotic town as numerous U.S. flags are displayed throughout the town.
One of the most peaceful towns in New Hampshire, Durham continues to rate high in various safest American college town rankings. Its violent crime rate of 0.7 is one of the best in the state and throughout the country. Durham residents enjoy both the joys of rural and urban living, with plenty of wildlife, marshlands, and sandy beaches, as well as easy access to modern amenities.
Although a newcomer to this year’s top safest college towns list, Lisle is actually a “regular” when it comes to safest city rankings, especially within the State of Illinois. Registering one of the lowest violent crimes in America at 0.7, it is home to Benedictine University. This peaceful village is also considered among the “best places to live” in the U.S. It is also a popular destination for tourists, with famous attractions such as the Four Lakes Ski Area and Morton Arboretum.
This is the first time Moraga joins the rank of the safest college towns in America. According to the FBI, only 94 property crimes, along with 12 violent crimes were reported for the 2019-2020 period. This peaceful community in the San Francisco Bay Area is also known for its award-winning schools and vast canyon areas that include a portion of the scenic Redwood Park.
Known worldwide mainly for its Ivy League university, Princeton is acknowledged as one of the most peaceful towns in the United States. This municipality is a regular top-notcher in the top American towns to “live and work in” list, thanks to its 0.3 violent crime rate. Aside from Princeton University, it is also known for its key role in American history. The university’s Nassau Hall was briefly the former U.S.Capitol building, while two of its citizens were among the original signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
Rated as one of the safest cities in Ohio, Berea registered a low violent crime rate of 0.5. This Cleveland suburb is home to Baldwin Wallace University, along with several high schools and primary schools. This dynamic, peaceful town is a top choice for students looking for a good school to study at and a peaceful community to live in. Berea is known as the “Grindstone Capital of the World” because its quarried stones were used in many important edifices throughout North America.
One of the safest cities in Michigan is Rochester Hills. Despite having a large population, the city has a very low violent crime rate of 0.7, making it a good choice for students and their families looking for a college town to settle in. It also has plenty of good schools, from primary to tertiary education, such as Oakland University and Rochester Community Schools.
“A peaceful small town filled with friendly people” is how most residents and visitors alike describe Charleston. Aside from a close-knit community, this county seat of Coles County has three different police departments—a university, city, and county unit—that help ensure peace and order are observed at all times. These are among the reasons why its violent crime rate is only 1.4 all year round.
A known peace-loving community, the City of Edwardsville is a regular part of various “safest college towns” and “best towns for families” rankings. With a violent crime rate of only 0.5, this is home to the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Edwardsville is also popular among nature-lovers for its large protected forest areas and parks, such as the Madison County Transit Trails and the Watershed Nature Center.
Considered one of the best places to study and live in Massachusetts, Beverly is home to Endicott College, whose famous oceanfront campus and quality education had attracted students from over 30 states and 40 countries to study and live there. Located in the Massachusetts North Shore area, it has a violent crime rate of 1.0. This Boston suburb offers residents plenty of fun in its sandy beaches, a quiet community, and employment opportunities.
With only a 0.2 violent crime rate for the year, Mequon is one of the most peaceful and orderly college towns in America. This Milwaukee suburb is a popular choice among the best places to live in the country. There are instances when some of its schools, such as Concordia University, along with the surrounding community, experience zero criminal incidents for an entire year.
This peaceful town is hands-down one of the best places to study and live in Massachusetts. North Andover is located in Essex County and has a violent crime rate of 1.1. According to the FBI, the possibility of becoming a crime victim in this town is one in 39. Aside from Merrimack College, North Andover is known for being home to Phillips Academy, one of the oldest secondary preparatory schools in America.
The peaceful mountain town of Montgomery County has a violent crime rate of 0.9. Aside from being home to Virginia Tech, Blacksburg is known for being one of the safest college towns in the U.S. Residents enjoy living in this safe community, with plenty of fresh mountain air, historical places, homegrown arts, and friendly neighbors. It has also been voted as one of the best places to raise children in the U.S.
Considered as one of the best places to live in Indiana, West Lafayette is a small city with a relatively large population but with a low violent crime rate, at 0.7. The area is home to Purdue University, which is ranked as among the best public universities in the U.S. West Lafayette is rich in natural resources, culture, and history, including many employment opportunities.
A city in DuPage County, Elmhurst is rated as among the best places to live in Illinois. It has a violent crime rate of 0.5. and is safer compared to 60% of all towns and cities in the U.S. It is home to Elmhurst University and is rated as among the best American towns to raise a family.
The county seat of Cumberland County, Carlisle is consistently voted as one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania. It offers residents ready access to the necessary amenities of modern living, including good schools, parks, and a steady food supply since Carlisle is part of a major agricultural region in America. The first of two Pennsylvania towns, this suburban town has a violent crime rate of 0.9.
Nestled in the picturesque Palo Duro Canyon Valley, the small City of Canyon is one of the best places to live in the State of Texas. It is home to West Texas A&M University and Canyon High School. The county seat of Randall County, Canyon has a 0.9 violent crime rate. Its student population is around half the city’s entire population.
Located along the Ohio River, Moon Township is one of the safest college towns and among the best places to live in Pennsylvania. This second entry from the Keystone State in this list is home to Robert Morris University and is the birthplace of U.S. Airways. The township’s continuous industrial development offers numerous employment opportunities to its residents.
The second of two entries from Rhode Island, Smithfield is one of the safest college towns in America. A suburb of Providence, this town is also considered among the best places to raise a family due to its quality educational institutions, wide forest areas, and rich history. Smithfield is home to Bryant University and numerous elementary and high schools.
This city in Westchester County city offers balanced suburban and urban living, plus a safe community, which has been attracting families from all over the U.S. New Rochelle has a violent crime rate of 1.2, which is way below cities of similar sizes. Aside from good schools and employment opportunities, this place also offers vast green spaces, waterfronts, and parks.
Another entry from Massachusetts, Bridgewater is one of the safest college towns and among the best places to raise a family in the state. Home to Bridgewater State University, it has a property crime rate of 4.2 and a violent crime rate of 2.1. This peaceful city is part of Plymouth County.
The county seat of Watauga County, Boone is nestled on North Carolina’s the Blue Ridge Mountains. For this year, no violent crime was reported, although its property crime rate was 14.8. Around 88% of its population are college students, mostly studying at the Appalachian State University.
This college town is one of the safest places in Michigan, with a violent crime of 1.3. Midland is home to Northwood University and has a rich cultural, historical, and architectural tradition. Its notable places include the Midland Center for the Arts, Midland County Historical Societies Heritage Park, and the Civic Arena.
A suburb of Chicago, Wheaton is one of the safest college towns in the State of Illinois, with a safety rating of 90.43. It is the county seat of DuPage County and has a violent crime rate of 0.7. It is home to Wheaton College and various private and public elementary schools, high schools, and colleges.
This Californian city has the biggest population on this list of the safest college towns in the U.S. Irvine’s violent crime rate of 0.6 is remarkable, considering its large number of residents, which include over 30,000 students. It is home to Pepperdine University, University of California-Irvine, University of Irvine, and Concordia University-Irvine.
The City of Marquette, Michigan has consistently been rated as one of the safest college towns in America. A part of Marquette County, this city in the Great Lake State has a violent crime rate of 1.1. This major port city along Lake Superior is home to Northern Michigan University.
Source: Safewise.com 2020Designed by
The second entry from the Badger State, De Pere has a violent crime rate of 1.5 and a property crime rate of 8.1. It is voted as one of the best places to live in Wisconsin and is home to St. Norbert College and several primary and secondary schools, including Syble Hopp, a school operated by the Brown County Children with Disabilities Education Board.
Medford is one of eight safest college towns in the Old Colony State. This peaceful city has a violent crime rate of 1.3 and is considered one of the best places to raise a family in Massachusetts. It is home to Tufts University, one of the largest institutions of higher education in the greater Boston area.
The county seat of Wood County, Bowling Green is rated as one of the best places to live in the Buckeye State. Bowling Green State University students constitute half of the population of this peaceful Ohio city. This peaceful college town has a violent crime rate of only 0.7.
Another safe college town from the Bay State, Easton is home to Stonehill College. It is famous for the Ames Shovel Works, which was instrumental in constructing the historic Union Pacific Railroad. This peaceful college town has a property crime rate of 6.9 and a violent crime rate of 1.8.
Known as the “Thread City,” Willimantic is the first of three safest college towns in the Constitution State. It is home to Eastern Connecticut State University and several other schools, such as Windham Technical High School and Natchaug Elementary School. It is located along the Willimantic River and has a violent crime rate of 1.6.
Located at the heart of the Conejo Valley, Thousand Oaks is one of the most populated yet safest college towns in the United States. Named after its numerous oak trees, this bustling city is home to California Lutheran University and has a relatively low violent crime rate of 1.0. It is voted as one of the best places to live in the Golden State.
Middletown is one of the three safest college towns in Connecticut. Previously a major sailing port, this city is now primarily a residential center, with most businesses catering to the needs and activities of Wesleyan University and Middlesex Community College. Situated along the Connecticut River, it has a violent crime rate of 0.8.
The sole entry from the land of ten thousand lakes, Minnesota, Northfield is one of the safest college towns across the U.S. It was also voted as among the best places to retire, with a violent crime rate of 1.4. A part of Rice County, Northfield is home to Carleton College, St. Olaf College, and several primary and secondary schools, including an alternative learning institution.
The third entry from Wisconsin, Waukesha is considered one of the safest places in the state. It has a violent crime rate of 1.3, which is 76% lower compared to the national average. It is also known as the “Spring City” and is home to several schools spearheaded by Carroll University and University of Wisconsin–Waukesha.
The biggest city in Whitman County, Pullman is the only entry from the State of Washington in this list of top 50 safest college towns. The reason for its inclusion is clear: it is home to Washington State University, which is among the safest campuses across America overall. The city has a violent crime rate of just 1.2.
The City of Laramie is the only college town from Wyoming that made it for this year’s safest college list in America. With a violent crime rate of only 1.0, this city is a popular destination for retirees owing to its beautiful surroundings, low taxes, and peaceful community. It is home to the University of Wyoming and WyoTech.
The sixth of seven safest college towns in Illinois in this year’s list, Bourbonnais is home to Olivet Nazarene University and several private high schools. It has a violent crime rate of 1.8, which is why this town is an easy choice for students and their families looking for a place to study and live in. A part of the Kankakee County, Bourbonnais is also known for its Kankakee River State Park, a popular tourist destination.
The City of Valparaiso is rated as one of the safest cities in Indiana for this year, with a violent crime rate of 1.1, which is lower than the average statewide and nationwide. It is home to Valparaiso University and numerous primary and secondary schools, both public and private ones. It also hosts various cultural and historical institutions, including Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest, a natural preserve with an extensive oak tree collection.
Considered one of New Jersey’s top cities, Montclair is a haven of safety, American culture, and recreational activities. It is also known for its “magnet school system,” a special setup known to help unify its diverse population by providing education equality and racial balance. Amidst its considerable progress, Montclair remains rich in open spaces for its residents, with over 170 acres of rivers, parks, and natural landscape.
Located along the shore of the Long Island Sound, Fairfield is long known for its peaceful community with a violent crime rate of 0.5. It is home to several quality schools like Sacred Heart University and Fairfield University. The town has extensive open areas, thick forests, scenic greeneries, and historic sites. It is often included in the list of the best places to live in Connecticut and the entire U.S.
A part of Ventura County, Camarillo is a peaceful and progressive college town that offers residents plenty of open spaces, sandy beaches, agricultural land, and pleasant residential areas. This suburban city has a violent crime rate of 1.1 and is home to the California State University – Channel Islands.
The seat of Latah County, Idaho, Moscow is one of the most peaceful cities in the U.S., with a violent crime rate of 0.5. It is home to the University of Idaho and a host of high schools and elementary schools. Moscow is also rated as the most walkable city in Idaho, endowed with a beautiful natural landscape, rolling hills, and plenty of open spaces and greeneries to explore.
A suburb of Chicago, Illinois, Romeoville was included in this list because of its peaceful community that registered a low violent crime rate of 1.5 for 2019-2020. This tranquil village has K-12 schools and higher education institutions, such as Lewis University. It is also known for its low unemployment rate due to the presence of over 600 businesses that include Amazon, Walmart, and FedEx Ground.
The City of Waltham is another Massachusetts entry in this top 50 safest college towns list. Formerly known as the “Watch City,” this peaceful city only registered a violent crime rate of 1.9 despite a relatively large population of over 60,000. Aside from its many schools, which include Bentley University, Waltham is home to numerous manufacturing firms spanning various industries, historical sites, and other points of interest.
Making it to the final spot of this ranking of the 50 safest college towns is Williamsburg. This Virginia town seldom experiences any violent crime mainly due to its small population of around 15,000. It also provides most amenities average households require, including affordable housing, adequate jobs, and access to a good education. The town is best known for its historic places such as Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown Battlefield.
A safe community offers more than security and peace of mind to both students and their families. In fact, community security experts say that it also gives benefits, such as better prevention and prediction of threats, a sense of pride, and happiness in the community, to name a few.
This is why the peace and order situation of a community should always count first when looking for a place to study, to work, and even to raise a family. Whether it is a town or city, an urban or rural setting, the safety aspect of a place must be given top priority.
As the U.S. remains a top destination for international students, knowing the college towns with the lowest crime rate in America helps a lot in making the right choice of college or university. Of course, the same considerations must be used when making plans to study or even to migrate to other parts of the world.