The Best Places to Live for Safety and Security

When you start looking for your next home, your priorities probably range widely, from the smallest details, such as the size of the backyard or whether the garage is attached, to more general feelings you get in a place, such as walkability and community involvement.

While many details play a part in how you enjoy where you live, one thing almost everyone has on their list: feeling safe.

A sense of security is paramount to residing happily in a community, but it can be subjective. People have different thresholds for nearby crime and necessary security measures in the same way they have differing thresholds for weather extremes.

Each year the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index surveys residents in 189 metro areas throughout the U.S. on how they feel about their community, purpose, social interactions, financial and physical stability. U.S. News uses the index results to help determine quality of life in the U.S. News Best Places to Live ranking.

The survey includes 58 items addressing purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being. One question in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index survey asks residents whether they agree with the statement, “You always feel safe and secure.” The metro area with the highest rate of residents agreeing with the statement is Boulder, Colorado, with 89.5 percent in agreement. Rockford, Illinois, had the smallest portion of residents agreeing with the statement, at 60.2 percent.

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More so than raw crime data from law enforcement departments, public opinion reflects how safe a city or metro area feels to the people who live there.

“The safe and secure piece of [the index] relates to where you live, it relates to your ability to move around naturally within your community, it impacts your ability to exercise,” says Susan Frankle, managing director of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. “So that specific item … gets at maybe a little bit of a different aspect than a crime statistic would.”

From the index’s results regarding safety and security, we looked at a few of the Best Places to Live that received high marks: Fayetteville, Arkansas; Madison, Wisconsin; Portland, Maine; Des Moines, Iowa; and Honolulu.

It’s no secret that these five metro areas aren’t the biggest in the U.S. In fact, of the 125 largest metro areas U.S. News examines, they’re on the smaller side. That smaller population may have something to do with the peace of mind many residents experience.

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