Skip to content

The 10 Least Safe Cities in the U.S., New Research Shows

Research looks at three categories: community safety, financial safety, and natural disaster risk.

When it comes to choosing a city to call home, cost of living, school districts, social activities, and climate are all worth paying attention to. However, for many people, safety is the top priority. And these days, staying safe is about much more than setting an alarm code or being aware of your surroundings. For example, traffic accidents, unemployment rates, identity theft risks, and natural disasters can all be tied back to feeling secure.

To figure out the locations where you may not be so safe, WalletHub evaluated more than 180 U.S. cities based on three categories: home and community safety, natural disaster risk, and financial safety. Keep reading to learn the 10 cities they deemed the least safe.

RELATED: The Top 10 Safest Cities in the U.S., New Research Shows.

Here's how WalletHub reached their findings.

Street with Flooded Cars

To arrive at their findings, WalletHub took 150 of the most popular cities in America into consideration as well as at least two of the more heavily populated areas in each state. They then scored the cities based on three categories and all of their corresponding metrics. There were a total of 41 metrics, each of which was marked on a scale of 100 points, with 100 representing the highest level of safety. WalletHub used "each city's weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score."

Some of the home and community aspects include the presence of terrorist attacks (which was weighted at three times the points), assaults per capita, hate crimes per capita, and traffic fatalities per capita. The category was worth a total of 50 points.

In the natural disaster risk section, earthquakes, floods, hail, tornadoes, or other events represented 30 points.

The financial safety category touched on metrics including the unemployment rate, poverty rate, the share of households with emergency savings, and others, coming in at 20 points.

The research team then came to this list of the 10 least safe cities in the U.S.

Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. at Dawn
Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

Total Score: 60.58

Home and community safety: 180

Natural disaster risk: 80

Financial safety: 106

While the nation's capital is nice to visit, it's not the safest place to live. Even though, according to the study, Washington D.C. has some of the most law-enforcement employees per capita, they fell short in other areas.

From the 182 places that were analyzed, Washington D.C. comes in almost dead last for home and community safety, as they have one of the highest rates of hate crimes per capita.

Los Angeles

The skyline of downtown Los Angeles, California

Total Score: 60.31

Home and community safety: 167

Natural disaster risk: 149

Financial safety: 149

The City of Angels presents a life full of glitz and glamour, but when it comes to safety, Los Angeles isn't sitting pretty since its scores in all three categories were low. It's the first of three cities in California to be deemed unsafe.

RELATED: 10 States With the Cleanest Tap Water, New Data Shows.

Oklahoma City

city skyline of downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Total Score: 60.28

Home and community safety: 156

Natural disaster risk: 173

Financial safety: 77

Oklahoma City lands on the list because it has the highest level of natural disaster risk, not surprising since it's considered part of "Tornado Alley."

Memphis, Tennessee

memphis tennessee

Total Score: 59.73

Home and community safety: 170

Natural disaster risk: 85

Financial safety: 182

Memphis comes in absolute last in three safety metrics: traffic fatalities per capita, assaults per capita, and percent of households with emergency savings.

RELATED: The 10 Most Naturally Beautiful States in the U.S., New Data Shows.

Oakland, California

The skyline of Oakland, California from the bay.

Total Score: 59.13

Home and community safety: 175

Natural disaster risk: 155

Financial safety: 114

Oakland, California is the second of the three cities in the state to make the list. While its population is nearly 434,000, it's not the most secure area, scoring especially poorly in the home and community safety category.


Detroit, Michigan

Total Score: 58.18

Home and community safety: 171

Natural disaster risk: 41

Financial safety: 181

Though Detroit has a relatively low natural disaster risk, its scores in home and community safety and financial safety are what land it so high on this list. The city is tied for having the most assaults per capita, as well as the highest unemployment rate of all the cities that were examined.

RELATED: 10 U.S. States With the Deadliest Winter Roads, New Data Shows.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge

Total Score: 56.72

Home and community safety: 182

Natural disaster risk: 90

Financial safety: 158

Baton Rouge ranks last in the home and community safety category. According to the data, the city is tied for last place for having the most traffic fatalities per capita.

San Bernardino, California

San Bernardino California
Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock

Total Score: 55.14

Home and community safety: 181

Natural disaster risk: 160

Financial safety: 154

Rounding out the bottom three is the last of California's cities: San Bernardino. It places second to last in home and community safety, and the results are also poor in the other two categories.

RELATED: The 10 Riskiest U.S. Cities for Natural Disasters, New Research Shows.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale view
Shutterstock / Solarisys

Total Score: 48.16

Home and community safety: 169

Natural disaster risk: N/A

Financial safety: 166

While tons of people gravitate toward Florida, especially during their retirement years, Fort Lauderdale is among the least safe cities to live. It has one of the lowest rankings for the percent of households with emergency savings, and it's another city that's tied for having the most traffic fatalities per capita.

St. Louis

cityscape photo of St. Louis, Missouri at dusk
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Total Score: 44.88

Home and community safety: 178

Natural disaster risk: N/A

Financial safety: 155

Although St. Louis has some of the most law enforcement employees per capita, it also has some of the most assaults per capita, which contributes to its ranking as the least safe city in the U.S.

For more life advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Courtney Shapiro
Courtney Shapiro is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Before joining the Best Life team, she had editorial internships with BizBash and Anton Media Group. Read more
Filed Under