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Ask people what they’re looking for in a hometown and depending on their age, the answer might vary. For young adults, it’s probably a great social life or a great place to work with a better than liveable wage. Young parents are probably looking for a good school system, and older adults may be looking for a place near family and friends.

One thing, no matter the age, that’s important to people when selecting a place to live is safety. There are several companies that take an annual look at the safest places to live in America, with many of them digging down further to rate the best place to live in a state.

While you would expect that rural areas are safer than larger cities, you might be surprised to find many of America’s safest place to live are not remote, rural places. They are often closer than you think. They may not be big, but often they are just minutes from the largest cities in the state.

Last month, one of the ranking companies – Safewise – released their fifth annual Safest Cities report. Of course, larger cities were at the bottom of the list.

Missouri

In Missouri, St. Louis came in dead last at 186, followed closely by Kansas City. With a population of 484,948, Kansas City had a violent crime rate of 17.24 incidents per 1,000 resident and a property crime rate of 45.44 per 1,000 residents.

With its complex network of small cities, St. Louis proper only had 310,284 residents and a violent crime rate of 20.82/1000 and a property crime rate of 60.41/1000. We all know the St. Louis metropolitan area is much larger than that, and it’s often difficult to discern when you leave one city and enter the next, especially when you look at the crime rates. Of the State of Missouri’s 20 most unsafe cities to live in, eight of the state’s most dangerous cities were core St. Louis cities, including: Riverview(184), Bel-Ridge (183), Vinita Park (181), Berkely (179), Pagedale (177), Belafontaine (175), Bridgeton (172), and Ferguson (170).

However if you head to western St. Louis, near or past the 270 Loop, you’ll find five of the state’s safest cities: Rock Hill (5), Ballwin (12), Ladue (15), Manchester (16), and Glendale (17). Rock Hill, with a population of 4,616 has a violent crime rate of just .21/1000 and a property crime rate of 9.10/1000. Ballwin, a sizeable town with a population of 30,299, has a violent crime rate of just .39/1000 and a property crime rate of 5.58/1000. So you’re approximately 60 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime in St. Louis than in Ballwin.

In Glendale (17), there’s a population of 5,889 and a .50/1000 rate of being the victim of a violent crime and 8.32/1000 change of being the victim of a property crime. One thing that was obviously noticeable about the “safer” city stats was the median income. The mean income ranged from a low of $76,289 in Manchester to a high of $203,250 in Ladue. In other words, you have to have some money to live in these areas, so your plan to escape to safety may have been spoiled.

Kansas City

Kansas City had some similar safe and unsafe cities. Coming in at 178 was Sugar Creek with a population of 3,298 and a violent crime rate of 8.79/1000 and a property crime rate of 48.48/1000. North Kansas City ranked 173 and Grandview 165. Want to stay on the Missouri side of the Kansas City Metropolitan in an aura of safety, try Platte City (3). Located just north of KCI, Platte City has a population of 4,900 and a violent crime rate of .20/1000 and a property crime rate of 15.71/1000.

Kansas City, KS, is officially a county form of government, so it wasn’t included in the safest “city” report, and not a city, it was not ranked. However, Johnson County proved a real safe haven in the Kansas City metro area, with five cities among the top 20 safest in Kansas: Fairway (3), Leawood (5), Lenexa (16) Shawnee (19), and Olathe (20). Fairway, with a population of 3,986, reported .50 violent crimes/1000 and 11.49/1000 property crimes.

Again, high income in these neighborhoods is probably driving up property value. Median income for the five cities ranged from a low of $81,173 in Lenexa to $151,446 in Leawood.

Wichita

With Wyandotte County/KCK out of the picture, Wichita (64) came in as the most unsafe city in Kansas. With a population of 391,084, Wichita had a violent crime rate of 10.22/1000 and 55.36/1000 for property crimes. Those rates may be high for Kansas, but the violent crime rate is half St. Louis’.

If you want to find a safe Wichita area community, go north, south, east or west. The city is surrounded by safe suburbs, with eight of the state’s safest cities located in the Wichita Metro area: Rose Hill (2), Mulvane (7), Derby (9), Andover (11), Valley Center (13), Bel Aire (15), Goddard, (17), and Maize (18).

Rose Hill, with a population of 4,029 had a violent crime rate of .50/1000 and a property crime rate of 10.42/1000. Also, as a reflection of the affordable cost of living in the Wichita area, the median income range for those cities was $62,000 to a high of $75,000 in Andover.

Across Kansas

In some of the other cities where we distribute The Community Voice, Junction City came in 62, with a population of 24,240 and a violent crime rate of 7.51/1000 and property crime rate of 19.27. Leavenworth was (61), Topeka (57), and Salina (46) with a population of 47,251 and a violent crime rate of 4.25/1000 and a property crime rate of 37.21/1000.

Safe Suburbs to live in Kansas City:

Fairway

Leawood

Lenexa

Shawnee

Olathe

Platte City, MO

Safe Suburbs to live in Wichita:

Rose Hill

Mulvane

Derby

Andover

Valley Center

Bel Aire

Goddard

Maize

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