I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best place to live in the event of a major catastrophe. Another World War. An economic collapse. A global pandemic. A place within the country that I live in, the United States, that would be the safest. No nuclear reactors nearby. No major fault lines. Something with natural resources and definitely no urban areas. A place where you could build a homestead and survive with a family under those circumstances.
Although that makes me sound like I’m doing an interview on Doomsday Preppers, I’m really not sitting in a bunker, stockpiling for a global apocalypse. I understand that the chance of anything like that happening in my lifetime and relatively small. I could live out the rest of my life and never see a major natural disaster or war against this country. My children could live out their lives never seeing those things. As unlikely as future peace seems, what if it happens?
I decided I should take a look at some options of where to live in a normal situation. Where are some safe places to live in general. Not everyone wants to live in an off-grid cabin in the Appalachian Mountains. So here are some places that you could consider if you just want to get away from crime and find a nice, safe place to live.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 240.7
Population: 1,015,165 – about 8 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 22
The state with the third lowest population density in the country (behind Alaska and Wyoming) and the second lowest on this list, Montana has been a destination for people to escape to for decades. This is where the rich and famous go when they want a little peace and quiet. Columbia Falls, with is natural beauty and the lowest amount of violent crime in the state, is definitely a place to consider if you feel that Montana might be the state for you. Dillon is another small town worth considering as it has the least amount of crime overall in the state.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 223.2
Population: 5,420,380 – about 70 per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 114
Another northern state to consider for its low crime is Minnesota. This is a great state to add to your list of possible places to live if you are interested in Scandinavian or German culture. Minnesota is also great if you don’t want to live in a small town in the middle of nowhere in order to get away from crime. Lakeville is a suburb of Minneapolis with a shockingly low number of violent crimes. Only 15 out of a population of nearly 60,000. Plymouth has around 75,000 residents and also makes the list of top 10 safest cities in Minnesota. So you don’t always have to live in a tiny town to get a low crime rate.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 209.2
Population: 2,900,872 – about 36 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 49
In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Utah had the second fastest-growing population of any state which might make Utah’s crime rate increase in the future. Sudden population swells tend to increase crime, but an overwhelming Mormon culture might be able to keep that at bay. Only time will tell. Utah is a perfect state to live in if you enjoy outdoor activities. You can ski at some excellent ski resorts, explore dense forests or hike in the desert all in the same state. This is another state with safe bigger cities since most of the population lives in the vicinity of Salt Lake. Farmington made it to Money Magazine’s “best places to live” list multiple times. Just north of Salt Lake City but still with a small town vibe. Utah is also listed on many sites as a great place to live if you want to ride out a global catastrophe.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 204.7
Population: 1,612,136 – about 20 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 27
Idaho is another state that has a lot to offer the outdoor enthusiast. With lots of wild, outdoor space, lakes, rivers, forests and hills, there is no shortage of activities. Idaho takes us back to small town territory though and one of the safest cities in the state is Weiser. This city has a very low number of violent crimes and as a bonus, non of them were rapes or murders. If you like your towns exceptionally small you can check out Preston with only 5200 residents and a low crime rate to match.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 199.6
Population: 1,323,459 about 150 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 22
New Hampshire is a state that has long been a favorite among people who enjoy their freedom. With a state motto like “Live Free or Die”, who can blame them. It also has some of the best winter activities on the east coast. With skiing, snowmobiling and mountaineering on most residents “to do” list. It’s also the home to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Motorcycle Week in Weirs Beach. Hanover is a moderately sized town with around 12,000 residents and is home to Dartmouth College. If you want to be closer to a bigger city, you could pick Derry or Londonderry which are both just south of Manchester and only an hour from Boston.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 198.8
Population: 4,395,295 about 115 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 167
This is one of the states on my list of bug out locations in the event of a major disaster. The Appalachian Mountains offer an exuberant amount of seclusion and natural resources. It’s also one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been in my opinion. On top of its great bug out qualities, it seems to have a very low-level of crime. Fort Thomas should be at the top of the list if you are interested in safety from violent crimes. With only 9 crimes in 2013 according to the FBI Crime Report, non of which were murders, this is a small town that you know you can walk down the street at night in. Interestingly enough, it’s only located about 10 minutes outside of Cincinnati. If you don’t like being that close to a major city, try Bardstown. It has nearly as few violent crimes and is about 45 minutes south of Louisville.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 197.7
Population: 582,658 about 7 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 17
Wyoming has the lowest population density on this list. With its biggest city being the capitol with only about 65,000 resident, the rest of the state is an exceptional place to live if you want to get lost and be left alone. The western two-thirds of the state is covered in ranges from the Rocky Mountains. East of that is the High Plains. If you like the mountains, Worland is nestled in the Big Horn Basin with easy access to mountain ranges. In 2012 it report just 7 violent crimes, all being assault. No murder, no rape. If you’re more partial to the plains, consider Evansville. Just outside of Casper, this town will give you a small town vibe with modern amenities not too far away.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 187.9
Population: 8,260,405 about 210 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 316
Virginia is the state with the highest population density on this list, but it doesn’t mean there are no places to get away. With multiple large cities housing a lot of that population as well as the portion of the state that becomes the suburbs of Washington DC, there are more than enough smaller towns that make great safe havens. The coastal town of Poquoson only reported 17 violent crimes in 2013. Non of those were murder and only 2 were rape. Blacksburg may surprise some since it was the location of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, but the town itself has a solid history of low crime. In 2013 it only had 31 violent crime and non of them were murder. In 2011, BusinessWeek named it the “Best Place in the US to Raise Kids”.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 121.6
Population: 1,328,302 about 45 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 24
Maine always felt like it could be considered the Alaska of the lower 48. Relatively low population density combined with a colder climate always made it seem like a great state to escape from the world. And the people I know who live there seem to agree. This is the only state on this list where the largest city makes it into the top ten safest places. With around 70,000 residents, Portland is easily the biggest city, but it doesn’t come with the biggest crime rate. With only 1 reported murder in 2013, the majority of the 177 violent crimes were assaults and robberies. If you don’t want to live in a big city, try Augusta with only about 20,000 residents.
Violent crimes per 100,000: 114.9
Population: 626,630 about 70 people per square mile
Total 2013 murders: 10
Coming in at number 1 with the lowest overall crime in any state, Vermont is going to be the top choice of anyone who favors safety over anything else. Populated with a very outdoorsy people, residents enjoy maple festivals and apples festivals and are also ranked as the healthiest people in the country. Woodstock being the mecca of safety with no reported violent crimes in 2013. That is virtually unheard of in the US, but if you want to know you will not be murdered or raped, this is the town for you. If you want to live closer to Lake Champlain, check out Hinesburg. They might not be as safe as Woodstock with a single assault on their 2013 record, but it will have to do if you want to get in some summer lake fun.
Where are your safe havens? Leave your suggestions in the comments!