Bright Lights, Big City, Safe Home? Why Urban Living is Safer Than You Think


We usually hear about families moving to rural or suburban areas to escape the city. More often than not, their reason is that they want to live somewhere safe for the kids. But are cities really more dangerous?

Research and statistics over the past ten years have shown that our perceptions about urban living might be off. Most people associate cities with crime, but this is largely due to the media painting a blood-soaked picture.

Rural America

Compared to cities and suburban areas, rural locations are the most dangerous places to live. A study found that “your risk of death is actually about 22 percent higher in the most rural counties in America than in the most urban ones.” Death rates in the exurbs are higher for a variety of reasons.

One reason is that people who live in rural areas tend to be further away from hospitals and other emergency services. Average time to travel to a medical facility is around 50 minutes for rural locations. The extra time to respond to accidents and violent crime makes a difference.

In relation to gun deaths, the research demonstrated that deaths from gun wounds in rural and urban areas was the same.

Cities vs. Suburbs

So while rural areas aren’t the safest, what about cities compared to suburbs? It depends on your proximity to the city – although not in the way you might think.

For every reason why you the suburbs feel safer, there’s another vote for cities being safer. For instance, in a suburban area, there are less people around who might notice something suspicious, and less chances of there being someone outside who can call for help. Urban crime has also fallen over the past couple of decades.

By teaching children street smarts, the city can be a safer and more enjoyable place to live than a suburban town. Urban living gives you access to public transportation, arts and cultural events, and the freedom to walk to wherever you need to go. Speaking of walking, city living promotes healthy living – biking to work and shopping at farmer’s markets for fresh food are common in most big cities.

Suburban areas that are just outside the city (inner suburbs) are safer than cities, but living in the city is safer than the outer suburbs. While violent crime is a factor, auto accidents should be your biggest concern.

Cars as Killers

Whether or not you’re convinced about cities being safer in terms of violent crime, one thing is certain – Car accidents tend to happen more frequently than gun shots or other violent crime. According to a few news sources, gun deaths may have surpassed vehicle deaths in 21 states a couple of years ago, but more Americans own cars than guns.

The further from the city you live, the more likely you are to need to drive to get to where you need to go. This statistically increases your risk. Also, driving behavior in rural areas tends to be worse than in cities. Residents drive longer, more impaired, and faster on sometimes poorly maintained back roads that are one or two lanes. Two-lane roads have historically had more fatal auto accidents than highways or city streets.

Two major takeaways:

1. There’s nothing that says cities are a more dangerous place to live

2. Car accidents are a bigger threat to you and childrens’ lives than anything else.

Families only consider safety as one factor when choosing a place to live and raise kids. It often comes down to personal preference. For instance, do you prefer the ability to walk to work or drive a longer commute? Would you rather have a public park to go to, or a private yard you’ll have to take care of?

Your view of life on the farm as the safest option may have been shattered, but even if you don’t plan on moving anytime soon, there are ways you can reduce your family’s risks wherever you live. Take precautions while driving, protect your home from unwanted visitors, and install a home security system for peace of mind.

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