The South lures daydreamers and snowbirds who want to live in a sunny place where snow can’t reach them. States like Arizona, Florida, and Texas sound like the best places to retire. But, when it comes to safety, 40.8% of the violent crimes happen in the South, according to the 2017 FBI Crime in the U.S. report. When trying to identify the safest cities in America, our team of real estate experts at RealEstateAgent.com analyzes at least three factors - the crime rate, the poverty rate, and the graduation rate. So, we will give Arizona an equal treatment. Are you ready to find the safest cities in Arizona?
How safe is Arizona overall?
With almost 3,000 property crimes in 2017, Arizona ranked in the 11th position. The number of violent crimes, which was 508 two years ago, places Arizona among the top 10 most dangerous states to live in. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the highest number of offenses was recorded in December -21,481, while February was much calmer, with only 17,218 offenses. When it comes to property crimes, cars are frequently stolen, but luckily, the recovery rate is 84%. In 2017, Arizona’s crime rate was 3,333 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants. As expected, males are responsible for about two-thirds of the offenses, while juvenile arrests account for 10% of all persons arrested in 2017.
In short, here’s the frequency of the most serious crimes:
- One murder every day
- One major crime every 2 minutes and 16 seconds
- One burglary every quarter of an hour
- One vehicle is stolen every half an hour
However, the above frequency doesn’t imply a regularity. It is only a method used to illustrate the ratio of crime to affixed time intervals.
Another way of finding the safest cities in Arizona is to look at the number of officers who patrol in each city. Of course, Phoenix ranks at the top of the list, with the highest law enforcement - 2.672 police officers in 2016. Last year, though, it didn't end well as the press points out the high number of police officer-involved shootings and it turns out that policemen use force way too often and spread misleading or inexact information regarding what happened. Although the data compiled by the FBI say that Phoenix is one of the most dangerous cities in the Valley of the Sun, like any big metropolis, it has good and bad neighborhoods. Ahwatukee Foothills, Deer Valley, and Desert View are among the most sought-after areas.
The second least safe city in Arizona seems to be Tucson, which employed 870 police officers in 2016. It also has the lowest safety index (-1.23), according to Backgroundchecks.org. With 804 police officers, the city of Mesa comes next. However, Gilbert had only 8.9 officers for 10,000 people, while most police departments employed between 10 and 20 police officers per 10,000 people. Only 29 police officers were responsible for the safety of Florence, and if Scottsdale is safe, that’s due to its 400 police officers who do their job day in, day out.
Does safety follow the money?
Where peace and tranquility reign, the economy is booming, and vice-versa. It may sound like an old adage, but the fact is that the richest communities seem to be also the safest, as residents invest a lot in smart home devices and security systems. Also, the fact that many communities are gated keeps the crime rate at bay. A report recently released by Backgroundchecks.org claims that Paradise Valley - the city with the most expensive real estate - is also the safest place in Arizona. Perhaps its name has the power to keep evil at a distance, acting like a shield.
On the second place comes Oro Valley, followed by Florence. Real estate agents in Scottsdale can be proud of their city as well, as it made it in the 11th position, right after Sahuarita. On Safewise.com, the city of Scottsdale is the 8th safest place to live in Arizona, while Oro Valley came first, followed by Buckeye. Other peaceful towns are the city of Maricopa - which is also one of the best cities to raise a family in Arizona, Gilbert, Marana, and Surprise.
Graduation rate and safety in Arizona
Those who complete their education usually do a lot better than those who don’t. A good education expands students' horizons and allows them to apply for better-paid jobs. Those who drop out of high-school are more likely to have legal problems and engage in dangerous or illegal activities.
In 2017, 78.0% of students graduated on time, with Santa Cruz County boasting the highest graduation rate within the state at 90.5%. The small border town of Nogales is home to about 20,000 people, and for its location, the city is quite calm and peaceful, and overall, a nice place to raise a family. Apache County didn’t do well at all and failed to graduate about a quarter of its students. And, indeed, St. Jones - the county seat - is a rather rural community with about 3,000 inhabitants, where, according to a local resident, the police are non-existent.
With some minor exceptions, however, the best school districts are in the safest towns in Arizona. In spite of its high crime rate, Tucson has a couple of good school districts. According to Niche.com, Catalina Foothills Unified School District is the best in Arizona, and so is Tanque Verde Unified School District.
Is there a link between safety and poverty?
The median household income in Arizona last year was $62,283 and is in the middle of the leaderboard. So, its economy is neither outstanding nor lagging behind. It’s average. Out of the 7 million people living in this state, 1 million are in poverty, according to a report released by TalkPovertdoty.org. About 15% of the population earned less than the poverty threshold. So, the poverty rate is above the nation’s average of 11.8% for 2018. Living in financial distress is not easy. Unfulfilled needs push people’s behavior at the edge of the law and place many at a higher risk of developing a mental illness.
In fact, as recently revealed by WalletHub, people in Arizona are not the happiest in the country. Arizona is the 18th happiest state among the 50 states analyzed. And the uneven distribution of wealth is only adding salt to the injury. The middle class is left behind, as the top 20% experience a rapid increase in their income. In case you were wondering, the median income in Paradise Valley is $175,673. The gap between the rich and the poor may widen as many high-earners choose to leave California for Arizona.
Moreover, let’s not forget that poverty and job scarcity led to the depopulation of many cities. Ghost towns in Arizona are quite famous, especially the ones near gold and copper mines. Over 200 abandoned towns are scattered throughout the state. Of course, some of them survive only because of the tourist activity. Every now and then, a ghost town pops up in the multiple listing services, and ingenious real estate investors can buy it, revive it and exploit its past. But other than that, who would dare to live in a ghost town?
10 best places to live in Arizona
So, it’s all clear - ghost towns are definitely not the first option that comes to your mind when trying to find a new home. But you should not exclude Phoenix either, even though it doesn’t stand out as the safest place to live in Arizona. Don’t judge a city only by the number of offenses. You can still find a nice neighborhood with an excellent school for your kids. After all, Phoenix provides plenty of job opportunities and entertainment for the whole family. Here are our top picks (not necessarily in this order):
- Paradise Valley
- Oro Valley
There is room for improvement in Arizona when it comes to public safety, and if we have access to so much data regarding this issue, so do the local police departments and mayors. Chances are that a few steps have already been made and the statistics will improve in the years to come. There must be a plan in place. Besides, when interpreting numbers we may be inclined to think that the situation is a lot worse than it actually is. However, it's everyone’s responsibility to increase the livability of their cities. So, let’s join forces and start today.