With its beautiful scenery and a thriving economy, the Evergreen State is a great place to live. It’s also safe. The violent crime rate here is 21% lower than the national average and murders are half as common.
While your personal safety is secure in Washington, property crime is quite prevalent here. The state has one of the highest property crime rates in the country. Of course, your overall sense of safety depends on which Washington city you live in, as some cities are significantly more dangerous than others.
If you live in Washington, you may be wondering how safe your own city is. The safety of your city impacts where you choose to work and go to school, and it affects how well you sleep at night. Stress and anxiety have serious effects on sleep. Live somewhere safer, and you’ll be able to cross some worries off your list, leading to better sleep.
That’s why we at Tuck sought out to answer the question, “What is the safest city in Washington State?” We reviewed the latest crime data for Washington’s cities, and ranked them according to their crime rates.
Read on to see how your city ranks—and be sure to check out our rankings of the safest cities in America to see how these Washington cities compare when it comes to the rest of the country.
The Safest Cities in Washington
The Least Safe Cities in Washington
Methodology: Choosing our Cities
To get an official list of Washington cities, we referenced the state population data from the United States Census Bureau. The Bureau conducts the official census every 10 years, but they provide population estimates for each year in between. Using their 2017 Population Estimate for Washington, we filtered our list to only those cities with a population of 20,000 or more.
Then, we used the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program to get crime data for each of these cities. The UCR is compiled from data that is voluntarily submitted by local and state law enforcement agencies, either to a state UCR program or directly to the FBI. If a Washington city did not submit their information to the UCR, we removed the city from our list.
Our final list came to 23 cities in total. We ranked these according to their crime rate using the FBI numbers for 2016. We used the 2016 UCR report because the 2017 report is not yet complete. The FBI has only released official data covering the first half of 2017. This makes the 2016 report the most recent and the most complete report that captures data for a full year.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Safest Cities in Washington
Using the 2016 FBI UCR, we reviewed three types of crime to rank the safest cities in Washington:
Violent crime, which includes aggravated assault, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, and robbery
Property crime, which includes arson, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft
Burglary crime, which includes an unlawful entry into a structure to commit a felony or theft
While the FBI classifies burglary as a sub-type of property crime, we analyzed it separately in our calculations because of how it relates to home safety. As an intimate crime that occurs in the home, burglary can disrupt the sense of security you feel at home—the place where you should feel safest.
Unfortunately, Washington’s burglary rate ranks in the top ten for the nation, and their property crime is even worse. Washington has the third highest property crime rate in the nation, behind only New Mexico and Washington, D.C. Property crime here is 42.5% higher than the national average, and burglary is 43.9% higher.
On the whole, Washington has very high property crime, but the news is not all bad. The state’s violent crime rates are well below the national average—over 20% lower—and the murder rate is half the national average.
These are the state averages for crime rates. How do individual cities in Washington stack up, and how much safer (or more dangerous) are they? We’ll review in the next two sections.
The Top 5 Safest Cities in Washington
Below we reveal our rankings of the top five safest cities in Washington. Ranging in size from 55,000 to nearly 200,000 residents, these cities have the lowest rates of violent crime, property crime, and burglary in all of Washington.
Read on to learn what makes these cities so safe and why they were selected as the safest cities in the Evergreen State.
3rd lowest violent crime rate: 18.21 per 10K residents
Lowest property crime rate: 242.27 per 10K residents
2nd lowest burglary rate: 31.37 per 10K residents
The safest city in Washington is Richland. Richland forms the Tri-Cities area with Kennewick, the second-place city on our list, and Pasco.
This river city of 56,243 has the lowest property crime rate in Washington, at 242.27 per 10K residents. That’s 30% lower than the state average and just below the national averages. Burglaries are rare here, too, at just 31.37 per 10K residents. That’s more than double below the state average and over 30% below the national averages.
When it comes to violent crime, Richland ranks well, too, with the third lowest violent crime rate in Washington, at 18.21 per 10K residents.
Richland has also won awards for its livability. It was rated the second best city in the entire country to raise children. The city’s crime prevention resources have a special focus on deterring property crime, with free training to landlords on making their properties less susceptible to theft, vandalism, and gang activity.
4th lowest violent crime rate: 22.92 per 10K residents
2nd lowest property crime: 282.33 per 10K residents
3rd lowest burglary rate: 36.95 per 10K residents
Located just south of Richland on the Columbia river, this city of 81,607 ranks second on our list of the safest cities in Washington. In addition to water sports recreation, the city is close to 160 wineries and enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year (disputing the myth that all it does in Washington is rain).
Kennewick residents enjoy the fourth lowest violent crime rate in the state, at 22.92 per 10K residents. The city also holds the second lowest property crime rate, at 282.33 per 10K residents—which is 20% lower than the state average— and the third lowest burglary rate, at 36.95 per 10K residents.
Part of Kennewick sales tax goes directly to public safety, which Kennewick residents voted to approve in 2014. In addition to hiring more officers, the money can be allocated to additional public safety and anti-crime initiatives such as mental health courts and drug task forces.
2nd lowest violent crime rate: 13.41 per 10K residents
2nd lowest property crime rate: 312.8 per 10K residents
Lowest burglary rate: 29.24 per 10K residents
Redmond holds the honor of being the third safest place to live in Washington state. This Seattle suburb of 64,291 has the second lowest violent crime rate, at only 13.41 per 10K residents. That’s less than half the state average, which is already low compared at a national level.
In a state that ranks high for property crime, Redmond manages to have the second lowest property crime rate, at 312.8 per 10K residents. Best of all, Redmond has the lowest burglary rate, at just 29.24 per 10K residents. That’s over half the state average and 37% below the national average.
5th lowest property crime: 325.86 per 10K residents
Higher burglary rate: 61.66 per 10k residents
With a population of 144,444, Bellevue is the fifth largest city in Washington. Its inclusion on our list proves that you can be a big city and be small on crime. Bellevue regularly wins awards for its liveability, thanks to its highly-rated public schools, booming job market, and diverse community. Plus, it’s just across Lake Washington from Seattle, making it easy for residents to enjoy all a big city has to offer—without the crime.
Bellevue also has some of the lowest crime rates in all of Washington. Best of all, it has the lowest violent crime rate in the state, at 9.77 per 10K residents. That’s a third of the state average and just over a quarter of the national average.
Property crime is relatively rare here, too. At 325.86 per 10K residents, Bellevue has the fifth lowest property crime in Washington. At 61.66 burglaries per 10K residents, Bellevue does have one of the highest burglary rates of the cities on our safe list, but it’s still well below the state average of 67.5.
Relatively low violent crime rate: 38.59 per 10K residents
4th lowest property crime rate: 316.33 per 10K residents
5th lowest burglary rate: 49.17 per 10K residents
Located on Seattle’s southern border, across from Portland, Vancouver has been recognized as one of America’s most hipster and most romantic cities. Now, it can add safest cities in Washington to that illustrious list.
The city of 175,673 has a relatively low violent crime rate, at 38.59 per 10K residents, but it made our list for its particularly low rates of property crime and burglary. Vancouver has the fourth lowest rate of property crime in Washington, at 316.33 per 10K residents, and the fifth lowest burglary rate, at 49.17 per 10K residents.
The Vancouver police department provides detailed resources on its website to promote public safety and prevent theft, targeting topics as wide ranging as home security to construction zone theft. The city also maintains a strong relationship with the broader community through its Neighbors on Watch program and Police Activities League for local youth.
The Bottom 5 Least Safe Cities in Washington
In contrast to the safest cities in Washington, the five cities below have the highest rates of violent, property, and burglary crime in the Evergreen State. Based on their crime rate, these cities represent the least safe places to live in Washington.
Keep reading to learn more about crime in these cities, and to understand why they’re considered the most dangerous cities in Washington.
4th highest violent crime rate: 59.76 per 10K residents
Highest property crime rate: 768.82 per 10K residents
Highest burglary rate: 124 per 10K residents
The most dangerous place to live in Washington is Spokane. This eastern Washington city has the highest rates of property crime and burglary in the state. In a state with the third highest property crime in the nation, that’s saying something.
In Spokane, property crime occurs at a rate of 768.82 per 10K residents. That’s more than double the state average and more than triple the national average. Burglaries are quite common, too. At a rate of 124 per 10K residents, Spokane’s burglary rate is nearly double the state average and almost three times above the national average.
Spokane does not rank #1 for violent crime, but it does have the fourth highest violent crime rate in the state. The violent crime rate here of 59.76 per 10K residents is just under double the state average.
Fortunately, Spokane Police have been working with the Department of Justice on police reform for the past 6 years. According to a 2018 report, things are much improved. Police are using less force, and Spokane residents are reporting less complaints and higher confidence in local police. Recent initiatives have included outfitting officers with body cameras, and free club giveaways to prevent motor vehicle theft.
Highest violent crime rate: 95.28 per 10K residents
2nd highest property crime: 654.98 per 10K residents
3rd highest burglary rate: 115 per 10K residents
Tacoma holds the unfortunate honor of being the Washington city with the highest rate of violent crime. Violent crimes here occur at a rate of 95.28 per 10K residents, an outsized crime rate for a city of its size of just 213,418. That’s over three times higher than the state average.
Tacoma holds the second highest property crime rate in the state, at 654.98 per 10K residents, which is nearly double the state average. Its burglary rate of 115 per 10K residents makes it the third highest in the state.
In part, Tacoma has been suffering ever since the Great Recession forced the police department to cut a sixth of its officers. This is a trend we’ve seen with other unsafe cities around the U.S., such as with Vallejo and San Bernardino in California. The Tacoma Police Chief also attributes some of the city’s high crime rates to its population demographics, which tends to skew younger and have more transient individuals.
3rd highest violent crime rate: 61.32 per 10K residents
Higher property crime rate: 548.8 per 10K residents
4th highest burglary rate: 109 per 10K residents
As the biggest city in Washington, perhaps it’s no surprise to find Seattle on our list of the least safe cities. Bigger cities tend to have more crime. With a population of nearly 725,000, Seattle fits the bill—and so do its crime rates.
Emerald City has the third highest violent crime rate in the state, at 61.32 per 10K residents, which is over twice the state average. Seattle has a higher-than-average property crime rate, too, at 548.8 per 10K residents. The city also has the fourth highest burglary rate in the state, at 109 per 10K residents, which is more than double the national average.
Like Tacoma, Seattle has been working to reform its police department with the Department of Justice since 2011. Thanks to new use-of-force policies and body cameras, the city was found to be in full compliance with the court-ordered reforms, as of early 2018.
5th highest violent crime rate: 52.7 per 10K residents
Higher property crime rate: 525.23 per 10K residents
2nd highest burglary rate: 121 per 10K residents
Yakima is home to apple orchards, wineries, and some of the highest crime rates in the state. This central Washington city of 93,667 holds the fifth highest violent crime rate in Washington, at 52.7 per 10K residents.
Its property crime rate, at 525.23 per 10K residents, is more than double the national average and well above the state average. Yakima also has the second highest burglary rate in the state, at 121 per 10K residents.
Much of Yakima’s violent crime, including homicides and robberies, is due to high gang activity in the area. In recent years, local police have been working to reduce gang-related crime. Thanks to emphasis patrols and warrant roundups, the police department reported significant reduction in gang violence just this year.
Below average violent crime rate: 38.53 per 10K residents
3rd highest property crime rate: 585.29 per 10K residents
Average burglary rate: 82 per 10K residents
Kent rounds out our list of the most dangerous cities in Washington. This city of 128,458 is nestled between Tacoma and Seattle, two of the other least safe cities on our list.
While its violent crime rate is below average, at 38.53 per 10K residents, Kent holds the third highest property crime rate in the state, at 585.29 per 10K residents. That’s almost 70% higher than the state average, and well over double the national average. The burglary rate in Kent is about average, at 82 per 10K residents.
A number of Kent’s property crimes include motor vehicle theft. In 2016, the police formed a task force dedicated to these types of crime. Police also believe the opioid crisis has contributed to the city’s high property crime rates, as individuals resort to theft to afford their addiction.
Kent’s police force has been understaffed for a number of years. Fortunately, they’re now hiring more officers. They’ve also transitioned to an online reporting system for lower-level crime, in order to free up the officers they do have to focus on higher-priority, more dangerous crimes.
The Safest Cities in Washington, Ranked
There you have it: the top and bottom five safest cities in Washington. If you’re wondering how your own city rates on safety, we’ve done the research for you. Take a look at our full rankings for the safest cities in Washington below.
When comparing your city’s crime rates, reference these state and national averages for each type of crime:
Violent crime: 30.2 per 10K residents in Washington and 38.6 for the U.S.
Property crime: 349.4 per 10K residents in Washington and 245.1 for the U.S.
Burglary: 67.5 per 10K residents in Washington and 46.9 for the U.S.
If you live somewhere that wasn’t large enough to be included in our list, you can find the crime rates for your city using the FBI’s UCR for Washington.
Violent Crime per 10k
Property Crime per 10k
Burglary per 10k
The cities above represent the most and least safe cities in Washington, according to the FBI’s 2016 data on violent crime, property crime, and burglaries.
Overall, violent crime is much lower in the Evergreen State. The safest cities on our list, such as Bellevue, Redmond, and Richland, have violent crime rates that are two to four times lower than state and national averages. However, less safe cities, such as Seattle, Tacoma, and Yakima, have violent crime rates that are well above even national averages. These cities also have the highest property crime rates in Washington.
Property crime is an issue for all cities in Washington, safe and unsafe alike. The state’s property crime rates are the third highest in the nation. Fortunately, many of the cities on our list are working to reduce and prevent property crime in their cities, by addressing gang violence and motor vehicle theft.
To learn about the safest cities in other states, take a look at our other safe city rankings below. If you’re interested in seeing how safety relates to sleep quality, check out our list of the best cities for sleep in the U.S.