Pittsburgh is the most secure metropolitan area, and the Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Wash., area is the most secure midsize city, according to the Farmers Insurance Group of Cos. eighth annual "Most Secure Places to Live in the U.S." study.
Ithaca, N.Y., ranks as the most secure small city.
The rankings, compiled by database experts at Sperling's Best Places, took into consideration crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, housing depreciation, foreclosures, air quality, terrorist threats, environmental hazards, life expectancy, mortality rates from cancer and motor vehicle accidents, and job loss numbers in 379 U.S. cities.
The study divided the communities into three groups: large metropolitan areas with a population of 500,000 or more, midsize cities with a population between 150,000 and 500,000, and small towns with a population under 150,000.
Pittsburgh moved up 10 spots from a year ago to rank No. 1 among large metropolitan areas. This is the city's fifth appearance in the top 20. Its previous best ranking was ninth, in the 2005 study. Pittsburgh's low rate of housing depreciation, personal crime and motor vehicle deaths contributed to its top rating.
The Kennewick-Richland-Pasco area reclaimed its spot as the top midsize city. It previously held that title in 2005, and it marks the sixth time the area has been ranked in the study's top 20. Its lofty ranking is largely due to a high job growth rate and low housing depreciation and unemployment rates.
Ithaca earned the top rating among small towns in the annual Farmers study for the first time. It has four previous top five rankings, including third place in both 2007 and 2010. Ithaca earned its elite spot thanks to low rates of unemployment, violent crime, motor vehicle deaths and housing depreciation.
Farmers is the country's third largest insurance company of both personal lines auto and home insurance. It is also an insurer of small businesses.
The top five for each category are:
Large metro areas
- Rochester, N.Y.
- El Paso, Texas
- Syracuse, N.Y.
- Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick, Md.
- Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Wash.
- Boulder, Colo.
- Fargo, N.D.-Moorhead, Minn.
- Olympia, Wash.
- Binghamton, N.Y.
- Ithaca, N.Y.
- State College, Pa.
- Bismarck, N.D.
- Elmira, N.Y.
- Corvallis, Ore.