The 20 Safest Cities in America, Mapped

iStock.com/finwal
iStock.com/finwal

If safety is a top concern for you when choosing where to live, there are several factors you need to take into account. Personal safety may come to mind immediately, but financial risks and natural disasters are also worth considering, too. Fortunately, as Thrillist reports, WalletHub has weighed all of these factors in its latest analysis of the safest cities in America, which you can explore in the map below.

To crown the country's safest city, WalletHub considered 39 different factors in three different categories. In the home and community safety category, the number of mass shootings, sex offenders, law-enforcement employees, and traffic fatalities per capita were factored into the score, among other information. The financial safety score, on the other hand, accounted for the unemployment rate, number of identity theft complaints, job security, and retirement plan access and participation rates. The natural-disaster risk score was based on the likelihood of earthquakes, floods, hurricane storm surges, hail, tornados, and wildfires.

Source: WalletHub

Out of the 182 U.S. cities included in WalletHub’s analysis, Columbia, Maryland ranked the highest for overall safety, earning 86 points out of 100 overall. The city appeared fourth in the home and community safety category, 34th in the financial safety category, and 63rd in the natural-disaster safety category.

Below are the 20 safest cities in the country, according to WalletHub.

The 20 Safest Cities

1. Columbia, Maryland
2. South Burlington, Vermont
3. Plano, Texas
4. Virginia Beach, Virginia
5. Warwick, Rhode Island
6. Gilbert, Arizona
7. Yonkers, New York
8. Bismarck, North Dakota
9. Nashua, New Hampshire
10. Boise, Idaho
11. Brownsville, Texas
12. Chandler, Arizona
13. Aurora, Illinois
14. Chesapeake, Virginia
15. Scottsdale, Arizona
16. Burlington, Vermont
17. Lewiston, Maine
18. Fargo, North Dakota
19. Salem, Oregon
20. Worcester, Massachusetts

The round-up also gives you an idea of the least safe cities in America, if you’re hoping to avoid locales with a less-than-stellar track record. This analysis identifies St. Louis, Missouri as the least safe city in the country. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ranks lowest in home and community safety. Here are some of the others that made the least-safe list:

The 20 Least-Safe cities

1. St. Louis, Missouri
2. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
3. San Bernardino, California
4. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
5. Little Rock, Arkansas
6. Detroit, Michigan
7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
8. Wichita, Kansas
9. Los Angeles, California
10. Jackson, Mississippi
11. Memphis, Tennessee
12. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
13. New Orleans, Louisiana
14. Cleveland, Ohio
15. Las Vegas, Nevada
16. St. Petersburg, Florida
17. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky
18. Kansas City, Missouri
19. Orlando, Florida
20. Knoxville, Tennessee

Want to know more? Head to WalletHub to read more about the data and methodology involved.

[h/t Thrillist]

This Is How Much the Average American Will Spend on Christmas This Year

iStock.com/CatLane
iStock.com/CatLane

The average American will spend $633 on Christmas this year, according to a new poll by LendEDU, an online marketplace for financial products. That’s enough money to buy two 43-inch televisions, an Alaskan cruise, or roughly 250 tacos.

For LendEDU’s poll, 1000 adults who celebrate Christmas were asked how much they expect to spend this year on decorations, gifts, travel, and other holiday-related expenses. Unsurprisingly, your dearest friends and family place the greatest strain on your wallet, with gifts accounting for 54 percent of overall spending, or around $342. Travel is the second-largest expense, accounting for $133 of the total budget. Other holiday expenses cost $89, while decorations are expected to set the average family back $70.

While this may seem like a lot of money to throw away on a holiday, it represents a $75 drop in spending from last Christmas, according to LendEDU’s figures. Still, 22 percent of poll respondents said they expect to go into debt as a result of their Christmas spending. On average, those Americans said they anticipate being $554 in the red this year.

One of the more surprising findings is that families are still doing much of their Christmas shopping in brick and mortar outlets. Of the poll respondents, 51 percent said they planned to buy most of their gifts at a store, while 46 percent said they would do their shopping online. Two percent said they were making their own presents, while one percent still relied on good old-fashioned catalogs.

There are ways to cut back on Christmas spending, but it will require some careful deliberations. If you still need to do some last-minute shopping but don’t want to break the bank this Christmas, check out these 11 gifts that cost $10-$25.

America's Best and Worst Cities for Public Transit

Washington D.C.'s Metro
Washington D.C.'s Metro
iStock.com/kickstand

Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, a new release from Island Press, is undoubtedly a book for transit nerds. But everyone else could learn a little something from it, too. In just a few quick visuals, it's able to distill why transit use is common in some big cities in the U.S., while in others, people are chained to their cars.

The density maps, which we first spotted over on CityLab, highlight where the most people live and are employed in major U.S. cities, overlaying information about how accessible frequent rail and/or bus service is in that area. The combined data show a realistic picture of how accessible certain parts of a city are, illuminating which U.S. cities, and which of their neighborhoods, are easiest to get around without a car.

A density map of D.C. showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
Washington D.C.
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

Sure, there are likely bus lines that run farther out beyond the bounds of downtown, but frequency is one of the most important predictors of whether people actually use transit or not. So is distance—you're not going to get many riders if people have to drive to your bus stop—and while some planners consider a quarter-mile to be the ideal maximum distance to be considered "walkable" distance to transit, others, including those running major transit agencies like the Washington D.C. Metro, use a half-mile as the standard. (The book's author, Rice University urban planner Christof Spieler, served on the board of directors for the Houston METRO from 2010 to 2018.)

A density map of New York City showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
New York City
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

The resulting infographics portray the reality of American transit options. Even in cities we imagine are great for public transportation (New York) there are wide swaths of densely populated geography that are virtually inaccessible. Other cities known for their over-dependency on the car (Los Angeles) actually might have far more transit options than you imagine.

A density map of Los Angeles showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

So what U.S. cities have the overall best transit coverage, according to Spieler? He names these cities as the five best: New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

And the most useless? As far as individual rail lines go, Nashville's $41 million Music City Star line carries fewer people than most bus routes. St. Clair County, Illinois, has a MetroLink line running from St. Louis eastward to serve "literal corn fields," Spieler writes. A Cleveland light-rail extension built in the 1990s serves a pathetic 400 people a day. Dallas's system, DART, is the biggest light-rail line in the country, but it "reaches remarkably few places," carrying half as many people per mile as transit in San Diego, Phoenix, or Houston.

In general, recent American transit projects cost taxpayers a ton of money and serve relatively few people—New York, despite having one of the best transit systems in the U.S., has paid $18.9 billion over the last 10 years on a mere three subway stations and one commuter-rail station.

Curious as to how your city measures up? Get the book on Amazon for $36.

[h/t CityLab]

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