Top 10 Safest Cities in Illinois

by | Aug 11, 2023

Safest Cities in Illinois

Illinois is a popular state to call home. It has a bit of everything: urban living, sprawling farmlands, renowned universities, a spot on the Great Lakes, and more. If you’re thinking about living in Illinois (or even visiting), you first have to decide where to go. And safety is always a reasonable concern. Where are the safest cities in Illinois? And how can you protect yourself, your family, and your home?

Is Illinois Safe?

Before we get ahead of ourselves: is Illinois safe to begin with?

As you might expect, the answer isn’t exactly straightforward. The simplest measure of safety is looking at crime statistics. Let it be known that this isn’t a perfect predictor—voluntary reporting and clerical errors are just a few of the factors that can paint a false picture—but you have to start somewhere. And that “somewhere,” in this case, is the Illinois State Police’s crime dashboard.

According to this report, Illinois experienced nearly 520,000 crimes in 2022. That’s 41.2 crimes per 1,000 residents. The national crime rate is closer to 23 crimes per 1,000. Illinois is in the middle of the pack as far as state crime rates are concerned, slightly above average.

That said, state-wide data is only so useful. Your specific location plays a significant role in how safe you’ll feel. Just as there are safe places to live in Illinois, there are also places with higher crime rates. It’s more valuable to dig in at the local level.

The Safest Places to Live in Illinois

Illinois offers a wide variety of places to call home. It’s understandable that safety would be a concern, particularly since there are plenty of urban areas, which typically experience more crime. Let’s take a look at the safest cities in Illinois—as well as the areas that warrant more caution.

Top 10 Safest Cities in Illinois (Any Size)

Some Illinois hometowns undoubtedly deliver peaceful, crime-free living, provided you’re fine with small-town life. Here are the top 10 safest cities in Illinois, courtesy of NeighborhoodScout.

  1. Flat Rock: What is the safest city in Illinois? The tiny village of Flat Rock, which you’ll find near the Indiana border.
  2. Eldred: This town of 200 people is older than the state itself. It originally went by Farrow Town.
  3. Broughton: Founded by French traders, Broughton’s dubious claim to fame is its location near the epicenter of a major 1968 earthquake.
  4. Cantrall: This village is the tiniest on the list, with only 139 people and 0.26 square miles to its name.
  5. West Union: Boasting a population of 271, West Union sits just up Illinois Route 1 from Flat Rock.
  6. Browns: Some of this town’s history is a mystery since a fire destroyed early records. One thing we do know is that it’s been dry since Prohibition.
  7. Nilwood: Located on the historic Route 66, this town’s biggest attraction is a set of turkey tracks in the cement. (Yes, really.)
  8. Fowler: This town got its start in the 1850s thanks to its location on the railroad.
  9. New Burnside: After peaking at a booming population of 1,200 people, New Burnside has shrunk to about 200 residents. It’s named for Civil War general Ambrose Burnside—also the namesake of his distinctive facial hair: sideburns.
  10. Ellis Grove: The largest town on this list with a population of 381, Ellis Grove is a stone’s throw from Missouri and the Mississippi River.

It’s hardly surprising that the safest towns in Illinois are remote areas with small populations. After all, when you know your neighbors, crimes won’t go unnoticed. But rural living isn’t for everyone. There are some other safe places to live in Illinois that offer more hustle and bustle.

The Safest Cities in Illinois (Population 50K+)

What if you don’t want to live in a small town? It’s possible to get a more urban (or suburban) lifestyle in Illinois while staying relatively safe. According to FBI crime reports, here are the safest cities in Illinois with populations of 50,000 people or more.

  1. Palatine: 5.6 crimes per 1,000 residents
  2. Arlington Heights: 5.7 per 1,000
  3. Hoffman Estates: 9.0 per 1,000
  4. Bolingbrook: 9.3 per 1,000
  5. Mount Prospect: 10.9 per 1,000
  6. Wheaton: 12.5 per 1,000
  7. Tinley Park: 12.7 per 1,000
  8. Des Plaines: 13.1 per 1,000
  9. Aurora: 14.1 per 1,000
  10. Oak Lawn: 15.0 per 1,000

There are even more medium to large Illinois cities with below-average crime rates, but this is a start. Check these out if you’re looking for one of the safest places to live in Illinois.

And don’t forget that you can and will find crime anywhere. Keep your wits about you.

The Most Dangerous Cities in Illinois (Population 25K+)

Curious about where you’ll find the most crime? We thought so.

Per capita crime rates can be deceptive with small towns—after all, one isolated incident might tank the town’s rate. With that in mind, we’ll just look at cities with 25,000 citizens or more. Here’s what the 2018 FBI data reveals about the top 10 most dangerous cities in Illinois.

  1. Danville: 66.2 crimes per 1,000 residents
  2. Lansing: 57.8 per 1,000
  3. Springfield: 56.2 per 1,000
  4. Rockford: 50.6 per 1,000
  5. Peoria: 47.7 per 1,000
  6. Alton: 42.3 per 1,000
  7. Kankakee: 42.3 per 1,000
  8. Chicago: 41.9 per 1,000
  9. Quincy: 38.3 per 1,000
  10. Gurnee: 36.8 per 1,000

It might surprise you to see Chicago so far down this list, but the Windy City is certainly no safe haven. Along with Danville and Rockford, Chicago has a particularly high violent crime rate, more than 3x the Illinois state average. Danville has the highest violent crime rate in the state: 17.9 crimes per 1,000 people.

Curious about the safest neighborhoods in Chicago? We have a guide for that, too.

Where Are the Safest Cities in Illinois?

So, that’s a little bit about the safest cities in Illinois, as well as a few areas with more crime. But a picture is worth a thousand words, and a map is worth even more. Spot the safest places in Illinois on this state map.

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Interestingly, the safest towns in Illinois are throughout the southern half of the state, while the safest larger cities cluster around Chicago. The most dangerous areas, however, are scattered across the state. No matter where you go in Illinois, exercise due caution.

Stay Safe in Illinois

To stay safe in both dangerous and safe cities in Illinois, take steps to prevent burglaries, vandalism, and other crimes. Here are some easy tips to help you sleep better at night.

  • Get to know your neighbors. They can help watch out for any suspicious activity around your home.
  • Always lock your doors, even if you live in a safe area.
  • Make your home less attractive to criminals by using the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). This includes simple strategies like cleaning up your yard, putting up a fence, and installing security floodlights.
  • Talk to your local police for advice and information. They might have crime prevention officers who can teach you how to avoid being a target.
  • Install home security cameras with live security monitoring capabilities. Deep Sentinel cameras use smart technology and human operators to keep your property safe.

With these tips, you can protect your Illinois home, no matter where in the state you reside.​

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