According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida's total crime rate has gone down by more than 60% since 1998.
- Bottom line: It has never been safer to live in Florida than it is right now.
Each year the FBI releases crime data for the previous year for all Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA's) in the United States, including the 22 MSA's in Florida.
I thought it would be interesting to crunch their numbers and see which places in Florida may actually be the safest to live and retire in.
The FBI data is broken down into 9 different categories:
- Violent crime
- Murder and non-negligent manslaughter
- Aggravated assault
- Property Crime
- Motor vehicle theft
The data is most easily digested when distilled into a “Rate per 100,000 inhabitants”.
So, to find the safest places to live and retire in Florida, we simply have to look at the areas with the lowest number of crime incidents (rate) per 100,000 inhabitants.
Before we get to the numbers though, keep in mind that a seemingly high crime rate for one M.S.A. does not mean the entire area is unsafe.
I've lived in areas #11 and #16 almost my entire life, and taken as a whole, I would certainly not consider them unsafe.
Crime tends to occur most frequently in the more densely populated areas, and most of the communities you'll be looking at for retirement are outside of those areas.
I think what you’ll find that most 55+ communities are just as safe (or even safer due to lower populations) than even the “safest” M.S.A.’s as a whole.
For a number of reasons, the FBI cautions against using their data to compile rankings, so try not to consider what follows as “rankings” per se.
Try to look at it as “I've just put them in order for you to make them easier to read”. 😉
|Metropolitan Statistical Area||Crimes Per 100,000 Inhabitants||Y-O-Y Change|
|1.||The Villages, FL M.S.A.||1,817||-272|
|2.||Punta Gorda, FL M.S.A.||2,025||-628|
|3.||Naples-Marco Island, FL M.S.A.||2,392||-323|
|4.||Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL M.S.A.||2,590||-491|
|5.||Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL M.S.A.||2,596||-235|
|6.||Port St. Lucie, FL M.S.A.||2,675||-346|
|7.||Homosassa Springs, FL M.S.A.||3,106||-181|
|8.||Crestview-Fort Walton-Beach-Destin, FL M.S.A.||3,245||-721|
|9.||Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL M.S.A.||3,285||-560|
|10.||Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL M.S.A.||3,356||-600|
|11.||Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL M.S.A.||3,580||-669|
|12.||North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL M.S.A.||3,686||-319|
|13.||Sebring-Avon Park, FL M.S.A.||4,092||-875|
|14.||Ocala, FL M.S.A.||4,107||-544|
|15.||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL M.S.A.||4,267||-568|
|16.||Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL M.S.A.||4,577||-1083|
|17.||Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL M.S.A.||4,742||-433|
|18.||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL M.S.A.||5,218||-998|
|19.||Jacksonville, FL M.S.A.||5,305||-655|
|20.||Tallahassee, FL M.S.A.||5,564||-1,352|
|21.||Gainesville, FL M.S.A.||6,001||-291|
|22.||Panama City, FL M.S.A.||6,260||-762|
“Florida's Friendliest Hometown” is Also the Safest
The Villages calls itself “Florida's Friendliest Hometown” and I'm not surprised at all to see that The Villages, FL M.S.A came out on top.
While The Villages M.S.A. does include some areas that are not within The Villages retirement community, most of it is comprised of 55+ residents peacefully enjoying the good life.
While there have been some high profile crimes in The Villages over the last decade, most of the crimes that take place there involve DUI's, domestic disturbances, and theft.
Latitude Margaritaville is probably the second most popular retirement community this year, and the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL M.S.A., where it is located had a healthy drop of 669 crimes vs 2019.
Thoughts or Comments?
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