Affectionately referred to as “Big Sky Country,” the state of Montana is the fourth-largest in the U.S., even though its population is the 44th-biggest. Bordering Canada and brimming with beautiful landscapes, it's a place where the fascinating terrain ranges from prairie terrain and badlands to the 77 different named mountain ranges that compile its portion of the Rocky Mountains range. Visitors gush over the well-known Yellowstone National Park, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Park, and Glacier National Park, while residents spend their time fishing, hunting, and enjoying the outdoors. And to add to its draw, Montana also happens to be a very safe state, as evidenced by this list of its safest cities.
Safety has always been an important factor when searching for a new place to call home, but a wavering political system combined with an increase in violent crime has made safety the number one priority for many Americans. Because navigating through crime statistics can be a difficult and time-consuming process, we’ve done it for you.
1. MILES CITY
Located in southeastern Montana near the north-flowing Tongue River, Miles City is home to 8,851 residents and also boasts the distinction of being the safest city in the state. No need to fret about a solo stroll through the park, because the super-safe Miles City experienced only 12 violent crimes per year, and roughly 23 instances of property crime per 1,000 people. Locals won't be shy to tell you about Miles City's storied past, and how it was founded by whiskey merchants looking to sell “liquid stock” to soldiers at then-nearby Fort Keogh. Bottoms up!
Located a mere 10 miles from the border of North Dakota, close-knit Sidney is home to 6,817 residents. Locals get a good night's sleep here, knowing that Sidney experienced only 37 violent crimes and 105 property crimes last year. And when they're not enjoying piece of mind, they're exploring the nearby badlands and Yellowstone River, or learning about pioneer life in western North Dakota and eastern Montana at the MonDak Heritage Center.
Laurel is a local transportation hub in the state of Montana, serving as an east-west division point for the Burlington-Northern Railroad, as well as a stop on Interstate 90. Trains are kind of a big deal here, and the Laurel Yard happens to be the largest rail yard between Pasco, Washington and St. Paul, Minnesota. Another big deal: safety, especially since Laurel experienced only 13 violent crimes and 169 property crimes last year. For residents, nearby Yellowstone National Park offers plenty of nature to explore, and every three years, the Laurel Aviation and Technology Week offers hands-on demonstrations for students of all ages.
At 42,826 residents, Bozeman is actually the fourth-largest in the sparsely populated state of Montana. While no sprawling metropolis, Bozeman offers plenty to do for outdoors-loving locals, while also remaining one of the safest cities in the state. After all, Bozeman suffered only 2.66 instances of violent crime and 26.04 instances of property crime last year, respectively. In town, Montana State University and its more than 15,000 students remain a big presence, while the Museum of the Rockies and American Computer & Robotics Museum area also big draws for anyone who is isn't passing through on their way to Yellowstone National Park.
With 7,882 residents and located in southwest Montana and incorporated in 1906, Belgrade is the largest city in Montana that's not a county seat. It's also safer than an overprotective soccer mom, experiencing 3.93 instances of violent crime and 24.23 instances of property crime per 1,000 people annually, respectively. Fun fact: the city was named after the Serbian city of Belgrade as a hat tip to the Serbian investors who helped finance a part of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
The Top 15 Safest Cities in Montana, 2017
1. Miles City
10. Great Falls
To identify the safest cities in Montana, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 5,000. Note that our use of the word "cities" is versatile, refers to populations of 5,000 and over, and thus includes places with the words "town" and "township."
The remaining cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 100,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes accounting for 70% of the total (due to their severity) and property crimes accounting for 30%. Finally, we moved the decimal point over a few spots to show rates per 1,000 people.