Known as the "Peace Garden State" and the "Roughrider State," North Dakota is a place where rugged individualism is the norm and agriculture and natural resources generate much of the economy. As the fourth-least populated state in the union, North Dakota stretches from the hilly Great Plains and striking Badlands, to the Red River Valley and Missouri Plateau. It also contains several large Indian reservations, and these days more than 5% of the state population is composed of Native Americans.
A religious place, North Dakota has the highest percentage of church-goers, as well as the most churches per capita of any state. And even though it remains the least-visited state, its economy keeps firing on all cylinders, resulting in the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The combination of a strong economy and churchgoing folk only adds to the North Dakota's reputation as a safe state, as evidenced by its five 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.
As the state capital and second-biggest city in North Dakota, Bismarck remains one of the most-popular destinations in the state and is recognized as one of the fastest-growing small cities in America. Perhaps surprisingly, it also holds the title of safest city in North Dakota, which is pretty impressive for a city of its size. How impressive? Bismarck saw 1.47 violent crimes and 13.04 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. Originally named Missouri Crossing and later Edwinton, the city eventually came to be known as Bismarck when the Northern Pacific Railway named it after German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, in the process hoping to attract German investment and settlers. (It was the discovery of gold in the Black Hills that was much more successful in drawing people to the area.)
2. WEST FARGO
One of the state's fastest-growing cities, West Fargo is the fifth-largest city in North Dakota and lies just west of (you, you guessed it) Fargo. West Fargo still makes sure its neighborhoods are plenty safe, and the city experienced only 1.50 violent crimes and 15.31 property crimes per 1,000 residents last year. West Fargo was named the City of the Year by the North Dakota League of Cities in 2013 and to this day maintains a significant number of descendants from Germany and Norway. In the summer, residents look forward to Big Iron, an annual fest held on the West Fargo Fairgrounds which draws more than 87,000 attendees and showcases farm equipment at more than 900 exhibit booths.
Located on the eastern border of the state adjacent to the Bois de Sioux River, the town of Wahpeton is one of the safest in North Dakota. Last year, the town experienced 10 reported violent crimes and 181 property crimes, making it a great place to enjoy a quiet life. It originally attracted settlers because of the richness of the nearby river valley, so much so that it was originally named Richville. The town was later renamed to Chahinkapa, and again to Wahpeton, the latter of which is an adaptation of a Dakota Indian name. In their free time, many locals take part in exploring the outdoors and hunting, and the local area is a draw for migratory waterfowl hunters.
4. VALLEY CITY
Less than four square miles in size, Valley City is a close-knit community that also happens to be one of the safest in South Dakota—the town saw a total of 19 violent crimes and 160 property crimes last year. Valley City is also home to Valley City State University, and boasts many bridges that stretch over the Sheyenne River, motivating some people to call it the “City of Bridges.” Additionally, the city is home to the annual North Dakota Winter Show, which draws around 30,000 people annually, as well as The Vault, a unique coffee shop where there are no employees and customers serve themselves.
The ninth-largest city in North Dakota, Jamestown is also home to the aptly named University of Jamestown. It squeaks into the top five safest cities ranking, experiencing just 3.30 violent crimes and 25.05 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. That's almost as safe as having UFC legend and Jamestown native Ronda Rousey watch your back. Jamestown is also home to the world's largest buffalo statue, which is composed of mostly stucco and cement, and weighs 54 tons. This tourist attraction is also the source of the city's nickname: The Buffalo City.
The Top 12 Safest Cities in North Dakota, 2017
2. West Fargo
12. Watford City
4. Valley City
7. Grand Forks
To identify the safest cities in North Dakota, 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.