Thinking about moving to Florida? Or maybe you have already made the decision and know which city. It’s natural that you would want to know everything about the city. One item which always seems to be top-of-mind is safety. For you, your family, and anyone visiting.

Hi, we’re Bellhop — movers in Florida and specifically Jacksonville moversOrlando moversTampa moversSt. Petersburg moversMiami moversFort Lauderdale movers, and West Palm Beach movers). We can help you move to (or from) these locations, and just about anywhere else in Florida. In fact, we’ve prepared lots of info on the sunshine state. Great guides like this one: THE Best Places to Live in Florida (2023).

Is Florida safe to move to?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is also yes, with an understanding about crime and statistics measuring crime.

Crime is as much about how someone feels as how it is measured. Someone who has unfortunately experienced a criminal event in their past, may feel very different than someone who has not.

Our news media channels always seem to go out of their way to talk about crime and which political party or demographic group bears the blame for it. It will be front and center in any election year as a hot topic. So, it’s very understandable that crime is on everyone’s mind.

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Is Moving to Florida Right for You? A 2022 Guide. Bellhop Blog

Comparing Florida to other states

Comparing Florida’s crime records to other states’ is a favorite social media pastime. To compare criminal statistics, we have to use FBI data, the only source to measure criminal activities uniformly. Type ‘Florida crime rate compared to other states’ into a search engine, and you will receive the following answers:

  • “Florida ranked 25th in violent crime rates.”
  • “The third most dangerous state in the US. is Florida with 2,087 homicides.”
  • “Florida Ranked As One Of Least Safest States In The U.S., Study Finds.”
  • “Crime is at a 50-year low in Florida.”

As these headlines show, it’s easy to be confused.

What the FBI numbers say about Florida

The FBI defines two categories of crime: Violent and Property:

Violent Crime: In the United States, violent crime consists of five types of criminal offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and gang violence.

Florida ranks 26th.

Murder Rate in Florida

In 2019 there were 14,700 reported murders with a national average of 12 murders per every 100,000 inhabitants.

Florida had 9.7 per 100,000, ranking 19th in the US. By contrast states like Louisiana and Missouri led with 22.9 and 18 respectively.

Property Crime in Florida

Property crimes is a broad category of theft-related offenses in three sub-categories: vehicle theft, burglary, and larceny. Larceny includes such crimes as shoplifting, purse snatching, theft of car parts, check forging and embezzlement. They are the most reported of all crimes, accounting for easily more than three quarters of all major reported crimes.

Florida ranked 19th lowest among states and lower than the national rate. There were 1,769 property crimes for every 100,000 people.

Why comparing safest cities in Florida is a bad idea

The FBI Says, ‘Don’t Do it.’

The FBI itself recommends not comparing crime for states, metropolitan areas, and cities. In Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics: Their Proper Use, the agency writes:
“Data users should not rank locales because there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place..”

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“Rankings ignore the uniqueness of each locale. Some factors that are known to affect the volume and type of crime occurring from place to place are:

  • population density
  • transportation systems
  • family cohesiveness
  • attitudes toward crime
  • crime reporting practices of its citizenry.”

Not Every City Reports its Data to the FBI.

Not every city reports its data, in Florida or the other states. Smaller cities and non-metropolitan county areas have a lower reporting rate, as reflected in the FBIs ‘Table 5’ for Florida:

  • Metropolitan Statistical Area (Big Cities) – 99.99% reported
  • Cities outside metropolitan areas – 92.9% reported (7.1% don’t report)
  • Nonmetropolitan counties – 93.4% reported (6.6% don’t report)

So why don’t they report? In fairness to these locales, it may be that they don’t have the manpower to compile the statistics and file the paperwork. Or it may not be a priority. Or someone in administration may decide the city will look better if it doesn’t.

FBI will ‘guesstimate’ city data to build out its statewide data.

The FBI expects 12 months of data for its reports. When it doesn’t get it, the agency has to make an educated guess, which it will do with three months or more of data.

Crime Rates in Cities with Less than 3 Months of Data Are ‘Made Up.’

‘If an agency has supplied less than 3 months of data, the FBI computes estimates by using the known crime figures of similar areas within a state and assigning the same proportion of crime volumes to nonreporting agencies.’ Source: Table 5, Offense Estimation

Translation: Small Town A that doesn’t report will be ‘assigned’ the adjusted crime statistics of Small Town B. This may create a totally artificial perception.

Hidden agendas in making comparisons

Mark Twain reminds us,  “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Pundits and promoters are likely to make comparisons about crime in Florida to make a point. Online searches regularly show comparisons between Florida and California crime rates, or a Florida city’s and New York City. Simply be advised that comparative data may be incomplete, and not advised, even by the FBI.

How to determine the safest cities in Florida

Do your research.

The latest FBI information for cities in Florida is based on 2019 in its Table 8 report. It only includes cities that reported a complete 12 months of data, meaning some towns are not included. (Table 8 data can be searched for other states too.) It only includes cities with about 48% of the state’s population so don’t be surprised if smaller communities are not represented.

Trust but verify.

Good online information providers will cite their sources. Look at their footnotes. Be doubtful of any organization, particularly large ones, that make blanket claims without offering you a means to check it out.

Define what is ‘safety’ to you.

Some online sources such as WalletHub rank states on safety. Their ranking is based on multiple attributes (not just crime), including financial safety, workplace safety. Some other sources are beginning to include climate info.

Visit and Talk to Locals

Moving can be expensive. A frugal first step is to have fun and explore, feel the sand between your toes. Florida experienced a record 137 million visitors in 2022, up significantly from past years. Local folks will gush about their communities and can share their feelings about safety, hurricanes, and best neighborhoods.

When you are ready for the big move, use Bellhop

Ultimately, where you move is based on you. We’ve provided this information to cut through a lot of ‘noise’ about crime and safety. Know that all of us at Bellhop want to support your decision, even if it means staying put, or moving somewhere else.

At Bellhop, there’s nothing we want more than for our customers to have a smooth move. If Florida (or another state) is the right move for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals at Bellhops. We coordinate local and long-distance moving services all over Florida, and we would love to help.

Warren Sly
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