Finding Your Safe Haven: Exploring the World’s Safest Places to Live

Deciding where to call home is a thoughtful and often challenging choice. People considering a move carefully weigh factors like school districts, affordability, and climate, with safety being paramount, especially for individuals living alone or with young children.

Safety is a fundamental need that can easily be taken for granted, particularly given the prevalence of distressing news about mass shootings, climate-related disasters, and conflicts around the world. It’s worth noting that perceptions of safety can vary widely.

So, what’s the safest place to live globally? According to the 2022 Global Peace Index (GPI), Iceland claims the top spot with a remarkable score of 1.107, maintaining its position for over a decade. The GPI assesses countries based on societal safety, security, ongoing conflicts, and militarization levels.

Iceland boasts more accolades, being the world’s most gender-equal nation, with nearly 90% gender gap closure according to the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap Report. Additionally, it ranks as the third happiest country globally, trailing only behind Finland and Denmark on the 2022 World Happiness Report. Moreover, Iceland has one of the lowest poverty rates among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, which includes the likes of the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, and others.

The top ten most peaceful countries in 2022, according to the GPI, are as follows:

  1. Iceland
  2. New Zealand
  3. Ireland
  4. Denmark
  5. Austria
  6. Portugal
  7. Slovenia
  8. Czech Republic
  9. Singapore
  10. Japan

In contrast, the United States occupies the 129th position on the GPI, marked with a relatively low score of 2.44. This decline is primarily attributed to civil unrest, with notable increases in categories related to political terror and instability, although some improvements have been observed.

Europe stands out as the most peaceful region globally, with seven of the top 10 countries hailing from this continent. Ukraine has witnessed a significant deterioration in its global peace score due to ongoing conflict, leading to increased military expenditures and inflation worldwide.

On a more sobering note, Afghanistan remains the least peaceful country, holding the lowest GPI ranking for the past five years.

Shifting our focus to the safest places within the United States, it’s important to recognize that the concept of “safest” can vary based on personal experiences. Small-town dwellers may perceive cities as unsafe, while urbanites might define safety differently.

WalletHub’s report compares various safety and preparedness factors, declaring Vermont as the safest state overall. New Hampshire boasts the fewest fatal occupational injuries, while Washington experiences the lowest losses from climate disasters. Massachusetts has the fewest fatalities, and Maine ranks well for fewest assaults. For those concerned primarily with crime rates, Maine boasts the lowest rate of violent crime, while Alaska registers the highest.

When it comes to the least crime-prone countries according to the GPI’s “Societal Safety and Security” indicator, Iceland leads the way, followed by Norway and Japan. In stark contrast, Afghanistan and Venezuela occupy the bottom spots, plagued by high homicide rates, violent crime, and political instability.

Lastly, if affordability is a key consideration, Fort Wayne, Indiana, emerges as the most cost-effective place to reside, according to a Niche ranking. Fort Wayne stands out for its low living costs relative to incomes. Meanwhile, The Woodlands in Texas claims the title of the best city to live in the U.S., with its proximity to Houston, ample employment opportunities, favorable weather, affordability, and high-quality public schools. Cambridge, Massachusetts, comes in second place, known for its association with Harvard University.

If you have more burning questions, look no further than USA TODAY’s “Just Curious” section, where we strive to provide answers to the common queries you and others ask daily, ranging from pet-related inquiries to retirement planning and decoding symbolic numbers like 111.

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