Being a big city, Chicago is a mix of safe and dangerous places. While some regions have a high violent crime rate, others are safer for residents and visitors.
If you plan to move to Chicago or are in the city for vacation, you should know which areas to steer clear of to ensure your safety, avoiding areas that have higher violent crime rates.
In this list, we discuss the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago and the safest places in the city.
Is Chicago Dangerous?
First and foremost, let us discuss if Chicago is dangerous. Unfortunately, yes. The city has a higher violent crime rate than the national average, making it one of the dangerous cities in the U.S. According to CBS News, the city records 943 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
Even if you are in the safest part of the city, it will still have a higher crime rate than the national average. Thus, if you find yourself in the wrong Chicago neighborhoods at the wrong time, you may be a victim of a violent crime.
According to the crime statistics of Chicago, the city has an average crime range around 62% higher than the national average. Therefore, we can divide the city’s violent crimes into property crime and violent crime.
These crimes affect the victim personally, such as rape or murder, when someone physically hurts their victim or uses a weapon to do so. In most cases, these crimes result in serious injuries or death.
Property crime is a crime in which the victim’s property is stolen. For instance, robbery and burglary are examples of property crime.
So if someone steals your phone on the sidewalk, that would be a property crime. But if the thief also physically assaults you while stealing your possessions, it will be a violent crime too.
Both violent and property crimes make up the crime data of any region and determine how safe it is for habitation or recreation.
Violent Crime Rates in Chicago
The violent crime rate in Chicago is 164% higher than the national average, while the property crime rate is 45% higher than the national average. As per the national average crime rate, there are 382.9 crimes per 100,000 people.
These are violent crimes, including murder, robbery, assault, rape, and shooting. Chicago has alarming annual crime rates:
- 21 murders take place on average per 100,000 people
- 67 rapes take place on average per 100,000 people
- 259 robberies take place on average per 100,000 people
- 566 cases of assault are reported on average per 100,000 people
As per this data, the murder rate in Chicago is four times higher than the national average. Similarly, other violent crimes are also more common in Chicago than in the rest of the country. Therefore, it is thought to be a dangerous city.
Motor Vehicle Theft
Motor vehicle theft is one of the most prevalent crimes in Chicago. There are more than 12 cars stolen every day on average per 100,000 people. Car theft is more common in some dangerous areas rather than others, though.
Most Common Crimes in Chicago
Most Common Property Crimes:
Motor vehicle theft is at the top of this list. Keep an eye on your car when parked outside, always lock your car, and never leave any valuables inside it. Because there are so many thefts, the police have set up a special task force to deal with this situation.
The second property crime is theft, and it’s quite common in Chicago as there are more than 566 cases of theft on an average per 100,000 people every year. Always keep your belongings safe and secure and never leave cash or valuables unattended outdoors.
Residents living in the most dangerous areas who install a home security system can mitigate the highest crime rates.
Most Common Violent Crimes:
The crime rate in Chicago is high as compared to other neighboring regions. It is also four times higher than the national average murder rate. Approximately 21 people are shot in 100,000 people every year.
- The murder rate is 21 per 100,000 people annually. So, it is important to be careful at night and always pay attention to your surroundings.
- The robbery rate is 259 cases on an average per 100,000 people every year. It’s good to carry only the amount of cash you need for that day or maybe one or two days more if needed. Always check your pockets before going out or leaving a restaurant. Lastly, take care not to display your cash unnecessarily.
- The assault rate is 566 cases per 100,000 people every year. So it’s always a good idea to take a cab after dark and avoid walking around alone in the streets at night.
- The rape rate is 67 cases per 100,000 people every year. So it’s not a good idea to wander around alone. Always try to take a cab after dark and avoid walking alone in the streets.
Property crimes are also quite common, with 4,122 annually. Hence it is important to be careful while going out at night and always pay attention to your surroundings. In addition, always keep a close eye on your belongings when you are traveling.
Always keep your possession in view for safekeeping. Keep valuables safe in a locker at the hotel or even in a bank’s safety deposit box when traveling to Chicago.
What is the Most Dangerous Neighborhood in Chicago?
Keeping these considerations in mind, let’s look at the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago.
Riverdale is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago since 478 crimes are reported annually in a small population of just 13,000 people. The locality has a violent crime rate of 743 crimes per 100,000 individuals and a property crime rate of 2,830 crimes per 100,000 individuals.
The area is on the south side of the city. The possible reason for the crime rate being too high may be the proximity of Riverdale to the freeway and the streets. Sadly, the economic conditions in the region are also quite poor, with most people making less than $8,000 a year.
Meanwhile, the area has an employment rate of 40%, with the median household income 71% less than the rest of the county. It may also contribute to the higher crime rate.
Englewood is notorious for its high crime rate of 9,386 reported crimes in a population of 25,000 people. In addition, reports show that the area has a seven times higher violent crime rate than other cities in the country.
According to the FBI’s recent logs, the number of violent crimes in Englewood was 3,206. Like Riverdale, unemployment and low wages plague Englewood and West Englewood. On average, people earn under $12,000 a year, which is hard to get by.
West Englewood is another dangerous neighborhood in Chicago, with 7,451 crimes per 100,000 individuals. This area is also on the city’s south side and has a high unemployment rate of 10% to 12%.
Back of the Yards (Chicago Lawn)
The Back of the Yards neighborhood is one of five neighborhoods that make up Chicago Lawn. It falls into the 50 most dangerous places in America, with a crime rate of 4,143 crimes per 100,000 people. In addition, its unemployment rate is at 9%.
North Lawndale is a Chicago neighborhood that has a significant African American population. The area also has a high unemployment rate, perfect for law enforcement professionals who want to settle in the city and join the police department. The crime rate in North Lawndale is 38% lower than the average crime rate of the city.
Altgeld Gardens, which has a population of 1,500 residents who are around 23% unemployed, also makes it to the list of the most dangerous neighboring areas. Others include Washington Heights, another neighborhood on the south side of the city, West Pullman and Auburn Gresham.
Washington Park has a violent crime rate of 420 reported crimes per 100,000 individuals. The property crime in the Washington Park region is 2,008 cases per 100,000 individuals. In total, the number of reported crimes in the neighborhood is 9,904.
What makes these figures alarming is the fact that the population of Washington Park is only 3,096. In addition, the poverty rate in the neighborhood is 48.2%, with many people living under the poverty line.
Poverty and violence are constant parts of the residents’ daily lives in Washington Park. Thus, every 1 in 170 people experiences a violent crime in the neighborhood. Making matters worse, one in every 33 individuals experiences a property crime.
South Deering is another of Chicago’s neighborhoods with a high crime rate. The total number of crimes reported in the population of a little above 14,000 is 5,067. In addition, the region has a violent crime rate of 1,303 cases per 100,000 individuals and a property crime rate of 3,764 cases per 100,000 individuals.
Compared to the rest of the city, buying a house in South Deering is 60% cheaper. However, this is of no use since living in the locality is unsafe for you or your property. Most of the crimes in the region take place on sidewalks.
West Garfield Park
West Garfield Park and East Garfield Park are infamous for street and property crimes. Both areas have a high poverty rate, with 69,000 people living in poverty. Additionally, the locality is quite impoverished since people do not earn a lot.
Since West Garfield Park has a housing cost 10% less than the rest of the city, buying a house, there may seem like a tempting idea. However, Garfield Park is not safe if you’re a woman, living alone, or have kids.
Instances of crimes are 200% more common in East Garfield Park and West Garfield than in the rest of Chicago. So, there is no use saving money renting a house in East Garfield Park or the west side.
South Chicago is another dangerous neighborhood with a high crime rate. The area has a median income of $20,000, which is quite low compared to other city regions. However, housing costs are quite low because no one wants to buy a house and rent it out at poor rates.
The unemployment rate of South Chicago is at 30%, which makes residents more vulnerable to committing crimes. In addition, most of the violent crimes are committed on sidewalks, making them unsafe for pedestrians.
Safest Neighborhoods in Chicago
Although some parts of Chicago are quite dangerous, the city also has a lot of safe neighborhoods where you can buy or rent a house if you plan on moving to the city.
Here are some of these neighborhoods with low personal and property crime rates:
Edison Park is one of the safest Chicago neighborhoods. It sits quietly in the northwest of the city. However, Edison Park may seem a bit self-contained at first because it used to be a town at one point in time.
Currently, the community is quite welcoming. Many officers from the Chicago police department live in the area, which is possibly one of the reasons for the low crime rates. The violent crime rate in Edison Park is 77% lower than in the rest of the city.
Forest Glen is another safe neighborhood in Chicago with low crime statistics. The laid-back vibe of the area makes it perfect for retirees. Nearly half the people living in Forest Glen have children younger than the age of 18.
The neighborhood also has excellent schools and entertainment areas. In addition, the crime rate in Forest Glen is 71% lower than in the rest of the city.
Norwood Park is among the safe neighborhoods in Chicago that make perfect residential areas. The neighborhood has a historic charm to it that makes it attractive for people with families. In addition, the crime rate in Norwood Park is 72% lower than the average crime rate of Chicago.
Lincoln Park sits on the south side of Lake View and is an upscale area. Although it’s not as safe as some other neighborhoods on this list, its proximity to tourist attractions and nightlife opportunities make it a prospective residential area for many.
The crime rate in Lincoln Park is 24% less than the city’s average.
If you want to rent an apartment or home in Chicago, Lake View is the perfect place for it as it overlooks the beautiful Lake Michigan. The area also has quick and easy access to public transportation and downtown.
Compared to some other safe neighborhoods in Chicago, Lake View is more affordable and has low real estate expenses.
The crime rate in Lake View is 40% lower than the rest of the city, making it perfect for professionals and singles looking for a place to rent.
If you’re planning on moving to Chicago, Mount Greenwood may be the perfect place for you as it has all the necessary amenities and great support from law enforcement. In addition, the crime rate in Mount Greenwood is 61% lower than the average crime rate of the city.
Mount Greenwood also has a low unemployment rate and median income. Unemployment in the area is at 4%, and the median income of Mount Greenwood residents is $75,000.
Westmont is yet another safe neighborhood in Chicago where you can live with your family. In addition, the number of children living in the area is greater than the city average, making it perfect for young kids.
The crime rate in Westmont is 65% lower than in the rest of Chicago.
West Lawn has a low crime rate and very little homelessness, making it one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago. Furthermore, the employment rate of West Lawn is more than 20%, which means that most people living there hold a job. In addition to safety, West Lawn is one of the best places to live for educational reasons. It has many public and private schools.
It also has a sizable shopping area that’s very close to the city center. West Lawn’s crime rate is 41% lower than the average rates of violent and property crimes in Chicago. Other cities with less crime include:
- Albany Park (35% less crime)
- Belmont Cragin (36% less crime)
- Chatham (40% less crime)
- Dunning (40% less crime)
- East Side (48% less crime)
- Edgewater (38% less crime)
- Far North Side (34% less crime)
- Forest Glen (35% less crime)
- Grand Crossing (48% less crime)
- Hegewisch (50% less crime)
- Hermosa (38% less crime)
- Humboldt Park (44% less crime)
- Jefferson Park (38% less crime)
- Logan Square (36% less crime)
- Near West Side (30% less crime)
- Near North Side (34% less crime)
- Oakland (33% less crime)
- Portage Park (36% less crime)
- Rogers Park (38% less crime)
- Scottsdale (39% less crime)
- South Chicago (43% less crime)
- South Shore (42% less crime)
- Tri-Taylor (55 %less crime)
- Washington Heights (41% less crime)
- West Ridge (39% less crime)
- West Town (32% less crime)
As you can see, Chicago is not nearly as dangerous as some might think. If you were to compare its crime rate with some other major metropolitan cities in the U.S., it would rank among some of the safest.
If you’re new to Chicago, some of the neighborhoods listed may not be where you’d like to live yet because they are a bit out from downtown or have bad public transportation, but if you have a car, feel free to check them out.
You might be pleasantly surprised with the types of homes available for rent in these areas and their affordability.
The safest neighborhoods in Chicago are certainly worth checking out when looking for a place where your family can live or that perfect house you’ve been dreaming about for years!
In conclusion, Chicago has alarming crime data. However, it is important to check the neighborhood before you move there.
Suppose you are a woman living alone or have kids in the family making an average income. In that case, you need to be even more vigilant because some areas have a higher percentage of rape and overall crime rate with gang activity in the worst neighborhoods.
Depending on your budget, you can find safe neighborhoods in Chicago, especially close to Lake Michigan. However, judging from the trends, it seems that the areas with high poverty rates also have higher rates of violent crimes. So, it would help if you steered clear of them.
Hopefully, this guide will have given you the directions for choosing the best neighborhood and avoiding the most dangerous parts as you move to Chicago.