Is Boston Safe To Visit? Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling


is boston safe

There is no other city that is filled with so much history, than the city of Boston. More than history, it is a city known for its sports, its colleges, its culture and its people.

If you are thinking about visiting Boston and have qualms about the safety of the city, we go you covered. We deep dived into the statistics, crime reports and talked to the residents of the city to give you a better understanding of how safe the safe the city really is.

Boston Crime Stats

If you only look at the statistics, Boston is moderately safe place to visit. According to crime statistics released by the FBI, Boston ranked 45th for highest violent crime rate in the country in 2019, 669.20 incidents per 100,000 residents. It also ranked 88th for property crime rate in the country, 2,089.02 per 100,000 residents.

The average violent crime rate for the United States is 366.7 per 100,000 residents and the average property crime rate for the United States is 2,109.9 per 100,000 residents.

Boston’s violent crime rate is twice the national average and its property crime rate is slightly lower than the national average.

Violent crimes include; homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults and the violent crime rate is calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total population; the result is multiplied by 100,000.

Boston Murder Stats

In 2020 Boston reported 58 homicides, which was a 38% increase from 2019, where 42 homicides were reported.

As of September 2021, there have been 32 homicides reported in Boston, which is a 28% decrease at the same time in 2020.

In 2020 Boston had a murder rate of 8.58 per 100,000 residents. To put that in perspective, St. Louis had the highest per capita murder rate in 2020 with 64.54 murders per 100,000 residents. Boston murder rate is 8 times LESS than St. Louis. 65th place was Hampton, Virginia with 11.26 per 100,000.

Other Crime Stats

Aggravated assaults and motor vehicle theft increased by 10% and 14% respectively.

Rape, robbery, and larceny decrease in 2020 when compared to 2019.

Here’s a breakdown of all the crimes in the city for 2020 compared with 2019:

  2019 2020 Percentage Change
Homicide 42 58 +38%
Rape 238 194 -18.48%
Robbery 1,039 923 -11.16%
Aggravated Assault 2,947 3,242 +10%
Burglary 1,703 1,757 +3.17%
Larceny/Theft 10,590 10,311 -2.63%
Motor Vehicle Theft 1,139 1,299 +14.04%

**All data is from the 2020 Massachusetts Crime Stats Report**

Boston vs The Most Dangerous Cities In The United States

Here’s a list of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the United States ranked by violent crime rate. It can give you some perspective on Boston’s violent crime rate, which is 669.20

Boston’s violent crime rate is 4 times less than Memphis, the most dangerous city on the list.

City Population Number of violent crimes in 2020 Rate per 100,000 people
Memphis 633,104 15,310 2,418.24
Detroit 639,111 14,370 2,248.44
Baltimore 2,707,064 9,273 2,027.01
St. Louis 301,578 6,017 1,995.17
Little Rock 202,591 3,657 1,805.11
South Bend 103,453 1,765 1,706.09
Cleveland 372,624 6,281 1,685.61
Milwaukee 577,222 9,407 1,629.70
Kansas City 508,090 7,919 1,558.58
Lansing 112,644 1,699 1,508.29
Springfield 169,176 2,545 1,504.35

*All data is from the 2019 FBI Crime Stats Report**

The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Boston

Income and crime are inversely correlated. This maps gives you a really great starting point on which parts of Boston are safest.

worst neighborhoods in boston

worst neighborhoods in boston

 

Dorchester

Dorchester is the largest neighborhood in Boston and is located in the south side of the city. There were 29 homicides and 97 shootings reported in Dorchester
in 2020.

dorchester boston

 

Roxbury

Roxbury is a neighborhood situated in south Boston. The areas around Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard is known as ‘Meth Mile’. There were 11 homicides and 49 shootings reported in Roxbury in 2020.

methadone mile roxbury boston

 

Mattapan

Mattapan is a neighborhood that is located in south Boston. There were 6 homicides and 20 shootings reported in Mattapan in 2020.

mattapan boston

 

Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a neighborhood that is located in south-west Boston. There were 4 homicides and 16 shootings reported in Hyde Park in 2020.

hyde park boston

 

Jamaica Plain

Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood that is located in south-west Boston. There were 3 homicides and 12 shootings reported in Jamaica Plains in 2020.

jamaica plain boston

Driving tour of Boston’s Worst Neighborhoods:

Is Downtown Boston safe?

Downtown Boston is a generally safe area to visit and the general consensus among residents is that downtown is safe. Residents of Boston advised going to the Park St/Downtown Crossing area at night, as there are a lot of unsavory people wandering around there.

Here are what some residents say about Downtown Boston:

  • "Downtown Crossing has issues with vagrants and addicts but they are pretty harmless for the most part. It is usually a crowded area so there’s not much to worry about."
  • "Avoid Downtown Crossing and Chinatown. There are tons of homeless and heroin addicts everywhere. There are 3 shelters which are situated 5 minutes of each other. And the homeless around there stroll the streets at all hours of the day."
  • "Back Bay, Newbury Street, North End, Boylston Street, and Commonwealth Avenue, Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, Waterfront, Seaport — are all generally safe areas of downtown."
  • "Avoid Downtown Crossings. It’s not unsafe, but it gets pretty gritty with homeless addicts hitting you up for change."

Driving tour of Downtown Boston:

Is the public transportation of Boston safe?

The MBTA or The ‘T’ is the public transportation system of Boston. The T is a fairly safe option for getting around the city. However, we DO NOT recommend that you take the T late at night, especially if you don’t know the layout of train lines. You don’t want to end up lost in a sketchy area late at night.

Uber and Lyft are good options to use late at night and always make sure the licenses plate number matches on the app.

Here are what some residents of Boston think about the CTA:

  • "I’ve always felt pretty safe on the T and I have had many late nights going home on the redline and the greenline and oftentimes alone."
  • "I have taken the T my whole life and I only had one incident where some guy threatened me, but that was it. The T is super safe compared to the subway system of Chicago.’
  • "Just avoid the green line C and D branch after a Red Sox game. It’s full of drunk, Sweet-Caroline-singing idiots."

What do residents of Boston say about its safety

  1. "Boston is pretty safe and the neighborhoods that are ‘rough’, are mostly places you probably wouldn’t want to visit anyway. Dorechester, Mattapan and Roxbury (not to be confused with West Roxbury) are the most sketchiest areas."
  2. "Boston is ridiculously safe. Sure there are some not so great neighborhoods but they are nothing like in St. Louis or Nashville."
  3. "The worst neighborhoods of Boston don’t even compare to some of the middle of the road neighborhoods of other cities."
  4. "The areas around the methadone clinics, meth mile, the pine street inn, park street, are known for having drugged up homeless people around."
  5. "There aren’t many neighborhoods in Boston where you’re guaranteed to get mugged or end up on the nightly news. Just use common sense and you should be fine."
  6. "The vast majority of the city is very safe. The places a visitor would want to go; shopping districts, museums, historic sites, restaurants, bars are generally in safe neighborhoods. As a tourist, the places that you should avoid are largely residential neighborhoods. These include Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan."
  7. "Downtown crossing isn’t the best area of downtown, but it is also not dangerous. You may be solicited for money, but that’s about it."
  8. "I lived in many places and Boston is the safest place I’ve ever lived and one of the safest cities I’ve ever been in."
  9. "I just moved back from Atlanta and The “unsafe” areas of Boston do not even compare to the unsafe/rough areas of Atlanta. Not by a long shot!"
  10. "Boston is an extremely safe city and you would have to seek out unsafe situations to find yourself in one."
  11. "There isn’t much to worry about in the main areas of the city. Just avoid Roxbury, Dudley Square, most of Dorchester and Mattapan."
  12. "Anywhere you want to go or that is worth going as a tourist will be 100% safe. Enjoy your visit."
  13. "Avoid the ‘Methadone Mile’ area. It is located on Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass boulevard, near Boston medical center. It’s littered with homeless people and drug addicts."
  14. "I have lived in Boston for 5 years and I have never felt unsafe in Boston. I used to live in Los Angeles and San Francisco and I feel safer here."

Is Boston safe at night?

Boston is safe at night, however we recommend that you DO NOT visit certain parts of the city at night, specifically: Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattipan.

Is it safe to visit alone?

Boston is a safe place to visit alone, however that doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind. As a solo traveler you are more vulnerable to being a victim of crime and you should always be aware of your surroundings and follow common street smart tips.

Tips to stay safe in Boston

  • Only walk in well lit areas. Avoid walking down alleys, especially at night.
  • Don’t wear headphones when are walking or when taking the train. It’s important to keep situational awareness at all times.
  • Do not give money to any solicitors – no matter how sad their sob stories are. A few common stories are: “I just need $5 more for the bus fare back home" or "My son is stranded in Lawrence and I just need a couple bucks to get there."
  • If there are drunk Sox fans on the T, ignore them. It’s really not worth engaging.
  • Don’t leave anything visible in your car. This includes things that may hint at higher values items being inside (phone charger, camera case, computer bag, gps mount).
  • Don’t walk alone late at night. And especially don’t walk alone, late at night, while texting or talking on your phone.
  • Wrap the straps of your bag around your arm or leg while riding the T.
  • When you are on the T, make note of the call boxes. Use them if you need assistance. It is a better option than using your cellphone as the call boxes know exactly where you are.
  • Pay attention to the lights when crossing the street. I’ve seen numerous people almost get hit because they were buried in their phone and listening to music.
  • Don’t worry about being polite to people who are making you uncomfortable. Walk away, turn around, run away, or cross to the other side if you need to. If you feel like someone is following you, walk to a well populated area.
  • Don’t make eye contact with anyone making a scene in public.
  • Walk with purpose and intention. Know exactly where you’re going before you get there – stopping to look at your phone, or standing around staring at street signs is a sign to other people that you’re in unfamiliar territory.
  • Trust your instincts. If your gut tells you a situation feels sketchy, trust it.
  • There is safety in numbers. Avoid going to unfamiliar places at night by yourself.
  • Don’t drink excessively. Common sense goes out the window when you are inebriated.

Is Boston Safe To Visit?

Boston is a fairly safe place to visit. The crime statistics are not alarming and the residents of the city say the city is very safe. Even the sketchiest parts of the city are relatively mild compared to the parts of cities like Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta.

You can mitigate your chances of becoming a victim if you avoid going to certain areas (Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattipan) and if you follow the safety tips above.

Other Cities You Might Be Interested In:

Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Baltimore, Barstow, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Oakland, Philadelphia, Reno, San Antonio, San Bernardino, San Jose, Slab City, St. Louis, Stockton

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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