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


is seattle safe

Seattle is the home place of grunge music, a tech hub and a city that prides itself in progress and innovation. It is a beautiful city that is surrounded by lush landscapes and deserves a place on your itinerary.

If you are thinking about visiting Seattle 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 city really is.

Seattle Crime Stats

Looking at the crime statistics, Seattle is a moderately safe place to visit. In 2019, Seattle ranked 51th for violent crime rate in the country, 632.69 incidents per 100,000 residents. It also ranked 14th for highest property crime rate in the country, 5,258.64 per 100,000 residents.

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

Seattle’ violent crime rate is about double the national average and its property crime rate is nearly 2.5 times the national average.

Pittsburgh, Long Beach , Las Vegas and Boston all have similar violent crime rates as Seattle.

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.

Seattle Murder Stats

In 2020 Seattle reported 50 homicides, which was a 61% increase from 2019, where 31 homicides were reported.

In 2020 Seattle had a homicide rate of 6.78 per 100,000 residents. To put that in perspective, St. Louis had one of the highest homicide rates in the country in 2020, 87 killings per 100,000 residents. Seattle’s homicide rate is almost 13 times LESS than St. Louis!

As of August 31, 2021 there have already been 35 homicides reported in Seattle.

*Murder is calculated by dividing the number of reported murders by the total population; the result is multiplied by 100,000.

Other Crime Stats

While homicides increased in 2020, all other violent crimes including, rape, robbery and aggravated assualts decreased.

Seattle saw a significant increase in property crime in 2020, as burglary and motor vehicle theft increased by 36% and 23% respectively.

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

  2019 2020 Percentage Change
Homicide 37 52 +40.54%
Rape 383 282 -26.37%
Robbery 1,555 1,487 -4.37%
Aggravated Assault 2,711 2,652 -2.17%
Burglary 7,649 10,429 +36.34%
Larceny/Theft 26,026 23,258 -10.63%
Motor Vehicle Theft 3,990 4,935 +23.68%

*All data is from the Seattle Police Crime Stats**

Seattle vs The Rest Of Washington

Here’s a table showing you the top 10 most populous cities in the state of Washington and their violent crime rate and property crime rate.

Looking at the table, Seattle ranks 3rd for highest violent crime and property crime rate in Seattle, for cities with population over 100,000 residents.

 

Population

Violent Crime Rate

Property Crime Rate

Tacoma

218,650

845

5,221

Spokane

220,432

690

5,919

Seattle

763,706

585

4,496

Vancouver

185,034

480

3,242

Kent

131,003

371

3,969

Renton

103,452

314

4,042

Spokane Valley

100,983

308

4,422

Everett

112,302

304

3,554

Bellevue

150,200

123

2,838

*All data is from the 2019 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Datasets

Seattle 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 in 2020. Seattle’s has a violent crime rate of 632.69, which is 3.8 times LESS than Nashville, the most dangerous city in the United States.

City Population Number of violent crimes in 2020 Rate per 100,000 people
Nashville 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

The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Seattle

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

seattle worst neighborhoods

Most residents of Seattle agree that the ‘bad neighborhoods’ of Seattle aren’t that bad compared to cities like Detroit, St. Louis or Baltimore. Here’s a few neighborhoods in Seattle that are ‘rough around the edges.’

seattle's worst neighborhood

  • Northgate – Northgate is a neighborhood that’s located in northern Seattle. There’s a growing homeless population. The main homeless encampments near the freeway had been displaced, but they just move in further and take over parks.
  • Ballard South – Ballard South is a neighborhoods that is located in north-west Seattle. There is a huge homeless problem in the area and some sketchy characters roam around. Don’t walk around alone at night.
  • Rainier Beach – Rainier Beach is a neighborhood located in south Seattle. While there aren’t too many unsafe neighborhoods in Seattle, this is legitimately the one area of Seattle I’d say “not safe” to.
  • Licton Springs – Licton Springs is a neighborhood that’s located in north Seattle. It is a sketchy area where there is a lot of prostitution, drugs, theft, and homeless people.
  • Georgetown – Licton Springs is a neighborhood that’s located in south Seattle. It is another area that is being consumed by homeless people.
  • Capitol Hill – Capitol Hill is a neighborhood that is located in downtown Seattle. It’s pretty inundated with drama right now because of the homeless crisis and the police protests and the area around Pine/Pike should be avoided.

Driving tour of the worst neighborhoods of Seattle

Safest neighborhoods in Seattle

  • Blue Ridge
  • North Ballard
  • Fremont
  • Windermere
  • Laurelhurst
  • Montlake
  • Maple Leaf
  • Northeast Seattle
  • West Seattle

Is Downtown Seattle safe?

Downtown Seattle is a relatively safe area to visit during the day. At night time the situation can get a littly sketchy as there is a contingent of homeless people who have taken over certain parts of downtown. They are harmless for the most part.

Many residents say that you should avoid Pioneer Square, Belltown, 3rd and Pine, 3rd and Pike.

After the protests and because of the pandemic, downtown has become, as one resident put it, ‘a wasteland’. After 7 pm it becomes desolate and there isn’t anyone around. People don’t hang out there and barely anyone lives there. Outside of the Market area, there isn’t much going on.

Here are what some residents think about Downtown Seattle

  1. "Seattle Downtown has never been a destination."
  2. "Downtown Seattle is dead because all the workers are working remotely."
  3. "Downtown has always “closed” at 7."
  4. "Downtown is probably the worst I’ve seen it lately. Yesterday, I went downstairs to get a snack and some guy got stabbed by a crazy person on the street."
  5. "I would avoid the area around 3rd Ave. It is not dangerous, but it is questionable."
  6. "Avoid Belltown, especially as you get closer to Pike Place Market, 1st, 2nd, 3rd ave."

Driving tour of Downtown Seattle:

What do residents of Seattle say about its safety

  1. "Compared to everywhere I’ve ever been in the world, with the exception of Japan, Seattle is so unbelievably safe it’s almost funny."
  2. "The rough neighborhoods of Seattle are just an average neighborhood you’d find in any town in America."
  3. "White Center and Rainier Beach are probably the roughest places in Seattle and those are pretty tame by national standards."
  4. "Seattle really doesn’t have any hoods. Many hoods have been gentrified."
  5. " There is not many murders here but there are lots of thieves and break ins. Overall it is a great city and I’m grateful to be living here."
  6. "Buses are alleys on wheels. I have lived in Seattle for years, and the only truly threatening situations I have encountered have been on buses."
  7. "Very few places in Seattle make me feel unsafe. We don’t have real ghettos here."
  8. "There is no area of Seattle I feel unsafe in. You will definitely see your fair share of homeless people, but for the most part as long as you leave them alone they’ll leave you alone."
  9. "I haven’t ever found a neighborhood in Seattle that I would consider ‘BAD’. BAD as in South Chicago bad or below 8-Mile Detroit bad."
  10. "Seattle is considered pretty safe. Violent crime is rare, but property crime is common."
  11. "Even though they are literally in the middle of tourist areas, there are a few areas in downtown like 3rd and Pine, or 2nd and Pike that you should avoid at night."
  12. " I would avoid the Pioneer Square area at night. It’s touristy, but I never feel safe there by myself."
  13. "There are some areas that are a little sketchy, but for the most part you should be good."
  14. "There are no really “bad” areas in Seattle. If homeless people scare you out, stay away from Sodo, Georgetown and parts of downtown."
  15. "Seattle is absolutely safe, but the property crime rate is embarrassingly high"

Is Seattle safe at night?

Seattle is safe to visit at night. It can be a safer place to visit at night if you learn which parts of the city you should avoid. Also avoid taking the bus. Many residents agree there is a lot of sketchiness on the buses.

Is it safe to visit alone?

Seattle is a safe place to visit alone, however you should also take special precaution as a solo traveler as you are more vulnerable to becoming a victim of crime. You can mitigate your chances of becoming a victim if you follow the safety tips posted below and learn which parts of the city you should avoid.

Tips to stay safe in Seattle

  • Do your research and know which neighborhoods to avoid.
  • Don’t look like a tourist. The more you look like an easy target the more people will pick on you
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. This is especially true at night, when they’re aren’t many people around. Don’t leave your headphones on or bury your face in your phone, while in public.
  • Walk with confidence. Know where you are and where you’re going.
  • Don’t engage with the homeless, just keep walking.
  • Don’t engage with people trying to sell you things on the street. Politely decline and keep walking.
  • Stay out of alleys, unlit areas, or places with little or no people.
  • Travel in groups at night, especially if you’ve been drinking.
  • Don’t drink in excess, especially if you are by yourself.
  • Be smart about where you’re parking, especially if you’re going to be leaving late.
  • Park your car in a secure lot or parking garage. Avoid parking your car in a desolate or unlit area.
  • Don’t walk around late at night or using the public transit. Drive or take an Uber to get to and from your location.

Is Seattle Safe To Visit?

Looking at the statistics and taking into accounts the opinions of the residents, Seattle is a safe place to visit. The violent crime rate is not high and no residents that we interviewed say that Seattle is dangerous. The worst neighborhoods of Seattle are very mild compared to neighborhoods in cities such as Detroit, St. Louis and Baltimore.

Seattle does suffer from a high property crime rate, so make sure that you keep an eye on your valuables and make sure that you car is parked in a secure area.

Seattle also has a homeless problem and the residents are pretty much “used” to it. However, as a visitor who comes from a place where homelessness isn’t pervasive, it might be jarring to see for the first time.

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, Seattle, 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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