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8 Safest Cities in Wisconsin (2024 Update)

Wisconsin at day

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Overall, crime in the United States is declining. Several factors have influenced this welcome decrease. If you’re looking for one of the safer states in the Union, look no further than Wisconsin. According to the US News & World Report Best States rankings, this Midwest destination is in the top 10 safest places to live. It also scored high in education and fiscal stability.

There are 778 cities in Wisconsin, the majority of which have fewer than 10,000 residents. Only 12 have populations over 50,000. It is the essence of small-town America on several fronts. You’ll find many common themes among the towns we’ve identified. A strong sense of community prevails in these safe havens, which lends itself toward accountability and responsibility.

(US News, US Census Bureau)

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The 8 Safest Cities in Wisconsin: A Quick Look

You can define safe in several ways. It can mean things such as the local economy and employed population. It can point to the opportunities for career development and education. Of course, we must also consider what the numbers and the trends tell us. However, it’s imperative to view the entire picture. Crime rates are variable as the people they represent.

1. Kohler, WI

Kohler Village Hall
Kohler Village Hall (Image Credit: Asher Heimermann, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Population: 2,195
Murder rate: 0
Average Household Income: $87,469
Poverty rate: 2%
Violent crimes in 2019: 0

Something is comforting in knowing that Kohler is officially a village instead of a city, confirming the small-town feel that we love. It stands out for its higher-than-average household income and low poverty rate. The latter is considerably less than the state’s 11.3-percent rate. It’s probably a valid reason why crime is seemingly non-existent.

As you may surmise, the town and the company of the same name are a vital part of Kohler’s identity. That includes manufacturing and recreation with its top-notch golf courses. The only crime in this village is theft, of which there were only 35 known offenses in 2019. Even these figures have declined in the last several years. There hasn’t been a violent crime since 2015 and assaults in the last 14 years.

(US Census Bureau, FBI)

2. Cedarburg, WI

Woolen Mill Cedarburg May09
Woolen Mill Cedarburg May09 (Image Credit: Freekee Kevin Hansen, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Population: 11,548
Murder rate: 0
Average Household Income: $91,539
Poverty rate: 6.2%
Violent crimes in 2019: 2

Cedarburg is about 23 miles north of Milwaukee. Its German influence is evident, with the active artisan industry including woolen mills and gristmills. While these businesses don’t exist, new owners have repurposed the buildings that housed them for other uses, such as a winery, shops, and restaurants. It is a popular tourist destination and a fun day trip from the metro area.

Violent and non-violent crime rates are low, with the former declining and the latter increasing. Nevertheless, all are well below the state average. There was a slight uptick in 2019 but hardly worth mentioning in the scheme of things. Thefts are the primary form of property crime, with 89 known offenses in 2019. That figure includes one stolen automobile.

(US Census Bureau, FBI)

3. Berlin, WI

BerlinWisconsinPostOffice (Image Credit: Royalbroil, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Population: 5,571
Murder rate: 0
Average Household Income: $51,583
Poverty rate: 15.6%
Violent crimes in 2019: 1

The name of Berlin is a good indicator of this town’s history. It is off the beaten path, located about 103 miles northwest of Milwaukee. It is rural America. Berlin has embraced its history, with many historic buildings and homes in its downtown and the surrounding area. The Fox River flows nearby and has played a pivotal role in the city’s history.

Berlin has a higher poverty rate than many towns on our list. That may explain the higher property crime rate it experiences. There were 68 known offenses in 2019, the majority of which were theft. Violent crime isn’t a factor, with only one assault reported during this same year. The only blemish is the number of auto thefts, which seemed high for a town of this size.

(US Census Bureau, FBI)

4. Grafton, WI

Population: 12,094
Murder rate: 1
Average Household Income: $78,583
Poverty rate: 6.4%
Violent crimes in 2019: 8

Grafton is located about 23 miles north of Milwaukee and close to another city on our round-up, Cedarburg. One of its early claims to fame is the site of the Paramount Records studio and plant in the early 1900s. It’s a history that the town hasn’t forgotten and embraces to this day. Today, it is a suburb of Milwaukee, thanks to the construction of Interstate 43. Grafton was now on the beaten path.

Violent crime is extremely low in Grafton. Known offenses are less than 10. A homicide in 2019 broke the streak of zero murders. Property crimes are the scourge of this town and many others across the nation. There were 141 incidences in 2019, the majority of which were theft. Overall, all crime has been in steady decline since 2002.

(US Census Bureau, FBI)

5. Oconomowoc, WI

2018FallFest Boardwalk CityOfOconomowoc
2018FallFest Boardwalk CityOfOconomowoc (Image Credit: Pbrunclik, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Population: 18,203
Murder rate: 0
Average Household Income: $91,985
Poverty rate: 5.9%
Violent crimes in 2019: 13

Oconomowoc is one of many towns with names that reflect its American Indian heritage. It is located 34 miles west of Milwaukee, making it one of many suburbs. It is a resource-rich area with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. The town has a special meaning for boaters as the birthplace of the outboard motor by Ole Evinrude.

Oconomowoc doesn’t have a lot of violent crime. While there have been homicides, they are few and far between, luckily. Property crimes are the primary issues, with thefts and burglaries topping the list. Architecture is prominent in this city, with many historic homes and buildings. Walking the streets is a journey in the past.

(US Census Bureau, FBI, City of Oconomowoc)

6. Whitefish Bay, WI

WhitefishDunesStateParkBeach (Image Credit: Royalbroil, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Population: 14,954
Murder rate: 0
Average Household Income: $131,309
Poverty rate: 4.2%
Violent crimes in 2019: 3

Just the name tells you that Whitefish Bay is all about water. The town is located 8 miles north of Milwaukee on the shore of Lake Michigan. Its site caught the eye of Pabst Brewing Company-owner Frederick Pabst. It became part of the beer legacy of this part of the state. History is at the forefront, too, with several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

This history is reflected in the average household income, which is twice the amount of the state average. There hasn’t been a homicide for 15 years. Overall violent crime is low, too. Property crime has remained steady. The one anomaly is auto theft. There were nine incidences in 2019, seemingly high for a city of this size. It may reflect the higher household income and its more expensive cars.

(US Census Bureau, FBI)

7. Rhinelander, WI

Rhinelander Wisconsin Downtown Looking East
Rhinelander Wisconsin Downtown Looking East (Image Credit: Royalbroil, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Population: 7,615
Murder rate: 0
Average Household Income: $42,423
Poverty rate: 14.1%
Violent crimes in 2019: 13

Rhinelander is in northern Wisconsin, about 245 miles northwest of Milwaukee. It is a relatively large town, given its northern site. Recreation is its primary industry during the summer and the winter. It’s a place where residents and visitors embrace the seasons. The city is synonymous with the hodag, a mythical creature that probably has starred in many children’s nightmares.

Rhinelander is the proverbial Mayberry, with few violent offenses throughout its history. Assaults are the main type. Property crimes are the primary issue. However, the offenses have dropped off precipitously in recent years. The high poverty rate is a red flag and hopefully won’t fuel future increases in criminal activity.

(US Census Bureau, FBI)

8. Muskego, WI

Population: 25,032
Murder rate: 0
Average Household Income: $98,812
Poverty rate: 2.8%
Violent crimes in 2019: 5

Muskego offers a lot to the people who call it home. The median income is nearly twice that of the state. It also has a low poverty rate, which plates a role in the crime rate. It is located about 21 miles southwest of Milwaukee, making it one of many suburbs. While its name may remind you of an insect, it refers to the sunfish, which some can make a similar argument.

Crime in Muskego centers on thefts, burglaries, and auto theft. Fortunately, most have declined in recent years, except the latter. Violent crimes are a non-issue, except for a slight uptick in assaults. Overall, the figures are well below the state and national averages, making it one of the safest places in America. Water access is a significant component of recreation and the local economy.

(US Census Bureau, FBI, Town Square Publications)

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How to Stay Safe in Wisconsin

Property crimes are the most common type of illegal activity in Wisconsin. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to decrease your risk of becoming a victim. Simple things, such as installing motion-sensor lights, can effectively deter would-be thieves. Smart devices offer additional ways to stay safe, with outdoor cameras and video doorbells providing an extra layer of security.

Not surprisingly, dogs are excellent ways to protect your home. Criminals depend on stealth. Your canine companion can put the bite on crime and keep your home safe. Don’t have a pet? No problem! A “Beware of Dog” sign can suffice. Likewise, scheduling lights to go on and off while you’re away can offer similar benefits.

We also suggest clearing the area around your home. High fences and shrubs provide hiding places that a thief can use to access your house. Even though we’re talking about the Midwest, you’re better off closing your garage and locking all doors at night to play it safe. We recommend teaching your children to follow these precautions.

Related Read: 8 Most Dangerous Cities in Wisconsin (2023 Update)

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Despite the crime that exists in the state, Wisconsin is still one of the safest places in the country. We thought it refreshing to find so many cities with virtually non-existent offenses. A vital takeaway is that we only scratched the surface. There are many more towns that we could have added to our list. That’s not an excuse to let down your guard. Just know that your risk is lower in America’s Dairyland.

Featured Image Credit: 12019, Pixabay


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