Whether you’re considering relocating to D.C., or just received a job offer in the nation’s capital, you likely have a lot of questions. Often referred to by locals as simply “the District,” in this city the cost of living is high, employment opportunities are plentiful, and much of the culture centers around what you do for work. Although, somehow D.C. manages to mix a small-town atmosphere with a cosmopolitan ambiance.
While the city is most often associated with being the center of the United States government, there is so much more to our nation’s capital. The other side of D.C. consists of neighborhoods that are home to families, restaurants, and pubs that are buzzing with nightlife, and museums that are enjoyed by both locals and visitors. Although the federal government does bear most of the region’s economy, the D.C. area is vibrant and constantly evolving.
Washington D.C. has roughly 131 unofficially defined neighborhoods and fifty historic districts, each with its own distinct features and unique characteristics. From the high-end boutiques in Georgetown, to the rich history of Capitol Hill, to a 24-hour diner in Adams Morgan, and the performing arts attractions in Penn Quarter, there is much to love about D.C.’s neighborhoods. These communities extend four geographic quadrants and include a varied food scene, diverse residents, and international embassies.
However, as many residents can attest, the District is becoming more expensive each year. A general lack of supply is driving up housing costs, and the city is having difficulty keeping up with the large number of people moving to the area. Unfortunately, just like any other city, D.C. is not immune to the negative effects of development and gentrification. This has had disproportionate impacts on low-income families and resulted in substantially high crime rates. Despite being plagued by crime, D.C. does have safe neighborhoods for both families and individuals to settle down.
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What Are The Safest Neighborhoods in D.C.?
Like virtually any other populous city in the nation, Washington D.C. is no stranger to high crime rates. In fact, our nation’s capital was named the 16th most dangerous city out of 50 of the biggest cities in the country. Back in 1991, the city was nicknamed the “murder capital,” with a substantial-high number of annual homicides.
Since then, these numbers have dropped considerably and while statistics remain above average, crime in D.C. is confined to dangerous areas and aren’t generally “stranger” crimes. This means that most crime occurs to people that are known to the assailant, as opposed to both being total strangers.
The key to staying safe in D.C. is being vigilant, knowing the areas to avoid, and understanding which neighborhoods are the safest. In order to determine the safest areas of the city, we analyzed FBI crime data. After examining each community’s violent crime, property crime, and total crime rates, we assembled our list of the top ten safest neighborhoods in Washington D.C.
- Glover Park
- Barnaby Woods
- The Palisades
- Cleveland Park
- Foxhall Village
- Chevy Chase
- Woodley Park
- Mount Pleasant
Let’s explore each of these communities in detail, along with their characteristics, crime rates, and livability.
1. Glover Park
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 93
- Property Crime Per 100K: 1,140
- Population: 12,937
Bounded by Glover Archbold Park to the west and south, Wisconsin Avenue in the east, and Fulton Street to the north, Glover Park is a largely residential neighborhood. This area is popular among families with children and teenagers, as it is home to many sought-after features that young parents look for. Glover Park is a close-knit community with peaceful streets that are lined with quaint row homes, and a commercial area with a growing foodie scene.
This neighborhood’s claim to fame includes several embassies, including the legendary Embassy of Russia, and the Visa Office of the Chinese Embassy. Residents enjoy a playground, dog park, softball diamond, and an annual festival at the nearby Guy Mason Park. Housing in Glover Park is a blend of porch-front rowhouses circle the 1920s and 1930s, and apartment complexes. The community’s elementary school is also one of the highest-rated schools in the district.
With the lowest crime rate of all the communities in the city, Glover Park is considered the safest neighborhood in D.C. The violent crimes per 100K people come in at 93 and property crime is 1,140 for 2020.
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 105
- Property Crime Per 100K: 1,162
- Population: 18,855
The AU-Tenleytown neighborhood consists of Tenleytown and the adjacent American University Park. It shares its name with the Tenleytown-AU metro station which serves both areas. AU-Tenleytown is the site of Fort Reno, a crucial lookout point during the Civil War, and the oldest home in the city. “The Rest” is believed to have been built around 1700 and was home to Charles Jones and his family.
Nowadays, the neighborhood is home to the highest point in the District, Fort Reno Park. Due to the high elevation, AU-Tenleytown also contains almost all of the city’s radio towers and masts. Traditionally, homes in this area have been less expensive than other surrounding communities. Most of the residents of AU-Tenleytown are couples who earn two incomes, but the neighborhood is considered to be very kid-friendly.
Public schools in AU-Tenleytown are some of the best in the city and there are a number of high-quality public services for children and families. With a relatively low total crime rate AU-Tenleytown earns the second spot on our list of the safest neighborhoods in D.C. The violent crimes per 100K people come in at 105 and property crime is 1,162 for 2020.
3. Barnaby Woods
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 23
- Property Crime Per 100K: 1,342
- Population: 9,436
Barnaby Woods is a relatively small neighborhood located in the northwestern section of Washington, D.C. Though it is solely residential, many consider it to be a part of Chevy Chase, which is filled with acclaimed shopping, entertainment, and dining opportunities. Locals love Barnaby Woods for its serene, tree-lined streets and suburban living despite being located within the city limits.
Many of the properties in Barnaby Woods are Colonials that were built during the 1930s. Residents of this area enjoy the peaceful surroundings including the neighboring Rock Creek Park and nature center, planetarium, and its hiking, jogging, and horse-back riding trails.
Barnaby Park has a total crime rate that is 74% lower than the D.C. average and 47% lower than the national average. This community comes in third on our list of the safest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. The violent crime rate per 100K people sits at a mere 23, while property crime is 1,342 for 2020.
4. The Palisades
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 122
- Property Crime Per 100K: 1,761
- Population: 3,598
With a population of roughly 3,598 residents, The Palisades is another small community that is situated along the Potomac River. Many describe this area as Washington, D.C.’s best-kept secret, as it is surprisingly lesser-known and is one of the city’s most picture-perfect neighborhoods. Its’ laundry list of spectacular homes, shops, eateries, and the annual 4th of July parade make this area a very charming place to call home.
The Palisades was developed in 1893 by the Palisades Improvement Company and is a mix of townhouses, detached homes, and apartment buildings. Just like nearly the entire city of D.C., this area is rich with history. Residents enjoy easy access to the Capital Crescent Trail and C&O Canal for skaters, cyclists, kayakers, and joggers. Other notable landmarks in The Palisades include The Lab School of Washington, the German Embassy, the old Conduit Road Schoolhouse on MacArthur Boulevard, Sibley Hospital, and more.
Based on our calculations, The Palisades is considered the fourth safest neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Violent crimes per 100K people comes in at 122 and property crime is 1,761 for 2020.
5. Cleveland Park
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 163
- Property Crime Per 100K: 2,204
- Population: 11,732
With its charming tree-lined streets, quaint commercial area, and unique Queen Anne homes, Cleveland Park offers small-town charm paired with easy access to all the amenities of the big city. It is named after Grover Cleveland, who once owned property in the area. This neighborhood is known for its plentiful late 19th-century homes and historic Art Deco Uptown Theater.
Cleveland Park is also home to the William L. Slayton House and the Park and Shop, one of the earliest strip malls constructed in 1930. The neighborhood offers little congestion beyond the main commercial area, but a surprising abundance of nightlife options. Residents of Cleveland Park enjoy a strong sense of community, civic pride, and a slow but stimulating pace.
Additionally, just steps away from all the modern convenience, you’ll find Rock Creek Park for a bike ride, jog, or stroll after work or on weekends. Cleveland Park ranks fifth on our list of the safest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. The violent crime rate per 100K people is 163, while property crime sits at 2,204 for 2020.
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 377
- Property Crime Per 100K: 1,708
- Population: 2,252
Located in northwest Washington, D.C., Berkley is surrounded on three sides by parkland, while the fourth side is the adjacent Foxhall and Palisades neighborhoods. Berkley is primarily residential but is also home to George Washington University’s Mt. Vernon campus and the Embassy of Germany.
Housing in this area is almost entirely detached homes whose prices reach into the millions. The affluent community is highly sought-after due to its easy access to neighboring shops and restaurants, as well as the city amenities. Residents of Berkley enjoy a close proximity to Georgetown and Downtown, an abundance of community events, great public schools, friendly neighbors, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures.
Washington D.C.’s Berkley neighborhood is the sixth safest neighborhood in the city. Violent crimes per 100K people are 377 and property crime per capita comes in at 1,708 for 2020.
7. Foxhall Village
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 377
- Property Crime Per 100K: 1,708
- Population: 912
Foxhall Village is a tiny community of just 350 homes and 912 residents that is located in northwestern Washington, D.C. This upscale neighborhood is largely hidden away, almost entirely residential, and offers plenty of appeal for potential future residents. It resembles an English village and is said to have taken inspiration from the town of Bath.
Foxhall Village’s charm tends to center around the beauty of the Tudor homes, well-maintained greenery, and the fact that the community offers a short commute into the city while still being relatively off the beaten path. Many residents describe life in Foxhall Village as “living in a remote village.” This area is home to many families, along with students, particularly graduate students of law and medical schools, and individuals from various foreign countries.
With crime rates that are 60% lower than D.C. averages and 19% lower than national averages, Foxhall Village earns the seventh spot on our list of the safest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. The violent crimes per 100K people come in at 377 and property crime per capita is 1,708 for 2020.
8. Chevy Chase
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 172
- Property Crime Per 100K: 2,278
- Population: 18,506
Not to be confused with the other, arguably more famous, Chevy Chase, Washington D.C.’s Chevy Chase neighborhood is a place of gorgeous homes, meticulously-maintained lawns, a strong sense of community, and a convenient commercial stretch. Chevy Chase is predominantly single-family homes that are surrounding by gorgeous mature trees. This friendly community is a perfect respite from the traffic, tourism, and congestion that is much of the D.C. area.
Residents of Chevy Chase enjoy plentiful green spaces and all the peace and quiet of a suburban neighborhood. It frequently tops lists of the “best places to live” and is known for being livable, upscale, and unique. Home to three parks, Chevy Chase offers walking and equestrian trails, tennis courts, a dog park, a small water park, golfing, and gorgeous nature views.
With all that in mind, Chevy Chase is also considered the eighth safest neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Its total crime rate is 5% below the national average, and a staggering 53% below the city’s average. Violent crimes per 100K people come in at 172 and property crime is 2,278 for 2020.
9. Woodley Park
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 186
- Property Crime Per 100K: 2,410
- Population: 7,667
Woodley Park is considered one of the most scenic and pleasant neighborhoods in D.C. It is situated in the northwestern part of the city and is a throwback to the early 20th-century with its row houses. The neighborhood also offers tree-lined streets, lush green lawns, and seclusion from the bustle of downtown. Residents of Woodley Park enjoy its quiet charm, easy access to public transit, and central location.
The area has plenty to keep locals occupied with the top attraction being the Smithsonian National Zoo, which offers free admission year-round. Woodley Park is also home to Rock Creek Park, a natural escape from big city life, and offers access to miles of walking and biking trails. The food scene in this neighborhood is vibrant and you’ll find everything from Lebanese to Japanese, to Cajun cuisine.
As an added benefit, Woodley Park ranks ninth on our list of the safest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. While its total crime is 1% above the national average it is 50% lower than the city average. Violent crime rates in Woodley Park come in at 186 and property crime is 2,410 for 2020.
10. Mount Pleasant
- Violent Crimes Per 100K: 216
- Property Crime Per 100K: 2,486
- Population: 12,696
Closing out our list is the lively neighborhood of Mount Pleasant, located in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. This area offers an active, vibrant community with a peaceful suburban feel. Mount Pleasant also has a rich historical connection to D.C., and over the years has transformed into a cultivated, diverse, and community-driven neighborhood.
With its stunning historic rowhouses, eclectic main street, tree-lined avenues, and its own park, Mount Pleasant provides the quintessential small-town ambiance while being situated inside of a big city. This area is desirable for both young professionals and families due to its easy commute into the city, and many pedestrian-friendly amenities.
Mount Pleasant takes the tenth spot on our list of the safest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. Although its total crime rate is 5% above the national average, it’s 48% below the city average, still earning a spot on this list. Violent crimes per 100K people come in at 216 and property crime per capita is 2,486 for 2020.
Safest Neighborhoods in D.C. for 2020
|Rank||Neighborhood||Population||Violent Crime (per 100K)||Property Crime (per 100K)|
What Are The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in D.C.?
Just like most other cities across the country, the key to staying safe is knowing which areas are the safest and also which areas should be avoided. Using our same method for determining the safest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., we determined that the top ten most dangerous neighborhoods are as follows:
- U Street Corridor
- South West
- Ledroit Park
- Capitol Hill
All of these communities have crime rates that are significantly higher than both the national average and the city average. Therefore, you should steer clear of these neighborhoods when you’re looking for a place to settle in Washington, D.C.
Wrapping It Up
If you’re planning a relocation to Washington D.C., safety is likely at the top of your list of priorities. While crime rates remain high in the city, you are not without options for safe neighborhoods to settle down in. As long as you do your research, stick to our list of the safest communities, and know which areas to avoid, you and your family will be able to safely enjoy life in our nation’s capital.