Is Durham, NC a Safe Place to Live? (Crime Statistics)

August 17th, 2023

Is Durham, NC a Safe Place to Live? (Crime Statistics)

Is Durham Safe in 2023? Exploring the Updated Crime Rates and Statistics

Durham, North Carolina, a city prides itself on its rich history, cultural diversity, and thriving economy, is no stranger to safety. With constant discussion of crime rates and statistics, it’s natural to question whether Durham is a safe place to call home or visit. This blog post will explore various aspects of Durham's safety, including crime rates, neighborhood safety, public transportation, natural disasters, and more, all while addressing the question: “is Durham safe?” With this information, you can make an informed decision about the safety of Durham and its surrounding areas.

Short Summary

  • Durham has a lower-than-average crime rate, with some areas being safer than others.
  • Necessary precautions should be taken when visiting the less safe areas, and exercising caution late at night is recommended.
  • Residents and visitors can stay safe in Durham by following safety tips such as contacting emergency services, traveling in pairs, and preventing pickpocketing.

Understanding Durham's Crime Rates

When evaluating the safety of a city, it’s essential to consider crime rates. In Durham, overall crime rates have decreased between 2020 and 2021, with property crime rates decreasing as well. The city has a crime rate of 57,77 per 1,000 residents annually, placing it lower than the national average. However, it’s important to remember that some areas have higher crime rates than others, as seen on the crime map.

Violent crime rates in Durham were 754.13 per 100,000 people in 2021. Although this rate is higher than average, it is still three times lower than that of Memphis, the most dangerous city on the list, reducing the chances of becoming a crime victim. With this context, it’s clear that while Durham has its share of crime, it is generally safer than many other cities in the United States. Many people are also moving to Durham throughout the country with businesses like Apple, Meta and Google included!

A photo of Downtown Durham NC skyline during the day

Violent Crime in Durham

When analyzing violent crime in Durham, it is essential to consider the different types of violent crimes and how they compare to other cities. In 2021, Durham had the 5th highest violent crime rate among all cities in North Carolina. While this may seem concerning, it’s crucial to remember that the city’s violent crime rate is still relatively low compared to dangerous cities in the United States.

Assaults are the most common violent crime in Durham, with a violent crime rate of 754.13 per 100,000 people. Although assaults are more prevalent, it’s important to note that the overall violent crime rate is still lower than in many other cities, and the chances of being a victim of violent crime in Durham remain relatively low. Additionally, the number of murders reported is not as high as in other cities.

Property Crime in Durham

Property crime is more prevalent than violent crime in Durham, with a property crime rate of 58.1, notably higher than the US average of 35.4. This may raise concerns for residents and visitors. However, it is essential to remember that the city’s property crime rate is still lower than many other cities in the United States, as shown by the available crime data and crime reports on property crimes.

When comparing property crime rates in Durham to other cities, it becomes evident that the city is relatively safe regarding property crime. Although property crime is more common in Durham, it is still essential to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to protect oneself and one’s belongings from potential theft or damage.

Neighborhood Safety: The Good and The Bad

Durham's neighborhoods showcase diverse safety levels, with some areas being safer than others. The south part of the city is generally more secure than the north part, and downtown Durham is considered a safe area to visit.

However, it’s essential to be aware of the less safe neighborhoods and take necessary precautions when visiting them.

Safest Areas in Durham

The most secure areas in Durham include Duke University, downtown, and greenways, providing a safe atmosphere for inhabitants and guests. These areas are known for their lower crime rates and vibrant communities, making them ideal places for residents and visitors alike.

Duke University in Durham Nc is a safe area to live

Downtown Durham, in particular, is deemed safe and offers a variety of attractions, including restaurants, shops, and cultural institutions. Additionally, all the greenways and trails in Durham are secure, encouraging outdoor activities and promoting a healthy lifestyle for residents and visitors.

Areas to Avoid in Durham

While there are many safe neighborhoods in Durham, it’s essential to be aware of areas with higher crime rates. The areas immediately south of downtown (South Alston) and communities east of downtown should be avoided due to their elevated crime rates. According to recent reports, the crime rate in East Durham is 16 per 1,000, making it an area of concern for both residents and visitors.

When visiting these areas, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Being aware of your surroundings and avoiding walking alone at night can help minimize the risk of becoming a victim of crime in these neighborhoods.

Public Transportation and Taxi Safety

Public transportation in Durham is generally secure during commuting hours (7am-7pm), with services like Go Durham providing fare-free bus service until June 2024. The City of Durham Transportation Department strives to build a multi-modal transportation network for residents, making it easier and safer to travel throughout the city.

However, using public transportation late at night is not advisable, as safety risks, including motor vehicle theft, may increase during these hours. The same applies to taxis – it is advised to abstain from using taxis late at night and consistently verify the license plate and driver's credentials before entering the vehicle.

Women Travelers: Is Durham Safe?

Durham is generally considered safe for women travelers, with a low risk of being victimized by crime. The city’s crime rates are lower than the national average, and the safest areas in Durham are in the suburbs and rural areas. Although the downtown area is considered safe, it is essential to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to ensure personal safety.

When visiting Durham, women travelers should be aware of their surroundings, abstain from traversing unaccompanied after dark, and exercise prudence when utilizing public transportation. Women travelers can enjoy their time in Durham by taking these measures while minimizing potential safety risks.

Durham NC Skyline at night time

Natural Disasters and Weather Risks

The scope of natural disasters and weather risks in Durham is relatively low due to its location on a plateau and the low risk of hurricanes. While the city is prone to storms, it does not experience the same severity of damage as coastal cities. Hurricane season in Durham is officially from June 1 to November 30, with the peak period being from mid-August to mid-October.

Given the overall low risk of natural disasters in Durham, residents, and visitors can feel more secure and focus on other aspects of safety in the city. However, it’s always important to stay informed about potential weather risks and take necessary precautions during severe weather events.

Nightlife Safety in Durham

Durham’s nightlife offers many options, including late-night eateries, dive bars, renowned craft breweries, and live music venues. While the city is generally safe at night, taking precautions is essential when enjoying Durham’s nightlife scene. Avoiding areas with known safety issues and staying in populated areas can help minimize potential dangers. Traveling with companions, remaining vigilant, and contacting emergency services in case of any suspicious activity can further ensure a safe and enjoyable night out in Durham.

Scams and Fraud: Staying Alert

Scams and fraud in Durham are relatively rare, but staying alert and protecting your personal information from identity theft is essential. Some prevalent scams in the city include:

  • Phishing scams aimed at stealing personal information
  • Scams involving covering the cost of travel or emergency medical procedures
  • Scams related to business ventures

Exercise vigilance and take appropriate measures to protect your personal information to safeguard yourself from potential fraud. Staying informed about common scams and being cautious when sharing personal information can help prevent becoming a victim of fraud in Durham.

A city street in Durham Nc as the sun is setting

Durham City Council Initiatives for Safety

The Durham City Council has implemented various initiatives to improve safety in the city, including increased police presence and community programs. The Durham Community Safety & Wellness Task Force and the Durham City Safety Group are organized groups composed of community members, city staff, and elected officials that work together to tackle safety and wellness issues in Durham.

Additionally, the City’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee advocates for safety improvements on streets, such as improved lighting, signage, and infrastructure. These initiatives demonstrate the city’s commitment to creating a safer environment for residents and visitors.

Tap Water Quality and Health Risks

Durham’s tap water meets federal and state standards, posing a minimal risk to health and safety. The City of Durham is committed to providing high-quality drinking water to its customers, ensuring that tap water quality is generally considered safe to drink.

However, Durham’s surface-sourced tap water may contain traces of lead and disinfection byproducts, which can be hazardous to human health. It is therefore recommended to take necessary precautions, such as:

  • Filtering tap water
  • Boiling tap water before consumption
  • Using a water purifier or water filter pitcher
  • Installing a whole-house water filtration system

These measures can help protect oneself from these contaminants and maintain good health.

Tips for Staying Safe in Durham

Staying safe in Durham involves:

  • Being aware of your surroundings
  • Avoiding high-crime areas
  • Taking necessary precautions to protect yourself and your belongings
  • Restricting outdoor activity during peak sunlight hours
  • Moving with purpose during the day
  • Familiarizing yourself with safe areas of Durham

If there is any suspicious activity, here are some safety tips.

  • Contact emergency services and remain on the line until assistance arrives.
  • When using parks and trails, it’s recommended to travel in pairs.
  • Take precautions to prevent pickpocketing, such as keeping your wallet or purse in a secure location.

Following these tips can help ensure your safety.

A sign showing distance to UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University


In conclusion, while Durham has its share of crime, it is generally considered a safe city for residents and visitors. By being aware of your surroundings, staying informed about crime rates and trends, and taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy all that Durham offers with peace of mind. As a vibrant and growing city, Durham’s commitment to safety initiatives and improvements ensures a brighter and safer future for all who call it home or visit its welcoming neighborhoods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Durham a safe city to live in?

Durham has a higher crime rate than the national average but is still considered low-risk overall. The city has an upmarket focus and boasts low poverty levels and increased employment, making it a relatively safe place to live.

However, knowing the areas with a higher crime rate is still essential.

Is downtown Durham safe at night?

Overall, Downtown Durham is generally safe to visit, and many residents feel secure.

However, late-night walks in the downtown area should be avoided for extra caution.

What are the safest neighborhoods in Durham?

Duke University, downtown, and Greenways are some of the safest neighborhoods in Durham, offering a secure atmosphere for inhabitants and visitors.

These areas are well-maintained and have a low crime rate, making them ideal for those looking for a safe place to live or visit. The streets are well-lit and the police are always on patrol, ensuring that the streets are well-lit.

Are there any areas in Durham that should be avoided due to high crime rates?

It’s advisable to avoid South Alston and areas east of downtown due to their elevated crime rates.

What precautions should be taken to avoid scams and fraud in Durham?

Protect your personal information to avoid scams and fraud in Durham. Double-check all sensitive information before submitting it, and do not hesitate to ask for clarification when needed.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! Nice to 'meet' you and thanks for visiting our Raleigh Real Estate Blog! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I'm a REALTOR® in Raleigh-Durham, NC, the owner of Raleigh Realty. I work alongside some of the best Realtors in Raleigh. You can find more of my real estate content on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and more. Realtor Magazine named me a top 30 under 30 Realtor in the country (it was a long time ago haha). Any way, that's enough about me. I'd love to learn more about you if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or connect with our team at Raleigh Realty. Looking forward to connecting!

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