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What Are Emerging Markets?

Emerging markets or emerging market economies (EMEs) are in the process of achieving the building blocks of developed nations: they’re establishing regulatory bodies, creating infrastructure, fostering political stability, and supporting mature financial markets. But many emerging markets still face challenges that developed market countries have overcome — contributing to potential instability.

To further answer the question, “What are emerging markets?”, it helps to understand developed markets.

Developed economies have higher standards of living and per-capita income, strong infrastructure, stable political systems, and mature capital markets. The U.S., Europe, U.K, and Japan are among the biggest developed nations.

Because these economies wield so much power globally, many internationally focused investors don’t realize that in fact emerging markets make up the majority of the global economy.

India, China, and Russia are a few of the larger countries that fall into the emerging markets category. Some emerging market economies, like these three, are also key global players — and investors may benefit by understanding the opportunities emerging markets present.

What Are Emerging Markets?

In essence, an emerging market refers to an economy that can become a developed, advanced economy soon. And because an emerging market may be a rapidly growing one, it may offer investment potential in certain sectors.

Investors tend to see these countries as potential sources of growth because their economies can resemble an established yet still-young startup company. The infrastructure and blueprint for success have been laid out, but things need to evolve before the economy can truly take off and ultimately mature. At the same time, owing to the challenges emerging market economies often face, there are also potential risks when investing in emerging markets.

Investors might bear the brunt of political turmoil, local infrastructure hurdles, a volatile home currency and illiquid capital markets (if certain enterprises are state-run or otherwise privately held, for example).

Emerging Market Examples

What constitutes an emerging market economy is somewhat fluid, and the list can vary depending on the source. Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) classifies 27 countries as emerging; Dow Jones classifies 22 as emerging. There is some overlap between lists, and some countries may be added or removed as their status changes. Greece, for example, is no longer considered a developed market but an emerging one.

China and India are two of the world’s biggest emerging economies, and historically they were included in the BRIC grouping of developing nations, along with Brazil and Russia. Increasingly, though, investors see China and India as pushing the bounds of their emerging market status.


China is the second-largest economy globally by gross domestic product (GDP). It has a large manufacturing base, plenty of technological innovation, and the largest population of any country in the world.

Yet China still has a few characteristics typical of an emerging market. For example, the gross national income per capita falls below the threshold established by the World Bank for a developed country: about $10,000 per year versus the higher standard of about $12,000 per year. With its Communist-led political system, China has embraced many aspects of capitalism in its economy but investors may experience some turbulence related to government laws and policy changes. Last, the Renminbi, China’s official currency, has a history of volatility.


India is another big global economy, and it’s considered among the top 10 richest countries in the world, yet India still has a low per-capita income that is typical of an emerging market and poverty is widespread.

At the same time, India was ranked near China as being among the more advanced emerging markets, thanks to its robust financial system, growing foreign investment, and strong industrials, especially in telecommunication and technology.

Characteristics of an Emerging Market Economy

As noted above, there isn’t a single definition of an emerging market, but there are some markers that distinguish these economies from developed nations.

Fast-Paced Growth

An emerging market economy is often in a state of rapid expansion. There is perhaps no better time to be invested in the growth of a country than when it enters this phase.

At this point, an emerging market has laid much of the groundwork necessary for becoming a developed nation. Capital markets and regulatory bodies have been established, personal incomes are rising, innovation is flourishing, and GDP is climbing.

Lower Per-Capita Income

The World Bank keeps a record of the gross national income (GNI) of many countries. For the fiscal year of 2021, lower-middle-income economies are defined as having GNI per capita of between $1,036 and $4,045 per year. At the same time, upper-middle-income economies are defined as having GNI per capita between $4,046 and $12,535. (By way of contrast, the U.S. is considered a high-income economy, with a GNI of $65,910)

The vast majority of countries that are considered emerging markets fall into the lower-middle and upper-middle-income ranges. For example, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines are lower-middle-income, while China, Brazil, and Mexico are upper-middle-income. Thus, all these countries are referred to as emerging markets despite the considerable differences in their economic progression.

Political and Economic Instability

For most EMEs, volatility is par for the course. Risk and volatility tend to go hand in hand, and both are common among emerging market investments.

Emerging economies can be rife with internal conflicts, political turmoil, and economic upheaval. Some of these countries might see revolutions, political coups, or become targets of sanctions by more powerful developed nations.
Any one of these factors can have an immediate impact on financial markets and the performance of various sectors. Investors need to know the lay of the land when considering which EMEs to invest in.

Infrastructure and Climate

While some EMEs have well-developed infrastructure, many are a mix of sophisticated cities and rural regions that lack technology, services and basic amenities like reliable transportation. This lack of infrastructure can leave emerging markets especially vulnerable to any kind of crisis, whether political or from a natural disaster.

For example, if a country relies on agricultural exports for a significant portion of its trade, a tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake could derail related commerce.

On the other hand, climate challenges may also present investment opportunities that are worth considering.

Currency Crises

The value of a country’s currency is an important factor to keep in mind when investing in emerging markets.

Sometimes it can look like stock prices are soaring, but that might not be the case if the currency is declining.

If a stock goes up by 50% in a month, but the national currency declines by 90% during the same period, investors could see a net loss, although they might not recognize it as such until converting gains to their own native currency.

Heavy Reliance on Exports

Emerging market economies tend to rely heavily on exports. That means their economies depend in large part on selling goods and services to other countries.

A developed nation might house all the needs of production within its own shores while also being home to a population with the income necessary to purchase those goods and services. Developing countries, however, must export the bulk of what they create.

Emerging Economies’ Impact on Local Politics vs. Global Economy

Emerging economies play a significant role in the growth of the global economy, accounting for about 50% of the world’s economic growth. Moreover, it’s predicted that by 2050 three countries will have the biggest economies: the U.S., China, and India, with only one currently being a developed economy.

But, while emerging markets help fuel global growth, some of those with higher growth opportunities also come with turbulent political situations.

As an investor, the political climate of emerging market investments can pose serious risks. Although there is potential for higher returns, especially in EMEs that are in a growth phase, investors need to consider the potential downside. For example, Thailand, Russia, and South Korea are emerging economies with high growth potential, but there is also a lot of political unrest in these regions.

Why Invest in Emerging Markets?

Emerging markets are generally thought of as high-risk, high-reward investments.

They are also yet another way to diversify an investment portfolio. Having all of your portfolio invested in the assets of a single country puts you at the mercy of that country’s circumstances. If something goes wrong, like social unrest, a currency crisis, or widespread natural disasters, that might impact your investments.

Being invested in multiple countries can help mitigate the risk of something unexpected happening to any single economy.

The returns from emerging markets might also exceed those found elsewhere. If investors can capitalize on the high rate of growth in an emerging market at the right time and avoid any of the potential mishaps, they stand to profit. Of course timing any market, let alone a more complex and potentially volatile emerging market, may not be a winning strategy.

Pros and Cons of Investing in Emerging Markets

Let’s recap some of the pros and cons associated with EME investments.


•  High-profit potential: Selecting the right investments in EMEs at the right time can result in returns that might be greater than most other investments. Rapidly growing economies provide ample opportunity for profits. But as noted above, it’s impossible to guarantee the timing of any investment.

•  Global diversification: Investing in EMEs provides a chance to hold assets that go beyond the borders of an investor’s home country. So even if an unforeseen event should happen that contributes to slower domestic growth, it’s possible that investments elsewhere could perform well and provide some balance.


•  High volatility: As a general rule, investments with higher liquidity and market capitalization tend to be less volatile because it takes significant capital inflows or outflows to move their prices.
EMEs tend to have smaller capital markets combined with ongoing challenges, making them vulnerable to volatility.

•  High risk: With high volatility and uncertainty comes higher risk. What’s more, that risk can’t always be quantified. A situation might be even more unpredictable than it seems if factors coincide (e.g. a drought plus political instability).
All investments carry risk, but EMEs bring with them a host of fresh variables that can twist and turn in unexpected ways.

•  Low accessibility: While liquid capital markets are a characteristic of emerging markets, that liquidity still doesn’t match up to that of developed economies.
It may be necessary to consult with an investment advisor or pursue other means of deploying capital that may be undesirable to some investors.

The Takeaway

While developed nations like the U.S. and Europe and Japan regularly make headlines as global powerhouses, emerging market countries actually make up the majority of the world’s economy — and some very exciting opportunities for investors.

China and India are two of the biggest emerging markets, and not because of their vast populations. They both have maturing financial markets and strong industrial sectors and a great deal of foreign investment. And like other emerging markets, these countries have seen rapid growth in certain sectors (e.g. technology).

Despite their economic stature, though, both countries still face challenges common to many emerging economies, including political turbulence, currency fluctuations and low per-capita income.

It’s factors like these that can contribute to the risks of investing in emerging markets. And yet, emerging markets can also present unique investment opportunities owing to the fact that they are growing rapidly.

Emerging market exchange-traded funds (ETFs) might invest in different assets within a single country or spread their investments throughout multiple countries. Bonds can also play a role in an emerging market portfolio. Many countries with developing economies have used the issuance of new debt to borrow money to build out their infrastructure. That means some emerging economies could offer bonds with attractive yields.

To learn more about the investment opportunities that are right for you, open an account with SoFi Invest®. SoFi has all the tools a new or experienced investor might need, including a cutting-edge trading platform and complimentary financial advisors at your fingertips.

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Top 50 Safest Cities in the U.S.

For many homebuyers, safety is a top concern when shopping for a house. It can influence where you feel comfortable living, and safety ratings can have a big effect on local housing market trends.

If you’re in the market to buy or rent a home and you’re looking for just the right spot, check out this list of the 50 safest cities from NeighborhoodScout, which looks at the property and violent crime in cities across the country.

What Are the Safest Cities in the U.S.?

The safest cities in America tend to be suburban areas close to major cities like New York and Boston. Only one spot on this list, Rexburg, Idaho, is outside a major metropolitan area.

Massachusetts is home to the most cities on the list at 17, and when you factor in Connecticut towns, New England represents nearly 40% of the safest cities.

Residents of the cities that made the list (pop. 25,000 and over) tend to have a median household income over $100,000, though that isn’t the case in every town.

Recommended: Price-to-Rent Ratio in 50 Cities

Here’s a countdown of the 50 safest cities in the U.S. that you could call home.

50. Moorpark, California

Located in Ventura County in Southern California, Moorpark sits 50 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The city was incorporated in 1983 and was named after the Moorpark apricot that grew throughout the valley. The city is a natural choice for raising a family, with nine schools and the lowest serious crime rate in the county.

Population: 36,375

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 7.2

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 137

Major City Nearby: Oxnard

49. Belmont, Massachusetts

This city in the western suburbs of Boston offers residents highly rated schools and lots of restaurants, coffee shops and parks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many families choose to call Belmont home.

Population: 26,116

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 7.2

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 138

Major City Nearby: Boston

48. Friendswood, Texas

Friendswood began as a Quaker town in 1895 and became known for growing and preserving Magnolia figs. Since the 1950s, it has transformed into a quiet bedroom community 30 minutes from Houston and Galveston.

Population: 40,290

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 7.2

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 138

Major City Nearby: Houston

47. Syracuse, Utah

Located on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, this farming community is rapidly transforming into a suburban outpost of Salt Lake City. The city offers easy access to Antelope Island State Park, home to bison, pronghorn antelope and other desert creatures.

Population: 31,458

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 7.0

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 142

Major City Nearby: Ogden

46. Plainfield, Illinois

This village on the outskirts of the Chicago metro area has put a lot of effort into making its vibrant downtown pedestrian-friendly to give residents easy access to restaurants, shopping and entertainment.

Population: 44,308

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.9

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 143

Major City Nearby: Chicago

45. Wallingford, Connecticut

One of three Connecticut towns to make the safest cities list, Wallingford began as a settlement along the Quinnipiac River in 1667. Since then, the city has grown to be home to more than 40,000 residents and has its own symphony orchestra, which performs throughout the year at the Paul Mellon Arts Center.

Population: 44,326

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.9

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 143

Major City Nearby: New Haven

44. Westport, Connecticut

This small city on Long Island Sound offers access to beaches, Sherwood Island State Park, and a quaint downtown on the Saugatuck River.

Population: 28,491

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.9

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 144

Major City Nearby: Bridgeport

43. Rancho Santa Margarita, California

Tucked against the mountains in Orange County, Rancho Santa Margarita offers a respite from the urban sprawl of much of the rest of Southern California. The city is master planned to balance the amenities of a small city with the natural landscape.

Population: 47,896

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.9

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 144

Major City Nearby: Los Angeles

42. North Andover, Massachusetts

Massachusetts makes a good showing on the safest cities list, representing nearly 30% of the burgs listed.

Population: 31,188

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.8

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 145

Major City Nearby: Boston

41. Rochester Hills, Michigan

This Detroit suburb features the 102-acre Avon Nature Study Area on the Clinton River and the Rochester Hills Museum, where visitors can learn about pioneer farmers, Native American history, and local ecology. The city is considered the safest in Michigan.

Population: 74,516

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.8

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 145

Major City Nearby: Detroit

40. Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Bridgewater lies south of Boston, northwest of Cape Cod, and east of Providence, Rhode Island.

Population: 27,619

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.7

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 148

Major City Nearby: Boston

39. Mason, Ohio

Mason is the largest city in Warren County. The county is known as “Ohio’s Largest Playground” and boasts regional attractions including the Golf Center, the Great Wolf Lodge, and Kings Island amusement park.

Population: 33,870

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.7

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 148

Major City Nearby: Cincinnati

38. Harrison, New York

Nestled near the Connecticut border, the Westchester County city of Harrison is just a stone’s throw from New York City. The town is home to one of America’s richest ZIP codes, the neighborhood of Purchase, where the average income reaches beyond $800,000.

Population: 28,943

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.6

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 150

Major City Nearby: New York

37. Rosemount, Minnesota

The only Minnesota city to make the list, Rosemount offers residents access to the resources and culture of the Twin Cities while enjoying one of America’s safest towns.

Population: 25,207

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.6

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 150

Major City Nearby: Minneapolis

36. Newton, Massachusetts

Just over the Boston line, Newton is a wealthy suburb where the median household income in 2019 was over $150,000 and 72% of the population consisted of homeowners. Newton is the largest city by population to make the top 50 list.

Population: 88,414

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.6

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 151

Major City Nearby: Boston

35. Wellesley, Massachusetts

West of Newton, Wellesley is a much smaller municipality, though the median household income is higher, at over $197,000, and the homeownership rate tops 80%.

Population: 28,670

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.5

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 151

Major City Nearby: Boston

34. Sammamish, Washington

Located on the eastern shores of Lake Sammamish, the town offers a spread-out suburban feel with highly rated public schools and access to restaurants, coffee shops, and parks.

Population: 65,892

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.5

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 153

Major City Nearby: Seattle

33. Colleyville, Texas

Conveniently sandwiched between the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, Colleyville offers a rural feel close to big-city amenities.

Population: 27.091

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.4

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 154

Major City Nearby: Dallas

32. Rahway, New Jersey

The first of five New Jersey cities to make the top 50 list, Rahway is located just west of Staten Island. Median income is modest, nearing $79,000 per household.

Population: 29,895

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.4

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 154

Major City Nearby: New York

31. Beverly, Massachusetts

Beverly is a suburb of Boston on the North Shore of Massachusetts, just north of Salem. Like its witchy neighbor, Beverly offers historic New England architecture and water access.

Population: 42,174

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.4

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 155

Major City Nearby: Boston

30. Ridgewood, New Jersey

A village in Bergen County, Ridgewood is just northwest of New York City. The town is family friendly, with restaurants, coffee shops, and parks.

Population: 25,056

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.3

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 158

Major City Nearby: New York

29. Andover, Massachusetts

Andover, about 23 miles north of Boston, was incorporated in 1646 and later became a thriving mill town. The city is home to prestigious college prep school Phillips Academy.

Population: 36,356

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 6.1

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 162

Major City Nearby: Boston

28. Brunswick, Ohio

The largest city in Medina County, Brunswick is about 25 miles southwest of Cleveland. The median household income is nearly $70,000, and about 76% of residents own their own homes.

Population: 34,880

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5.9

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 169

Major City Nearby: Cleveland

27. Simsbury, Connecticut

Mark Twain used to make the 10-mile walk from his home in Hartford to Talcott Mountain in this historic burg, which counts itself among the safest in Connecticut. The town comprises just under 10,000 households with a median household income of about $124,000.

Population: 25,395

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5.8

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 170

Major City Nearby: Hartford

26. Weston, Florida

The only Florida town to make the list, Weston is also the second largest by population, after Newton, Massachusetts.

Population: 71,166

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5.8

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 170

Major City Nearby: Miami

25. Caledonia, Wisconsin

With humble beginnings as a fur trading post in the 1830s, Caledonia has grown to a city of over 25,000.

Population: 25,277

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5.8

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 170

Major City Nearby: Racine

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24. Dracut, Massachusetts

Dracut was home to Pennacook Indian settlements before Europeans arrived in the 1650s, and the town’s early economy depended on manufacturing and milling. The town provides easy access to the Lowell and Boston metropolitan areas.

Population: 31,634

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5.6

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 178

Major City Nearby: Boston

23. Palatine, Illinois

This city northwest of Chicago has a mix of residential, commercial, and light industrial space with award-winning schools. Palatine is the largest Illinois city to make the list.

Population: 67,482

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5.5

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 181

Major City Nearby: Chicago

22. Bartlett, Illinois

Built at the intersection of the Chicago and Pacific railways, the town of Bartlett was officially incorporated in 1891. The city experienced a boom in population starting in the 1950s and has since grown to include more than 40,000 residents.

Population: 40,647

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5.3

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 188

Major City Nearby: Chicago

21. Westfield, New Jersey

Westfield has an award-winning downtown with more than 450 shops, restaurants, and services.

Population: 29,512

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 5

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 198

Major City Nearby: New York

20. Independence, Kentucky

The only Kentucky town to make it the list, Independence is a short drive across the Ohio River to Cincinnati.

Population: 28,521

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.8

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 205

Major City Nearby: Cincinnati

19. Reading, Massachusetts

Another Boston suburb just north of the city, Reading is a town of about 9,000 households with a median household income of nearly $132,000.

Population: 25,400

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.8

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 206

Major City Nearby: Boston

18. Needham, Massachusetts

Like many of the Massachusetts cities on this list, Needham is a well-off bedroom community of Boston, with a median household income of about $165,000.

Population: 31,388

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.7

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 212

Major City Nearby: Boston

17. Cliffside Park, New Jersey

Cliffside has a commanding view of Manhattan from the top of the famed New Jersey palisades. Located between the Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge, the city allows commuters access to New York City.

Population: 28,133

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.7

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 212

Major City Nearby: New York

16. North Royalton, Ohio

North Royalton sits just outside of Cleveland near the shores of Lake Erie. It was incorporated as a village in 1927 and became a city in 1961. The median household income is about $70,000 per year.

Population: 30,068

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.6

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 214

Major City Nearby: Cleveland

15. Arlington, Massachusetts

Settled in 1635 as the town of Menotomy, Arlington was renamed in 1867 in honor of those buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The city is just 6 miles from Boston.

Population: 45,531

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.5

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 217

Major City Nearby: Boston

14. Billerica, Massachusetts

Billerica sits on the Shawsheen and Concord rivers about 20 miles northwest of Boston and is home to about 15,000 households.

Population: 43,367

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.5

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 217

Major City Nearby: Boston

13. Florence, Arizona

A bit farther from major metropolitan areas than many other cities on this list, Florence is 60 miles from Phoenix.

Population: 27,422

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.3

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 230

Major City Nearby: Phoenix

12. Lake in the Hills, Illinois

Once a sleepy rural community home to seasonal residents who enjoyed the area’s lakes, Lake in the Hills became a quickly growing suburb of Chicago in the last few decades.

Population: 28,634

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.3

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 230

Major City Nearby: Chicago

11. Rexburg, Idaho

Rexburg, in eastern Idaho, is one of the only cities on this list that’s not near a major metropolitan area. Its proximity to nature is one of its calling cards. Yellowstone National Park is just 80 miles away.

Population: 29,400

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4.3

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 231

Major City Nearby: N/A

10. Marshfield, Massachusetts

Marshfield is 30 miles from Boston on the South Shore where Cape Cod meets the Massachusetts Bay. The year-round population of about 25,000 grows to 40,000 in the summer months.

Population: 25,967

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 4

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 249

Major City Nearby: Boston

9. North Ridgeville, Ohio

Cleveland Magazine named this swiftly growing suburb one of the “Best Places to Live in the Cleveland Area.”

Population: 34,392

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents):3.6

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 275

Major City Nearby: Cleveland

8. Muskego, Wisconsin

This cozy city sits within the orbit of Milwaukee and within the greater Chicago area.

Population: 25,127

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents):3.5

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 279

Major City Nearby: Milwaukee

7. Bergenfield, New Jersey

The Borough of Bergenfield, which sits across the Hudson River from Yonkers, was first settled by the Dutch. The postwar period brought a boom, with the population reaching its peak in the 1970s.

Population: 27,327

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents):3.4

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 296

Major City Nearby: New York

6. Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Shrewsbury was incorporated in 1727 and rests just outside the Boston metropolitan area near the city of Worcester.

Population: 38,526

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 3.3

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 296

Major City Nearby: Worcester

5. Lexington, Massachusetts

Known as the town where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired, Lexington is a suburb of Boston where the median household income tops $186,000.

Population: 33,132

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 3

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 331

Major City Nearby: Boston

4. Zionsville, Indiana

Excellent schools and stable home values attract residents looking for a small-town feel just 20 minutes outside Indianapolis.

Population: 28,357

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 2.8

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 345

Major City Nearby: Indianapolis

3. Milton, Massachusetts

In Milton, a suburb 10 miles south of Boston, the median household income is over $133,000 a year.

Population: 27,593

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 2.7

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 367

Major City Nearby: Boston

2. Long Beach, New York

Long Beach is in Nassau County east of New York City. This beachside community is a popular tourist destination during the summer.

Population: 33,454

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 2.5

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 389

Major City Nearby: New York

1. Franklin, Massachusetts

Franklin is the safest city in America, so it seems. It’s conveniently located between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. About 80% of residents own their own homes, and the median household income is more than $122,000. The town is named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, whose donated books formed the first public library in the country.

Population: 34,087

Total Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents): 1.9

Chance of Being a Victim: 1 in 524

Major City Nearby: Boston

The Takeaway

It’s a safe bet that house hunters will find many of these 50 safest cities in the U.S. appealing. If you’re looking for a comfortable landing spot and a home, it’s time to secure a mortgage.

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What is the Average Cost of College Tuition?

College tuition varies based on factors like where the school is located, and whether the school is public or private. The average cost of college for in-state students at a four year institution in 2020-2021 was $10,560. Students at private nonprofit four year institutions paid on average $37,650.

Read on for more information about the average tuition costs, and other expenses facing college students.

The Average Cost of College

The cost of tuition has been steadily increasing for decades. When it comes to four year colleges and universities, the statistics typically break down between two types—public and private.

According to the College Board’s annual “Trends in College Pricing ” report, the average cost of attending a four year college as an in-state student at a public university during the 2020-2021 school year was $10,560, as mentioned. As an out-of-state student attending a public four year college, the average rose to $27,020.

The average cost of attending a private four year institution was $37,650. These averages are based on the published price at a college or university. This includes tuition and room and board.

The cost of tuition can be a major factor in determining which school students commit to. According to the 2021 Sallie Mae survey “How America Pays for College 2021,” 60% of parents and students eliminated a college based on cost after receiving their financial aid package.

Historical Average Cost of Tuition

The cost of tuition has increased dramatically over time. For the 1985-86 school year, the average cost of college tuition at a public four year institution was $8,981 for a student receiving in-state tuition. In just 20 years, tuition rose to $15,411 for the 2005-06 school year.

U.S. News reviewed tuition costs at 389 ranked National Universities, those universities included as part of the annual college rankings. According to their data, the average tuition and fees at private National Universities increased by 144% in just 20 years from 2001 to 2021. During that time period, at four year public National Universities tuition for out-of-state students increased by 165%, and for in-state students it rose by 212%.

Average Total Cost of College

A traditional undergraduate college degree takes four years to complete, which means four years of tuition costs. According to, the cost of college has risen, on average, about 6.8% annually since 2001.

This isn’t always the case, so it can be challenging to predict exactly how much a student will pay in tuition costs over the course of their degree. For example, The College Board’s annual Trends in College Pricing found that in-state tuition costs at public four-year institutions increased just over 1% from the 2019-2020 to the 2020-2021 school year. For that same time period, tuition increased just over 2% at private nonprofit four-year institutions.

To get a rough estimate of how much college will cost in its entirety, you can take the current tuition rate and multiply it by four. Keep in mind this won’t account for any increase in the cost of tuition.

Average Additional College Expenses

Tuition generally makes up the majority of a student’s college expenses. But there are other fees and costs to factor in including the cost of room and board, books and other supplies. Beyond school specific costs, students might also need to factor in general living expenses.

What Is the Cost of Room and Board?

Some colleges charge “comprehensive fees” which reflect the total for tuition, fees, and room and board.

Other colleges and universities charge room and board separately from tuition and fees. The cost of room and board typically accounts for the cost of housing (i.e., a dorm room or on-campus apartment) and the cost of the meal plan.

The average cost of room and board for the 2020-2021 school year was $11,620 for four-year public institutions (for both in-state and out-of-state students, and $13,120 for four-year nonprofit institutions.

The cost will vary depending on the type of housing accommodations you live in and the type of meal plan you choose. Housing can be another determining factor for students. According to the same 2021 Sallie Mae survey , 83% of college students selected a college in their home state and 41% live at home or with relatives to save on housing costs.

The Cost of Extra Classes

Tuition at some schools may cover the cost of a certain number of credit hours. Depending on how many credit hours you take and the types of classes you enroll in, the number may change. If you exceed the number of credit hours covered by tuition, you may pay an additional fee.

Books and Supplies

On top of those expenses, don’t forget to budget for books and supplies. The average college student attending a four-year college spends over $1,240 on textbooks and supplies over the course of the year.


Transportation is another major category of expenses for college students. Will you have a car on campus? If so, plan to pay for gas, insurance, and a parking permit. How often do you plan to go home? Will a trip to visit your family require airfare?

Other Living Expenses

Then there are any additional personal expenses like eating out, laundry, or the cost of a cell phone bill. To get an idea of how much you’ll actually spend every month, you could review your current spending.

College may be the first time you’ve had to learn how to budget. Consider sitting down with your parents, an older sibling, or trusted friend who has already navigated their first year of college to get an idea of the types of expenses you may encounter.

Paying for College

There are, of course, options available to help you finance your education. If you’re planning on going to college for the first time, or returning for further education, consider looking into the following options:

First Thing’s First: The FAFSA®

A common first step for students interested in securing federal financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA®). In order to qualify for federal aid, students must meet some basic eligibility
, such as demonstrating financial need.

As you get ready to apply, pay attention to deadlines, as they can vary by school and state. After you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll receive an award letter detailing the type of aid you qualify for. This may include scholarships and grants, work-study, and/or federal student loans.

Recommended: How College Financial Aid Works

Planning ahead is one way to set yourself up to successfully pay for college. If you’re not quite ready to fill out the FAFSA yet, you can use the FAFSA4caster ​to get an idea of how much aid you might qualify for.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants can be immensely helpful when it comes to paying for college since it’s money that doesn’t need to be repaid. In addition to filing the FAFSA, you could check to see if there are any other scholarship opportunities for which you may qualify. There are also online resources and databases that compile different scholarship opportunities.

The federal work-study program is another form of aid that can help students pay for college. If you are eligible for work-study and receive it in your financial aid award, you may still have to find your own employment at your university. Check with your school’s financial aid office to find out if your school participates and whether they will place you or if they have a work-study job board.

Recommended: Search for Scholarships and Grants by State

Student Loans

Student loans offer another avenue for students to finance their college education. Unlike scholarships and grants however, student loans must be repaid. There are two umbrellas when it comes to student loans—federal and private.

Federal Student Loans

Federal loans are also included as a part of a student’s financial aid package and as mentioned, applying for student loans requires filling out the FAFSA. Federal loans for undergraduates can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. With a subsidized loan, borrowers won’t be responsible for paying the interest that accrues on the loan while they are actively enrolled in school at least half-time. With an unsubsidized loan, borrowers are responsible for paying the accrued interest during all periods.

Whether subsidized or unsubsidized, loan repayment generally doesn’t begin until after graduation (or a student drops below half-time) and the grace period has lapsed.

Most grace periods for federal loans are six months. Interest rates on federal student loans are set by the government (and have been since July 1, 2006) and are fixed for the life of the loan.

Recommended: A Guide to Student Loan Interest Rates for the 2021-2022 School Year

Federal loans aren’t guaranteed to cover your undergraduate or graduate school tuition costs. There are borrowing limits that restrict the amount of federal loans a student can take out each year—for example, a first year undergrad, dependent student is currently allowed to borrow $5,500 in federal loans. In some cases, private student loans may be used to fill in the gaps.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are offered by lenders, credit unions, or other financial institutions. Terms and conditions of a private student loan are set by the individual lender.

Private lenders will likely review a borrower’s credit history and other financial factors in order to determine what type of loan they may qualify for. If an applicant is applying with a cosigner, private student loan lenders will look at their financial background as well, which might include things like their credit score and current income.

While federal student loans come with fixed interest rates, private student loans can have fixed or variable interest rates. Variable interest rates may start lower than fixed rates, but they rise and fall in accordance to current market rates.

Private student loans don’t always carry the same benefits and protections offered to federal student loans—such as income-driven repayment or deferment options. Some lenders may offer their own benefits. SoFi, for example, has Unemployment Protection, which helps eligible borrowers pause their loan payments if they lose their job through no fault of their own.

The Takeaway

As discussed above, the average cost of college tuition for the 2020-2021 school year was $10,560 for those paying in-state tuition at a four-year public institution. For out-of-state students, the average was $27,020. At a private four year institution it was $37,650.

Paying for college may require a compilation of financing options, including using savings, scholarships, grants, work-study, federal student loans or even private student loans.

Of course, private student loans aren’t going to be the right choice for every student. If they seem like the right idea for you, SoFi’s private student loans might be worth considering.

SoFi private student loans have no fees—that means no late fees or origination fees—and the application process is entirely online, even if you need to add a cosigner.

Learn more about financing your education with SoFi private student loans.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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