Memphis welcomes close to 10 million visitors annually. This city has a magical allure that attracts eager tourists looking to experience a different culture and learn about America’s musical history.
When it comes to rock n roll, blues, and soul, no talent from anywhere in the world can match that of Memphis. With the likes of Elvis Presley, BB King, Don Williams, and countless more, this is where you want to be if you’re looking to have a fun vacation.
Signature outdoor festivals, the infamous Graceland, and Sun studios are a few reasons why some people will bear the relentless Memphis summer heat to get a taste of what life’s like on this side of the Mississippi river.
Are you set to travel to Memphis soon? It’s no secret that Memphis hasn’t had the best reputation regarding crime. Is Memphis safe? Read on for an in-depth look at prevalent dangers and tips on what you can do to stay safe.
Is Memphis Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes and no. While there aren’t currently any travel advisories that the government has put out on Memphis, rising crime levels have made it one of the most dangerous cities in America.
The violent crime rate in Memphis is 25.1. A number calculated from the divided the crimes per 1,000 people in Memphis. The city ranks in the top five of most dangerous cities in the U.S.
Memphis has a thriving food, art, and music scene. Plenty of attractions guarantee a good time for any visitor looking to vacation in Memphis, irrespective of the time of the year.
However, there’s always a disclaimer for tourists to remain extra vigilant while exploring Memphis’ rich culture and history. Most tourist attractions and landmarks enjoy enhanced security than other areas in the city.
However, criminals are always lurking, aiming to make a quick buck or steal from oblivious tourists. Common crimes ailing Memphis are violent crimes and property crimes. Tourists are as much a risk as the locals because criminals will target vulnerable people.
In addition to the above, other safety concerns for visiting Memphis include:
- Aggravated assault
- Vehicle theft
There’s cause for concern among tourists traveling to Memphis regarding their safety and well-being due to the rising criminal cases reported daily.
While Memphis has a long way to go before it’s considered a reasonably safe place to visit, rest assured that it has a strong police presence that aims to maintain public safety.
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Crime in Memphis
Generally, Memphis is a safe place for tourists. However, if you let your guard down, you can become a crime victim. If the opinion of the residents is anything to go by, crime reports have much to do with property theft, physical assault, and gang-related activities.
The statistics show that Memphis has a long way to go before the authorities can tame the crime levels up to where Memphis can get a clean bill of rights regarding safety.
Memphis is divided into many blocks. No two blocks are the same. One street may look friendly, safe, and kempt, and the next street, barely a stone’s throw away, will be ridden with criminals, dingy neighborhoods, and sketchy people.
Therefore, it’s easy to lose track and unintentionally end up in a risky area that’s crime-ridden. As a tourist, you must furnish yourself with enough information and master your surroundings to mitigate any challenges likely to crop up.
Top safety concerns in Memphis you should know about include the five below.
Reports show that there are an average of 1,900 reported cases of violent crime per every 100,000 people in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis has the highest violent and property crime rate in the U.S.
Gun violence, homicides, burglaries, aggravated assault, theft, and gang wars are some of the highest occurrences reported in this category.
Luckily, most areas where violent criminal cases are high are far from where tourists are likely to visit. Despite its alarming levels of violent crimes, tourists can feel more secure in Memphis if they stay away from dangerous areas.
Topping the list of petty crimes is pickpocketing, which often happens in crowded areas on Memphis streets. Criminals are good at spotting visitors who seem aloof and will easily steal from you.
You are advised to avoid putting on expensive jewelry or flashy clothing because it brings attention to you, making it easy for pickpockets to spot and target you. Other petty crime cases expected in the city include vandalism, robbery, mugging, theft, and breaking into cars.
Also, watch out for taxi drivers or vendors who will overcharge to get more out of you unscrupulously. The city has seen a slight decline in overall crimes but compared to other cities nearby, Memphis still is very dangerous.
Forceful purse snatching, car theft, and larceny make up the highest reported property crime cases. It’s no surprise to park your car at a particular point you consider safe only to come back to find a car that has been broken into or, worse, an empty parking space.
Consider parking your car in secured spaces and avoid leaving valuables in areas in your car where they are easily visible.
Tourist areas like Beale street are full of street performers, gymnasts, and vendors who will expect passers-by to tip them while they play music and show off their moves. On the other hand, vendors will try to convince you to buy stuff from the trunk of their cars at incredible ‘discounts.’
Don’t fall for it. Only tip if you want to, and avoid buying stuff from people that are clearly trying to hustle you. Politely decline and firmly walk away from people forcefully trying to sell you stuff.
Avoiding Bad Areas
There’s no shortage of dangerous areas that tourists should stay away from in Memphis. Considering Memphis’ crime rate is three times higher than the national average, visitors need to be extra cautious of their surroundings and avoid straying too far into bad neighborhoods.
The top areas in Memphis you should avoid include:
Downtown Memphis has thousands of people crisscrossing the streets, making it the perfect breeding ground for pickpockets and buglers. The police have tried to bring sanity into the area by increasing their presence day and night.
Still, the area has a whopping 3,800 reported cases of violent crimes reported per every 100,000 people. Downtown has a permanent resident population of 48,441.
While people here enjoy a fair amount of security during the day, things turn for the worst at night. As a result, if you are a visitor, avoid walking alone in Downtown Memphis at night.
Most unsafe neighborhoods in Memphis are on the city’s outskirts. However, Midtown is one of the few places at the heart of Memphis that is significantly safer than surrounding neighborhoods.
The area is full of young professionals who want to live in the city but without chaos. Midtown has a population of over 62,700 and a violent crime rate of 2,967 per 100,000 people. However, as is the case in any densely populated area, there are always a few bad apples that aim to ruin the peace.
Midtown has made headlines for murders, violent crimes, and among other issues, theft. To remain safe, stay alert and watch your belongings while paying attention to who’s around you.
Most people may differ as to whether Raleigh belongs on this list because a good fraction of Memphis consider this area the safest in the city. However, when it narrows down to facts, Raleigh has a violent crime rate of 2,042 violent crime cases reported per every 100,000 people, which is too high to ignore.
Common criminal cases here involve petty crimes that may not threaten your life as a tourist. But you might as well exercise more caution during your time here or avoid it altogether.
Spawn harbors a close-knit group of criminals that will rebel relentlessly if anyone tries to invade their territory. Notorious motorcycle gang crews here have a reputation that goes beyond Memphis. They are feared and best avoided.
Spawn is one of the most picturesque areas in Memphis. A good portion of the town is safe, but some parts have a heavy gang presence.
If you find yourself in Spawn, beware of people standing on the street corners, even if they appear to be kids. Mind your business and avoid getting into altercations with anyone, as things can take a turn for the worst in a snap.
Whitehaven has a very black-and-white appearance. One spot may be manicured and well-maintained, and a section next to it will be grim and deserted. It is in these distressed apartment buildings or abandoned houses that harbor most people who commit crimes.
This area has a significantly higher property crime rate as poor people will rob people, break into cars, and homes to steal things that they can sell for a quick buck.
If you are seeking reliable accommodation, there’s a good chance you’ll get the best rates in Whitehaven. You are advised to park your car in a safe area with better security and to keep your pricey belongings safely tucked away when in Whitehaven.
Thefts and break-ins are a daily occurrence in Orange Mound. There is a significantly high number of homeless shelters /people in Memphis, which can attract addicts and gang members who seamlessly blend in.
Things seem to have improved today, but in a not-so-distant past, Orange Mound was the most dangerous neighborhood in Memphis. Again, you are advised to stay on guard in this part of Memphis.
It may have a population of slightly over 39,400 people, but Parkway Village has an exceptionally high rate of violent crimes. There are 3,415 cases reported per every 100,000 people.
It’s a number that brings a frown on anyone who may want to explore this area, given how you may not want to end your holiday without properly exploring Memphis.
But you may have to reconsider visiting this neighborhood if you want to decrease your chances of becoming a crime victim.
Things to Consider
Below are some essential things to consider during your time exploring Memphis:
- Go where other tourists are going. Famous tourist attractions and spots are safer than other areas
- Try to blend in. Acting like a tourist and seeming lost and out of place can make you appear vulnerable and an easy target for criminals
- Park your car in a safe area. People can break into your car simply because they can peep some quarters in your cup holders
- Know where you’re going to avoid ending up in unsafe streets/areas
- Keep a close eye on your surroundings. Criminals avoid people who seem more aware and alert
- Plan your day early to avoid wandering because you have some free time. The more confident and busy you appear, the less likely you’ll become a target for criminals
- Avoid walking with earphones or talking on the phone for too long in public spaces. It compromises your alertness levels
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to common queries you may have if you’re considering visiting Memphis:
Is Memphis a safe city to live in?
Memphis isn’t the safest place to live because of the glaring crime rates. However, there are a few safe neighborhoods where you can find secure accommodation, but many are super expensive.
Is Memphis rich or poor?
A good fraction of the Memphis population lives below the poverty line. Memphis has rich people, but many people live average lives making average wages.
Is it worth it to go to Memphis?
A trip to Memphis is undoubtedly worth your time. Despite the high crime potential, Memphis’s cultural, historical, and musical allure is undeniable.
Is it safe to walk around Memphis?
Daytime or nighttime walking in Memphis is risky. You may enjoy more safety if you’re in a safe neighborhood, but your chances drastically dwindle if you are in a dangerous place.
Is Memphis safer than Nashville?
While both cities can be considered dangerous in comparison to the national average, Memphis is a top five dangerous city, while Nashville ranks just outside the top 50.
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|📈 Overall crime rate||81 per 1k (very high)|
|👮♂️ Most common crime||Petty theft|
|🏠 Worst neighborhood||Midtown/Raleigh|
|❓ Safety tip||Stick to tourist areas, travel in pairs|
Memphis may not be the safest vacationing spot in the world, but there are things you can do to avoid compromising yourself. Traveling as a group and avoiding dangerous areas is one thing.
You could also strictly stick around areas like Germantown, Cooper-Young, Binghamton, Midtown, and East Memphis because they are much safer. Plan your vacation to Memphis during spring or fall to avoid high accommodation rates and large crowds.
Note that fewer people mean enhanced safety for you. However, as long as you stick to the touristy areas, you’re in the best position to have a safe to and fun vacation. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!