NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Bethesda, Maryland, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Pittsburgh are among the most secure cities in the U.S. to live in, according to a new study.

[Read: Avoid Popular Stocks like the Devil]

The Farmers Insurance study compiled by Sperling's BestPlaces researchers took into consideration a number of criteria, including economic stability, crime statistics, extreme weather conditions, risk of natural disasters, housing depreciation, foreclosures, air quality, environmental hazards, life expectancy, motor vehicle fatalities and employment numbers.

"Our most secure large metropolitan areas are islands of security in our challenging times," said Bert Sperling, president of Sperling's BestPlaces. "Some have a stable economy due to their local colleges and seats of government, and some may be fortunate that their locale is not prone to hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes."

[Read: Living in a Boat to Pay Tuition]

While Grand Rapids made the Farmers Insurance top 20 for the first time, this is the seventh consecutive year that Bethesda and the sixth that Pittsburgh has appeared in the annual Farmers rankings.

Some of the key factors that helped the historical Maryland area earn its No. 1 spot in the 2012 study included its low unemployment, low personal crime rates and long life expectancy rate.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is famous for its friendly and resilient residents.

Austin, Dallas, Portland, San Francisco and Cambridge also made the list this year based on safety and security.

"We congratulate the residents of the Bethesda, Grand Rapids and Pittsburgh, along with all large metropolitan areas named in the top 20 rankings," said Mark Toohey, Farmers Insurance spokesperson. "They are fortunate to have dedicated local government, law enforcement, fire, medical and education leaders who work hard,"

[Read: How I had an Extravagant Vacation for $1,000]

Below is a listing of the Farmers Insurance Group's top 20 most secure large metropolitan areas for 2012:

  • 1. Bethesda–Gaithersburg–Frederick, Md.
  • 2. Grand Rapids–Wyoming, Mich.
  • 3. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • 4. Austin–Round Rock, Texas
  • 5. Cambridge–Newton–Framingham, Mass.
  • 6. Omaha, Neb.–Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • 7. San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara, Calif.
  • 8. San Francisco–San Mateo–Redwood City, Calif.
  • 9. Portland–Beaverton, Ore.–Vancouver, Wash.
  • 10. Dallas–Plano–Irving, Texas
  • 11. Boise City–Nampa, Idaho
  • 12. Madison, Wis.
  • 13. Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington, Minn.
  • 14. Raleigh–Cary, N.C.
  • 15. Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine
  • 16. Essex County, Mass.
  • 17. El Paso, Texas
  • 18. Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 19. Santa Ana–Anaheim–Irvine, Calif.
  • 20. Des Moines–West Des Moines, Iowa

Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet