MSN 05/21/12
By Bill Briggs

America’s tranquility centers appear to be a strange brew of sleepy corners, college hubs and bustling urban swaths, according to new research.

The 2012 Metropolitan Peace Index, which the Institute for Economics and Peace published in April, ranks the nation’s 61 largest metropolitan statistical areas by homicides, other violent crimes, imprisoned offenders per 100,000 citizens and ratio of police officers to the general population. Low violence and strong law-enforcement ratios helped push places to the top of the list. Scores range from 1, the best rating, to 5, the worst.

A deeper look reveals common ground among the leaders.

“The most peaceful … cities have some of the highest rates of health coverage, high-school graduation, educational opportunity, labor participation and perceived access to basic services, as well as among the lowest rates of teen pregnancy, income inequality, poverty and infant mortality,” says Michael Shank, U.S. vice president of the IEP, a nonprofit research organization in Sydney.

Here is a look at the 10 most peaceful metro areas and what makes real estate appealing there.