Welcome to California: the land of perpetual summer and happiness.
We all dream of this place. Whether the dream includes having a star on the Walk of Fame or leading a simple life and sipping wine in Napa Valley is just a thing of personal preference.
Those who bravely decide to move to California need to know a few things about this state, so let’s start with the basics before we move on to our list of safest cities in California.
California is the largest state in the US by population and the third-largest by area. It has the largest sub-national economy in the country, and if it were independent of the US, California would be the fifth largest economy in the world.
It has always been a place of innovation: from fast food to political movements. California, or specifically, Silicon Valley, has become the technological center of the world. Los Angeles has been the center of the entertainment industry for over a century.
It’s no wonder everyone wants to be there.
In this list, we’ve included some basic information on each city, along with property and violent crime rates per 100,000 inhabitants.
Top 10 Safest Cities in California
- Property: 310
- Violent: 28
- Population: 19,018
- Median age: 27.3 years
- Median household income: $85,654
- Median house value: $263,900
Topping this list is Imperial. Incorporated in 1904, Imperial is the first city in the Valley to incorporate. The city also had the first brick buildings and the first church in the area, as well as the first printing press and stores.
Imperial has a population of 19,018. The average household income in the city is $88,685, and the median age of the residents is 27.3 years. According to real estate data, you can purchase a home in Imperial for the median price of $263,900.
Aside from being one of the cheapest and safest places to live in California, Imperial is a popular tourist destination. It brings a breath of fresh air into the desert that surrounds it. Golf courses, camping grounds, and sand dunes for buggy enthusiasts are all just minutes away from the city.
Now, let’s look at Imperial’s crime rates. During 2019, Imperial had 56 reported property crime incidents (36 thefts, 10 burglaries, 10 vehicle thefts) and 5 reported violent crime incidents (1 robbery, 4 assaults), which makes it the city with the lowest crime rate in California.
Despite this, Imperial has an unemployment rate of 11.2%, which is among the highest in the US. In addition, the city has had a population increase of 126% in the last 19 years, driving housing prices up.
- Property: 658
- Violent: 51
- Population: 44,164
- Median age: 45.7 years
- Median household income: $160,808
- Median house value: $1.28 million
Danville is one of the oldest farming communities in California and one of the few incorporated municipalities in the state using town instead of city in its name. For those who can afford it, Danville is, for the most part, the best place to live in California.
There are 44,164 inhabitants in the town of Danville with an average household income of $214,627. The city has a median age of 45.7 years, while you can purchase a home for the median price of $1.28 million.
The city has everything you’d ever need for a happy life or a fun visit; the Iron Horse Regional Trail runs nearby for all your running, hiking, biking, and horse riding needs. There’re also plenty of museums and other things to do.
Danville also has an unemployment rate of 3.4%, well below the national average of 5.2%. Having an average of 260 sunny days in a year, Danville is one of the best places for those who like the summer weather all year round.
Danville is also one of the safest cities in America in regards to crime rate. In 2019, 296 property crimes (247 thefts, 36 burglaries, 13 vehicle thefts) were reported, along with 23 violent crime incidents (10 assaults, 7 robberies, 5 rapes, and 1 murder).
Being one of the most expensive cities in California, Danville’s outrageous housing prices are accompanied by a cost of living that’s 149.3% higher than the US average.
Parlos Verdes Estates
- Property: 657
- Violent: 30
- Population: 13,099
- Median age: 52.2 years
- Median household income: $194,543
- Median house value: $2.04 million
Named after the peninsula it’s located on, what makes Palos Verdes Estates the best city to live in California is its public school system’s national ranking, which has been anywhere between 8th and 44th place. The city was officially incorporated in 1939.
13,099 people live in Palos Verdes Estates. Their average household income is $276,053, while the median age is 52.2 years. This city has one of the most expensive real estate prices in California. You can purchase a home for the whopping median price of $2.04 million.
Palos Verdes Estates has it all: sandy beaches that attract surfers, trails and nature preserves for those who’re into hiking, and multiple other things to do. As mentioned before, the schools are one of this city’s main advantages, along with its low crime rate. In 2019, 88 property crimes (49 thefts, 36 burglaries, 3 vehicle thefts) and 4 violent crimes (3 assaults, 1 robbery) were reported, which makes it one of the safest cities in Southern California.
The primary downside to living in Palos Verdes Estates is the cost of living. With it being 253.3% above the national average, not many can afford living here. Buying a home in the city will also cost you as much as buying 10 average ones in the US.
- Property: 692
- Violent: 128
- Population: 17,963
- Median age: 43.2 years
- Median household income: $140,378
- Median house value: $1.36 million
Considered one of the safest cities in California, this city is named after Joaquin Moraga’s grandson, who is responsible for starting this city and the city of San Jose. Moreover, Moraga was officially incorporated in 1974.
Home to 17,963 people, Moraga has an average household income of $205,195, a median age of 43.2 years, and a median home price of $1.36 million.
Even though it’s not a coastal town, there’s plenty to do in Moraga. As with most of California, natural sights are what attract visitors. It’s also a part of what gets them to stay here, together with the unemployment rate of 4%, which was supported by positive job growth in the last year.
If you’re looking for the safest city in California, Moraga is a strong contender. In 2019, the city reported 124 property crimes (79 thefts, 36 burglaries, 9 vehicle thefts) and 23 violent crimes (19 assaults, 3 robberies, 1 rape).
The cost of living, which is 158.7% above the national average, is perhaps the only thing that can be considered a bad side of living in this city.
- Property: 972
- Violent: 85
- Population: 20,136
- Median age: 48.7 years
- Median household income: $223,217
- Median house value: $1.6 million
Orinda is a suburban city that’s one of the best places to live in California if you work in the bigger cities in the area, such as San Francisco and Oakland. The city was incorporated in 1985.
The city has a population of 20,136, an average household income of $283,978, and a median age of 48.7 years. Houses are expensive, with a median asking price of $1.6 million.
Orinda is the place where all Bay Area hikers and nature enthusiasts go during the weekend, as it has multiple parks and trails. Searching for other things to do here might be a difficult task, but the proximity of bigger cities is a major plus that solves the issue. Orinda is the safest place to live in California with a low unemployment rate of 3.8% and a great public school system.
However, in 2019, Orinda had 195 property crimes (125 thefts, 52 burglaries, 18 vehicle thefts), as well as 17 crimes that were classified as violent (3 assaults, 7 robberies, 2 rapes, and 5 murders).
The main downside of living in Orinda is the cost of living; it costs 191.9% more to live here than in an average city in the US.
- Property: 829
- Violent: 52
- Population: 50,249
- Median age: 37.8 years
- Median household income: $112,689
- Median house value: $636,600
One of the safest places to live in Southern California, Aliso Viejo is a part of the land that used to belong to the Moulton family. When this immensely rich family sold off portions of their land, multiple cities and towns were developed, and the city was officially incorporated in 1979.
Home to 50,249 people, the average household income in Aliso Viejo is $135,824. The city’s median age sits at 37.8 years, while the median home price is $636,600.
Aliso Viejo is a typical Californian coastal city, with gorgeous beaches suitable for surfing. It is also perhaps one of the best cities to live in California for nature lovers who like living in a city that offers plenty of amenities. Finding work in Aliso Viejo shouldn’t be an issue, as the city boasts an unemployment rate of 3.7%.
When it comes to crime, this city shows exemplary numbers: 433 property crimes (351 thefts, 57 burglaries, 25 vehicle thefts) and 27 violent crimes (10 assaults, 13 robberies, 3 rapes, 1 muder) were reported in 2019.
Although the Aliso Viejo crime rate is relatively much lower than the national average, the city has its own setbacks. The most notable one is a cost of living that’s 57% higher than the national average.
- Property: 1,009
- Violent: 68
- Population: 29,355
- Median age: 46.1 years
- Median household income: $235,278
- Median house value: $3.19 million
Los Altos was once a small agricultural town, but that changed during the 1980s as Silicon Valley became a technology center of the world. This is the city where Apple Inc. was started and where the first 50 Apple Computer 1s were made.
The city has 29,355 residents today with an average household income of $326,456 and a median age of 46.1 years. The city’s median house value is insanely expensive at $3.19 million.
Los Altos has everything you’d expect from the second most expensive and safest city in California and America. Numerous entertainment options are available, regardless of your interest. A strong economy, low unemployment rate of 3.3%, as well as a top-notch public school system make this city one of the most desirable places to live in America.
In 2019, there were 310 property crimes (181 thefts, 107 burglaries, 22 vehicle thefts) and 21 violent crimes (14 assaults, 4 robberies, 3 rapes) reported in Los Altos. In comparison to the overall crime rate in California, Los Altos is relatively safer.
As expected, the cost of living is as insane as the house prices, sitting at 402.9% above the US average.
- Property: 1,439
- Violent: 76
- Population: 76,283
- Median age: 40.2 years
- Median household income: $160,783
- Median house value: $1.05 million
Once home to the Seunen people, the San Ramon area has been one of the top spots to consider if you’re wondering where to live in California. There are 76,283 people in San Ramon with an average household income of $186,911 and a median age of 40.2 years. The median home value in the city is quite pricey at $1.05 million.
Large parks are located within the city, together with museums, breweries, restaurants, and all the other amenities necessary for a pleasant visit. Those staying longer, or permanently, will be glad to learn that the unemployment rate is only 3.2% and that the school system is funded better than most of the US.
When it comes to crime, in 2019, San Ramon crime rate is one of the lowest ones recorded in the state. The city recorded 1,099 property crimes (869 thefts, 179 burglaries, 51 vehicle thefts) and 58 violent crimes (33 assaults, 21 robberies, 4 rapes).
San Ramon is quickly becoming overcrowded; the city’s population has increased by more than 70% since 2000. With a cost of living that sits at 118.9% above the US average, the city is becoming one of the most expensive in the country.
- Property: 783
- Violent: 52
- Population: 29,389
- Median age: 50.2 years
- Median household income: $191,677
- Median house value: $2.69 million
Once the title holder for the most expensive suburb in the US, Saratoga holds nearly the lowest California crime rate for a city of its size today. It also ranks as the eighth wealthiest city in the US.
29,389 people are fortunate enough to live in Saratoga. Their average household income is $257,441, with the median age sitting at 50.2 years. Those planning to buy a property here will be faced with the median house value of $2.69 million.
Vineyards and wineries, running and hiking trails, and other entertainment options are open to the city’s tourists and visitors. The unemployment rate of 3.7% is encouraging for those who want to move here.
In 2019, 240 property crimes (122 thefts, 104 burglaries, 14 vehicle thefts) and 16 violent crimes (10 assaults, 2 robberies, 4 rapes) were reported in Saratoga, making it one of the safest cities in Northern California.
In addition to being one of the safest cities on this list, Saratoga is also one of the most expensive ones. Aside from an insanely high median home value, the city’s cost of living is 337.9% higher than the national average.
- Property: 1,000
- Violent: 104
- Population: 93,293
- Median age: 45.5 years
- Median household income: $118,477
- Median house value: $731,300
Mission Viejo is one of the largest master-planned communities in the US and one of the safest cities in California. The city has 93,293 inhabitants with an average household income of $141,788 and a median age of 45.5 years. Buying a house here costs a median price of $731,300.
The city holds numerous events throughout the year, attracting visitors from all over the country. When there are no events, the trails, parks, and lake are available to have fun in. People love coming to Mission Viejo, even though it’s not one of the safest cities in California from earthquakes. The unemployment rate in the city is 4.1%, so finding a job is not going to be hard.
When it comes to crime in Mission Viejo, there were 866 property crimes (689 thefts, 121 burglaries, 56 vehicle thefts) and 65 violent crimes (34 assaults, 22 robberies, 8 rapes, 1 murder) recorded in 2019. Compared to the 2,772 crimes committed in California that same year, the Mission Viejo crime rate is much lower.
Just like all of the cities listed before it, Mission Viejo’s main downside is its cost of living, which is 70.8% higher than the national average. Even though it’s one of the more expensive California cities, the schools are underfunded compared to the national average.
The 10 Most Popular Cities in California Ranked by Safety
- Property: 1,306
- Violent: 64
- Population: 298,739
- Median age: 34.2 years
- Median household income: $105,126
- Median house value: $864,400
One of the most popular and safest places in California, Irvine was developed during the 1960s and incorporated in 1971. The city is the home of Blizzard Entertainment, the creators of some of the most popular games in the world, such as Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
Irvine has a population of 298,739, a median household income of $105,126, and a median age of 34.2 years. The median house value in this city is $864,400.
Aside from being one of the safest cities to live in California, this city attracts tourists with its nature and beaches. Moreover, it attracts students with some of the best higher education in the US. The attractive setting of the city, as well as its 4.5% unemployment rate, entices students to stay in Irvine after graduating, while also attracting new residents. In addition to its universities, the public schools receive more funding than what’s typical for California.
In 2019, there were 3,823 property crimes (3,086 thefts, 574 burglaries, 163 vehicle thefts), Irvine crime rate statistics show. 188 violent crimes (69 assaults, 66 robberies, 52 rapes, 1 murder) were reported as well.
Irvine is not a cheap city to live in. Its cost of living is recorded at 87.1% higher than the US average, which could be taken as a downside.
- Property: 1,965
- Violent: 193
- Population: 141,364
- Median age: 41.9 years
- Median household income: $93,492
- Median house value: $826,800
Torrance is one of the safe cities in California and in LA County. It is a city with 1.5 miles of Pacific Ocean–facing beaches, and it’s a Californian motor city, with Honda and Robinson Helicopter Company leading their US operations from here.
Torrance has a population of 141,364 with a median household income of $93,492 and a median age of 41.9 years. For those looking to buy a house here, it’s worth noting that the median house value is $826,800.
Although Torrance is not the safest place in California, visitors and residents flock the city. This is because there’s plenty to do in Torrance—sunbathing, surfing, or visiting the botanical garden are just some common pastime activities. As a bonus, the unemployment rate is just 4%, and that keeps the young people in Torrance.
Torrance is still considerably a safe city with lower crime rates than the previous year. In 2019, the city had 2,853 property crimes (2,161 thefts, 399 burglaries, 293 vehicle thefts) and 280 violent crimes (137 assaults, 114 robberies, 26 rapes, 3 murders).
Although Torrence, CA has a low crime rate, it’s simply not everyone’s cup of tea. The city can get crowded due to tourist activity, and it costs 89.3% more to live here than in most of the US.
- Property: 1,984
- Violent: 179
- Population: 100,584
- Median age: 33.9 years
- Median household income: $92,046
- Median house value: $511,400
The city of Tracy owes its existence mostly to the Central Pacific Railroad, which linked Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay Area. The city was born along the railroad, and it was officially incorporated in 1911. Tracy was one of the cheapest and safest cities in California during the 1980s when everyone tried to escape from the ever-increasing prices in the big cities.
Today, Tracy has a population of 100,584, a median household income of $92,046, and a median age of 33.9 years. The median price of a house is around $511,400.
If we’re being honest, there’s not much to do in Tracy, except go to a casino and some parks. However, its close proximity to San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento is what makes this city a desirable place to live in.
Tracy, CA also has a crime rate that’s much lower than San Francisco. In 2019, the city had 1,843 property crimes (1,411 thefts, 156 burglaries, 276 vehicle thefts) and 166 violent crimes (64 assaults, 62 robberies, 35 rapes, 5 murders).
Aside from having limited recreational activities, the cost of living in Tracy, which is 44.8% higher than the US average, discourages people from living there.
- Property: 2,038
- Violent: 170
- Population: 172,652
- Median age: 35 years
- Median household income: $83,752
- Median house value: $493,600
Corona was once known as the lemon capital of the world, as it was founded in the midst of the citrus production boom. Today, it’s known as the Circle City, due to the odd layout of its streets. It’s also one of the safest cities in California with more than 150,000 residents.
172,652 people live in Corona with a median household income of $83,752 and a median age of 35 years. The median cost of a home in this part of California is $493,600.
This city honors its lemon-related heritage with a museum and multiple events throughout the year. Guitar enthusiasts from all over the world come here to visit the Fender guitar factory and visitor center. The unemployment rate is on par with the national average of 5.1%.
The Corona, CA crime rate is exemplary for a city of its size, and it manages to stay just below the state and national averages. In 2019, 3,482 property crimes (2,251 thefts, 646 burglaries, 585 vehicle thefts) and 291 violent crimes (141 assaults, 103 robberies, 43 rapes, 4 murders) were reported.
The primary con of living in Corona is the cost of living, which is 46.3% higher than the national average. Additionally, air quality is a common complaint among residents.
- Property: 2,252
- Violent: 142
- Population: 115,055
- Median age: 34.8 years
- Median household income: $96,183
- Median house value: $473,100
Once a humble Native American settlement, Temecula has become the safest city in California to invest in for those who work in tourism. This is because it’s one of the leading regions in California when it comes to tourism and wine production.
The city has 115,055 inhabitants with a median household income of $96,183 and a median age of 34.8 years. The median price of a house here is around $473,100.
Temecula and its economy rely mostly on tourism. Some of the best wineries in the state are located here, along with golf courses and interesting museums. The unemployment rate in the city is 5.8%, with positive job growth in the last year.
What is the safest city in California? Temecula may not be the answer since its crime rate is too close to the national average. In 2019, its property crime rate is even higher than the national average.
During that year, 2,626 property crimes (2,018 thefts, 318 burglaries, 290 vehicle thefts) and 166 violent crimes (85 assaults, 72 robberies, 8 rapes, 1 murder) were reported in Temecula. However, it’s worth noting that the Temecula violent crime rate is 62% lower than the national average.
Living in Temecula has another major drawback—the cost of living is 42.6% higher than average. That being said, this is definitely not a city for those who dislike crowds and overspending.
- Property: 2,309
- Violent: 436
- Population: 91,686
- Median age: 39 years
- Median household income: $76,606
- Median house value: $1,161,300
Commonly referred to as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is one of the best cities to live in California. Its economy also relies on technology, education, and agriculture as the city’s biggest employers. In case you’re wondering, the city was incorporated in 1850.
Santa Barbara has a population of 91,686, a median household income of $76,606, and a median age of 39 years. Moreover, a typical home has the median price of $1,161,300.
Tourists will have plenty to do here. There are even more than enough amenities to keep the residents occupied. This, along with the unemployment rate of 3.8%, makes Santa Barbara very appealing to tourists and permanent residents.
However, the Santa Barbara crime rate is recorded to be 10% higher than the national average in 2019. That year, the city had 2,118 property crimes (1,686 thefts, 254 burglaries, 178 vehicle thefts) and 400 violent crimes (244 assaults, 82 robberies, 72 rapes, 2 murders).
Despite the above-average crime rate, Santa Barbara is still relatively safe. However, the cost of living, which is 123.4% higher than the US average, may be a deterrent for anyone looking to move in.
- Property: 2,414
- Violent: 506
- Population: 456,154
- Median age: 34.9 years
- Median household income: $63,017
- Median house value: $603,600
When looking at the California crime statistics, the crime rate in Long Beach is definitely higher than the state average. This city is a part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the seventh most populous city in California.
It has 456,154 inhabitants, a median household income of $63,017, and a median age of 34.9 years. You can buy a house here for the median price of $603,600.
In case you’re in the mood to stay in a hotel that used to be one of the most exclusive cruisers, the Queen Mary is the place for you. Beaches, an aquarium, and museums are also great places to visit in Long Beach.
In Long Beach, CA, the crime rate is higher than the state and national average. However, that doesn’t mean that Long Beach can’t be considered a safe city. In 2019, there were 11,297 property crimes (6,754 thefts, 2,185 burglaries, 2,358 vehicle thefts) and 2,369 violent crimes (1,128 assaults, 958 robberies, 249 rapes, 34 murders) recorded in Long Beach.
It is slightly more difficult to find work in this city due to the unemployment rate of 6%. Additionally, the cost of living is 60.4% above the national average.
- Property: 2,383
- Violent: 732
- Population: 3,983,540
- Median age: 35.6 years
- Median household income: $62,142
- Median house value: $629,300
The safest neighborhoods in Los Angeles include Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, and Sherman Oaks, but what about the rest of the city? Los Angeles is the most populous city in California and the second most populous in the US. It was incorporated in 1850.
3,983,540 people live in Los Angeles with a median household income of $62,142. Moreover, the median age is 35.6 years, and the median cost of a house is $629,300.
Everyone knows what there is to do in LA. Seeing the Hollywood Sign, visiting Disneyland, and seeing the stars on the Walk of Fame are just a few of the most sought-after spots in LA.
In Los Angeles, CA, the crime rate, especially for violent crimes, is much higher than the state and national averages. However, for a city this size, Los Angeles is considered fairly safe, especially when compared to cities like San Francisco.
In 2019, 95,704 property crimes (66,253 thefts, 13,809 burglaries, 15,642 vehicle thefts) and 29,400 violent crimes (17,216 assaults, 9,652 robberies, 2,274 rapes, 258 murders) were recorded in the city.
This extravagant city’s cost of living is 64.7% above the national average, which is quite a bargain considering how popular it is. However, a violent crime that’s almost twice as high as the California violent crime rate, coupled with the city’s unemployment rate of 6.3%, can be discouraging for some.
- Property: 4,142
- Violent: 455
- Population: 389,007
- Median age: 30.8 years
- Median household income: $63,139
- Median house value: $242,800
Bakersfield, which was incorporated in 1873, is the ninth most populous city in California. The area has been popular for a while now, as it’s rich in natural resources like gold and oil.
Bakersfield has a population of 389,007, a median household income of $63,139, and a median age of 30.8 years. Although it’s not one of the safest cities in California in 2021, the cheap median home value of $242,800 can be enticing for those looking to move in permanently.
The number of amenities in Bakersfield could be described as sufficient. The city has museums, parks, and everything that makes life enjoyable, but there’s nothing extravagant about it. It is, however, affordable to live in, with the lowest cost of living on this list at just 2.6% above the US average.
The Bakersfield crime rate is what starts to distort this town’s image. 16,074 property crimes (9,277 thefts, 3,888 burglaries, 2,909 vehicle thefts) and 1,766 violent crimes (915 assaults, 701 robberies, 116 rapes, 34 murders) were reported in 2019.
The city also has a high unemployment rate, which is a huge point against moving to Bakersfield. According to recent statistics, 8.4% of work-capable residents are unemployed.
- Property: 5,506
- Violent: 670
- Population: 883,255
- Median age: 38.2 years
- Median household income: $112,449
- Median house value: $1,378,300
The center of Northern California, San Francisco is the state’s fourth most populous city. The city was incorporated in 1850. If you’re looking for the city with the lowest crime rate in California, San Francisco is not the answer.
883,255 people live in San Francisco. They have a median household income of $112,449, median age of 38.2 years, and the median price of a house costs $1,378,300.
Visiting San Fransisco can be one of the most exciting times of your life; the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and other sights that the city offers bring joy and happy memories for millions of people every year. The Golden City is the best place to live in California for families due to its low unemployment rate of 4.2% and the public schools that are well-funded and highly-ranked.
Since San Francisco also happens to be one of the most dangerous cities in California, this turns many away from it. In 2019, the city had 48,780 property crimes (39,887 thefts, 4,644 burglaries, 4,249 vehicle thefts) and 5,933 violent crimes (2,514 assaults, 3,055 robberies, 324 rapes, 40 murders).
Moreover, we are all familiar with San Francisco’s prices. The cost of living is 169.3% higher than the US average, and it’s rising continuously.
For those who decide to take a risk and move to California, we hope this list was helpful. For those who just want to find out about the safest cities in California, we hope you were entertained and you learned something new.
Suburban mountain towns, busy city centers, and sunny beaches are all just miles away when you live in California. However, there aren’t many people daring enough to take their chance here.
This is a place of insane housing prices and high costs of living—it’s definitely not for everyone. Those brave enough to take a chance and move to the Golden State will either make it or break it. From the tech world of Silicon Valley to the lights of Hollywood, everyone can have their shot.