The decision of where to plant your roots is a significant one, influenced by a myriad of factors such as cost of living, job prospects, quality of education, housing affordability, and of course, emotional ties.
However, for those fortunate enough to have a choice, one factor often takes precedence – safety. As a Californian, you’re likely seeking the most secure cities in the Golden State to nurture your family.
It’s a basic human instinct, after all. You yearn for the freedom to stroll home under the stars, the assurance that your sanctuary is unlikely to be violated, and the peace of mind that your children are safe at every moment. Regrettably, many Californians express a sense of insecurity within their own neighborhoods.
Given this reality, finding a haven where you can rest easy becomes paramount. To aid you in this quest, we’ve curated a list of the top 15 safest cities in California.
But before we delve into this list, let’s take a moment to understand how California stacks up against the rest of the country in terms of safety, and the criteria used to determine this.
California vs the Rest of the US
10 Best Places In Cali 2023
|City||Population||Crime Rate (per 100,000 people)||Violent Crime Chance||Median Home Price||Average Income|
|Rancho Santa Margarita||47,894||–||–||$784,000||$104,556|
|Moorpark||37,573||662||1 in 152||$597,300||$100,457|
|Aliso Viejo||47,825||810||1 in 2,134||–||$103,261|
|Yorba Linda||68,017||889||1 in 2,136||$728,300||$119,697|
|Rancho Palos Verdes||41,643||911||–||–||–|
|Laguna Niguel||66,759||929||1 in 1,570||–||–|
|Mission Viejo||94,513||–||1 in 1,319||–||$104,886|
|Thousand Oaks||126,823||1,097||1 in 1,649||$837,100||–|
10. Thousand Oaks
With a population of 126,823, Thousand Oaks is safer than 58% of US cities, boasting a crime rate of 1,097 per 100,000 people. The likelihood of falling victim to a violent crime here is 1 in 1,649.
In 2020, the city reported only one murder, 23 robberies, and 32 assaults. Property crimes occur at a rate of 1 in 95, with burglary and theft being the most prevalent.
As an affluent community, the median home price in Thousand Oaks is $837,100, a staggering 245% higher than the US average.
Things to do in Thousand Oaks:
- Explore the Gardens of the World, a beautiful outdoor garden showcasing various world cultures.
- Visit the Chumash Indian Museum to learn about the local Native American history.
- Spend a day hiking and enjoying nature at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
9. Mission Viejo
Located in Orange County, Mission Viejo has a population of 94,513 and a crime rate that is 62% lower than the California average.
The chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime is 1 in 1,319, with no murders and only a few robberies and assaults reported in 2020.
Mission Viejo is an affluent area with a median income of $104,886, which is 90% higher than the national average.
Things to do in Mission Viejo:
- Spend a day at Lake Mission Viejo, where you can enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming.
- Visit the Mission Viejo Library and Potocki Center for the Arts for some cultural enrichment.
- Explore the Oso Creek Trail and enjoy the beautiful landscape and public art along the way.
8. Laguna Niguel
Situated just south of Irvine, Laguna Niguel has a population of 66,759. The city’s crime rate is 929 per 100,000 people, making it 60% lower than the national average.
Violent crime is extremely low, with few reported murders and assaults. Overall, residents have a 1 in 1,570 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime.
Property crimes are also relatively low, with theft being the most common type of crime. Laguna Niguel is an excellent choice for those prioritizing safety.
Things to do in Laguna Niguel
- Enjoy the view of Laguna Niguel Regional Park
- Explore Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness
7. Rancho Palos Verdes
This coastal city in Los Angeles County, Rancho Palos Verdes, has a population of 41,643 and a crime rate of 911 per 100,000 people.
In 2021, it was safer than 61% of US cities, with zero murders, six robberies, and 34 assaults reported. That year, there were 78 burglaries and 28 vehicle thefts, making the chance of becoming a property crime victim 1 in 122.
Things to do in Rancho Palos Verdes
- Hike to the point Vincente Interpretive Center
- Enjoy time at Terranea Discovery Trail
6. Yorba Linda
Located in Orange County, Yorba Linda is another of California’s safest cities, with a population of 68,017. Crime in Yorba Linda is 66% lower than the California average, with 889 crimes per 100,000 people.
In 2022, there were zero murders in the city and just a few robberies and assaults. The chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime is 1 in 2,136.
The average home price in Yorba Linda is $728,300, which is 294% higher than the US average, and an average income of $119,697.
Things to do in Yorba Linda:
- Visit the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum for a dive into American history.
- Enjoy a day of golf at the Black Gold Golf Club, a public 18-hole golf course.
- Explore the Yorba Linda Reservoir for a day of fishing and picnicking.
- Take a leisurely walk or bike ride along the Yorba Linda Recreational Trail.
- Visit the Susanna Bixby Bryant Museum and Botanic Garden to learn about local history and enjoy the beautiful gardens.
Out of a population of 49,479, Poway has a crime rate of 847 per 100,000 people, making it 64% lower than the national average. Poway is an extremely safe place to live, with almost nonexistent crimes, including zero murders and only 34 assaults reported in 2021.
Property crime is very low in Poway as well, with residents having only a 1 in 129 chance of being a victim. Poway is 61% more expensive than the US average and has a median income of $99,000.
Things to do in Poway:
- Spend a full day exploring the trails at Poway’s Blue Sky Ecological Reserve.
- Enjoy a day of fishing or a leisurely boat ride at Poway Lake.
- Experience horseback riding at the Poway Equestrian Center.
- Visit Old Poway Park and ride the vintage 1907 Baldwin No. 3 Steam Locomotive.
- Pick your own fruits and vegetables at the local Farmer’s Market.
4. Aliso Viejo
Located in the San Joaquin Hills of California, Aliso Viejo is another one of the safest places to live in California.
This city of 47,825 people has a crime rate of 810 per 100,000, making the city 69% safer than the California average.
Violent crime is so low that the chance of becoming a victim is 1 in 2,134. The median home price in Aliso Viejo is 56% higher than the national average, and the median income is $103,261.
Things to do in Aliso Viejo:
- Spend some time learning Golf at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club
- Enjoy at Crystal Cove State Park
- Have food at Citrus Fresh Grill
Near Los Angeles in Southern California, Moorpark has a population of 37,573 and is safer than 74% of California cities.
The crime rate is 662 per 100,000 people, meaning that residents have only a 1 in 152 chance of becoming the victim of a crime. Not one homicide was recorded from 2017 to 2018.
The average home cost in Moorpark is $597,300, which is 207% higher than the US average and 39% higher than the California average. The average income in Moorpark is $100,457, which is 82% higher than the California average.
Things to do in Moorpark:
- Spend full day excursion at Malibu wine hike
- Hike to Peach hill park
- Enjoy horseback riding at Oakridge Riding club
- Pick your own fruits and vegetables and enjoy at Underwood Family Farms
2. Rancho Santa Margarita
Rancho Santa Margarita, located in Southern California’s Orange County, is another one of the safest cities in California. The city has a population of 47,894 and a crime rate that is 76% lower than the California average.
Living in Rancho Santo Margarita is quite expensive, with the average home price being $784,000, which is 216% higher than the national average.
The average income in Rancho Santo Margarita is $104,556, which is much higher than the national average.
Things to do in Rancho Santa Margarita:
- Hike to O’Neill Regional Park and have delicious food at Trabuco Canyon SteakHouse
- Relax at manmade lake Lago Santa Margarita at the foothills of Mount Modjeska and Mount Santiago tower
- Go for a walk to Red Rock Canyon
- Breath and take photos at Santiago Peak, the highest point in Orange County
Topping the list as the safest city in California is Danville. Nestled in the San Ramon Valley, Danville has a population of 43,582 and an impressively low crime rate that is 78% lower than the California average.
Offering suburban living in the bay area, Danville is somewhat removed from the hustle and bustle of nearby urban areas. The city boasts excellent restaurants, coffee shops, parks, and highly-rated public schools.
With its serene ambiance and outstanding safety record, Danville is one of the best places to live in California for families.
Things to do in Danville:
- Discover the history of the Museum of the San Ramon Valley
- Unfold the history of Blackhawk Plaza
- Shock your taste buds at “The Peasant & The Pear – taste their white fish and tomato broth
- Enjoy and learn gardening skills at Hap Magee Ranch Park, Bounty Garden.
What are some other factors to consider when looking for a safe city to live in California?
Apart from the crime rate, other factors to consider include the quality of local schools, availability of jobs, cost of living, and amenities like parks, restaurants, and cultural institutions.
It’s also important to consider the overall quality of life in the city, including factors like air quality, traffic congestion, and access to healthcare facilities.
How does the cost of living in these safe cities compare to the national average?
The cost of living in these cities tends to be higher than the national average, especially when it comes to housing costs.
For example, the median home price in Thousand Oaks is 245% higher than the US average. However, these cities also tend to have higher average incomes, which can help offset the higher cost of living.
How are crime rates calculated?
Crime rates are typically calculated as the number of crimes per 100,000 people. This allows for a fair comparison of crime rates across cities with different population sizes.
Both violent crimes (like murder, assault, and robbery) and property crimes (like burglary and theft) are included in the crime rate.
What resources can I use to find up-to-date crime statistics for California cities?
Local police department websites often provide the most up-to-date and detailed crime statistics. Other resources include the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, the California Department of Justice’s OpenJustice database, and various online platforms like NeighborhoodScout and AreaVibes.
Are these cities safe for tourists as well?
Yes, cities with low crime rates are generally safe for both residents and tourists. However, like anywhere, it’s important for tourists to stay aware of their surroundings, especially in crowded or unfamiliar areas.
How does the safety of California cities compare to cities in other states?
Safety can vary widely from city to city, regardless of the state. While California does have cities with high crime rates, it also has many cities that are considered very safe. When comparing safety across states, it’s important to look at city-level data rather than state-level data.
What measures are these cities taking to maintain or improve safety?
These cities typically have strong police departments and community programs aimed at preventing crime. This can include neighborhood watch programs, youth outreach initiatives, and efforts to address underlying issues like poverty and homelessness that can contribute to crime.
In conclusion, while California may not rank as one of the safest states overall, it is home to many cities that are considered very safe.
These cities offer not only low crime rates but also high-quality schools, abundant amenities, and a high standard of living.
Whether you’re a Californian looking to relocate within the state or someone considering a move to the Golden State, these cities offer a secure environment to raise a family, start a career, or enjoy a peaceful retirement.
Remember, safety is often a community effort, and these cities exemplify the benefits of community involvement and proactive measures in maintaining a safe and secure environment for all residents.