We all know that behind the beautiful beaches, hip cities, and outrageous food there are certain parts of California that are safer than others.
But how exactly is one to tell where the safest places are to live in the Golden State?
Well, data of course.
And that's where we come in -- we've broken down the safest cities in California based on the most recent FBI data. And at this point we're quite the experts on ranking safe cities, it's the sixth time we've ranked the safest places in California.
Beaches, movie stars, and amazing cities aside, California has a lot to offer if you're looking for a safe place to put down roots with a family. It's just a matter of making sure to check on general trends before picking a place to live.
Because California is the most populous state in the U.S., narrowing down the safest cities in the Golden State was quite the job. So grab a kale, spinach, beet smoothie, find a sunny spot on the beach, and read on.
What city is the safest to live in California for 2021? Well according to the most recent FBI data, Imperial is the safest place to live in California if you care about low rates of property crime, low rates of violent crime, and a high quality of life.
While not everyone can afford to live in California's safest city, Imperial, there are many other cities in the Golden State that are just as safe and and comfortable, but that won't break your bank.
So if you're looking to relocate to sunny California, read on to see how we calculated the safest cities in California for 2021.
For more reading on safe places to live in and around California, check out:
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 27 (fourth safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 309 (safest)
More on Imperial: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
The second best place when it comes to property crime in California goes to Imperial.
Imperial rides that to an overall #1 ranking again this year.
Imperial is a city in Imperial County, California. Imperial is located 4 miles north of El Centro. This region is well known for its abundance of bird species such as dove, quail, ducks, pheasant and geese.
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 29 (fifth safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 656 (tenth safest)
More on Palos Verdes Estates: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
It seems like all these super safe places in California are on the beach and totally lack violent crime.
Palos Verdes Estates is a city in Los Angeles County, CA situated on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and ranks as the second safest this year.
The city was master-planned by the noted American landscape architect and planner Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The city is located along the Southern California coastline of the Pacific Ocean.
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 51 (11th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 657 (11th safest)
More on Danville: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
The Town of Danville is located in the San Ramon Valley in Contra Costa County and ranks as the third safest city for 2021 in CA.
A top ten ranking for violent crime per capita helped it earn this distinction.
And look at the mall in that picture -- doesn't it just ooze safety?
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 13)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 62 (18th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 611 (sixth safest)
More on Rancho Santa Margarita: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
Grab the tequila as we take our next stop of our safe road trip in Rancho Santa Margarita -- the fourth safest city in California this year.
Besides being the city with the most letters in it, Rancho Santa Margarita has very few property crimes for a city of its size. It also offer affordable living for California and plenty to do for the whole family.
And in case you actually thought it was named for the drink, it is named for Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores.
Rank Last Year: 31 (Up 26)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 65 (21st safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 599 (fifth safest)
More on Hughson: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
A part of the Modesto metro area, Hughson clocks in as California's fifth safest city. An agricultural community that focuses primarily on peaches and almonds, Hughson is a wholesome place with a big heart.
Residents don't have to worry about their belongings getting snatched when they're out at Rolland Starn Park, because the property crime rate in Hughson ranks as the fifth safest lowest in California.
Hughson's overall crime rate is the second safest lowest statewide, with about half as many crimes per capita as the national average.
While Hughson's violent crime rate isn't quite as impressive as its property crime rate, the city of 7,671 recorded just 5 violent crimes over 2019.
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 8)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 34 (sixth safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 777 (22nd safest)
More on Los Altos Hills: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
Los Altos Hills is an incorporated town in Santa Clara County, California, United States. The Los Altos Hills ZIP code 94022 appeared on the 2017 Forbes list of America's most expensive ZIP codes; 94022 was ranked the 3rd most expensive in the United States, with a median home price of $7,755,000.
And now it can add its most prestigious award yet -- HomeSnacks sixth safest city in California for 2021.
Can't beat that.
It ranks sixth safest in the state for violent crime and 22nd safest for property crime.
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 3)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 43 (ninth safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 772 (20th safest)
More on Laguna Woods: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
Well, based on that picture, I want to live here.
I guess it's hard to commit violent crimes when you hang out on the beach and stare into the general beauty around you.
But I have to wonder if it feels inferior to Laguna Beach seeing as it never had its own TV show.
Rank Last Year: 16 (Up 8)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 0 (safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 897 (31st safest)
More on Tiburon: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
It's nearly impossible to beat Tiburon in terms of violent crime. The city of 9,135 recorded exactly 0 violent crimes over 2019.
Meaning you don't have to worry about being attacked when you make an outing to Angel Island, a truly idyllic spot in the San Francisco bay.
The property crime rate in Tiburon wasn't quite as impressive. Still, a 1 in 111 chance of having your stuff stolen or damaged over a year is considerably lower than the national average.
Overall, it's more likely that a seagull will snatch your stuff at Paradise Beach Park than a criminal.
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 9)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 70 (29th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 619 (seventh safest)
More on Moorpark: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
Located about 45 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Moorpark came in as the ninth safest place to call home in California.
Moorpark is home to loads of family-friendly activities, like the Moorpark Teaching Zoo and Underwood Family Farms.
This wholesome city recorded the seventh safest lowest property crime rate statewide for 2021. And the vast majority of property crimes committed were just larcenies, so it's not exactly devastating stuff.
Moorpark only recorded 26 violent crimes over 2019 -- quite impressive for a city of 36,826.
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 43 (eighth safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 841 (28th safest)
More on Hillsborough: Photos | Search Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report
Situated just south of San Francisco, Hillsborough is a town of 11,521 with a penchant for safety. There were only a handful of violent crimes committed in Hillsborough over 2019, giving the town the eighth safest lowest violent crime rate in California.
In other words, you don't have to worry about assailants while you're moseying down the Sawyer Camp Trail, a favorite for local cyclists and hikers.
Additionally, the property crime rate in Hillsborough ranked as the 28th safest lowest statewide. That's fewer than 100 property crimes committed over 2019.
While there are surveys and public polls on what cities in a state are the safest, we didn't want to rely on speculation and opinion. Instead, we looked at the hard numbers from the FBI's most recent report of crime (Published Sept 2020) in California.Specifically, we analyzed the FBI's Uniform Crime Report which summarizes the number of property crimes and violent crimes in each city per year. We used two criteria:
For example, there were a total of 61 crimes committed in Imperial which had a reported population of 18,090. That means the number of crimes per capita is 0.0034 which translates into a 1 in 296 chance of being the victim of a crime.
We only looked at cities that have populations of more than 5,000 people reported to the FBI in 2019, the last reporting year. This left us with a total of 415 of the biggest cities in California to rank.
We ranked each city for each criteria from 1 to 415 where 1 in any particular category is the safest.
Next, we averaged each places two criteria to create a Safety Index. We crowned the place with the lowest overall Safety Score "The Safest Place In California" with any ties going to the bigger city. You can download the data here.
The safest city in California, based on our criteria, is Imperial. The most dangerous city in California? Emeryville, where residents had a 1 in 4 chance of being the victim of a crime.
Note: This report is not an analysis of the effectiveness of local police departments, nor does it reflect the fact that people from out of town may come into a community and cause a crime. It simply looks at where crimes occurred most frequently, based on a city's population.
Looking at the data, you can tell that Imperial is as safe as they come, according to science and data.
But as most California residents would agree, almost every place here has its safe and not safe parts. So just make sure you're informed ahead of time.
Here's a look at the most dangerous cities in California according to the data:
|Rank||City||Population||Violent Crimes Per 100k||Property Crimes Per 100k|
|2||Palos Verdes Estates, CA||13,400||29||656|
|4||Rancho Santa Margarita, CA||48,377||62||611|
|6||Los Altos Hills, CA||8,622||34||777|
|7||Laguna Woods, CA||16,043||43||772|
Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.
He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.
If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.
You can find out more about him on LinkedIn.
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HomeSnacks is based in Durham, NC.
We aim to deliver bite-sized pieces of infotainment about where you live.
We use data, analytics, and a sense of humor to determine quality of life for places across the nation.