The 10 Safest Cities In California For 2020

We used data and science to determine the places in California where everyone sleeps safe and sound.

Editor's Note: This article has been update for 2020. This is our sixth time rankings the safest places to live in California.
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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.

Here are the 10 safest cities to live in California for 2020:

  1. Imperial (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Orinda (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Danville (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Laguna Woods (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Palos Verdes Estates (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Moraga (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. Lafayette (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Ione (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Kensington (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Villa Park (Photos | Homes For Sale)

What city is the safest to live in California for 2020? 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 2020.

For more reading on safe places to live in and around California, check out:

The 10 Safest Cities In California For 2020

Imperial, CA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 17,976
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 50 (11th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 428 (2nd safest)
More on Imperial: PhotosSearch 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.

Orinda, CA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 20,020
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 7)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 44 (10th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 549 (4th safest)
More on Orinda: PhotosSearch Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report

Our next stop on the safe freeway around California is Orinda.

But don't just take our expert word on it -- Orinda was ranked the second most friendly town in America by Forbes.

The city is located just east of the city of Berkeley and is home to many affluent suburban professionals who commute to downtown Oakland, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek.

Its location provides for a more rustic landscape, and Orinda's many parks and trails make it a destination for many Bay Area hikers and naturalists.

Danville, CA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 45,202
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 5)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 35 (5th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 721 (12th safest)
More on Danville: PhotosSearch 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 2020 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?

Laguna Woods, CA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 16,219
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 61 (15th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 665 (8th safest)
More on Laguna Woods: PhotosSearch 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.

Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 13,559
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 44 (9th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 767 (15th safest)
More on Palos Verdes Estates: PhotosSearch 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 fifth 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.

Moraga, CA
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 17,866
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 67 (22nd safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 526 (3rd safest)
More on Moraga: PhotosSearch Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report

Moraga is the sixth safest place in the Golden State and second city so far to hit a 10 on our SnackAbility Score -- an honor only 5% of over 6,000 cities in America achieve.

Moraga is a suburban incorporated town located in Contra Costa County, California. It's about as safe for property and violent crime.

Lafayette, CA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 26,827
Rank Last Year: -
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 37 (7th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 861 (23rd safest)
More on Lafayette: PhotosSearch Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report

Located just 15 miles outside of Oakland, Lafayette is the most populous city to make this list. And while Oakland ranked as the second most dangerous city in California, with the highest rate of violent crime, Lafayette couldn't be more different.

The city has the 7th lowest rate of violent crimes in the whole state, with about 10 times fewer crimes per capita than the national average. But to enjoy this level of security, you'll need to start earning big bucks -- Lafayette residents earn more than twice as much as the national average income.

If you do make it here, enjoy the rolling green hills of Briones Regional Park knowing that you're in one of the safest cities in California.

Ione, CA
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 7,848
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 4)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 63 (20th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 713 (11th safest)
More on Ione: PhotosSearch Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report

Ione earns the number 8 spot on this list with a combination of solidly low rates of both violent and property crime, with both landing in the top 20 statewide. So you can enjoy one of Ione's many top-notch parks without the need to turn on the Bat Signal.

Ione has especially good numbers when it comes to property crime, with rates about three times lower than the national average.

Ione is located in Amador County about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento.

Kensington, CA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 5,400
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 5)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 37 (6th safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 888 (27th safest)
More on Kensington: PhotosSearch Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report

Kensington Palace has nothing on Kensington, California in terms of safety. But seriously, there is sort of a royal vibe here in this Bay Area city -- it's an affluent community and is home to Nobel Prize laureates and distinguished professors from neighboring Berkeley.

You too can enjoy the rarefied air while kayaking at the Tilden Regional Park, which even has a public golf course.

Kensington really shines in terms of violent crimes; only 2 violent crimes were reported in all of the last reporting year. I guess that hippy collegiate spirit really keeps Kensington residents at peace.

Villa Park, CA
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 5,904
Rank Last Year: 23 (Up 13)
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 0 (1st safest)
Property Crimes Per 100k: 965 (35th safest)
More on Villa Park: PhotosSearch Homes For Sale | Data | Detailed Crime Report

I know I was just boasting about Kensington's low violent crime rate, but Villa Park almost makes Kensington look like Oakland. Villa Park had ZERO violent crimes in the entire year, making it the safest place in the state in this category. Only Villa Park's mediocre property crime rate keeps it from a higher spot on this list.

Overall though, you're pretty safe in this small Orange County city. Your biggest worry while walking the Santiago Creek Trail is the bobcats, not burglars.

How we calculated the safest cities in California for 2020

Safest Cities in California Graph

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 2019) 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:

  • Violent crimes per capita (murders, assaults, rapes, armed robberies)
  • Property crimes per capita (thefts, burglaries, motor vehicle thefts)
Worst Places To Live In California

For example, there were a total of 86 crimes committed in Imperial which had a reported population of 17,976. That means the number of crimes per capita is 0.0048 which translates into a 1 in 209 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 2018, the last reporting year. This left us with a total of 418 of the biggest cities in California to rank.

We ranked each city for each criteria from 1 to 418 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 5 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.

There You Have It - The Safest Cities In The Golden State

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:

  1. Emeryville
  2. Oakland
  3. Commerce
For more reading, check out:

Where Are The 10 Safest Cities In California For 2020?

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per 100k Property Crimes Per 100k
1 Imperial, CA 17,976 50 428
2 Orinda, CA 20,020 44 549
3 Danville, CA 45,202 35 721
4 Laguna Woods, CA 16,219 61 665
5 Palos Verdes Estates, CA 13,559 44 767
6 Moraga, CA 17,866 67 526
7 Lafayette, CA 26,827 37 861
8 Ione, CA 7,848 63 713
9 Kensington, CA 5,400 37 888
10 Villa Park, CA 5,904 0 965
Download The Entire California Ranking Data

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About Chris Kolmar

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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