30 Safest Places to Live in California – 2016

About the State of California

The state of California, thanks in part to places like Hollywood and Silicon Valley, has an enormous impact on global popular culture and maintains, for many, an allure of fame and fantasy that no other place can equal. It’s also home to some of the most iconic places and attractions in the country, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood and the redwood forests – not to mention over 900 miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean.From wine country to sprawling cityscapes, world famous beaches and varied terrain to meet the needs of any outdoor enthusiast, it’s easy to see why so many seek California as both a vacation spot and permanent residence. With so much to offer so many different types of people, it no wonder that despite only being the 3rd largest state, California ranks as the most populated state in the country.

One might expect California to place higher on AlarmSystemReviews.com’s national list of Safest Places to Live in the U.S, but at #33, it falls outside the 50th percentile. And while it does rank as the state with the second highest incidence of earthquakes, we wanted to focus more on the crime statistics, since California has the 34th highest incidence of violent crimes, to determine whether that number is due primarily to high crime zones like densely populated urban areas or if indeed the problems are statewide.


How We Picked the Safest Places In California

To find the safest places to live in California, we used data compiled by the FBI, including their most recent and complete annual Uniform Crime Report. In order to keep our findings relevant, we limited our research to communities with a minimum population of 2,500 residents. Using information for both violent and property crimes, we established an overall rate of crime per community based on a rate of 1,000 residents and then ranked each city and town.

It’s important to note that because we limit our report to a minimum population and only those with complete data reported to the FBI, some communities with low crime rates may not appear on our list.


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California’s Safest Cities

Imperial, California’s Safest City

Striving to be a community both “economically vibrant and culturally rich with a strong sense of identity, pride and prosperity”, Imperial California is located four miles north of El Centro in the southernmost section of the state and has transformed the desert location into a Valley tourist destination with activities and annual events like their Sweet Onion Festival which features an onion eating contest and 5K run for residents and visitors.

Population: 16,535
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.3
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 2.8

Rancho Santa Margarita

Located in Orange County and one of the youngest of its cities, Rancho Santa Margarita is a master planned community located on the coast near the rolling hills of southern California. For reality TV fans, it may be interesting to note that the series The Real Housewives of Orange County is mainly filmed in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Population: 49,558
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.5
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 4.1

Stallion Springs

Located in the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County California, maintains their own fully certified Stallion Springs Police Department which focuses on provided the local community and surrounding schools with outreach programs including drug intervention, social media safety and more.

Population: 2,587
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.5
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 4.3

Aliso Viejo

Situated in the San Joaquin Hills of southern Orange County, Aliso Viejo became the county’s 34th city in 2001 and is bordered by Laguna Beach to the west and Laguna Hills to the east. The town is located along the southern coast of the state. The town may be best remembered for their attempt to ban polystyrene cups in 2004 after learning “dihydrogen monoxide” was used in the production process. For those of us many years past high school chemistry, that’s just plain old H(2)0 (water).

Population: 50,671
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.7
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 5.4

Laguna Woods

Also located in Orange Country, Laguna Woods is comprised almost entirely of the Laguna Woods Village, a retirement community. According to census data from 2010, over 79% of the residents are over the age of 65 and the median age is 77. The town is serviced by the Orange County Fire Authority and Sheriff’s Department with supplemental security services provided by Laguna Woods Village security.

Population: 16,480
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.4
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 7.2

Monte Sereno

With its Spanish-based name meaning serene hill and located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monte Sereno is part of Santa Clara County located about 10 miles southwest of San Jose. Built as an entirely residential community, there are no commercially-zoned areas and is considered an upscale bedroom community in Silicon Valley.

Population: 3,511
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.0
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.5

Los Altos Hills

Located in Santa Clara County, Los Altos Hills boasts some of the most expensive zip codes according to Forbes 2014 list. With median home prices close to $3 million, this residential-only community’s only retail business in operation is the town’s book store located on the campus of Foothill College.

Population: 8,408
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.2
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.7

Moorpark

Part of Ventura County, Moorpark was founded in 1900 but did not see substantial population growth until the 1970s. Today, Moorpark ranks as one of the ten least expensive cities in which to do business and the city council continues to work diligently to bring new business enterprises into the fold to help grow their community and resources.

Population: 35,299
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.1
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 7.8

Kensington

Located in the Berkeley Hills in the East Bay and part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Contra Costa County, Kensington is an unincorporated community that maintains local jurisdiction over its own police, park and fire department among other community resources.

Population: 5,281
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.4
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.7

Hillsborough

One of the wealthiest communities in the country, Hillsborough is located in San Mateo County in San Francisco Bay Area and is known for its landscape and large residential homes which is maintained through strict zoning minimum size and acreage plot requirements to prevent apartments, condos and townhouses from being built within the city limits.

Population: 11,382
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.1
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 9.0

Lake Shastina

Situated in Siskiyou County, over two hundred miles north of San Francisco, Lake Shastina is a small but fully self-managed town with its own water, sewer, police and fire departments. The landscape is dominated by the majestic Mt. Shasta with a summit reaching above 14-thousand feet and covered in snow year round.

Population: 2,506
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):2.0
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 7.2

Palos Verdes Estates

Located in Los Angeles County on the Palos Verdes Peninsula this master-planned community is considered one of the richest places in to live in the country according to a recent U.S. census. The peninsula is known for its coves which are well known to local surfers and have been used in many films.

Population: 13,668
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.4
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.9

Moraga

Part of Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay area, the town of Moraga is located in a valley surrounded by a rolling hillsides dotted with grazing cows. It recently received a state of emergency declaration to help with storm-related damages that occurred in early 2016.

Population: 16,953
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.5
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.8

Sierra Madre

Located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, Sierra Madre is part of Los Angeles County and is known locally as “Wisteria City” due to the abundance of the flowering plant. The town is centrally located between Pasadena and Arcadia and is known as the “Village of the Foothills”.

Population: 11,090
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.2
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.3

Mission Viejo

Found inside Saddleback Valley in Orange County, Mission Viejo is one of the largest master-planned communities ever built. The Saddleback Mountains as well as Lake Mission, provide residents with views highlighting the natural beauty of the area.

Population: 97,124
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.7
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.9

Laguna Niguel

Occupying a hilly basin near the south of the San Joaquin hills among the small coastal mountain range found in southern Orange County, Laguna Niguel is primary served by Crown Valley and Alicia Parkways. Low mountain ridges dissect much of the area running northeast to southwest and nearing two hundred feet in height.

Population: 65,033
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.1
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.5

Ione

Known to many as the Castle City for the Preston School of Industry, Ione is located approximately 30 miles south east of Sacramento as part of Amador County. Primarily a small bedroom community, Ione is known for its small town charm and quality of life for residents.

Population: 6,773
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.9
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.9

Lake Forest

Earning its name for two man-made lakes surrounded by condominiums and custom homes along the shores, Lake Forest was originally known as El Toro and is perhaps best known as being the headquarters for eyewear-maker, Oakley as well as several other businesses and houses the eighth-largest church in the U.S., the Saddleback Church founded by Rick Warren.

Population: 79,748
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.3
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.6

Saratoga

Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, this residential community is known for its small-town lifestyle, wineries and high-end boutiques in the Santa Clara County just west of San Jose and Silicon Valley.

Population: 31,122
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.6
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 9.3

Clayton

Formerly known as Clayton’s or Claytonville, this Contra Costa Country town is located at the foot of Mt. Diablo and is known for its warm and dry summers. The town was founded in 1857 by the three Clayton brothers with the town prospering during the coal mining boom.

Population: 11,646
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.3
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 9.5

Orinda

Part of Contra Costa County and located just 20 minutes from downtown San Francisco, Orinda is a family-oriented community in a semi-rural setting. A destination for many Bay Area outdoor enthusiasts and residence for many professionals, Orinda earned the distinction of being named the second friendliest town in America by Forbes in 2012.

Population: 18,904
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.2
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 9.9

Poway

With its slogan, “The City in the Country”, Poway was not recognized as a city until December 1, 1980. Artifacts such as arrow heads and pottery along with pictographs adorning many of Poway’s boulders speak to its long and storied history of this town in San Diego County.

Population: 49,786
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.4
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 8.8

San Ramon

Located in Contra Costa County, this suburban city in San Francisco Bay lies in the San Ramon Valley. To the northeast, the town is flanked by Mt Diablo, visible from most areas of the city. The town has long been one of the more desirable places to live in the area due to its proximity to the Bay Area and reputation for excellent schools and parks.

Population: 75,049
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.3
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 10.0

St. Helena

This Napa County city is part of the North Bay area in San Francisco and was founded in 1900 by Ellen White, co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her home, known as Elmshaven is now considered a national historic landmark.

Population: 5,978
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.0
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 9.4

Danville

Situated in San Ramon Valley in Contra Costa County, Danville uses the designation of “Town” instead of city and is known for the Iron Horse Regional Trail which runs through the town. Originally a railroad, it has been converted into a trail for both hiking and biking.

Population: 43,685
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.4
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 10.0

La Habra Heights

A small, rural canyon community, La Habra Heights is part of Los Angeles County and is located at the border with Orange County. The small community features mainly open spaces with no sidewalks or street lights and a focus on raising and farming animals.

Population: 5,4515
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.5
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 9.0

Lincoln

Located in Placer County and part of the Sacramento metropolitan area, the area was originally known for its fertile hills and plains and an abundance of natural resources used by the Nisenan Indians, who established a village on the site that would eventually become the city of Lincoln.

Population: 45,792
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.4
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 10.1

Walnut

Ranked as one of the top one hundred best places to live in both 2009 and 2011 by Money, Walnut is part of Los Angeles County and is located between the mountain range of the San Jose Hills to the north and the Puente Hills to the south.

Population: 30,282
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.0
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 9.7

Guadalupe

Part of Santa Barbara County and located immediately south of the Santa Maria River, Guadalupe is a mostly flat town with the land dominated for agricultural and oil production use with small hills rising toward the south where, just beyond, the Vandenberg Air Force Base is located.

Population: 7,260
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):1.4
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 9.4

Atherton

Originally known as Fair Oaks, the town was once a flag stop on the California Coast Line of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1923, when the town was incorporated, it was renamed in honor of Faxon Dean Atherton, who had been one of the first to own property in the area.

Population: 7,221
Violent Crime Rates (per 1,000):0.4
Property Crime Rates (per 1,000): 10.4

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Don’t See Your City?

If you live in California, you may not find your community included in our list of safest places to live. This may be due to one or more factors including our exclusion of towns with incomplete data reported to the FBI or a population below 2,500 residents. Towns not meeting this criteria, were unable to be included in our ranking at this time. If you’re curious what other cities made our Safest Places list you can view the Top 100 below. If you’d like more information on the crime data for the state of California you can visit the FBI Website.

1. Imperial
2. Rancho Santa Margarita
3. Stallion Springs
4. Aliso Viejo
5. Laguna Woods
6. Monte Sereno
7. Los Altos Hills6
8. Moorpark
9. Kensington
10. Hillsborough
11. Lake Shastina
12. Palos Verdes Estates
13. Moraga
14. Sierra Madre
15. Mission Viejo
16. Laguna Niguel
17. Ione
18. Lake Forest
19. Saratoga
20. Clayton
21. Orinda
22. Poway
23. San Ramon
24. St. Helena
25. Danville
26. La Habra Heights
27. Lincoln
28. Walnut
29. Guadalupe
30. Atherton
31. Los Altos
32. Fillmore
33. Yorba Linda
34. Soledad
35. Calabasas
36. Truckee
37. San Clemente
38. Foster City
39. Rancho Palos Verdes
40. Tiburon
41. Agoura Hills
42. Maywood
43. San Juan Capistrano
44. Avenal
45. Windsor
46. Hercules
47. Canyon Lake
48. Irvine
49. Temple City
50. Oakley
51. Santa Clarita
52. Broadmoor
53. Thousand Oaks
54. Williams
55. Diamond Bar
56. Mill Valley
57. Cotati
58. Simi Valley
59. Twentynine Palms
60. Murrieta
61. Chino Hills
62. La Puente
63. Calistoga
64. Gonzales
65. La Mirada
66. Rolling Hills Estates
67. City of Angels
68. Villa Park6
69. Goleta
70. Belmont
71. Wheatland
72. Buellton
73. Placentia
74. Novato
75. Dana Point
76. Camarillo
77. Laguna Hills
78. Fairfax
79. La Canada Flintridge
80. Solana Beach
81. Yountville
82. San Gabriel
83. Carpinteria
84. Dublin
85. La Palma
86. Cypress
87. Morgan Hill
88. Santee
89. Encinitas
90. San Marcos
91. Corcoran
92. Hawaiian Gardens
93. Glendale
94. Orange Cove
95. Solvang
96. Lawndale
97. Sunnyvale
98. San Marino
99. Orange
100. Newman
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