8 Safest Cities in California in 2023 (with Pictures)
Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
California, also fondly known as the Golden State, is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. Home to world-famous attractions like Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland, the numerous vineyards, many national parks, and some of the most beautiful beaches in North America, it almost goes without saying that California is also amongst the most desirable places to live. As the most culturally diverse state in the United States, California is a melting pot within a melting pot with so many ethnic hubs throughout, offering an eclectic array of cultures, languages, and food for people to explore and enjoy. The Golden State is also diverse in its various climates, with five of the world’s major climates within close proximity. The wide variety that California has to offer both its residents and visitors is what makes California residences so highly coveted, not to mention highly priced.
That all being said, California is so large, vast, and diverse that narrowing down which areas best suit you takes some research and a closer look at various factors. Of these factors, the safety of any given area is a primary concern worthy of further investigation, whether planning to pay a visit or deciding which Californian cities are ideal to plant roots. Of course, safety is of the utmost priority when deciding where to make a home.
Lucky for you, we’ve taken care of the hard part of researching and compiling a list of California’s top 8 safest cities. Along with this list, we’ve provided a detailed breakdown of the different factors and criteria used to determine each city’s safety ranking – including total crime rate, violent crime rate, property crime rate, population, and median household income.
The 8 Safest Cities in California: A Quick Look
1. Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
- Population: 48,377
- Median household income: $115,073
- Violent crime rate in 2021: 0.6
- Property crime rate in 2021: 6.1
- Total crime rate in 2021: 6.7
Ranked as the safest city in California as recently as October 2021, Rancho Santa Margarita is in southern California in Orange County. Last year, Rancho Santa Margarita had a reassuringly low total crime rate of 6.7 per 1,000 people, of which only 0.6 consisted of violent crime and 6.7 was made up of property crime. Compared to a total crime rate of 7.4 in both 2019 and 2020, overall crime in Rancho Santa Margarita has evidently decreased in recent years.
Aside from its crime rate, other demographic factors of the city are worthy of consideration. All in all, many of Rancho Santa Margarita’s residents are college-educated, with more people holding bachelor’s degrees or higher compared to other cities in California. As recently as June 2021, the median household income of Rancho Santa Margarita was recorded at just above $115,000, showing the overall wealth demographic of its residents. Likewise, with a multitude of homeowners’ associations throughout the city indicating more homeowners than renters, it is safe to say most people living in Rancho Santa Margarita are more long-term than temporary residents and likely more invested in preserving the security of their city as well.
2. Moorpark, CA
- Population: 36,826
- Median household income: $104,839
- Violent crime rate in 2021: 0.7
- Property crime rate in 2021: 6.2
- Total crime rate in 2021: 6.9
Coming in as the first runner-up for safest cities in California is Moorpark, located in Ventura County. Although it is one of the fastest-growing cities, Moorpark has a considerably smaller population than the other cities on this list, consisting of right around 37,000 people. With such a low total crime rate of 6.9 per 1,000 people, of which 0.7 makes up violent crime and 6.2 makes up property crime, it’s no wonder Moorpark is rapidly growing as it is the second safest city to live in the state. Likewise, it has the lowest number of committed crimes within Ventura County and is also nationally recognized as one of the safest cities of its size within the United States. Especially in comparison to a total crime rate of 10.3 and 7.9 in 2019 and 2020, respectively, Moorpark’s overall crime has been on a consistent decline in recent years.
Its median household income is just shy of $105,000, with 39.7% of its residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. The city is also home to Moorpark College and provides an easy commute to other accredited universities, including California State University Northridge, California State University Channel Islands, and Pepperdine University, which may attribute to the relatively high percentage of college-educated residents and perhaps the community’s value in higher education in general.
3. Danville, CA
- Population: 44,997
- Median household income: $152,714
- Violent crime rate in 2021: 0.5
- Property crime rate in 2021: 6.6
- Total crime rate in 2021: 7.1
Danville comes in third on this list, following Rancho Santa Margarita and Moorpark, which both had slightly lower crime rates. With a violent crime rate and property crime rate of 0.5 and 6.6, respectively, Danville’s total crime rate of 7.1 is refreshingly low and reassuring of its overall safety as a community, especially as it compares to its declining total crime rates of 8.2 in 2019 and 7.6 in 2020.
Known for its small-town charm, with a current population just shy of 55,000 people, Danville is in Contra County, California. It is a notably upscale area with a median household income of more than $150,000. The cost of living in Danville is more than double the national average income, which goes to show the safety of living in this affluent city comes at a price. If a small-town atmosphere mixed with an upscale quality of life is what you are looking for, Danville may be right up your alley.
4. Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
- Population: 41,961
- Median household income: $133,286
- Violent crime rate in 2021: 0.7
- Property crime rate in 2021: 7.5
- Total crime rate in 2021: 8.2
Aside from ranking as the fourth safest Californian city to live in, Rancho Palos Verdes has so much to offer its residents as well as its passers-by. It almost goes without saying that a community located along the gorgeous coastal bluffs of Southern California can cost quite a pretty penny. This is evident from the city’s median household income of just above $130,000, along with the fact that its property values are some of the most expensive in the state. But as its safety is our focal point and the whole purpose of this list, it should be noted that both its violent crime and property crime rates for 2021 were comfortingly low – coming in at 0.7 and 7.5, respectively, for a combined total crime rate of 8.2. Comparatively, its total crime rate in 2020 was 11.3, which shows a significant decline in the city’s crime in recent years.
With a population of almost 42,000, Rancho Palos Verdes combines laidback coastal vibes with an upscale grandeur and quality of life and is even home to some notable celebrities, including Rod Stewart, Liza Minelli, Joe Montana, and Deepak Chopra. Located in Los Angeles County, Rancho Palos Verdes provides the perfect balance between being remotely tucked away along the coast of the Palos Verdes peninsula while also being close enough to all the action and excitement that LA has to offer. If you’re looking for the perfect blend of beachy meets luxury, Rancho Palos Verdes may be the safe yet lavish new Californian city for you to call home.
5. Lake Forest, CA
- Population: 86,691
- Median household income: $104,449
- Violent crime rate in 2021: 0.8
- Property crime rate in 2021: 7.9
- Total crime rate in 2021: 8.7
Our next city has climbed up the ranks of safest cities a whole 12 places since 2020 to now place as the fifth safest city in California. Another Orange County city, Lake Forest has a population of almost 87,000, the highest population of cities on this list. Its high safety ranking can be attributed to its low total crime rate of 8.7 in 2021, which consists of a violent crime rate of 0.8 and a property crime rate of 7.9. In 2019 and 2020, the total crime rate in Lake Forest was 10.6 and 10.8, respectively. Having dropped 2.1 in the last year, the significant decline in overall crime further reinforces the safety of this community.
Lake Forest is a suburban community nestled between two artificial lakes (hence its unique name) tucked away in the Saddleback Valley Mountains in Central Southern California while still being just nine miles from the coast. Its prime location makes it an ideal destination for a variety of recreational activities, including outdoor sporting, hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, along with over 20 beautiful public parks including Whiting Ranch Wilderness and Heritage Hill Historical County parks. Despite its larger population, Lake Forest still has a modest and remote feel centered around nature and outdoor recreation, making it a safe and ideal location for anyone who enjoys this scenery and the relaxed pace of life.
6. Aliso Viejo, CA
- Population: 52,247
- Median household income: $108,558
- Violent crime rate in 2021: 0.5
- Property crime rate in 2021: 8.3
- Total crime rate in 2021: 8.8
Yet another Orange County city to make the cut, Aliso Viejo is in the San Joaquin Hills of southern California. With a population of over 52,000, Aliso Viejo has a suburban community feel, with the benefits of urban life conveniently accessible nearby in its neighboring cities of Laguna Beach and Laguna Niguel. Safety-wise, its total crime rate of 8.8 follows ever-so-slightly behind Lake Forest’s rate of 8.7, with a 0.5 violent crime rate and 8.3 property crime rate as of 2021. However, with a significantly smaller population in comparison, it can arguably be considered a safer city in terms of a per capita comparison. It should also be noted that Aliso Viejo’s total crime rate decreased from 9.3 in 2020, showing a steady decline in overall crime in recent years.
Additionally, Aliso Viejo is a nature lover’s haven as it is home to countless rare and endangered animals and plants, including loads of sycamore trees, from which the city derives its name (Aliso Viejo means “Old Sycamore” in Spanish). With easy access to the Orange County trail system, including the Wood Canyon Wilderness Park, an abundance of public parks, and a variety of recreational youth activities and sports programs to choose from, it’s no wonder Aliso Viejo is ranked one of the safest and best places to live in California, where residents can truly embody the city’s tagline to “Live life inspired.”
7. Laguna Niguel, CA
- Population: 66,671
- Median household income: $103,910
- Violent crime rate in 2021: 0.6
- Property crime rate in 2021: 9.1
- Total crime rate in 2021: 9.7
Laguna Niguel is a hillside town in Orange County. As the city borders the aforementioned Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo, it is safe to say this general area is comparable with regard to overall safety. Its total crime rate in 2021 was 9.7, which was made up of a 0.6 and 9.1 violent crime and property crime rates, respectively. When compared to the city’s total crime rate of 10.8 in 2020, it is reassuring to see a significant drop in overall crime over the span of just one year. Another affluent community in which most residents own their homes, Laguna Niguel has a median household income of over $100,000, which is nearly double the national average.
The city has much to offer as far as fine dining, shopping, and entertainment, in addition to more down-to-earth recreational and cultural activities and programs for both residents and visitors to partake in. From the hilltops of Laguna Niguel, you can enjoy coastal views of Laguna Beach just a few miles away, while also enjoying the extensive parks and trail system that makes up one-third of the city’s designated open space.
8. Yorba Linda, CA
- Population: 68,225
- Median household income: $129,391
- Violent crime rate in 2021: 0.6
- Property crime rate in 2021: 9.2
- Total crime rate in 2021: 9.8
Finally on our list is—low-and-behold—another Orange County city, Yorba Linda, CA. With a violent crime rate of 0.6 and a property crime rate of 9.2 combined for a total crime rate of 9.8 per 1,000 people, Yorba Linda’s overall concern for crime is rather low for its population of over 68,000. Especially when compared to the city’s total crime rate of 12.4 just the year before, seeing such a significant drop in rating by 3.2 from 2020 to 2021 further reinforces how much safer this city has become recently regarding overall crime.
Yorba Linda can best be described as a residential community of single-family homes on sizable lots, as it is a rather prosperous city with just below $130,000 as its median household income. Yorba Linda’s affluence is also demonstrated by the city’s commitment and focus on equestrian activities, as it is home to not one, not two, but three state-of-the-art equestrian arenas, in addition to 100 miles of equestrian, biking, and walking trails. Those who can afford to make Yorba Linda their next home would surely enjoy its safety and security while relishing in the affluence and community-oriented lifestyle the city has to offer.
How to Stay Safe in California
Based on the above list of safest cities in California, along with the detailed breakdown of factors such as the total crime rate and general expectations of each city, there are some consistent trends we can attribute to the overall safety of these cities and perhaps others as well. The topic we covered in most detail was the total crime rate of each city – specifically, the city’s violent crime rate and property crime rate combined. In 2021, SafeWise reported 54% of Californians stated violent crimes were a top concern, as the state has a higher violent crime rate than the country. Although both violent crime and property crime rates have dropped consistently in recent years, both are still higher than the national average that, naturally, gives way for concern. It should be noted, however, that violent crime rates in all eight cities listed are below 1 per 1,000 people. In fact, the property crime rates are what make up the bulk of the total crime rate of each city, which are all still relatively low when compared to other less-safe cities in California.
Other demographic factors likely contribute to the overall safety of these cities as well. For example, both the violent crime and property crime rates of these eight cities being so low are more than likely related to them being such affluent communities with median household incomes well above the national average. Naturally, more upscale cities can afford to take more security measures to keep the crime rates low and the community safe. Another factor to consider is the general quality of life of each city – including popular sites and attractions it has to offer, activities and programs available to its community, and the general lifestyle of its residents. While seemingly arbitrary, these are important factors to consider when sizing up a new city, as its community’s interests and values can be very telling of the types of people you may have as new neighbors and whether you feel safe and at ease among them.
While the eight cities we’ve listed may not be reasonably within everyone’s budget or general preferences for a new hometown, there are some valuable takeaways we can gather for consideration when looking for a home in California (or elsewhere, for that matter):
- The total crime within a city is a major indication of how safe you and your loved ones will feel living there.
- Finding a generally well-off area that you can comfortably afford will more than likely translate into the overall safety of your new community as well.
- Feeling out a city also requires feeling out its people, as well as what is available to you should you choose to make it your home. While safety is of the utmost concern, your level of comfort and adaptability to somewhere new will also largely contribute to your overall sense of security and happiness living there.
See Also: 10 Safest Cities In Rhode Island
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay