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The safety of a city has ripple effects throughout your life. It affects where you go to school, work, and play—and how safe you feel getting around to all of those places.
The safety of a city also impacts your overall wellbeing. The less safe you feel, the more stressed out and worried you are—on both a conscious and unconscious level. This constant stress to your nervous system interferes with the quality of your sleep.
Without quality sleep, you’ll feel grumpier and less focused. This lowers your quality of life on a daily basis. In the long-term, chronic sleep deprivation can put you at increased risk for serious health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
As you can see, the safety of your city is a big deal. At Tuck, we understand how your sense of safety impacts your sleep, and we’re here to help people sleep better. That’s why we set out to find the safest cities in America.
We didn’t stop there. Since it’s the most populous state in the nation (Texas is behind by a neat 11 million), we felt California deserved special attention. And whether you’re moving to California or already live there, you deserve to know how safe your city of residence is.
Relying on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the FBI, we found the five safest and least safe cities in California. Read on to learn how we selected our cities and see where your city stacks up.
|Safest Cities in California||Least Safe Cities in California|
For an official list of California cities, we looked to the United States Census Bureau. The U.S. Census is performed every ten years. In the interim, the Bureau provides population estimates for each year. We referenced their 2017 Population Estimation for California, and narrowed our list to cities with a population of 20,000 or more.
Then, we sourced the crime rates for each of those cities, using the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program data for 2016. While the FBI has released some data for the first half of 2017, we elected to use the 2016 report since it is the most recent, comprehensive report covering an entire year.
The FBI’s UCR is based on data that is voluntarily submitted by 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the U.S. If a California city didn’t submit information to the UCR, we removed that city from our list.
Our final list came to 57 cities in total. We ranked these according to their crime rate.
The FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) provides crime rates for several types of crimes. We calculated the number of crimes committed per 10K residents for each of the below categories of crime:
While the FBI classifies burglary as a sub-type of property crime, we felt it was important to analyze on its own. Burglary occurs in the home, where we sleep, and how safe we feel in our own home significantly colors our overall sense of safety.
Based on these crime rates, we determined the safest and least safe cities in California.
The good news is that both violent and property crimes in the Golden State are at historic lows.
The bad news is that they’re still above the national average. California’s property crime and burglary rates are slightly above the national average, while California’s violent crime rate is nearly 15% higher than the national average. However, California’s homicide rate is slightly below the national average.
|Type of Crime||California Crime Rate (per 100K residents)||National Crime Rate (per 100K residents)|
Below we reveal our rankings for the top five safest cities in California. All five of these cities boast the lowest rates of violent crime, property crime, and burglary in the Golden State. These are all decently sized cities, too, ranging in population from 75,000 to nearly 300,000.
If you’re lucky enough to call one of these California cities home, you can sleep easy at night, knowing you live somewhere safe. Read on to discover why these cities are the safest places to live in California.
San Ramon is the safest city in California. This Northern California city of 75,931 has the lowest crime rate across all three categories.
San Ramon’s violent crime rate is only 5.1 per 10K residents, which is nearly 9 times less than the state average. Property crime rate is also low here, at only 107.02 per 10K residents, which is less than half the state average. Burglaries are even more rare, occurring at a rate of 18.21 per 10K residents, which is over 2.5 times below the state average.
In addition to its safety, the city of San Ramon has also received awards as one of the best places to live—not just in California, but in the entire country. The city has a suburban feel, with lots of parks, top-rated schools, and a low unemployment rate, thanks to its proximity to the Bay Area. The town continues to invest in itself, with a brand new downtown city center about to open.
Located just north of Los Angeles, the Southern California town of Thousand Oaks is called sleepy, and for good reason. This city of 128,995 has some of the lowest crime rates in the state.
Thousand Oaks has the second lowest property and burglary crime rates in California, at 129.84 and 20.95 per 10K residents, respectively. Both of these are both well below half the state and national averages. The violent crime rate here is the tenth lowest in the state, at 12.63 per 10K residents.
The city relies on a strong community-police relationship, with several safety programs that are volunteer-run to improve the safety of streets near school and reduce incidents of speeding.
Sadly, Thousand Oaks was the victim of a high profile mass shooting in fall of 2018, so we will likely see that have an effect on its crime rates in upcoming years.
Not only is Irvine one of the safest cities in California, it’s one of the safest cities in the entire country. The city of 266,663 has the second lowest violent crime rate in California, at 5.7 per 10K residents, which is just slightly higher than our #1 pick of San Ramon.
Irvine’s property crime rate is the fourth lowest in the state, at 140.14 per 10K resident. This Orange County city also has the third lowest burglary rate, at 24 per 10K residents, just over the state’s average.
Irvine has enjoyed its safest city ranking since the early 2000s, which local university professors attribute to its wealth and highly-educated population. The average household income here is $97.5K and over two-thirds of residents are college graduates. As studies show, wealth (or lack of it) is also correlated to the quality of your sleep.
Life is sunny in Sunnyvale, and not just because it enjoys 260 days of sunshine each year. Sunnyvale residents also enjoy low crime rates. Sunnyvale holds the fourth lowest violent crime rate in California, at 10.25 per 10K residents, which is over 4 times below the state average.
This Bay Area city of 153,656 also has the third lowest property crime rate in California, at 139 per 10K residents. That’s well below half the state and national averages. Burglaries are relatively rare in Sunnyvale, too, at a rate of 33.74 per 10K residents.
Sunnyvale has a unique approach to public safety, wherein officers are cross-trained in police, fire, and emergency medical services. The city also supports the community through a large number of volunteer-run crime prevention programs.
Rounding out our list of the safest California cities is Glendale. Nestled between Los Angeles and the San Gabriel mountains, Glendale’s population of 203,054 enjoys beautiful scenery and low crime rates.
This Southern California city has the sixth lowest violent crime rate in the state, at 11.19 per 10K residents. That’s four times below the state average.
As the fifth lowest in the state, property crime here is well below the state average here, too, at 170 per 10K residents. Glendale’s burglary rate is the ninth lowest in the state, at 29.37 per 10K residents.
Glendale attributes its high safety ranking to the responsiveness of their police department, their focus on crime prevention education, and a “Community First” approach to policing. To further reduce property crime, the city has a Business Watch program in addition to Neighborhood Watch.
Below we reveal the cities at the bottom of our list. With the highest rates of violent, property, and burglary crime in California, these cities represent the state’s least safest places to live.
With such high crime rates, some of these cities, such as Oakland, are also some of the most dangerous cities in the country. Read on to learn more about these cities and understand why they’re the most dangerous cities in California.
With the highest rates of both violent crime and property crime in California, Oakland is the least safe city in California, and one of the least safe in America.
At 564 property crimes per 10K residents, Oakland’s property crime rate is more than double the state and national averages. The burglary rate in Oakland is the ninth highest in the state, at 68.24 per 10K residents. The violent crime rate in Oakland, at 143 per 10K residents, is over three times higher the state and national averages.
However, the city is making efforts to reduce crime, and early data show those efforts are paying off. Oakland’s Ceasefire program aims to prevent gun violence, and 2017’s murder rate was the lowest it’s been in over 30 years.
North of San Francisco, Vallejo is home to 122,105, and the highest burglary rate in California. The burglary rate here is 193.47, which is over 4 times the state and national averages. It’s also 78% higher than the city with the next highest burglary rate, which is San Bernardino.
At 393 per 10K residents, Vallejo’s property crime rate is the tenth highest in the state, and over 50% higher than the state average. Vallejo also has the fifth highest violent crime rate in California, at 86 per 10K residents.
Vallejo is another city that suffered from the 2008 recession, with a rising homeless population. Nearly 17% of its residents live below the poverty level. However, recent years have seen some revitalization in the city, as people are taking advantage of the cheap real estate and building new businesses.
As a rich, prospering city, it may surprise some to find San Francisco on our list of the least safe cities in California. However, this city of 884,363 is also a major tourist destination, which can make it attractive for criminals (a trend we saw with our ranking of the safest cities in Florida).
San Francisco holds the ninth highest violent crime rate in California, at 71 per 10K residents, nearly double the state average. Golden Gate City has the second highest property crime rate, at 544 per 10K residents, and the third highest burglary rate, at 102.62 per 10K residents. Both of these are roughly double the state average.
While property crime has been declining nationally, it’s risen in San Francisco in recent years across the board: for burglaries, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. City officials are working to eliminate legislative obstacles that make it difficult for them to prosecute property crimes.
With a population of 216,995, San Bernardino ranks fourth on our list of the least safe cities in California. This Inland Empire city, just east of Los Angeles, holds the state’s third highest violent crime rate, at 132 per 10K residents. That’s nearly three times above the state average.
Burglaries are common in San Bernardino. The city holds the state’s second highest burglary rate, at 108.28 per 10K residents, and the seventh highest property crime rate, at 422 per 10K residents.
Just under 20% of San Bernardino’s residents live below the poverty level. The city itself filed for bankruptcy in 2012, and the economy hasn’t quite recovered from the 2008 recession, resulting in a growing homeless population and cuts to services like law enforcement. Unfortunately, poorer cities tend to be less safe.
Last year, San Bernardino police launched a new program, modeled after the ones used in cities like Oakland, to reduce gun violence and foster better relationships with at-risk segments of the community.
Located in California’s Central Valley, Modesto rounds out our list of the most dangerous cities in California. The county seat of Stanislaus County has a population of 214,221 and relatively high crime rates for a city of its size.
Modesto has the fourth highest violent crime rate, at 99 per 10K residents, which is more than double the state and national averages. The city has the fifth highest property crime rate, at 438 per 10K residents, and the tenth highest burglary rate, at 66.75 per 10K residents.
Like many unsafe cities, Modesto has a high amount of people suffering from poverty and unemployment. Over 18% of residents live below the poverty level. The unemployment rate in Modesto is currently above 5%, a full percentage point higher than the state average.
Now that you know the top five safe and least safe cities in California, you may be wondering how your own city stacks up when it comes to safety. See where your city ranks by viewing our full rankings below.
To compare your city’s crime rates, here’s a reminder of the state and national averages for each type of crime:
If your city wasn’t large enough to be included in our list, you can still view your crime rates in the FBI’s UCR.
|Rank||City||2017 USCB Population Estimate||Violent Crimes per 10K residents||Property Crimes per 10K residents||Burglaries per 10K residents|
The rankings above represent the top five safe and least safe cities in California, according to the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report for violent crime, property crime, and burglaries. On the whole, California is less safe than other states, with nearly a 15% higher violent crime rate and nearly a 4% higher property crime rate than the national averages.
However, there are many places in California that are very safe, not just when compared to the Golden State but compared to the rest of the country. Cities like San Ramon, Irvine, and Sunnyvale have thriving economies, engaged law enforcement, and access to employment opportunities both within their city limits and nearby.
By contrast, with the exception of San Francisco, many of California’s more dangerous cities are still reeling with homelessness and unemployment from the Great Recession that’s made their cities less safe.
The good news is that cities on both of our rankings—the safest and the least safe cities in California—are working to reduce crime rates and make life safer for their residents.
Now that you’re aware of the safest cities in California, learn about the safest cities in the rest of the country at the links below. You can also compare our safe city rankings to the best and worst cities for sleep.