Southern California is one of the best places to live on earth. But not all of its cities and towns are equally safe. So, which of SoCal’s cities are the safest to live in 2021? Find out here.
According to a recent study, a mere 40% of Californians feel safe in their state, while the majority 56% say they feel concerned for their safety on a daily basis. These numbers, while somewhat shocking, do not tell the whole story. The golden state, and Southern California in particular, is home to some of the safest cities in the entire country, but also some of the most dangerous.
Consequently, if you are thinking of moving to Southern California, or relocating within the area, you simply cannot leave things up to chance, lest you join the unsafe majority. Don’t fret; we’ve got you covered. For more helpful lists check out our Top Suburbs in Orange County, Top 10 Best Neighborhoods in SoCal, and the Most Affordable and Safe Cities in LA County.
What determines the ‘safest’ city?
When asking, ‘what is the safest city in Southern California,’ of course crime rates are crucial. But safety is about more than that. Accordingly, the list below considers not only violent crime rates from the FBI, but additional factors like affluence, education, and green spaces, as well as the sense of community that holds cities together.
So, let’s get started!
The Safest Cities in Southern California in 2021
In 2020, Irvine was named the safest city in California, before following up the honor by ranking as the second safest city in America in 2021. Quite simply, Irvine is not only one of the safest cities to live in Southern California, but in the entire country.
Unsurprisingly, a city with such a foundation also finds itself highly ranked in other categories. Over the past year, Irvine has been rated in the top ten healthiest cities and best cities to raise a family nationwide, while being named the best place to start a business in California.
Taking a more all-encompassing view of safety, it is interesting to note that Irvine has also been named one of the greenest cities in America on numerous occasions, thanks to its longstanding commitment to the environment which was a part of the city’s original planning. With all that’s made of the dangerous impacts of climate change, it can probably be said that the safest cities in the future will be the greenest ones.
Looking for the best of Irvine? Check out Turtle Rock.
What makes Manhattan Beach’s crime rate even more impressive than it might initially appear is the city’s proximity to Los Angeles, which FEMA called the most dangerous place to live in the United States. To be one of the safest while neighboring the most dangerous seems doubly impressive. Better still, the Manhattan Beach Police Department reports that the city’s crime rates have decreased every year since 2015.
Yet, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Manhattan Beach is one of the safest cities in Southern California since it is also one of the state’s wealthiest and most prestigious. In other words, Manhattan Beach is both one of the most exclusive places to live in Southern California, and also one of its safest.
The city of nearly 70,000 was ranked among the top ten safest cities in California in 2021. This is thanks to the strong sense of community it has intentionally built over the years through city programs and projects.
It is part of Yorba Linda’s small-town charm that people know their neighbors and take pride in their city, making safety not just an individual imperative, but a point of community pride.
But then again, who can think about committing a crime when surrounded by the natural beauty of Yorba Linda’s 100 miles of equestrian, biking, and walking trails?
Did you know: Yorba Linda did not even have its own police department until 2012.
Aliso Viejo is an idyllic inland city of about 50,000 people located in the San Joaquin Hills. The city’s tagline is “Live Life Inspired,” and in many ways, this freedom of inspiration is facilitated by the city’s renowned safety.
Year after year, Aliso Viejo consistently ranks as one of the safest places to live in California, making its way into the top five in 2021. In fact, Aliso Viejo’s crime rates are even lower than Irvine, of which it is a suburb, making it arguably the safest city in Orange County.
Combine this safety with the city’s many parks and hiking areas, award-winning schools, and easy access to popular Laguna Beach, and it is no surprise that many see Aliso Viejo as the perfect environment for growing families. Nearby cities including Mission Viejo and Laguna Niguel also ranked on our top list of Orange County suburbs to live in.
Find your ‘perfect environment.’
Rancho Santa Margarita
Rancho Santa Margarita, or “RSM,” as it is known by locals, is a small community nestled in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Originally planned as an “urban village,” Rancho Santa Margarita was designed to offer the best of two worlds – the best amenities of a small city with a high quality of life and more rural existence. In fact, back in 1996, the burgeoning city laid out its official vision statement – “A Small City with the Soul of a Small Village.”
Today, this dream has been realized. The city is known as a place to escape the hustle and bustle of Southern California’s faster-paced areas, loaded with parks and hiking trails and spectacular views, but also unique shops and restaurants.
Of course, a key factor in the quality of life of an ‘urban village’ is its safety, and accordingly, Rancho Santa Margarita has been recognized as the safest city in California with a population between 20,000 and 100,000.
Explore what ‘urban village’ living is all about.
Palos Verdes Estates
The Palos Verdes Peninsula may not receive the same recognition from tourists as places like Santa Monica, Malibu, or Newport Beach, but that’s kind of the point. Despite its location a mere 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, the area feels as out-of-the-way as anywhere in Southern California. It feels remote, and locals like it that way.
The first of four Palos Verdes cities created including Rancho Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates has been one of the hidden gems in SoCal since the 1930s. The city features a stunning selection of custom-built Spanish-style estates overlooking what USA Today called “the best coastal views in Los Angeles County.”
But perhaps the greatest benefit of existing off the beaten path is safety, the ability to create something unique, outside of and apart from the encroaching invisible hand of modernity. In fact, Palos Verdes Estates was named the #3 safest suburb in California in 2021. And like its neighbor Irvine some 40 miles to the east, Palos Verdes Estates builds on its safety to achieve high rankings in a variety of other categories. It is rated within the top 15 suburbs with the best public schools in California, as well as the best suburbs to raise a family, and the best places to retire.
Explore the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Moorpark locals like to joke that there is nothing much to do in their town in Ventura. Of course, this is not totally true, but tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation serves a purpose. Through professed inadequacy, Moorpark residents express the comfort that comes with being continually ranked as one of the safest cities in California.
In reality, far from boring, Moorpark might be the best city for outdoor enthusiasts in Southern California. With its 19 parks and thousands of acres of state-protected green space, the city holds the rare distinction of having more parks than it does develop space (a 16:12 ratio, in case you were wondering). With safety and a natural sanctuary, Moorpark has been named one of the top 10 best places to raise a family in California in 2021.
And for those who really can’t find anything to do in this outdoor paradise, well, simply hop on the Metrolink at Moorpark’s station and travel to any of Southern California’s busier centers in minutes.
Remember, safety first!
If you’re thinking about moving to Southern California or relocating within the area, don’t leave your safety up to chance. Our experts can help guide you to the safest locales for your next home. Contact us today to get started.