Best Places for Young Families in Northern California

Best Places for Young Families in Northern California
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Northern California has a reputation for pricey living, but young families are still finding affordable homes and good public schools in the suburbs of Sacramento and Fresno, as well as areas east of San Francisco.

Half of the 10 best places for young families in Northern California are clustered in suburbs of the state capital, NerdWallet found. Three other communities in our top 10 are in the east part of the Bay Area, where the technology industry is booming, and two are farther south, in the Fresno area.

NerdWallet’s analysis

By comparing factors such as home values, education, income growth and a crime risk score, NerdWallet identified the best places to start your search for the Northern California community that’s right for you and your family. We crunched the data for 202 places in Northern California — cities, towns and census-designated places with at least 10,000 residents. Not every place got top marks in all the categories we looked at, and housing affordability is an issue in some places.

Key takeaways

Family-friendly places came in pairs: Three sets of spots on the top 10 list are neighboring places — Rocklin and Roseville; El Dorado Hills and Folsom; and Dublin and San Ramon.

Second “bests”: Half of the cities on this year's top 10 list also appeared on NerdWallet’s lists of the Best Cities for Young Families in Northern California 2014 or the Best Cities for Young Families in California 2014.

Best places for young families in Northern California

1. El Dorado Hills

El Dorado Hills, just east of Sacramento, earned a crime risk score of “most safe,” the highest possible mark. Homes aren’t cheap here — the median home value is $472,000, compared with the Northern California median of $304,650 — but median family income here is high, too, at $129,292. El Dorado Hills students are served by Buckeye Union School District, Rescue Union School District and El Dorado Union High School District. Top community attractions include El Dorado Hills Town Center and the area’s more than 200 acres of parks and open space.

2. Folsom

Folsom’s claim to fame may be its prison, but this suburban Sacramento city has a lot to offer families as well. Median family income in Folsom is high at $116,527, and it’s a community with plenty of young families — 30% of families include at least one child under the age of 18. Folsom earns a “safe” crime score, and poverty rates are low. Folsom Cordova Unified School District serves students in the area. The city offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor recreation, and family attractions nearby include the historic district’s Sutter Street, the Folsom Railway Museum, Folsom’s Pioneer Village and the Harris Center for the Arts.

3. San Ramon

Living in San Ramon isn’t cheap; the San Francisco East Bay suburb’s median home value of $722,700 is the highest in our top 10. But families in the Contra Costa County city also earn a high median income of $151,494. San Ramon’s crime risk score is “most safe,” the highest possible, and 43% of families include at least one child under 18, the most in our top 10. Students here attend the award-winning San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Attractions in San Ramon include the San Ramon Performing Arts Center, the San Ramon Art & Wind Festival as well as the city’s many trails and parks. San Ramon recently began a $4.45 million expansion and renovation of its main library, which will reopen in early 2017.

4. Dublin

Dublin, San Ramon's neighbor in Alameda County, is located on the BART train line, allowing for a car-free commute to the East Bay and San Francisco, and its crime risk score of “most safe” is the highest possible. Median family income grew 54.88% in Dublin from 1999 to 2014, the second-highest amount in our top 10. The Dublin Unified School District is expanding: A new kindergarten complex at James Dougherty Elementary School is scheduled to be completed in fall 2017, and a new K-8 school in the Jordan Ranch development is scheduled to open in fall 2018. Each year Dublin hosts Splatter, a popular food, art and wine festival for the whole family. The city is home to a wide range of parks and open space areas, including the 654-acre Dublin Hills Regional Park.

5. Kingsburg

Kingsburg, in Fresno County, has the lowest median home value in our top 10, at $219,700. Median income grew a whopping 57.15% on average from 1999 to 2014, the highest such jump in our top 10. Kingsburg is a “less safe” city according to its crime score, which is just under the state median. Elementary schools in Kingsburg operate on a charter system, which also includes one junior high school and Central Valley Home School. Kingsburg High School operates its own school district. Kingsburg pays homage to its heritage with its Swedish Village and annual events including the Kingsburg Swedish Festival and Julgransfest Christmas Tree Lighting.

6. Roseville

Roseville, northeast of Sacramento in Placer County, is one of the biggest cities on the list, with a population of 124,250. Median family income grew 43.28% from 1999 to 2014, but one in eight families in poverty includes young children. Roseville City School District maintains one preschool, 14 elementary schools and four middle schools, and the Roseville Joint Union High School District serves more than 10,000 students. Attractions in Roseville include Vernon Street Town Square and Roseville Theatre Arts Academy, as well as 72 developed parks and facilities for outdoor recreation.

7. Rocklin

Directly adjacent to Roseville is Rocklin, one of the smallest cities in our top 10 — and also one of the safest. Although family income growth in Rocklin from 1999 to 2014 was a relatively low 27.27%, the city’s $92,000 median income is well above Northern California's median. Students here attend the Rocklin Unified School District, and the city maintains an abundance of outdoor areas including 30 parks and 200 acres of open space. Events in Rocklin include a Mini Maker Faire, the Rocklin Fall Festival and Woofstock Weekend. Community involvement is a priority in Rocklin: The city offers two annual sessions of the Rocklin Citizens Academy, a community education program providing insight into the inner workings of the local government.

8. Elk Grove

Elk Grove is the largest community in our top 10, with 158,455 residents. The city’s median home value of $269,600 is affordable compared to both Northern California at large and to other Sacramento-area communities in our top 10. Elk Grove Unified School District is one of the largest in the state, covering 320 square miles and serving more than 62,000 students. The city is home to over 90 parks, the Emerald Lakes Golf Course, an aquatic complex and swim center and trails for recreation. Annual events in Elk Grove include the Giant Pumpkin Festival, the Elk Grove Multicultural Festival, Elk Fest and the Art Americana Faire.

9. Clovis

Clovis, in the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno, is known as the “gateway to the Sierras.” Although median family income of $74,201 is above the Northern California median, more than one-quarter of families in poverty include young children, and the city’s crime score is “less safe.” Clovis Unified School District serves students in the area, and the Clovis Chamber of Commerce hosts a Young Entrepreneurs Academy for middle and high school students with business aspirations. Family-friendly activities and destinations include 285 acres of parks and trails, Wild Water Adventure Park, MB2 Raceway, a citywide rodeo and a hot air balloon festival.

10. Clayton

Clayton, in Contra Costa County, is the smallest city in the top 10 with a population of 11,328. Situated at the base of Mount Diablo, Clayton’s crime score rates “most safe,” the highest possible. The city’s proximity to San Francisco helps drive up both home values and family incomes to roughly double the Northern California median in each category. Students in Clayton attend schools within the Mount Diablo Unified School District or Clayton Valley Charter High School in Concord. Nearby Mount Diablo State Park is a destination for cyclists and hikers. Popular events include the Clayton Classic Golf Tournament, the Art and Wine Festival and Oktoberfest.

Best places for young families in Northern California

Scroll to the right in the table below to see all data categories.

Rank

Place

Population

SchoolDigger percentile rating

2014 median home value

Selected monthly owner costs

2014 median family income

1999-2014 income growth

Residents who are married with children

Families in poverty with young children

Crime risk rating

Final score

1

El Dorado Hills

43,862

92.57

$472,000

$3,014

$129,292

32.32%

35.7%

3.6%

Most Safe

68.49

2

Folsom

73,334

82.4

$393,600

$2,381

$116,527

41.33%

30%

3.8%

Safe

67.28

3

San Ramon

73,826

94.91

$722,700

$3,498

$151,494

42.49%

43.6%

0%

Most Safe

66.9

4

Dublin

49,694

86.31

$588,100

$3,083

$128,737

54.88%

32%

2.9%

Most Safe

66.72

5

Kingsburg

11,582

57.83

$219,700

$1,634

$70,305

57.15%

27.9%

10.6%

Less Safe

66.65

6

Roseville

124,250

76.53

$317,800

$2,159

$94,461

43.28%

26.2%

12.5%

Safe

65.31

7

Rocklin

59,002

82.21

$336,900

$2,261

$91,946

27.27%

28%

6.4%

Most Safe

65.1

8

Elk Grove

158,455

72.9

$269,600

$2,034

$84,732

32.25%

31.3%

11.2%

Safe

64.75

9

Clovis

98,815

72.23

$247,400

$1,918

$74,201

45.90%

25.6%

25.9%

Less Safe

64.6

10

Clayton

11,328

88.09

$583,300

$2,942

$141,623

31.81%

27.2%

0%

Most Safe

64.24

11

Salida

14,509

47.83

$187,900

$1,681

$80,594

34.07%

41.5%

9.8%

Most Safe

64.21

12

Susanville

16,537

58.49

$166,200

$1,538

$69,871

54.53%

18.1%

31.7%

Less Safe

63.92

13

Country Club

10,018

94.91

$126,100

$1,278

$50,168

16.36%

14.9%

53.5%

Least Safe

63.82

14

Sanger

24,587

49.19

$156,600

$1,244

$50,206

51.14%

27.8%

22.4%

Less Safe

63.77

15

Vineyard

25,640

72.9

$266,000

$1,945

$78,987

18.02%

33.1%

7.8%

Most Safe

63.51

16

Lincoln

44,397

54.76

$328,300

$2,075

$79,017

54.43%

21.3%

8.7%

Most Safe

63.22

17

Benicia

27,450

73.09

$424,000

$2,369

$113,235

45.22%

20.5%

21.4%

Most Safe

63.08

18

McKinleyville

16,448

74.53

$293,000

$1,925

$60,833

41.72%

18.1%

23.2%

Safe

62.93

19

Orinda

18,390

99.18

$987,200

$3,966

$213,021

60.73%

31.1%

0%

Most Safe

62.86

20

Discovery Bay

14,315

77.65

$386,500

$2,688

$114,085

26.38%

30.5%

12.3%

Most Safe

62.82

21

Ripon

14,645

71.11

$301,000

$2,231

$88,176

40.87%

25.3

16.6

Safe

62.8

22

Hercules

24,596

66.14

$372,900

$2,486

$113,447

37.99%

26

0

Most Safe

62.77

23

Truckee

16,191

77.83

$440,400

$2,609

$82,356

31.25%

26.7

0

Most Safe

62.6

24

Livingston

13,461

33.23

$164,600

$1,464

$51,912

52.96%

40.4

29.2

Most Safe

62.6

25

Soquel

10,275

74.44

$513,300

$2,763

$95,208

55.65%

21.4

6.6

Most Safe

62.45

26

American Canyon

20,089

58.59

$315,400

$2,371

$89,954

46.18%

35.8

0.5

Safe

62.4

27

Pacifica

38,283

81.09

$613,700

$2,811

$113,750

45.16%

22.7

0

Most Safe

61.93

28

Davis

66,093

82.91

$532,800

$2,500

$110,692

49.48%

19.8

8

Less Safe

61.92

29

Cameron Park

18,831

72.71

$336,900

$2,247

$86,690

30.80%

21.9

3.1

Most Safe

61.82

30

Winton

11,774

44.81

$96,900

$1,118

$41,203

38.11%

36.4

35.6

Less Safe

61.7

31

Orangevale

34,449

65.57

$262,000

$1,847

$80,068

31.64%

19.1

2.9

Safe

61.69

32

Cupertino

59,787

98.46

$1,000,000

$3,796

$158,053

44.40%

42

1

Most Safe

61.58

33

Fremont

221,654

78.56

$614,500

$2,753

$112,347

36.68%

36.5

2.6

Most Safe

61.27

34

Albany

19,020

91.99

$639,500

$3,042

$91,967

43.10%

33

15

Less Safe

61.14

35

Pleasanton

73,164

91.17

$732,100

$3,266

$140,311

36.49%

35.5

9.2

Most Safe

60.89

36

Pacific Grove

15,365

81.83

$673,900

$2,729

$93,302

56.63%

13.7

0

Safe

60.2

37

Windsor

27,113

53.61

$385,700

$2,277

$93,921

38.14%

30

0

Most Safe

60.01

38

Castro Valley

62,363

75.13

$539,200

$2,506

$97,572

33.55%

26.1

3.1

Most Safe

59.96

39

Brentwood

54,062

66.42

$365,300

$2,581

$100,925

33.23%

33.9

6.3

Safe

59.91

40

San Anselmo

12,527

94.08

$837,900

$3,437

$122,857

41.99%

24.3

0

Most Safe

59.59

41

Scotts Valley

11,711

91.3

$607,100

$3,120

$115,324

30.20%

28.7

0

Safe

59.53

42

West Sacramento

49,946

40.7

$248,000

$1,970

$62,905

72.95%

22.4

16.2

Less Safe

59.36

43

San Carlos

29,166

93.93

$939,600

$3,691

$158,853

52.79%

26.4

4.3

Most Safe

59.31

44

Kerman

14,110

38.2

$171,600

$1,470

$48,822

43.09%

38.9

30.1

Less Safe

59.3

45

Vacaville

93,994

59.21

$275,100

$2,004

$85,931

34.37%

20.7

8.5

Safe

59.05

46

Hanford

54,523

43.32

$171,600

$1,503

$59,543

43.84%

26.1

15.3

Least Safe

58.93

47

Sunnyvale

145,921

76.77

$748,700

$2,898

$117,982

44.53%

29.4

2.9

Most Safe

58.83

48

Piedmont

10,957

89.04

$1,000,000

$4,000

$247,171

64.94%

37.3

0

Less Safe

58.77

49

Belmont

26,503

92.4

$910,600

$3,626

$142,446

48.81%

27

0

Most Safe

58.58

50

Hillsborough

11,148

98.91

$1,000,000

$4,000

$250,000

25.00%

37.6

0

Most Safe

58.44

51

Chico

87,517

61.37

$263,100

$1,691

$60,195

39.74%

15.2

22.9

Less Safe

58.28

52

Shasta Lake

10,143

34.5

$160,100

$1,319

$50,343

52.51%

16.4

8.6

Less Safe

58.2

53

Livermore

83,901

72.37

$490,700

$2,717

$111,950

35.83%

26.3

5.4

Safe

58.18

54

Foster City

31,809

95.44

$850,800

$3,274

$130,566

23.06%

27.2

5.1

Most Safe

57.96

55

Yuba City

65,141

43.11

$188,500

$1,569

$56,734

44.06%

24.8

22.6

Less Safe

57.96

56

Anderson

10,066

42.11

$156,900

$1,178

$45,599

55.85%

15.8

38.1

Least Safe

57.88

57

Lafayette

24,685

96.67

$999,100

$4,000

$176,250

46.43%

32.6

0

Most Safe

57.59

58

Galt

24,280

47.38

$195,900

$1,780

$62,452

30.53%

30

17.4

Safe

57.48

59

Alum Rock

10,992

57.17

$395,000

$2,209

$71,050

31.89%

33.3

0

Safe

57.47

60

Live Oak

17,494

65.79

$524,800

$2,452

$82,611

54.10%

18.7

7.2

Less Safe

57.43

61

Soledad

26,008

38.74

$199,400

$1,738

$46,651

13.26%

44.7

4.1

Most Safe

57.34

62

Lemoore

24,788

55.24

$192,200

$1,751

$56,775

29.02%

22

19.7

Safe

57.32

63

Capitola

10,043

77.28

$477,200

$2,306

$81,133

36.42%

16.1

0

Least Safe

57.26

64

Reedley

24,858

45.34

$164,600

$1,339

$45,891

23.94%

31.5

26.3

Safe

57.19

65

Linda

18,634

35.08

$136,200

$1,365

$37,872

51.94%

27.8

47.3

Less Safe

57.17

66

Paradise

26,246

48.43

$201,800

$1,349

$56,119

36.12%

12.6

22.3

Safe

57.07

67

Saratoga

30,627

96.99

$1,000,000

$4,000

$197,332

27.11%

34.7

0

Most Safe

57.02

68

Stanford

13,506

96.2

$1,000,000

$4,000

$173,750

96.11%

17.9

13.6

Safe

56.94

69

Danville

42,891

90.13

$852,400

$3,640

$157,842

25.40%

33

0

Most Safe

56.92

70

Walnut Creek

65,923

87.84

$591,700

$2,897

$112,114

33.80%

17.3

5.5

Less Safe

56.91

71

Eureka

27,039

49.37

$240,900

$1,446

$50,807

51.94%

11

21.1

Least Safe

56.79

72

Placerville

10,415

62.41

$238,700

$1,818

$59,158

26.20%

16.7

10

Less Safe

56.77

73

Novato

53,451

74.04

$554,400

$2,757

$97,081

30.43%

22.9

6.1

Most Safe

56.49

74

Pleasant Hill

33,842

70.61

$513,000

$2,531

$108,900

37.85%

22.6

3.3

Least Safe

56.34

75

Oakley

37,391

45.85

$249,200

$2,108

$83,803

21.65%

29.9

1

Most Safe

56.15

76

Exeter

10,468

45.77

$159,500

$1,263

$46,295

25.01%

27.5

41.1

Safe

56.15

77

Tulare

60,663

40.45

$157,000

$1,393

$50,690

37.24%

27.8

32.7

Least Safe

55.82

78

Tamalpais-Homestead Valley

10,331

96.01

$976,200

$3,593

$162,628

33.15%

26.9

0

Most Safe

55.68

79

Redding

90,725

52.8

$221,800

$1,588

$56,506

37.27%

15.2

25.4

Least Safe

55.49

80

Greenfield

16,715

18.33

$174,200

$1,468

$49,544

39.48%

41.6

18.2

Safe

55.49

81

North Auburn

14,011

49.47

$248,400

$1,804

$60,637

30.63%

17.7

0

Safe

55.4

82

Los Altos

29,762

98.62

$1,000,000

$4,000

$190,938

28.84%

33.8

10.3

Most Safe

55.36

83

El Cerrito

24,136

68.55

$589,100

$2,776

$104,524

50.62%

19.8

0.6

Least Safe

55.34

84

Palo Alto

65,998

97.4

$1,000,000

$4,000

$167,440

42.41%

28.7

0

Safe

55.29

85

Alamo

15,639

97.02

$1,000,000

$4,000

$171,633

16.25%

36.2

8.4

Most Safe

55.25

86

Woodland

56,390

45.2

$254,200

$1,816

$66,901

37.40%

25

16

Less Safe

55.19

87

Petaluma

58,912

63.23

$438,100

$2,398

$89,400

25.64%

23.6

7.3

Most Safe

55.14

88

Milpitas

69,346

76.21

$547,100

$2,748

$102,005

20.25%

30.9

4.3

Less Safe

55.05

89

Oakdale

21,260

42.3

$199,000

$1,690

$60,861

38.25%

22.6

17.7

Least Safe

55.04

90

Diamond Springs

12,105

20.86

$235,100

$1,898

$68,474

67.69%

18.2

12.6

Safe

54.91

91

Mill Valley

14,178

96.01

$1,000,000

$4,000

$167,061

39.60%

26.2

0

Most Safe

54.89

92

Olivehurst

13,928

28.46

$135,000

$1,216

$44,394

38.42%

22.4

16.5

Less Safe

54.79

93

Riverbank

23,310

30.77

$173,500

$1,606

$62,366

31.54%

34.6

11.5

Less Safe

54.74

94

Santa Clara

119,525

65.26

$633,600

$2,833

$109,672

42.08%

26.4

4

Safe

54.47

95

Turlock

69,875

42.17

$197,700

$1,702

$59,645

34.03%

24.9

18.9

Least Safe

54.37

96

Berkeley

115,688

71.27

$719,500

$2,851

$114,720

62.88%

12.6

7.6

Least Safe

54.32

97

Mountain View

76,741

76.07

$807,100

$3,180

$119,081

48.15%

21.6

2.4

Safe

54.18

98

Marysville

12,144

41.7

$122,700

$1,163

$45,274

35.25%

16.5

41.1

Least Safe

54.14

99

Fair Oaks

31,256

59.15

$350,000

$2,144

$91,885

22.74%

18

16

Most Safe

54.13

100

Lathrop

19,163

45.59

$196,800

$1,817

$64,136

11.89%

33.3

10.8

Safe

53.97

101

Rohnert Park

41,352

62.17

$308,300

$1,982

$71,590

16.56%

17.7

15.9

Safe

53.83

102

La Riviera

11,529

60.28

$208,300

$1,554

$62,952

8.93%

15.9

8.1

Least Safe

53.82

103

Tracy

84,573

46

$273,300

$2,195

$80,439

19.23%

36.5

7.2

Less Safe

53.53

104

Dixon

18,718

41.91

$264,800

$1,865

$71,994

22.34%

31.1

15.6

Safe

53.53

105

San Lorenzo

24,563

46.92

$350,700

$2,132

$80,149

29.72%

23.6

0

Safe

53.52

106

Parlier

14,750

26.72

$112,600

$1,163

$30,729

26.59%

35

30.6

Less Safe

53.51

107

Alameda

75,763

73.26

$628,500

$2,829

$93,427

36.14%

21.1

9.9

Safe

53.42

108

Visalia

126,942

45.69

$172,800

$1,534

$56,766

23.86%

23.6

29.7

Least Safe

53.26

109

Arcata

17,679

63.72

$319,200

$1,392

$45,728

24.55%

7.8

24.5

Least Safe

53.24

110

Rio Linda

14,581

38.85

$174,100

$1,517

$55,063

21.63%

21.4

15.4

Safe

53.2

111

Manteca

70,693

41.14

$217,900

$1,819

$67,043

29.96%

26.2

16.5

Least Safe

53

112

Suisun City

28,627

41.87

$215,800

$1,854

$76,051

19.55%

24.3

7.7

Safe

52.9

113

Grass Valley

12,861

67.92

$246,800

$1,732

$40,591

22.19%

10.4

37.2

Least Safe

52.82

114

Merced

80,490

34.93

$148,100

$1,382

$43,809

34.92%

22.1

34.7

Least Safe

52.67

115

Rancho Cordova

67,167

38.33

$195,600

$1,674

$58,979

36.49%

19.7

22.8

Least Safe

52.67

116

Farmersville

10,675

23.71

$105,500

$981

$34,538

16.57%

31.8

8.3

Less Safe

52.63

117

Madera

62,559

28.98

$147,400

$1,331

$43,600

36.56%

27.5

37.2

Less Safe

52.6

118

Fairfield

107,983

42.13

$262,400

$2,125

$75,091

35.29%

25

18.4

Less Safe

52.34

119

South Lake Tahoe

21,394

51.09

$322,400

$1,829

$52,885

30.35%

15.6

13.2

Less Safe

52.31

120

Union City

71,675

58.08

$484,300

$2,621

$93,050

24.22%

30.8

4.4

Safe

52.3

121

Monterey

28,053

64.13

$615,900

$2,141

$80,615

37.20%

14.9

0.6

Least Safe

52.3

122

King City

13,171

22.71

$160,300

$1,612

$41,087

21.74%

42

18.7

Safe

52.28

123

Patterson

20,736

34.08

$164,400

$1,671

$58,184

13.15%

39

13.4

Less Safe

52.07

124

Red Bluff

14,069

51.22

$144,100

$1,103

$37,926

15.63%

19.5

50

Least Safe

52.05

125

Millbrae

22,177

89.98

$915,400

$3,513

$106,051

29.23%

23.8

0

Most Safe

52.05

126

Burlingame

29,618

93.64

$1,000,000

$4,000

$132,210

44.79%

22.9

5.3

Safe

51.97

127

Oroville

16,015

23.02

$157,800

$1,254

$42,551

53.80%

13.9

24.8

Least Safe

51.87

128

Napa

78,511

50.88

$412,600

$2,252

$74,981

27.54%

23.6

14.1

Safe

51.85

129

Garden Acres

11,172

31.13

$91,300

$1,057

$39,460

26.01%

22.8

40.1

Least Safe

51.76

130

Newark

43,635

54.33

$455,500

$2,463

$91,103

27.68%

25

4.6

Safe

51.71

131

Florin

50,791

38.16

$143,800

$1,402

$44,694

24.41%

21.5

31.7

Less Safe

51.62

132

South San Francisco

65,537

57.62

$589,100

$2,698

$89,186

33.92%

23.7

5.9

Most Safe

51.58

133

Gilroy

50,776

58.96

$458,500

$2,830

$86,098

31.79%

29.4

12.9

Less Safe

51.54

134

Morgan Hill

39,875

68.14

$587,900

$3,101

$108,037

19.86%

29.4

9.6

Most Safe

51.51

135

North Highlands

44,899

34.72

$146,500

$1,289

$43,243

31.62%

21.3

46.6

Least Safe

51.32

136

San Mateo

100,114

67.64

$736,600

$3,092

$106,876

40.21%

21.5

2.8

Safe

51.27

137

Atwater

28,686

38.77

$134,900

$1,263

$45,281

13.80%

29.2

32

Least Safe

51.25

138

Martinez

36,876

48.64

$407,600

$2,276

$100,577

29.93%

20.5

14.5

Safe

51.17

139

Los Gatos

30,163

93.11

$1,000,000

$3,987

$157,796

32.39%

24.4

4.2

Most Safe

51.13

140

Lindsay

12,688

20.97

$121,300

$1,261

$30,466

22.19%

36.8

28.3

Safe

51.07

141

Ceres

46,570

39.78

$154,100

$1,459

$48,964

12.34%

29.2

25.7

Least Safe

51.04

142

Sacramento

476,075

38.16

$228,400

$1,704

$57,200

36.03%

16.9

23.5

Least Safe

50.76

143

Hollister

36,067

43.91

$300,700

$2,110

$66,363

15.43%

31.3

20.4

Safe

50.76

144

El Sobrante

13,122

53.77

$291,800

$2,039

$66,806

12.58%

19.4

13

Safe

50.75

145

Porterville

54,949

24.78

$146,300

$1,235

$43,657

24.25%

29.4

30.8

Less Safe

50.58

146

San Bruno

42,090

61.24

$602,300

$2,575

$89,805

27.83%

22.1

7

Safe

50.28

147

Seaside

33,729

40.43

$343,800

$2,034

$53,926

24.66%

27.6

18.3

Safe

50.25

148

Rosemont

22,824

38.16

$184,500

$1,564

$59,959

24.53%

17.5

34.2

Less Safe

49.94

149

Modesto

205,984

40.9

$171,200

$1,607

$55,289

21.03%

20.3

26.5

Least Safe

49.84

150

Coalinga

17,235

30.77

$157,200

$1,578

$53,750

30.44%

23.8

42.1

Less Safe

49.71

151

Fortuna

11,863

33.52

$258,900

$1,536

$51,213

31.76%

24.2

33.6

Least Safe

49.71

152

Newman

10,553

28.36

$142,200

$1,313

$46,780

10.01%

24

9

Safe

49.7

153

Selma

23,808

36.02

$155,400

$1,507

$44,226

21.13%

26.3

39.3

Least Safe

49.39

154

Auburn

13,690

49.47

$347,400

$1,902

$77,027

23.74%

12.7

30.5

Safe

49.32

155

Healdsburg

11,466

60.99

$488,900

$2,400

$65,375

18.04%

18.1

12.6

Safe

49.22

156

Foothill Farms

33,024

41.6

$158,600

$1,412

$45,764

10.06%

20

33.4

Less Safe

49.05

157

Magalia

11,467

23.04

$149,900

$1,203

$43,457

12.43%

11.2

14.3

Most Safe

49.02

158

Sonoma

10,818

43.85

$541,000

$2,638

$96,064

46.44%

13.1

0

Safe

48.95

159

Daly City

103,897

55.65

$564,000

$2,570

$83,096

21.55%

23.4

9.3

Most Safe

48.84

160

Santa Rosa

170,782

48.11

$370,100

$2,090

$69,921

17.20%

20.2

15.6

Safe

48.81

161

Lodi

63,158

39.73

$228,400

$1,701

$54,740

16.42%

23.9

21.7

Least Safe

48.75

162

San Jose

986,320

57.17

$579,500

$2,805

$92,379

23.48%

28.2

6.8

Safe

48.36

163

Chowchilla

18,411

38.23

$132,800

$1,257

$38,180

6.82%

22.2

45.7

Less Safe

48.09

164

Ashland

23,360

46.92

$286,300

$2,049

$48,571

12.43%

22.1

6.7

Less Safe

48.06

165

Carmichael

63,314

45.88

$282,400

$1,902

$70,783

19.97%

14.5

29.9

Less Safe

48

166

Fresno

506,132

30.77

$175,600

$1,505

$45,554

26.92%

20.8

36.8

Least Safe

47.82

167

Campbell

40,327

63.84

$681,300

$3,029

$103,539

31.62%

22.5

4.1

Least Safe

47.71

168

Stockton

297,223

31.13

$166,800

$1,592

$50,166

24.07%

22.6

30.1

Least Safe

47.68

169

Concord

125,017

40.63

$368,900

$2,251

$78,218

25.97%

23.9

12

Less Safe

47.61

170

Ukiah

15,956

41.22

$280,100

$1,871

$53,145

34.46%

12.6

41

Least Safe

47.47

171

Citrus Heights

84,678

33.49

$191,100

$1,601

$59,355

15.91%

17.2

14.8

Less Safe

47.33

172

Marina

20,198

32.57

$359,200

$2,260

$63,477

37.58%

16.6

5.3

Less Safe

47.01

173

Half Moon Bay

11,803

65.51

$696,500

$3,268

$108,700

17.89%

22

12.3

Most Safe

46.99

174

Pittsburg

65,761

32.54

$228,600

$1,956

$64,521

18.45%

24.4

19.9

Less Safe

46.76

175

Los Banos

36,626

29.28

$152,200

$1,451

$46,748

3.19%

30.4

25.8

Less Safe

46.62

176

Pinole

18,754

43.12

$346,800

$2,199

$82,679

17.82%

18.8

10.1

Least Safe

46.22

177

Avenal

14,553

12.61

$115,100

$1,106

$29,932

6.83%

31.7

43.9

Most Safe

46.17

178

Dinuba

22,828

22.63

$142,700

$1,258

$37,478

10.98%

28.6

23.7

Least Safe

46.16

179

Santa Cruz

62,045

65.61

$645,600

$2,657

$79,431

27.64%

15.1

16

Least Safe

45.91

180

Hayward

149,596

33.57

$339,700

$2,241

$69,415

26.87%

23.3

16.1

Less Safe

45.64

181

Mendota

11,360

16.43

$105,200

$1,114

$26,250

14.21%

24.9

38.4

Less Safe

45.4

182

San Rafael

58,588

62.27

$691,400

$3,154

$96,660

29.92%

19.9

16.7

Less Safe

44.81

183

Richmond

106,469

28.58

$271,300

$1,956

$59,976

28.54%

18.6

23.6

Least Safe

44.43

184

San Leandro

87,159

31.27

$372,600

$2,256

$76,781

27.40%

21.5

5.5

Least Safe

44.42

185

Arden-Arcade

92,844

38.16

$279,500

$1,909

$60,601

18.47%

14.9

30.1

Least Safe

44.37

186

Antioch

105,630

33.49

$240,000

$2,147

$73,023

12.82%

24.2

16.5

Least Safe

44.24

187

San Francisco

829,072

59.65

$765,700

$3,206

$93,391

46.97%

12.4

6.6

Least Safe

44.12

188

San Pablo

29,516

29.28

$183,300

$1,666

$47,666

13.38%

23.7

41.7

Least Safe

43.91

189

Watsonville

52,085

27

$325,500

$2,093

$48,957

21.50%

29.7

29.2

Less Safe

43.81

190

Cherryland

15,244

33.57

$287,300

$1,898

$50,537

14.03%

20.3

27.6

Less Safe

43.64

191

Salinas

154,077

26.02

$262,000

$1,916

$51,426

15.13%

28.2

24.3

Least Safe

43.41

192

Redwood City

79,736

51.21

$795,000

$3,242

$98,149

33.00%

26

2.5

Safe

43.39

193

Larkspur

12,131

82.43

$1,000,000

$3,643

$115,363

10.90%

19.1

4.4

Most Safe

43.24

194

Prunedale

18,574

26.02

$364,900

$2,339

$79,802

15.09%

20.3

2.6

Most Safe

43.19

195

Emeryville

10,497

23.67

$317,200

$2,210

$84,688

48.41%

7.1

28.8

Least Safe

42.73

196

North Fair Oaks

15,181

69.17

$558,700

$2,435

$53,176

-2.75%

22.8

31.1

Least Safe

42.54

197

Oakland

402,339

34.46

$435,000

$2,440

$60,472

36.25%

14.7

20.2

Least Safe

41.88

198

Vallejo

118,078

25.39

$222,100

$1,917

$67,543

18.90%

16.2

29.4

Least Safe

41.63

199

East Palo Alto

28,920

23.71

$386,100

$2,481

$53,094

19.74%

29.6

2.9

Less Safe

41.44

200

Clearlake

15,121

15.56

$88,500

$1,193

$30,772

20.66%

9.9

73.2

Least Safe

40.6

201

Menlo Park

32,792

37.73

$1,000,000

$4,000

$156,439

48.21%

26

0.6

Most Safe

38.09

202

Bay Point

21,586

8.34

$158,000

$1,547

$42,983

-10.16%

22.3

24.6

Less Safe

35.88

Methodology

We analyzed 202 places in Northern California with populations of 10,000 or more. Northern California was defined as all counties in California, excluding the 10 southernmost counties of Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Certain places were excluded because of missing data. Our methodology focused on four factors:

Home affordability. Home affordability, 30% of the total score, was calculated by averaging index scores for median home value and median selected monthly owner costs. The lower the costs, the higher the score. Data came from the American Community Survey, a division of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Growth and prosperity. Growth and prosperity are 20% of the total score. The two metrics were growth in family income from 1999 to 2014, and median family income in 2014. Data are from the American Community Survey.

Family friendliness. To measure whether an area is a good place for families, which is 20% of our total score, we looked at the percentage of married couples with at least one child under age 18, the average crime score as provided by NeighborhoodScout, and the percentage of families in poverty with at least one child under age 5.

Educational quality. Using data from SchoolDigger.com, every place was given a percentile score relative to other places in the state. Education is 30% of the total score.

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]Twitter: @AnnaHelhoskiNerdWallet's Kamran Rosen conducted data gathering and analysis for this study.


Image via iStock.