Best Places for Young Families in Northern California

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Best Places for Young Families in Northern California

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.


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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.

RankPlacePopulationSchoolDigger percentile rating2014 median home valueSelected monthly owner costs2014 median family income1999-2014 income growthResidents who are married with childrenFamilies in poverty with young childrenCrime risk ratingFinal score
1El Dorado Hills43,86292.57$472,000$3,014$129,29232.32%35.7%3.6%Most Safe68.49
2Folsom73,33482.4$393,600$2,381$116,52741.33%30%3.8%Safe67.28
3San Ramon73,82694.91$722,700$3,498$151,49442.49%43.6%0%Most Safe66.9
4Dublin49,69486.31$588,100$3,083$128,73754.88%32%2.9%Most Safe66.72
5Kingsburg11,58257.83$219,700$1,634$70,30557.15%27.9%10.6%Less Safe66.65
6Roseville124,25076.53$317,800$2,159$94,46143.28%26.2%12.5%Safe65.31
7Rocklin59,00282.21$336,900$2,261$91,94627.27%28%6.4%Most Safe65.1
8Elk Grove158,45572.9$269,600$2,034$84,73232.25%31.3%11.2%Safe64.75
9Clovis98,81572.23$247,400$1,918$74,20145.90%25.6%25.9%Less Safe64.6
10Clayton11,32888.09$583,300$2,942$141,62331.81%27.2%0%Most Safe64.24
11Salida14,50947.83$187,900$1,681$80,59434.07%41.5%9.8%Most Safe64.21
12Susanville16,53758.49$166,200$1,538$69,87154.53%18.1%31.7%Less Safe63.92
13Country Club10,01894.91$126,100$1,278$50,16816.36%14.9%53.5%Least Safe63.82
14Sanger24,58749.19$156,600$1,244$50,20651.14%27.8%22.4%Less Safe63.77
15Vineyard25,64072.9$266,000$1,945$78,98718.02%33.1%7.8%Most Safe63.51
16Lincoln44,39754.76$328,300$2,075$79,01754.43%21.3%8.7%Most Safe63.22
17Benicia27,45073.09$424,000$2,369$113,23545.22%20.5%21.4%Most Safe63.08
18McKinleyville16,44874.53$293,000$1,925$60,83341.72%18.1%23.2%Safe62.93
19Orinda18,39099.18$987,200$3,966$213,02160.73%31.1%0%Most Safe62.86
20Discovery Bay14,31577.65$386,500$2,688$114,08526.38%30.5%12.3%Most Safe62.82
21Ripon14,64571.11$301,000$2,231$88,17640.87%25.316.6Safe62.8
22Hercules24,59666.14$372,900$2,486$113,44737.99%260Most Safe62.77
23Truckee16,19177.83$440,400$2,609$82,35631.25%26.70Most Safe62.6
24Livingston13,46133.23$164,600$1,464$51,91252.96%40.429.2Most Safe62.6
25Soquel10,27574.44$513,300$2,763$95,20855.65%21.46.6Most Safe62.45
26American Canyon20,08958.59$315,400$2,371$89,95446.18%35.80.5Safe62.4
27Pacifica38,28381.09$613,700$2,811$113,75045.16%22.70Most Safe61.93
28Davis66,09382.91$532,800$2,500$110,69249.48%19.88Less Safe61.92
29Cameron Park18,83172.71$336,900$2,247$86,69030.80%21.93.1Most Safe61.82
30Winton11,77444.81$96,900$1,118$41,20338.11%36.435.6Less Safe61.7
31Orangevale34,44965.57$262,000$1,847$80,06831.64%19.12.9Safe61.69
32Cupertino59,78798.46$1,000,000$3,796$158,05344.40%421Most Safe61.58
33Fremont221,65478.56$614,500$2,753$112,34736.68%36.52.6Most Safe61.27
34Albany19,02091.99$639,500$3,042$91,96743.10%3315Less Safe61.14
35Pleasanton73,16491.17$732,100$3,266$140,31136.49%35.59.2Most Safe60.89
36Pacific Grove15,36581.83$673,900$2,729$93,30256.63%13.70Safe60.2
37Windsor27,11353.61$385,700$2,277$93,92138.14%300Most Safe60.01
38Castro Valley62,36375.13$539,200$2,506$97,57233.55%26.13.1Most Safe59.96
39Brentwood54,06266.42$365,300$2,581$100,92533.23%33.96.3Safe59.91
40San Anselmo12,52794.08$837,900$3,437$122,85741.99%24.30Most Safe59.59
41Scotts Valley11,71191.3$607,100$3,120$115,32430.20%28.70Safe59.53
42West Sacramento49,94640.7$248,000$1,970$62,90572.95%22.416.2Less Safe59.36
43San Carlos29,16693.93$939,600$3,691$158,85352.79%26.44.3Most Safe59.31
44Kerman14,11038.2$171,600$1,470$48,82243.09%38.930.1Less Safe59.3
45Vacaville93,99459.21$275,100$2,004$85,93134.37%20.78.5Safe59.05
46Hanford54,52343.32$171,600$1,503$59,54343.84%26.115.3Least Safe58.93
47Sunnyvale145,92176.77$748,700$2,898$117,98244.53%29.42.9Most Safe58.83
48Piedmont10,95789.04$1,000,000$4,000$247,17164.94%37.30Less Safe58.77
49Belmont26,50392.4$910,600$3,626$142,44648.81%270Most Safe58.58
50Hillsborough11,14898.91$1,000,000$4,000$250,00025.00%37.60Most Safe58.44
51Chico87,51761.37$263,100$1,691$60,19539.74%15.222.9Less Safe58.28
52Shasta Lake10,14334.5$160,100$1,319$50,34352.51%16.48.6Less Safe58.2
53Livermore83,90172.37$490,700$2,717$111,95035.83%26.35.4Safe58.18
54Foster City31,80995.44$850,800$3,274$130,56623.06%27.25.1Most Safe57.96
55Yuba City65,14143.11$188,500$1,569$56,73444.06%24.822.6Less Safe57.96
56Anderson10,06642.11$156,900$1,178$45,59955.85%15.838.1Least Safe57.88
57Lafayette24,68596.67$999,100$4,000$176,25046.43%32.60Most Safe57.59
58Galt24,28047.38$195,900$1,780$62,45230.53%3017.4Safe57.48
59Alum Rock10,99257.17$395,000$2,209$71,05031.89%33.30Safe57.47
60Live Oak17,49465.79$524,800$2,452$82,61154.10%18.77.2Less Safe57.43
61Soledad26,00838.74$199,400$1,738$46,65113.26%44.74.1Most Safe57.34
62Lemoore24,78855.24$192,200$1,751$56,77529.02%2219.7Safe57.32
63Capitola10,04377.28$477,200$2,306$81,13336.42%16.10Least Safe57.26
64Reedley24,85845.34$164,600$1,339$45,89123.94%31.526.3Safe57.19
65Linda18,63435.08$136,200$1,365$37,87251.94%27.847.3Less Safe57.17
66Paradise26,24648.43$201,800$1,349$56,11936.12%12.622.3Safe57.07
67Saratoga30,62796.99$1,000,000$4,000$197,33227.11%34.70Most Safe57.02
68Stanford13,50696.2$1,000,000$4,000$173,75096.11%17.913.6Safe56.94
69Danville42,89190.13$852,400$3,640$157,84225.40%330Most Safe56.92
70Walnut Creek65,92387.84$591,700$2,897$112,11433.80%17.35.5Less Safe56.91
71Eureka27,03949.37$240,900$1,446$50,80751.94%1121.1Least Safe56.79
72Placerville10,41562.41$238,700$1,818$59,15826.20%16.710Less Safe56.77
73Novato53,45174.04$554,400$2,757$97,08130.43%22.96.1Most Safe56.49
74Pleasant Hill33,84270.61$513,000$2,531$108,90037.85%22.63.3Least Safe56.34
75Oakley37,39145.85$249,200$2,108$83,80321.65%29.91Most Safe56.15
76Exeter10,46845.77$159,500$1,263$46,29525.01%27.541.1Safe56.15
77Tulare60,66340.45$157,000$1,393$50,69037.24%27.832.7Least Safe55.82
78Tamalpais-Homestead Valley10,33196.01$976,200$3,593$162,62833.15%26.90Most Safe55.68
79Redding90,72552.8$221,800$1,588$56,50637.27%15.225.4Least Safe55.49
80Greenfield16,71518.33$174,200$1,468$49,54439.48%41.618.2Safe55.49
81North Auburn14,01149.47$248,400$1,804$60,63730.63%17.70Safe55.4
82Los Altos29,76298.62$1,000,000$4,000$190,93828.84%33.810.3Most Safe55.36
83El Cerrito24,13668.55$589,100$2,776$104,52450.62%19.80.6Least Safe55.34
84Palo Alto65,99897.4$1,000,000$4,000$167,44042.41%28.70Safe55.29
85Alamo15,63997.02$1,000,000$4,000$171,63316.25%36.28.4Most Safe55.25
86Woodland56,39045.2$254,200$1,816$66,90137.40%2516Less Safe55.19
87Petaluma58,91263.23$438,100$2,398$89,40025.64%23.67.3Most Safe55.14
88Milpitas69,34676.21$547,100$2,748$102,00520.25%30.94.3Less Safe55.05
89Oakdale21,26042.3$199,000$1,690$60,86138.25%22.617.7Least Safe55.04
90Diamond Springs12,10520.86$235,100$1,898$68,47467.69%18.212.6Safe54.91
91Mill Valley14,17896.01$1,000,000$4,000$167,06139.60%26.20Most Safe54.89
92Olivehurst13,92828.46$135,000$1,216$44,39438.42%22.416.5Less Safe54.79
93Riverbank23,31030.77$173,500$1,606$62,36631.54%34.611.5Less Safe54.74
94Santa Clara119,52565.26$633,600$2,833$109,67242.08%26.44Safe54.47
95Turlock69,87542.17$197,700$1,702$59,64534.03%24.918.9Least Safe54.37
96Berkeley115,68871.27$719,500$2,851$114,72062.88%12.67.6Least Safe54.32
97Mountain View76,74176.07$807,100$3,180$119,08148.15%21.62.4Safe54.18
98Marysville12,14441.7$122,700$1,163$45,27435.25%16.541.1Least Safe54.14
99Fair Oaks31,25659.15$350,000$2,144$91,88522.74%1816Most Safe54.13
100Lathrop19,16345.59$196,800$1,817$64,13611.89%33.310.8Safe53.97
101Rohnert Park41,35262.17$308,300$1,982$71,59016.56%17.715.9Safe53.83
102La Riviera11,52960.28$208,300$1,554$62,9528.93%15.98.1Least Safe53.82
103Tracy84,57346$273,300$2,195$80,43919.23%36.57.2Less Safe53.53
104Dixon18,71841.91$264,800$1,865$71,99422.34%31.115.6Safe53.53
105San Lorenzo24,56346.92$350,700$2,132$80,14929.72%23.60Safe53.52
106Parlier14,75026.72$112,600$1,163$30,72926.59%3530.6Less Safe53.51
107Alameda75,76373.26$628,500$2,829$93,42736.14%21.19.9Safe53.42
108Visalia126,94245.69$172,800$1,534$56,76623.86%23.629.7Least Safe53.26
109Arcata17,67963.72$319,200$1,392$45,72824.55%7.824.5Least Safe53.24
110Rio Linda14,58138.85$174,100$1,517$55,06321.63%21.415.4Safe53.2
111Manteca70,69341.14$217,900$1,819$67,04329.96%26.216.5Least Safe53
112Suisun City28,62741.87$215,800$1,854$76,05119.55%24.37.7Safe52.9
113Grass Valley12,86167.92$246,800$1,732$40,59122.19%10.437.2Least Safe52.82
114Merced80,49034.93$148,100$1,382$43,80934.92%22.134.7Least Safe52.67
115Rancho Cordova67,16738.33$195,600$1,674$58,97936.49%19.722.8Least Safe52.67
116Farmersville10,67523.71$105,500$981$34,53816.57%31.88.3Less Safe52.63
117Madera62,55928.98$147,400$1,331$43,60036.56%27.537.2Less Safe52.6
118Fairfield107,98342.13$262,400$2,125$75,09135.29%2518.4Less Safe52.34
119South Lake Tahoe21,39451.09$322,400$1,829$52,88530.35%15.613.2Less Safe52.31
120Union City71,67558.08$484,300$2,621$93,05024.22%30.84.4Safe52.3
121Monterey28,05364.13$615,900$2,141$80,61537.20%14.90.6Least Safe52.3
122King City13,17122.71$160,300$1,612$41,08721.74%4218.7Safe52.28
123Patterson20,73634.08$164,400$1,671$58,18413.15%3913.4Less Safe52.07
124Red Bluff14,06951.22$144,100$1,103$37,92615.63%19.550Least Safe52.05
125Millbrae22,17789.98$915,400$3,513$106,05129.23%23.80Most Safe52.05
126Burlingame29,61893.64$1,000,000$4,000$132,21044.79%22.95.3Safe51.97
127Oroville16,01523.02$157,800$1,254$42,55153.80%13.924.8Least Safe51.87
128Napa78,51150.88$412,600$2,252$74,98127.54%23.614.1Safe51.85
129Garden Acres11,17231.13$91,300$1,057$39,46026.01%22.840.1Least Safe51.76
130Newark43,63554.33$455,500$2,463$91,10327.68%254.6Safe51.71
131Florin50,79138.16$143,800$1,402$44,69424.41%21.531.7Less Safe51.62
132South San Francisco65,53757.62$589,100$2,698$89,18633.92%23.75.9Most Safe51.58
133Gilroy50,77658.96$458,500$2,830$86,09831.79%29.412.9Less Safe51.54
134Morgan Hill39,87568.14$587,900$3,101$108,03719.86%29.49.6Most Safe51.51
135North Highlands44,89934.72$146,500$1,289$43,24331.62%21.346.6Least Safe51.32
136San Mateo100,11467.64$736,600$3,092$106,87640.21%21.52.8Safe51.27
137Atwater28,68638.77$134,900$1,263$45,28113.80%29.232Least Safe51.25
138Martinez36,87648.64$407,600$2,276$100,57729.93%20.514.5Safe51.17
139Los Gatos30,16393.11$1,000,000$3,987$157,79632.39%24.44.2Most Safe51.13
140Lindsay12,68820.97$121,300$1,261$30,46622.19%36.828.3Safe51.07
141Ceres46,57039.78$154,100$1,459$48,96412.34%29.225.7Least Safe51.04
142Sacramento476,07538.16$228,400$1,704$57,20036.03%16.923.5Least Safe50.76
143Hollister36,06743.91$300,700$2,110$66,36315.43%31.320.4Safe50.76
144El Sobrante13,12253.77$291,800$2,039$66,80612.58%19.413Safe50.75
145Porterville54,94924.78$146,300$1,235$43,65724.25%29.430.8Less Safe50.58
146San Bruno42,09061.24$602,300$2,575$89,80527.83%22.17Safe50.28
147Seaside33,72940.43$343,800$2,034$53,92624.66%27.618.3Safe50.25
148Rosemont22,82438.16$184,500$1,564$59,95924.53%17.534.2Less Safe49.94
149Modesto205,98440.9$171,200$1,607$55,28921.03%20.326.5Least Safe49.84
150Coalinga17,23530.77$157,200$1,578$53,75030.44%23.842.1Less Safe49.71
151Fortuna11,86333.52$258,900$1,536$51,21331.76%24.233.6Least Safe49.71
152Newman10,55328.36$142,200$1,313$46,78010.01%249Safe49.7
153Selma23,80836.02$155,400$1,507$44,22621.13%26.339.3Least Safe49.39
154Auburn13,69049.47$347,400$1,902$77,02723.74%12.730.5Safe49.32
155Healdsburg11,46660.99$488,900$2,400$65,37518.04%18.112.6Safe49.22
156Foothill Farms33,02441.6$158,600$1,412$45,76410.06%2033.4Less Safe49.05
157Magalia11,46723.04$149,900$1,203$43,45712.43%11.214.3Most Safe49.02
158Sonoma10,81843.85$541,000$2,638$96,06446.44%13.10Safe48.95
159Daly City103,89755.65$564,000$2,570$83,09621.55%23.49.3Most Safe48.84
160Santa Rosa170,78248.11$370,100$2,090$69,92117.20%20.215.6Safe48.81
161Lodi63,15839.73$228,400$1,701$54,74016.42%23.921.7Least Safe48.75
162San Jose986,32057.17$579,500$2,805$92,37923.48%28.26.8Safe48.36
163Chowchilla18,41138.23$132,800$1,257$38,1806.82%22.245.7Less Safe48.09
164Ashland23,36046.92$286,300$2,049$48,57112.43%22.16.7Less Safe48.06
165Carmichael63,31445.88$282,400$1,902$70,78319.97%14.529.9Less Safe48
166Fresno506,13230.77$175,600$1,505$45,55426.92%20.836.8Least Safe47.82
167Campbell40,32763.84$681,300$3,029$103,53931.62%22.54.1Least Safe47.71
168Stockton297,22331.13$166,800$1,592$50,16624.07%22.630.1Least Safe47.68
169Concord125,01740.63$368,900$2,251$78,21825.97%23.912Less Safe47.61
170Ukiah15,95641.22$280,100$1,871$53,14534.46%12.641Least Safe47.47
171Citrus Heights84,67833.49$191,100$1,601$59,35515.91%17.214.8Less Safe47.33
172Marina20,19832.57$359,200$2,260$63,47737.58%16.65.3Less Safe47.01
173Half Moon Bay11,80365.51$696,500$3,268$108,70017.89%2212.3Most Safe46.99
174Pittsburg65,76132.54$228,600$1,956$64,52118.45%24.419.9Less Safe46.76
175Los Banos36,62629.28$152,200$1,451$46,7483.19%30.425.8Less Safe46.62
176Pinole18,75443.12$346,800$2,199$82,67917.82%18.810.1Least Safe46.22
177Avenal14,55312.61$115,100$1,106$29,9326.83%31.743.9Most Safe46.17
178Dinuba22,82822.63$142,700$1,258$37,47810.98%28.623.7Least Safe46.16
179Santa Cruz62,04565.61$645,600$2,657$79,43127.64%15.116Least Safe45.91
180Hayward149,59633.57$339,700$2,241$69,41526.87%23.316.1Less Safe45.64
181Mendota11,36016.43$105,200$1,114$26,25014.21%24.938.4Less Safe45.4
182San Rafael58,58862.27$691,400$3,154$96,66029.92%19.916.7Less Safe44.81
183Richmond106,46928.58$271,300$1,956$59,97628.54%18.623.6Least Safe44.43
184San Leandro87,15931.27$372,600$2,256$76,78127.40%21.55.5Least Safe44.42
185Arden-Arcade92,84438.16$279,500$1,909$60,60118.47%14.930.1Least Safe44.37
186Antioch105,63033.49$240,000$2,147$73,02312.82%24.216.5Least Safe44.24
187San Francisco829,07259.65$765,700$3,206$93,39146.97%12.46.6Least Safe44.12
188San Pablo29,51629.28$183,300$1,666$47,66613.38%23.741.7Least Safe43.91
189Watsonville52,08527$325,500$2,093$48,95721.50%29.729.2Less Safe43.81
190Cherryland15,24433.57$287,300$1,898$50,53714.03%20.327.6Less Safe43.64
191Salinas154,07726.02$262,000$1,916$51,42615.13%28.224.3Least Safe43.41
192Redwood City79,73651.21$795,000$3,242$98,14933.00%262.5Safe43.39
193Larkspur12,13182.43$1,000,000$3,643$115,36310.90%19.14.4Most Safe43.24
194Prunedale18,57426.02$364,900$2,339$79,80215.09%20.32.6Most Safe43.19
195Emeryville10,49723.67$317,200$2,210$84,68848.41%7.128.8Least Safe42.73
196North Fair Oaks15,18169.17$558,700$2,435$53,176-2.75%22.831.1Least Safe42.54
197Oakland402,33934.46$435,000$2,440$60,47236.25%14.720.2Least Safe41.88
198Vallejo118,07825.39$222,100$1,917$67,54318.90%16.229.4Least Safe41.63
199East Palo Alto28,92023.71$386,100$2,481$53,09419.74%29.62.9Less Safe41.44
200Clearlake15,12115.56$88,500$1,193$30,77220.66%9.973.2Least Safe40.6
201Menlo Park32,79237.73$1,000,000$4,000$156,43948.21%260.6Most Safe38.09
202Bay Point21,5868.34$158,000$1,547$42,983-10.16%22.324.6Less Safe35.88

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: anna@nerdwallet.comTwitter: @AnnaHelhoskiNerdWallet’s Kamran Rosen conducted data gathering and analysis for this study.


Image via iStock.