What is the Safest Place to Live in California From Earthquakes

November 26, 2021US Cities
Steven Rogers

Apart from sharing Captain America's name, our freelance writer Steven is also a big fan of moving, history, and geography.

Thousands of men, women, and children flock to the Golden State each year. The promise of endless summer, the greatest entertainment, and infinite opportunities has considerable power over people’s minds. Is there a catch? Of course there is – quakes. And strong ones at that. But what is the safest place to live in California from earthquakes? As always, we have the answer for you.

Scientists often say that the disastrous earthquake in Cali is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Still, that doesn’t mean you should go in full doom prep mode, prepare for moving to a cold climate and arrange Alaska car transport with a reliable USA auto transport company. You should still know how to replace U joints in your car and all the ins and outs of packing a TV for moving. The Californian share of the West Coast is truly a remarkable place to live, whatever may lay beneath it. But, after watching certain movies, you may wonder if any part of California is safe from earthquakes? It is, since, after a big quake that shook San Fernando Valley in 1971, the works began of making the Golden State more resilient to tremors. But let’s start from the beginning.

With All the Entertainment and Technology Business, Why Are We Talking About This?

Cali is a heaven on Earth, some might say. There are lovely beaches, some of the best outdoor towns in the country, and countless opportunities for personal and professional growth and development. Furthermore, Route 66, probably the most famous route in the US, screened inside and out in many TV shows about cars, ends in Santa Monica. What’s not to like?

Well, the fact that it is one of the two probably most dangerous sites in the country. One is a (luckily still) dormant supervolcano in the Yellowstone National Park, the staple of a disaster blockbuster 2012. Another sits beneath the sand of the Pacific coastline – the San Andreas fault.

It is an approximately 750 miles long fault between North American and Pacific tectonic plates. It runs along the Californian coast and passes even into the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California. No big surprise that the area is a hotspot of seismic activity and that all those thinking about relocating to the West Coast are more concerned about earthquake-proofing their home than with stopping mail from previous residents.

But we need to get one thing out of the way – the chance for any person to die in a quake is quite negligible. Unless a truly cataclysmic earthquake hits (you know, one that would alter the geography of the area, one that would allow for the Escape from LA to actually happen,) there’s no need to panic. Car enthusiasts can still enjoy the best car shows, engage in racing games, wage neverending discussions on classic and modern cars, and, of course, plan the restoration of a totaled car to the tiniest detail. While watching The Rock saving all who can be saved in San Andreas (and boat-surfing on a tsunami).

It might even compel them to get one of the best cars for off-road driving. In the following video, you can see one of the candidates for that title, great not only for Mad Max-ish scenarios but also for a pleasant camping trip.

YouTube video

The Earthquake Zones in California

According to the scientific data, the Californian coast is hit with hundreds of tremors every day, virtually all of them not felt by anyone save perhaps a very sensitive dog or two. That’s why they rarely earn a place in the news. Still, research has shown that Cali sits atop nearly 16,000 faults, with more than 500 of them being active, and that most Californians live in the vicinity of one, be it in the urban or a rural area.

Besides San Andreas and its segments, the most significant are located beneath and along the San Francisco Bay Area. It is also safe to assume that there are yet undiscovered faults or those that are known but not much researched, like the Wilmington fault beneath San Pedro Bay.

The Strongest San Andreas Earthquakes so Far

So Cali is prone to quakes. But what about their magnitude? The strongest recorded quake occurred in 1857, and it’s named after Fort Tejon, a US army garrison at that time. The quake’s magnitude was 7.9, but only two deaths were reported, likely due to the poor infrastructure and small population.

A bit weaker but much more famous is the earthquake that hit the San Francisco Bay Area in 1906. With an estimated magnitude of 7.8, the tremor ravaged the city. Some 3,000 people were killed in the quake and fires it caused. Flames lasted for days and added much to the initial damage.

The final place on this list is reserved for a quake that hit Santa Cruz County in 1989. On October the 17th that year, 63 people lost their lives, and almost 4,000 were injured. The magnitude was 6.9.

Luckily, the Earth’s crust has been pretty quiet since then, with no major tremors. So, you may feel quite confident if you wish to prepare your home for sale, learn how to pack fragile items, and put your car on the open trailer for the trip to a new adventure in California’s natural and man-made wonders. Assuming your fuel pump is in order, of course.


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Other Natural Risks in Cali

With quakes thorough(ish)ly explained, we have to dedicate a few words to other ways nature threatens people of the Golden State. Most obvious to anyone watching the news are wildfires. While summer is in many ways the best time of the year to move, it also provides conditions for flames to erupt in the dry areas and last for weeks due to the weather and not-so-great accessibility.

On the other end of the spectrum are inundations. They mostly threaten areas around the city of Sacramento and Sacramento Valley but aren’t unimaginable elsewhere, too. Floods and quakes are the major facilitators of landslides, though they aren’t that common.

Now that we’re done with doom and gloom let’s take a look at the other side of the coin and the less threatened, though arguably less exciting destinations to make a home in safety.

Forest fire in the hills
Forest fires are a common occurrence in Californian wilderness

What are the Safest Cities in California From Earthquakes

So, you made a decision to move to Cali and contacted a reputable car shipping company to take your imported car to the sunny destination with enclosed auto transport. But what will that destination be (especially if you’re afraid of losing the ground under your feet)?

While driving in Los Angeles may seem tempting, as a way to cement your place among the best drivers that ever took the wheel, it may not be such a good idea. Yes, there are some of the best custom cars shops in the country and the world, but not only would you be prone to road rage due to endless traffic jams, but the risk of quakes is quite high. San Francisco is another exciting and popular but quake-prone destination. So, where to go? What part of California has the least amount of earthquakes?

San Bernardino County is a Good Choice

While there is no completely safe place, eastern parts of Cali are a good choice. Some of those areas cover San Bernardino and Riverside counties, with territory in and around the city of Needles being the safest.

San Diego County is One of the Safest Bets

While America’s Finest City itself may not be such a good choice (being on the shore, above the faults, and all that jazz,) its eastern suburbs and eastern edges of the namesake county are fine to establish a home. If you choose areas around SD to settle, all there is left to do is choose a moving company, make sure it’s legitimate (it’s no fun at all being a victim of a moving scam,) and concentrate on learning the proper way to pack plates, so they don’t move. Moving plates, get it? Get it?

Sun shines over skyscrapers and beaches of San Diego
Eastern parts of San Diego are safer than the coastline and downtown

So, What is the Safest Place to Live in California From Earthquakes?

In the end, what is the safest place in California for earthquakes? Believe it or not, it’s Sacramento. Cali’s capital city is actually the safest from all the natural dangers. Even though it’s located in the namesake valley and on two rivers, folks there have little to fear even in terms of floods. Due to their city’s geography, Sacramentans don’t have to worry about powerful storms, droughts, or the almost inevitable rise of sea levels. So, you may call it a geographical jackpot. But is there more to it? After all, the City of Trees isn’t known for being in the news that often. Heck, even the Kings are barely mentioned.

Low Crime Rates and Other Benefits of Being a Sacramentan

If you took the “where should I move” quiz and got Cali’s capital as a result, know that you won’t get all the glitz and hip of LA and SF. That’s a fact. But it’s also a fact that the city’s safe, the economy is booming, more and more people are coming to settle, and the ecology is a big thing. You’ll see a lot of electric cars around, and it would be high time to learn how to properly dispose of a bad car battery.

The nature in the area is also stunning. With so many opportunities for outdoor fun, the dilemma of is owning an RV worth it will be solved in the blink of an eye. And if you are not alone, you can buy a family car and enjoy nature’s sights without a worry in the world. Once it’s decided whether to use door-to-door auto transport or terminal to terminal car shipping, that is.

Sacramento buildings with trees between them
If you're scared of an earthquake, Sacramento Valley is a place to be in Cali

With This Knowledge, You’re Good to Set Out

There you have it – Sacramento is the safest place to live in California from natural disasters. And it doesn’t take much to get there, either. Just a bit of research for professional movers, reading online auto transport reviews, and learning all about the difference between open and enclosed car transport and ways to move a car to another state. So, forget about anxiety about moving out and on to a new adventure. Cali will cure any signs of relocation depression in an instant.

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