How Safe is Alameda California

Posted by Craig Wesley on

Probably the biggest question people have before moving to Alameda is in regards to its safety. Over time, I've learned that the answer is relative to the one asking the question. For example, we host Airbnb guests in our 1889 Victorian home and have met travelers from across the USA, as well as a handful of international travelers. One travelers was a Medical Doctor born and raised in South Central Los Angeles who had been shot on three different occasions before the age of 13, including one time by police officers. For him, Alameda was a fantastic city; an ideal place for him to raise his newborn son.

On the other hand, I once had an undergraduate college couple from Tokyo, Japan stay with us. For four days, they stayed holed up in their bedroom because they didn't feel too safe. I felt so bad that I took them out for a little tour of Alameda, which is something I've never done before with an Airbnb guest.

If you're not away, Japan is one of the safest developed countries in the world. I once hired a Japanese interpreter who lived in Philadelphia, PA for a few years and asked her if Japan had any city as dangerous as Philadelphia or Oakland. Her response was a resounding "no."

I've also had people who simply come from suburban cities within the USA who simply are not use to a city like Oakland, California. They have no experience with places like Deep East Oakland or seeing homeless encampments.

In the end, it really comes down to what one is use to. For those coming from San Francisco or Oakland, Alameda is significantly safer. According to, in 2016, Alameda had one murder, which is 1.3 murders for every 100,000 people. Meanwhile, during that same period, Oakland had 85 murders at a per capita rate of 20 murders for every 100,000 people. San Francisco is surprisingly relatively safer than Oakland with 57 murders during 2018 at a per capita rate of 6.5. In terms of percentage, Alameda is a significantly far safer city than both. (FYI, Tokyo's murder rate is less than 1 for ever 100,000 people.)

But for those coming from extremely safe small cities with essentially a zero murder rate for numerous years, Alameda can actually feel pretty dangerous for them. Though the chances of being murdered and other violent crime is still relatively low, Alameda has plenty of assaults, robberies, burglaries, and thefts, as well as drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Alameda police blotter gives a better insight into what types of crime take place over a two week period, with plenty of arrests for DUI, domestic abuse, theft, and outstanding warrents. Of course, it should be measured against ones current location or other cities being considered for relocation.

I would also suggest for people to use Google news to search local news and, once again, compare it to the local news of other cities. If one were to google "alameda california" into Google news, then one would probably find very few articles about major crime occurring in the city. While searching "Oakland" in the google news will result in articles covering homicides and shootings.

But my number one suggestion, especially for those thinking of moving to Alameda,  is to simply "feel out" the city. Walk down our two main streets, Webster and Park, and see how you feel. Walk around the neighborhood that you hope to move into. Have breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner on the island. Catch a movie at the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex and see if you're comfortable. Go grocery shopping at Safeway or Trader Joes at the Shoreline Center. Essentially, if you have the resources, then give Alameda a little trial run. Consider staying at an Airbnb on the island for one or two nights.

Reading the news and police blotter can be off-putting, but the reality is that it doesn't represent most peoples' experience living on Alameda. One's natural instincts, as well as experience, should tell if where they are is safe or not. My instincts and experience living on Alameda tells me that I can raise a happy family here, but with some caveats.

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