These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In California For 2018

We used science and data to analyze which cities in CA are ghetto central.

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There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But where is the actual ghetto in California?

How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:

“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”

Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state and then put out a list.

After analyzing all cities with a decent amount of people in them, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places in California:

  1. Oakland (Photos)
  2. Sacramento (Photos)
  3. National City (Photos)
  4. Compton (Photos)
  5. San Bernardino (Photos)
  6. Richmond (Photos)
  7. Westmont
  8. Stockton (Photos)
  9. Commerce (Photos)
  10. Oasis

Read on below to see where your town ranked.

What ghetto criteria did we use?

In order to rank the most ghetto places in California, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.

Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.

Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.

We started by making a list of every place in California with more than 5,000 people based on the 2013 American Community Survey. That left us with over 600 places in the Golden State.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:

  • Household income levels
  • High school graduation rates
  • Number of convenience stores
  • Number of drug stores
  • Number of discount stores
  • Crime

Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.

All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.

For more California reading, check out:


1. Oakland

Source: wikipedia

Income: $51,684
High school: 78%
Crime: 23rd highest in CA
Drug stores: 45th

If there is any doubt as to whether or not Oakland is the most ghetto city in the state, look at the numbers. It’s just about in the top 20 for danger, residents earn far below the state average in income levels, and almost 1 in 4 people here never graduated high school.

Other numbers that stand out: more than 10% of residents of Oakland are without jobs, and there are a high number of drug stores within city limits. According to studies, one common theme that all ghetto cities have are high number of drug stores and convenience stores.

2. Sacramento

Source: wikipedia

Income: $50,661
High school: 79%
Crime: 44th worst
Convenience stores: 40th most

This may or may not come as a surprise, but Sacramento is really ghetto. It’s almost as dangerous as Oakland (relatively speaking in comparison to the rest of the state), and residents earn less than they do in Oakland.

The high number of convenience stores in Sacramento is also a sign of the ghetto times.

Twitter seemed to agree:

“From living in Sacramento I learned to the way to tell when you’re in the ghetto is when people have fences around their front lawn too.”

And then this:

“I swear I thought Oakland was ghetto, but Sacramento is on a whole nother level.”

3. National City

Source: wikipedia

Income: $38,798
High school: 65%
Crime: 82nd worst

Being the 82nd most dangerous place in the state may not sound that intimidating, but keep in mind, we looked at almost 650 cities here. Frankly, this San Diego suburb is pretty dangerous and pretty broke, too.

The folks who live here barely earn enough to keep their lives together, and just about 1 in 3 residents didn’t finish high school.

There are also a really high number of discount stores and drug stores in National City, both signs of inner city life.

4. Compton

Source: wikipedia

Income: $42,335
High school: 57%
Crime: 37th

Compton has notoriously been ranked as not only one of the most ghetto cities in the nation, but certainly in the Los Angeles area. When nearly 1 in 2 people drops out of high school, and crime is off the charts high, what you’ve got is a real ghetto.

For years, pop culture has featured Compton as the prototypical ‘ghetto’ in music, movies and television shows. Although things have changed here (murders and gang activity is down), it might just take another decade before this one-great city can remain off of lists like this.

5. San Bernardino

Source: wikipedia

Income: $39,097
High school: 64%
Crime: 47th worst

While Compton’s has worst years are seemingly in the rear view mirror, San Bernardino’s worst years seem to be at the next exit. This city has gotten worse and worse over time. You might be surprised to hear that San Bernardino is ‘only’ the 47th most dangerous city in the state.

Frankly, a majority of the residents here are broke and uneducated. And it seems that government corruption here has such a stranglehold on the community that it’s going to take a community activism effort to get this place turned around in the other direction.

And that doesn’t seem like it’s coming any time soon.

6. Richmond

Source: wikipedia

Income: $54,657
High school: 77%
Crime: 29th highest

Richmond is a small city just north of Oakland and Berkeley on the San Francisco Bay. Like Oakland, the residents of Richmond deal with high crime, low income levels and a relatively uneducated population.

According to the Contra Costa Times, Richmond is heading in a positive direction, and weekly killings that were once the norm are no longer the case. Richmond’s police Captain Mark Gagan told the Times that what has turned the tide here is “above-average involvement in the community.”

7. Westmont

Source: Google Maps

Income: $31,110
High school: 65%
Crime: Highest in the state

Last year, the Los Angeles Times called South Vermont Avenue in Westmont ‘LA County’s Death Alley.’ There are more killings in Westmont than in any other place in L.A. County (and that’s saying a lot). And Westmont is the most dangerous place in the state.

Residents here barely earn enough to get by on a daily basis, and 1 in 3 dropped out of high school. It’s truly a dangerous, scary (and quite sad) place in California.

Where is Westmont? Wedged between Inglewood and Compton. Ghetto central.

8. Stockton

Source: wikipedia

Income: $47,236
Crime: 14th highest
High school graduation: 70%

Stockton has received more than its fair share of bad press lately. A few years back, Forbes called it the most miserable place in the nation.

You might not realize it, but Stockton has the 14th highest crime rate in California. There were 32 murders here just two years ago, and if you spent a year within Stockton city limits, statistically, you’d have a 1 in 83 chance of being killed, raped or attacked.

Not a fun place at all.

9. Commerce

Source: wikipedia

Income: $51,022
High school: 48%
Crime: 5th most
Discount stores: 20th most

We continue on the ‘south central’ area of Los Angeles with Commerce, a smallish city just outside of downtown L.A. Crime is just about as bad in Commerce as it is in Westmont. And more than half of residents are high school dropouts. We’ve been combing through a lot of data for this site, and that’s one of the highest dropout rates we’ve seen.

There are also a very high number of discount stores in the Commerce area, which is a sign of inner city life.

10. Oasis

Source: Public Domain

Income: $24,971
High school: 22%
Crime: 10th highest

Oasis might be the most ghetto place in California you’ve never heard of. The graduation rates of residents are as low as you’ll see in the nation, and just about everyone here lives below the poverty line. It’s a truly poor, dangerous ghetto.

Where is this hidden jungle? It’s actually not a city, but a census designated place in Riverside County right on the banks of the Salton Sea, just south of La Quinta.

Trust us, you’re not missing anything.

There You Have It

If you’re measuring the locations in California where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.

Additionally, here are the least ghetto places in California:

  1. Coto De Caza (Pop. 15,041)
  2. San Diego Country Estates (Pop. 10,044)
  3. Rossmoor (Pop. 10,294)
  4. Alta Sierra (Pop. 6,782)
  5. Lake Wildwood (Pop. 5,547)

We also wrote about the drunkest cities in California if you didn’t happen to see it. Click here to read it.

44 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In California For 2018

  1. Who wrote crappy article? Sacramento more ghetto than Stockton? You must be very uppity to think so. Sacramento has a HUGE music and arts scene. There are booming 4 and 5 star restaurants. A new arena is being built… it’s beautiful and you ranked it more “ghetto” than Compton or Stockton? That made me laugh out loud. I suggest you get back into your Hummer and drive back to Laguna Beach. Sorry we don’t meet your standards. Barf.

    1. Did you grow up there. Jen?
      I grew up in Oakland, Richmond, San Pablo, El Cerrito in the 60s 70s and early 80s and they are and were some of the most ghetto in the state. It was bad. I moved away in 1990 and never looked back.
      I should have been a statistic, but got real lucky. Between the Gangs and the Drugs and all the Fights and Fighting I did I got Very Lucky.
      Please feel free to respond.
      I think the facts were right on the money.

  2. Im from Sacramento, currently live in Los Angeles. Sacramento is not ghetto! Yes, every city have their less than desirable neighborhoods. Every city near L.A or the Bay area should be on the list before Sacramento. This article makes for good entertainment, you cant believe everything you read on the internet

    1. Thank you! I was born and raised in Sac and spent 3 years in L.A. (hated it/80% dumpy,celebrated my departure to Seattle) The guy who wrote this story obviously doesn’t know much.

    2. This story is pure garbage. Sactown #2? it shouldn’t even be on this haphazardly written piece,Socal has an incredible amount of poverty/outdated infrastructure,massive homeless population,serious crime/immigration problem (think that sprawling garbage dump Los Angeles),and i should know,i spend several years living in that disaster (and celebrated my departure to Stunning Seattle),the television lies,BIG TIME.

  3. This is the worst not accurate and commerce not ghetto. 1 in cali and anywhere is san bernandino then other once. Whoever wrote this is a retard and who believed it is bigger retards.

  4. Anyone knows #1 is san bernandino. This person on crack and the next person who believes as well. Lol funny crack heads around cali read this or mental ppl

  5. Funny how just about every comment on this article is penned by an illiterate. Before you criticize a person’s work, perhaps you all should go on back to grammar school and learn to read and write. Maybe then you’ll understand that statistics don’t lie. Besides mental midgetry, the fact that most of you have never even left your “hood”, make your opinions on this absolute bullshit. Rather than set the record straight, you’ve managed to reinforce the writers point. Thanks for messing up your hometown for the rest of the residents.

  6. …Now, you can tear a building down, but you can’t erase a memory…These houses may look all-run-down, but they have a value you can’t see. Living Colour; Open Letter to a Landlord.

  7. I think those stats need to be updated. Have you seen the real estate prices in the Bay Area? Oakland, Richmond, Sac… I think it’s impossible to live in the Bay Area on $50k or be unemployed. A more interesting article would not be about the “ghetto” but about the vast homeless encampments that are swelling in SF, LA, etc… What’s the point of living in a multi-million dollar house if there are homeless encampments on your street? Is that not “ghetto”?

  8. Stockton is dangerous hands down. Maybe some other rural areas are just as bad. Sacramento is a police town. All other cities have their areas.

  9. Thanks for everyone’s opinions n ones who hv actually lived in Sacramento. Who really know the facts bcause I am seriously considering moving there ive lived in GA all my life n i dont really believe it can b any more ghetto than waynesboro GA. Where I live. Im looking forward to moving to California Im almost 50 yrs old n just always wanted to live in cali but a smaller town thats affordable. Thanks for everyone’s opinions.

  10. I live in Northern California & the entire SF Bay Area region is a free range prison at this point. All “urban” centers are saturated with people who can barely read or speak in full sentences. The welfare state & lower school standards in conjunction with Prison “reforms” has decimated the state. Smart people moved out & the non-functioning/criminal populace who are enabled by their progressive overlords remain. When you read through these comments you see the typical denial & delusional protestations. We’re not ghetto! Um, yes, yes you are.

  11. Oakland is still, unfortunately, considered the most dangerous city in California. The most dangerous part in the state? Very likely it’s the Sunnydale Projects. Just google it.

  12. You guys live in Cali what about Inglewood Compton and watts are they still on the stay as far away as you can list just wondering I’m not from Cali

  13. what about Compton Inglewood and watts are they still on the stay that as far away as you can list just wondering I’m not from Cali

  14. Sad to say but Chico is getting pretty bad too. It’s safe and lovely but the majority of the population is complacent in their poverty. Sad thing these people are reproducing like rats. They live in filth,off the tax payers$ which pay for their vices. CAs system really needs to change. I was a young single mom with no support system, didn’t live off the govt and earned a degree. There’s no excuses!!

  15. Ghetto is a white supremacist term for too many black people. Yet the prices of these homes in so called black neighborhoods are going up.

    To buy a home in:
    1. Oakland- 715k
    2. Richmond- 530K
    3. Compton- 409K

    And crime is down in all those neighborhoods with over 20% black residents.

    Your writing and reporting is trash… Step ya game up.

  16. Why is this so heavily focused on Northern California, I live 10 minute from DTLA, Compton, South Central, Maywood, South Gate, Lynwood. Like 75% of LA should’ve been on this list INCLUDING Downtown LA no matter how ridiculous it’s priced, Skid Row is bigger than ever & walking out of those expensive apartments you’ve got homeless all over the place. That’s a ghetto no matter what fancy price tag the new buildings have. Just because there’s a little safe zone inside the city doesn’t exclude the actual city from being what it is. Just like USC may be a beautiful safe campus, the area outside isn’t.

  17. Inglewood is in the beginning stages of gentrification thanks to the new state of the art football stadium being built, which will be completed this year. Soon Inglewood will be unaffordable for those who are already renting, but homeowners are celebrating since their property values are already near doubling.

  18. All of California even the suburbs look ghetto. Did you watch Baywatch in the 80’s nice beach clean water now look at Santa Monica and Venice beach now. Dirty the air quality is worse than Michigan and got to spend extra money to live here

  19. I agree, I live in Stockton California & we visit Sacramento frequently….Its no way on earth Sacramento is considered dangerous or ghetto, like you say EVERY state & city has a poor or less fortunate area BUT calling Sacramento ghetto is beyond EXTREME!!!!!!! Sacramento is what my wife & I call the cleanest big city we ever visited….my wife is from Brooklyn NY & I’m from Norfolk Virginia.

  20. lol….that’s what I said, I just told my wife & kids that this article called Sacramento ghetto & worse than Stockton & Oakland…LMAO….we feel relaxed & safe whenever we go to Sacramento & we have walked at 11:45 PM from midtown to the parking garage in old Sacramento without being bothered by any homeless…

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