The VA hospital is located on the 50 corridor so, depending on your price range you would most likely be looking anywhere from El Dorado Hills through Folsom, Rancho Cordova and down along that area through to downtown Sacramento. Looking at a 20 minute drive could also include Elk Grove... But I don't think some of homes along the 80 corridor would be as easy to travel to the VA Hospital.
it all depends on your life style, your affordability, and other interests you have.
By nice and safe neighborhoods I'm assuming the interest is in well kept homes,clean environments, access to parks, biking and walking trails and low property and violent crime. I have some suggestions:
Here's a link to the Sacramento County Sherriffs Department for crime mapping:
If schools are a priority here's a link to obtain school performance data:
Anatolia/Sunridge Park/Kavla Ranch neighborhoods are served by the Elk Grove School District with kids attending Sunrise Elementary, K. Albiani Middle and Pleasant Grove High School.
Recent write up in the Sacramento Bee will give you an idea of at least one of the neighborhoods (Anatolia) and here is the link:
The neighborhoods that feature newer construction that are close to Mather are Mather Field, Anatolia, Sunridge Park/Kavala Ranch, and Stone Creek.
own research by going to the sheriff's department site http://crimemap.sacsheriff.com/cvc/
The next item to address, the matching of what you will be looking for in a home and it's price and
the location (not too far from the VA hospital). You can do a radius search on the sherriff's site
centered on the hospital and see what you find as far as criminal activity and see what areas would seem to meet your requirements. Or you could start from the other end and locate homes that meet your needs and then check the activity around it......for my purposes I think I would start with
my search for the home first as it won't do you any good to find acceptable neighborhoods if there are no homes for sale there. If you would like to engage the services of an experienced agent, Tina and I do market in the Rancho Cordova/Mather/Anatolia areas as well as Rosemont & College Greens. Best of luck to you and welcome to Sacramento, a great place to live!