Everything is relative. We moved from suburban Detroit two years ago and love it. Downtown Modesto is much safer than downtown Detroit. The East and North parts of the city are much different/safer than the west and southwest areas. We've seen very little crime. (tho stat-wise it has the highest rate of car theft so your car insurance rate will be high.) I've not seen any gang evidence in the suburban areas. The young people have been pretty decent, especially those in the service industry (restaurants and retail stores)--much better service than back in suburban Detroit where the teens view customers as an intrusion.
Most people have been much friendlier than they were in Michigan! And the weather is SO much better, compared to a Michigan winter (or summer)! We are 90 minutes to two hours from San Francisco, San Jose, Yosemite, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Monterey/Carmel, the coast, ocean and many national forests. You may also prefer Turlock or Tracy which isn't too far and have better reputations.
Best of success to you!