I grew up in California, so I've been through several major earthquakes and too many smaller ones to count. Yes, they can be scary, and in unfortunate rare circumstances deadly, but they're also very infrequent.
That's why I'm amused when I talk to people across the country who complain about tornadoes, floods, hurricanes or blizzards damaging their homes on a yearly basis, but when I suggest moving to California the reply is always, "Oh no, you have earthquakes."
While non-Californians, and some Californians, live in fear of "the big one" at the San Andreas fault that's going to plunge California into the ocean, you might be surprised that there's a much bigger danger further north, as a recent New Yorker article explains.
It's called the Cascadia Subduction Zone and it's where the North American tectonic plate and the Juan de Fuca oceanic plate meet. At the moment, the Juan de Fuca is sliding under the edge of the North American plate and pushing it east while the rest of the North American plate is headed west.
That's making the edge of the North American plate, which includes Northern California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada, compress and bulge upward. Unfortunately, that can't go on forever.