First off, I gotta say I've lived in Chowchilla for around a year so far. I think the city is nice, even if I expected more out of the experience. I know being so close to Clovis is okay, but I don't always feel like driving 30-45 minutes just to look for something to do. As far as survival, there is enough here to maintain your refrigerator, home, and body.
Crime is horrible, I won't lie. The numbers don't do it any justice and I wish they could do something about it. I know there has to be a reason why so many burglaries and thefts have been taking place. Just make sure you lock down your belongings as there is no guarantee they will still be there if you turn your back.
The schools here barely get by, as the grad rates are actually lower than the entire state. I do keep up with the news and I'm an optimist, so if you have a good job and enjoy good weather, bring it on.