Annie has written about pretty much everything at this point, but her favorite topics are traveling, food, or basically anything that can become a future bucket list. She loves reading sci-fi novels,…See full bio
The Golden State’s coastal towns are favored destinations for retirement, and for good reason—who wouldn’t want to spend every day sinking their feet into the warm sand and drinking lemonade to the sound of crashing waves? When you finally have unlimited time for rest and leisure, seaside towns sound like paradisiacal places for retirement. But most people avoid moving to beachfront properties due to high prices.
Many people think that oceanfront communities are too costly for retirement—we’re here to debunk that misconception. There’s no shortage of affordable beach towns in the Golden State, both in NorCal and SoCal. So instead of fantasizing about retiring by the coast, make your dreams come true at the most affordable beach towns to retire in California.
Median home price: $517,133
Located in San Luis Obispo County, Oceano provides a suburban feel to retirees wanting to spend their time by the glimmering waters. The Central Coast beach town has a tight-knit community and plenty of local farms that make it easier to lead a healthy lifestyle. Retirees have the ability to visit Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge for beachcombing, bird watching, and viewing wildlife. You can also spend your days at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area—the only California state park that allows off-highway vehicles to drive on the beach. With plenty of ways to make the most of your time, Oceano is one of the best beach towns in California to retire.
Median home price: $608,030
Trinidad is one of the best coastal towns to retire in Northern California. Situated in Humboldt County, the oceanfront community is recognized for its stunning coastline and pristine beaches. The charming small town in NorCal keeps its residents busy with seaside activities—surfing at Trinidad State Beach, tide pooling at Trinidad Head Beach, fishing at Martin Creek Beach, and sunbathing at College Cove Beach. When it comes to the top places to retire in the Golden State, we wouldn’t mind hitting Trinidad’s beaches all day, every day.
Median home price: $671,668
Sun, sand, and surf—Long Beach is the best seaside town to retire in SoCal. When you’re not enjoying your days on the unspoiled beaches, you can pay a visit to the Queen Mary (one of the most haunted places in California), discover the wonders of underwater life at the Aquarium of the Pacific, and go on an afternoon stroll at Shoreline Aquatic Park. Watch the sun go down at Granada, Alamitos, Peninsula, or Mother’s Beach for breathtaking views of the vibrant SoCal sky.
Median home price: $722,392
Also known as Jenner-by-the-Sea, this coastal retirement town is located by the mouth of the Russian River in Sonoma County. Jenner embodies Sonoma’s natural beauty and boasts striking coastal panoramas that’ll blow your mind. The beaches here are unlike any other. Go scuba diving in Fisk Mill Cove, explore the tide pools at Shell Beach, and go fishing at Blind Beach. If you have an adventurous soul, hike the Pomo Canyon Trail—one of the most rewarding hikes in this affordable beach town.
Median home price: $457,910
Situated 32 miles outside of San Francisco, Vallejo is among the most affordable places to live in the Bay Area. The coastal retirement town is home to Mare Island, a common filming location; Bumblebee, 13 Reasons Why, and a major portion of Submarine Command were filmed here. The Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge is one of the most prominent features of Vallejo. The California State University Maritime Academy is also located here. Other attractions include the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, Benicia State Recreation Area, and San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Median home price: $552,793
The third-largest city in San Diego is also among the best coastal communities to retire. Indeed, retiring in Oceanside is no different than being in paradise. The beachfront city is recognized for its wide swaths of sand, charming neighborhoods, and palm tree-lined streets. Oceanside is also home to one of the longest wooden piers on the West Coast: the Oceanside Pier. Explore the California Surf Museum, visit Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, and enjoy the stunning hues of golden hour at Breakwater Way Beach.
Median home price: $616,624
Chula Vista beats Oceanside in being the second-largest city in San Diego. The coastal retirement town is also one of the most culturally diverse areas in the nation. When in Chula Vista, visit Mountain Hawk Park. This 12-acre verdant space has several trails to hike, picnic gazebos for spending the afternoon, and a basketball court to get your heart pumping—there’s even a splash pad for those wanting to splash around San Diego. You can also discover the beauty of Mother Miguel Mountain by hiking to the top and taking in the striking views of Bonita, Sweetwater Reservoir, and Chula Vista.
Median home price: $257,877
Crescent City is the best small beach town to retire in Northern California. Situated in Del Norte County, it is named after the crescent-shaped stretch of beach situated south of the city. One of the most mesmerizing Golden State landmarks—Battery Point Light—is found here. The 19th-century lighthouse was one of the first of its kind on the California coast. Crescent City’s beautifully maintained Beachfront Park is a popular picnic spot that’ll keep you busy and entertained. Another highlight of the coastal retirement community is Crescent City Harbor, a newly built harbor with up-to-date amenities for commercial fishermen and amateur boaters.
Median home price: $323,624
Eureka is nestled in the Redwood Empire and is the largest beachfront city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. There are plenty of attractions in this affordable beach town that make retirement exciting—the Carson Mansion, Sequoia Park Zoo, Morris Graves Museum of Art, and Redwood Discovery Museum. Eureka is also home to one of the coolest surf spots in NorCal: Samoa Beach. As one of the most affordable beach towns to retire in California, Eureka is a gorgeous coastal city where beauty and laid-back vibes prevail. It’s a NorCal city you’ll want to live in as soon as you visit.
Median home price: $372,214
Who wouldn’t want to live in Arcata? Not only is it one of the best beach towns in California to retire, but it’s also one of the most scenic cities in NorCal. Just go to the Arcata Community Forest and you’ll see why. If you’re still not convinced, head over to Redwood Park, where you can feast your eyes on the towering trees. The heart of this inexpensive college town is none other than the iconic Arcata Plaza.
Median home price: $552,793
Words cannot describe how scenic Oxnard is. The charming SoCal town is one of the best coastal communities to retire. The abundance of beaches will make you want to visit them all. Explore the tide pools at Bass Rock Beach, discover life underwater at Deer Creek Beach, ride the waves at County Line Beach, and play sand volleyball at La Jenelle Beach. Whatever you do, don’t forget to watch the last bits of light disappear into the horizon at Mandalay State Beach and Oxnard Beach Park.
Median home price: $660,716
Officially known as San Buenaventura, the city of Ventura is a breathtaking coastal town set against undeveloped hills and flanked by two free-flowing rivers. As one of the most affordable beach towns to retire, the heavenly oasis is home to the ninth Spanish mission established in Alta California: Mission Basilica San Buenaventura. The Ventura Pier, the oldest one in California, is also found right here. Marina Park is one of the most visited places in Ventura—the 15-acre beachfront park is dotted with palm trees and has a volleyball area to squeeze in a little exercise. No matter your interests, you’ll find something to love about Ventura.
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