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The Top 10 Places to Retire in California
Real Estate

The Top 10 Places to Retire in California

Whether you’re dreaming of retiring among the redwoods, in the desert, or along the coast, these are the best places to retire in California

Betty White


7 min read

September 07, 2020

Throughout our professional careers, there are many moments where we imagine having unlimited time for rest and leisure. But when the time comes, we don't always make the most out of it—let's change that. Moving to a place with suitable opportunities for what you wish to do is the first step. 

California is one of those places that is on everyone’s bucket list, which is why it’s ideal for retirement. The weather is perfect, the food scene is unparalleled, and the culture is marvelous. The laid-back state is especially ideal for people who want to rest and enjoy their serenity but also be able to have fun. 

Everywhere you turn in California, there’s good music, vibrant restaurants, endless outdoor adventure, and diverse communities. There’s also no shortage of beautiful places to reside. So, whether you’re dreaming of spending your retirement years in a scenic small town amongst the redwoods or in a charming city along the coast, these are the top 10 places to retire in California.

The Best Places to Retire in California

Enjoy enchanting forest scenery, coastal views, and a slow-paced lifestyle in Eureka.

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1. Eureka

If you've always wanted to retire in a place in California that's filled with incredible redwood forests, mesmerizing coastlines, and soothing rivers, then Eureka is a place for you. Not only will you be able to enjoy the peace and quiet of your surroundings in this port city, but everyone else around you will as well. Seeing how Eureka is one of California's historic landmarks, the town is also the perfect place to broaden your horizons and explore the Northern California destinations you’ve always wanted to see but haven't due to your previously busy lifestyle. Since Eureka is an idyllic weekend getaway, your family will be tempted to make frequent visits, too.

One of the many things people look for in places to retire in California is a chance to start fresh and live out their dreams, and Eureka offers a perfect combination of beautiful nature and culture. The town is also among the most affordable places to live in the state. But if foggy weather and rainy days are deal-breakers, then you might want to think twice about moving here. Additionally, Eureka is definitely not for you if you’re seeking to live in a large, bustling city. 

2. Redding

Also located in Northern California, Redding is among the best Shasta County cities to live in and is ideal for those who want to stay active when they retire in California. The Sacramento River offers rafting, while Shasta Lake has many activities available such as water skiing, fishing, and sailing. There are also incredible spots for camping as well as beautiful hiking trails where you can finish your afternoons with picnics by the water. The summers are quite hot and dry (which makes water sports a real treat), and the winters are cold and humid (which is something you don't really get to experience in every place in California where you might choose to retire).

3. San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo (SLO), located on California's Central Coast, is celebrated as one of the best coastal towns for retirement, thanks to its perfect blend of tranquility and vibrancy. This paradise offers a wealth of shopping opportunities, abundant outdoor recreation, and top-notch dining and wine-tasting venues. If you're someone who thrives on adventure, you'll find no shortage of activities to keep you engaged in SLO. From exploring the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa to meeting new people, there’s always something to do.

Additionally, you can enjoy relaxing days at the beach, watching the sunset while savoring your favorite meals. It’s also worth noting that SLO attracts many young professionals, being a top college town, which adds a youthful energy to the area. This makes it an excellent choice for retired individuals who may still want to work part-time or engage with the community in a dynamic setting. San Luis Obispo offers a lifestyle that can help keep you feeling young at heart.

4. Riverside

Riverside is among the most beautiful historical towns in California. There are several museums in downtown Riverside that have incredible exhibits year-round. The city is also known for its festivals such as family-friendly Riverside Dickens Festival, Riverside Airshow, and The Riverside International Film Festival. Compared to some other California places where you could retire, housing costs are pretty decent, too. Although Riverside has seen some significant growth over the past years, it has to be one of the most culturally diverse places in the Inland Empire, especially when it comes to arts and culture. 

Soak up the mountain vistas and savor the desert-chic ambience when living in Palm Springs.

5. Palm Springs

Palm Springs is often touted as one of the best places to retire in California, and for good reason. This chic desert town is celebrated for its mid-century modern architecture, trendy hotels, top-notch golf courses, and a relaxed ambiance. The town also plays host to numerous cultural events throughout the year, drawing celebrities and A-listers.

Living in Palm Springs offers a retirement filled with unique experiences. The town boasts a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks perfect for leisurely enjoyment. Many residents praise Palm Springs as an ideal place to live, offering a luxurious lifestyle at a reasonable cost. While the hot desert climate may be a drawback for some, if you’re comfortable with warmer temperatures, Palm Springs should definitely be high on your list of retirement destinations. So, consider packing your bags and making the move to this vibrant community.

6. Auburn

If you've always wanted to live in a small and laid-back town but never could because of work obligations, Auburn just might be your dream come true. With a population of about 14,000 people and charming surroundings, it is an incredibly special place to live and one of the safest communities in America. Auburn is also one of the most underrated small towns near Lake Tahoe; you'll be living somewhere with the magical atmosphere of a secluded vacation spot while having all the necessities and luxuries of a big, well-equipped city. The town averages 253 sunny days per year, but there are plenty of activities that you can enjoy inside as well as outside. Since the odds for a great life of leisure are really high here, Auburn just might be the perfect spot for you to retire.

7. Sierra Madre

Another small town that’s an ideal place to retire in California is Sierra Madre. Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, below the southern edge of the Angeles National Forest, the town has a safe and family-friendly environment, so all you have to worry about is how you want to spend your retirement days. The community is filled with welcoming people, and the neighborhood is described as homey, peaceful, and easily walkable. The population largely consists of families and elderly people, so it's quite rare to see students or young adults. While Sierra Madre is a haven for someone who's looking for a quiet life without a worry in sight, a downside to living in this town might be the fairly high cost of living.

8. Moraga

If you were to describe a place with an incredible year-round climate and a rich cultural scene, you'd certainly be describing Moraga. Something special that might draw you to retire to Moraga out of all the places in California is the constant sense of a close-knit community. There's a lot of activities in the small East Bay Area town. Moraga offers family-friendly events, beautiful bike paths, scenic hiking trails, great schools, and close proximity to top Bay Area destinations. The main downside? The cost of living in Moraga is a bit higher than the country's average. 

Reside in Torrance to spend endless days at the beach and revel in the laid-back vibes.

9. Torrance

If you're looking to retire in a place in California where you can enjoy a more luxurious lifestyle and are comfortable with spending a bit more money in order to do so, then Torrance is the place for you. The coastal city, tucked between Santa Monica and Long Beach, provides plenty of entertainment but has a serene vibe. And if you enjoy trying various types of cuisine, you'll most certainly appreciate living here—one of the best ways to experience different cultures in Torrance is through its many restaurants. 

You can also easily explore the city by foot or bike; a really popular spot to savor the scenery is The Strand, a 20-mile-long pathway that’s among the best bike trails in California, so rent a bike and set your pace. If cycling isn’t for you, there are also plenty of other activities to enjoy at the beaches in Torrance. The weather here is often really pleasant, too, with dry summers and mild winters, making it possible to relish in the great outdoors most of the year.

10. Imperial

Imperial is definitely one of the top places to retire in California for someone whose lifestyle is a bit more sedentary. Although the town’s lack of things to do might be off-putting to some, it all depends on your preferences. The cost of living in Imperial is quite cheap, making it ideal if you don't plan on leaving your home very often. Although there aren’t many opportunities for different activities, the people who live in the Southern California town are nice and welcoming. (just be wary of the fact that the weather isn't really favorable if you suffer from allergies or asthma). 

Things to Consider When Deciding Where to Retire

Choosing where to retire is a big decision, so here are some tips to help you find the best place to land and to make the move as easy as possible. 

  • Set your priorities: Before looking into the best places for retirement in California, you might want to decide where your priorities lie. This way, it'll be easier to know what you're looking for instead of just reading about great California cities for days on end. Whether your passion lies in good real estate or beautiful nature, you need to figure out what you're willing to sacrifice in case you don't get to have it all.
  • Make sure to have everything planned out: In order to relocate with ease to any part of the state, you need to have a solid plan in place. It's one thing to find suitable places to retire in California, and another to actually go through with it. Hiring reliable companies is a good place to start; their expertise will help the transition be as smooth as possible.


Once you've finally made all of the decisions and arrangements, there's nothing else standing in the way. You now have the life you've always wanted. No matter where you choose to retire in California, you can always make road trips and travel to other exciting destinations near you. It's time to savor your past memories and make new ones. Above all else, make the most out of your retirement days—you deserve it.

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