What Are the Best Places to Retire in California ?

California has long been a retiree destination for many longing for sunny beaches, pleasant climate and interesting places nearby. Seniors also look at healthcare choices in a region, and many prefer to live in retirement communities that offer many luxuries.

Keep reading to learn a bit more about 10 top California cities known to be popular with retirees. Many of these cities include abundant outdoor recreational pursuits along with cultural draws and attractions like historic sites of interest and fine dining opportunities near to home.

1. San Francisco

Beautiful and diverse San Francisco continues to be a huge draw for many each year. Retired individuals who prefer a warm climate with lots of arts and other cultural events and venues like this region for its fine cuisine, plenty of places to go within walking distance and have a desire to setting down in a wealthier location in sunny California.

San Francisco has been on the top ten places that people want to retire in for many years.

Although the area does experience fog on many occasions, there are many days when the sun and temperate climate beckon residents to head outdoors for some much-needed fresh air and beneficial activities like walking, biking or boating in the popular Golden Gate National Recreational Area.

This city has a decidedly bohemian vibe that is a hit for people with a love for artistic endeavors or random pop-up art festivals, fun street fairs and many other community events throughout the year.

San Francisco boasts world-renowned museums and a wealth of shopping opportunities ranging from high-end boutiques to large malls and historic urban districts.


  • Fine dining venues
  • Bohemian arts community in the central downtown area
  • Modern and world-famous museums and historic attractions
  • Warm weather all year with lots of outdoor family-friendly activities and pursuits for retired couples and individuals
  • Listed as the second-best place to live in California

2. Salinas

Salinas, California, is home to the famed author of “The Grapes of Wrath.” The city has lots to interest retirees and people of every age with a desire for leading a quiet and active lifestyle.

The Mediterranean climate here has made this region well-known for its fresh and unique agricultural community that provides some of the best strawberries, salad ingredients, like lettuce, tomatoes and broccoli, along with fine wines and exquisite flowers commonly grown and distributed in this geographical location.

There are many things to see and do here that include the large Toro Park home to some of the most scenic nature trails in the region along with hosting the monthly First Friday’s Art Walk.

Many residents and tourists alike enjoy visiting the nearby Monterey Zoo with its famed sanctuary for large jungle cats, elephants and other delightful animals.

Plan to attend the California Rodeo Salinas held in July or enjoy one of many musical concerts and other entertainment events or watch the enthralling racetrack shows.


  • Thriving agricultural community
  • Home of the Monterey Zoo with animal sanctuaries
  • Upbeat racetrack and lots of outdoor music concerts and other entertainments
  • Mediterranean climate with lots of green spaces like Toro Park with nature trails and more
  • Fine wineries
  • July rodeo and other community events yearlong

3. Visalia

Visalia is a haven for active retirees who want to experience nature at its best on a regular basis. This is home to many state parks like Sequoia National Park and Forest with its many terrific hiking trails.

There are also lots of other parks like the Sierra National Forest and Kings Canyon National Park among other scenic green areas.

Visalia has 5 hospitals located nearby, and there are also many other attractions that draw retirees to this central California locale each year.

The city has many cultural venues and various community events along with superb dining opportunities in town and just a short drive away to Potterville, Bakersfield and Fresno.


  • Located near the Eagle Mountain Casino on the Tule River Indian Reservation
  • Lots of upbeat nightlife and other entertainment options downtown and in nearby Bakersfield and Fresno
  • Enjoy walks in gorgeous state parks like Sequoia National Park
  • Local theater group plays at The Barn Theater in Porterville
  • Close to Porterville Historical Museum
  • Large Portersville Veterans Day Parade and other veteran community events
  • Annual Iris Day Festival in Porterville
  • Taste of the Arts Festival in Visalia
  • Vintage flavored Roller Towne local skating rink
  • Local Fox Theatre with year-round productions

4. Victorville

Many retirees are drawn to the scenic city of Victorville located near to the Mojave Desert with all its unique landscape views and hot, dry climate often considered beneficial for those with lung ailments like asthma or severe seasonal allergies.

The smaller city of Victorville boasts the Southern California Logistics Airport and is situated close to easy-access interstates that make commuting to other nearby attractions a simple endeavor.

It is also much easier for retirees to find affordable retirement communities and other housing options like condos and apartments that often have gorgeous scenic views of the nearby San Gabriel Mountains.


  • Affordable housing with stunning San Gabriel Mountain views
  • Part of the Greater Los Angeles Area
  • Advantages of living near to many urban attractions while living in a city with a small-time vibe
  • Good healthcare options
  • Lots of grocery stores and other dining and cultural venues
  • Home to Route 66 Museum, California Fire Museum and a thriving Performing Arts Center
  • Where the Triple-A High Desert Mavericks call home

5. Adelanto

Located at just about the midpoint between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the convenient location offers many benefits for residents of this High Desert semi-arid area that is often overlooked by those seeking an affordable place to retire in California.

Residents can take full advantage of nearby urban city attractions like fine dining, superb cultural attractions with access to some of the most beautiful regions in the state.

Adelanto offers a place for retirees to enjoy sports and outdoor pursuits of every season from winter skiing in the mountains to pristine beaches in the other direction. This is a lovely spot for retirees that live on a budget without having to sacrifice living amongst natural scenic wonders.


  • Affordable housing and retirement community options
  • Near to great healthcare providers
  • Semi-arid climate often beneficial to those with lung problems
  • Tends to stay sunny even when nearby beach towns get stormy weather
  • Holds many festivals, derbies, races and other events throughout the year
  • Located 15 minutes from prime malls like The Mall of Victor Valley and others
  • Home to prime outdoor sports and recreational pursuits like fishing, boating, snow and water skiing
  • Near to 30+ parks and 5 terrific golf courses
  • High Desert Mavericks Baseball Stadium and Conference Center
  • Access to many lakes – Lake Arrowhead, Lake Mead, Silverwood Lake, Big Bear Lake and more

6. Hemet

In 1858, the land where the city of Hemet now sits was established as a farm settlement. Today, this city is home to many families and retirees due to its affordable housing and retirement communities. The town is situated near Lake Hemet an artificial lake created by the Lake Hemet Dam.

This is an important water storage reservoir. Part of this lake offers visitors many water activities including boating and fishing for many varieties of stocked fish along with picnic areas and camping sites.

There are cozy, rental cabins near the lake with access to the San Jacinto Mountains that surround this beautiful lake paradise.

The city boasts two museums and an outdoor amphitheater. It is known for its La Ramona Pageant depicting life in the Spanish colonial era which is one of the longest-running outdoor plays in the country that began in 1923.

Hemet also features a 320 bed well-rated, general hospital with nine other hospitals within a few miles of the town.


  • Cultural venues including an outdoor amphitheater and 2 museums
  • Home of one of U.S. based longest-running outdoor plays depicting life in Spanish colonial times
  • Comfortable and affordable senior housing communities
  • Lots of nature hiking and biking trails in surrounding San Jacinto Mountains and Santa Rosa Hills
  • Near to Diamond Valley Lake with water activities, picnic areas and camping available

7. Fresno

Fresno began as an unassuming, small stop along the Central Pacific Railroad, but has since grown into a thriving and upbeat, fun college metropolis that draws many “young at heart” retirees with its affordable housing including tiny home communities.

Cultural attractions include the artsy Tower District that holds the annual Rogue Festival and classic car show. There are also fabulous dining venues that offer delicious cuisines of many different varieties all year long.

Sports fan cheer on their beloved Fresno Grizzlies, a popular minor league team, that calls this city home. The famed Kearney Renaissance Faire is held in Fresno’s Westside and draws many visitors each year.


  • Upbeat and vibrant metropolis region that draws many college students, young families and retirees who desire an active social life
  • Affordable retirement housing options
  • Lots of unique cultural venues and events
  • Home of minor league Fresno Grizzlies
  • Classic car shows, the Kearney Renaissance Faire and annual Rogue Festival
  • Surrounded by Fresno County prized organic farms

8. San Bernardino

Many retirees are attracted to San Bernardino for its convenient location to nearby LA beaches and cultural venues while still offering affordable housing and reasonable cost of living expenses.

This town is considered a “gateway to Southern California” and its many draws and activities.

There are also lots of gorgeous outdoor adventure sites like access to a wide variety of national parks with phenomenal available recreational pursuits. The city is also near to beautiful Bear Lake with its amazing scenery and more rustic adventures on the water and in the surrounding forests.


  • Considered a major “gateway to Southern California” and its many attractions
  • Close to pristine beaches of LA along with dining and cultural attractions
  • Affordable retirement communities
  • Near to outdoor adventure sites like Bear Lake and many national state parks and forest regions
  • Excellent healthcare options
  • Pleasant Mediterranean climate with many historical sites and beautiful Spanish architecture
  • Known for its Route 66 Rendezvous a September event held in downtown Bernardino
  • Springtime events feature The National Orange Show Festival and The Burdoo Bikes and Blues Rendezvous
  • Home to the historic Arrowhead Springs Hotel and Spa

9. Sacramento

As the capital city of California, Sacramento has a long history of amazing stories with rich farmlands and beautiful attractions that combine historic treasures and modern designs featuring the latest technological wonders.

This diverse and sprawling urban metropolis features many terrific and affordable retirement communities and superb healthcare choices.

Seated in the very heart of Central Valley, there is a delightful and varied mix of dining options that make good use of the fresh, locally sourced, farm foods, wineries and breweries found in this thriving region.

Sacramento is situated within a few hours of many other California hot spots like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. However, there are many green spaces within city limits, and the city features over 200 parks open to the public.

This is also home to the revered, 32-mile, American River Parkway with its abundance of recreational opportunities.


  • Capital city of California with deep cultural enrichment opportunities and rich historic places alongside modern architectural sites
  • Known today for its cutting-edge technology companies
  • Upbeat and diverse neighborhoods with each offering different cultural lifestyles
  • Affordable housing for retirees and excellent healthcare facilities
  • Attractive to food-lovers with a mix of different tasty cuisines that take advantage of local farms for the freshest ingredients
  • Many cultural attractions and events yearlong
  • Convenient to nearby state parks and upwards of 200 city parks that includes the famed American River Parkway

10. Riverside

The city of Riverside is considered one of the best historical towns located today in the state of California. It houses several popular museums in the robust downtown area with an array of interesting exhibits shown throughout the year.

The city is also well-known for its fun and enticing festivals such as the Riverside International Film Festival, Riverside Dickens Festival and the Riverside Airshow.

The residents living in Riverside are diverse with different cultures and traditions that make the area so intriguing. The diversity shows up in the city’s many arts and other cultural events, dining establishments and more.

When comparing different other cities within the state, Riverside offers substantially lower-priced, senior housing options than many other California cities. This region is also known for its highly rated healthcare facilities and retirement communities.


  • Known for its amazing historic locations that remain relevant today
  • Lowered housing costs for seniors than other towns of similar size
  • Diverse population rich in different cultures that feature delectable cuisine choices
  • Home to several museums in the thriving downtown area
  • Topnotch and wide selection of affordable healthcare services and other programs
  • Known for its many community festivals throughout the year

FAQs about retiring in California

1. Is California considered a good retirement state for seniors?

A: Many retirees are drawn to California for its pleasant weather and many interesting things to see and do all year long. It can cost a bit more than other locales depending on where a person moves to in this state, however, it is considered one of the best states to retire in.

If you’d rather spend your retirement near the Atlantic ocean or the great lakes, why don’t you read our top 10 places to retire in Delaware and Michigan.

2. Are there any good tips for choosing an affordable California town to retire in?

A: The larger cities and those with high-income residents may be too costly for thrifty retirees.

There are still lots of smaller and less touristy places to settle down that have more affordable housing for seniors but are still near to many of California’s awesome scenic sites and popular attractions.

3. How do retirees choose the best California retirement city that meets their needs and budget?

A: Begin planning for retirement as early as possible. Take time to list your must-have items before researching cities. Having a financial planner or someone familiar with cost-of-living expenses and determining how much is needed can be very helpful.