California Dreamin’: The 8 Best Places to Retire In California

Ready to retire, but not interested in moving to a typical retirement location like Florida or Arizona? Then you might want to give the best places to retire in California a try.

At the height of baby boomer retirement, about 10,000 people retired each day, if not more. Although those numbers have slowed down some since then, there are still large numbers of people looking for ideal places to retire.

If you want to retire somewhere fun and interesting, California has a wide variety of options. The state offers different experiences, from high-energy to laidback, depending on the area you choose. Wondering what the best retirement communities in southern California and across the state are? Keep reading to learn more!

1. Redding

Although southern California often gets the most attention, the northern and central parts of the state actually offer some of the top areas for retirement.

Redding, CA, is one of those perfect retirement towns. With just under 100,000 people, it’s not too big but not too small. You’ll be close to beautiful Mount Shasta, which affords amazing views, and the Sacramento River winds its way through the city.

This is a great location if you enjoy hot weather and outdoor activities. Since it’s an inland city, it doesn’t have the mild temperature of coastal California. However, the temperature in fall, winter, and spring is moderate enough for hiking, biking, and other outdoor fun.

Redding is also very affordable compared to California’s bigger cities, making this a great choice if you’re hoping to retire on a budget.

2. Riverside

If you prefer the climate and energy of Southern California, give Riverside a try. With a little over 300,000 people, it’s slightly larger. It’s also inland rather than on the coast, so the weather is hot for most of the year.

Riverside’s history is linked to citrus growing, but today it’s a hub of all kinds of different industries. It’s not far from L.A., so you can take a train into the city of access the LAX airport.

You’ll enjoy Riverside’s reliable public transit and multiple museums. The many local colleges keep the population young, but this is still a great city to retire in, with plenty to do and affordable prices.

3. Sacramento

Head back north for Sacramento, an excellent place to retire in northern-central CA. This gives you close access to San Francisco without the high rents and bustling population.

From Sacramento, you can also travel to nearby Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and plenty of wine country, if you want to get the most out of your location. The pretty downtown area along the river offers just the right amount of shops, restaurants, and other attractions. You’ll get plenty of locally grown, fresh produce in the city’s restaurants.

Although the summers are hot, the rest of the year tends to be mild, and there’s plenty of sun.

4. Palm Springs

In the south part of the state, you’ll find year-round warmth in Palm Springs. It’s located close to San Diego and L.A. and has long been a popular spot for celebrity homes and vacations. This is a town you’ll only want to move to if you like the desert climate.

Palm Springs offers a plethora of golf courses, and also features fun cultural events like film festivals. If you want a touch of celebrity glamour and weather that feels like summer all year, this might be the best place to retire in California.

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5. Eureka

Many people aren’t looking for the pollution and traffic often found near L.A. Eureka is the perfect peaceful escape. With just under 30,000 people, it’s truly a small town, but still big enough to be fun.

The climate of this northern California town is mild all year, and you’ll enjoy striking scenery thanks to the nearby Pacific coast and the famous California redwoods.

Eureka has plenty of traditional, beautiful Victorian homes in its downtown area. If you appreciate picturesque architecture and scenery, this is a great place, and it offers plenty of outdoor activities to soak up all the nature.

Although it’s a small town, nearby colleges and a thriving arts scene keeps things interesting, so you won’t find the culture to be lacking.

6. San Luis Obispo

It’s not cheap, but this neighbor of Santa Barbara offers a great retirement option for those who can afford it. The mild coastal climate keeps things temperate, and you’re close to both the beach and to hiking trails. You’ll also find high-end shops and restaurants in the downtown area.

You’ll find plenty of public transit options, as well as connections by train to major cities. The city hosts everything from a farmer’s market to a Mozart festival, giving it the perfect balance of activities.

7. Oceanside

If you want beach life galore, try this beachside town north of San Diego. The climate is warm but made temperate by the proximity to the water. And it’s much more affordable than comparable towns along the California beaches.

In addition to traditional homes and apartments, you’ll find plenty of retirement communities here, which can help you make connections with locals. You’re close to both L.A. and San Diego, so you can tap into the culture and arts scenes of both cities.

8. Grass Valley

If you truly love a small town, this city near Lake Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, gives you the perfect quaint feeling. It has just 12,000 people and was founded during the Gold Rush.

Today, it still thrives with restaurants, art galleries, and more, as outdoor enthusiasts regularly stop by on vacation. The homes are affordable and the temperature is mild all year.

The Best Places to Retire in California: Which One is Right For You?

The best places to retire in California don’t have much in common with each other – and that’s a good thing. There’s an incredible variety listed here. Whether you want a small town or a big city, quaint or chic, beach or desert, you’ll find what you’re looking for in California.

Of course, there are also plenty of other choices beyond California. For some other great states to consider, check out this list.



Our weekly newsletter helps people of retirement age answering the question, “Where Should I Retire?” This can be a challenging question to answer because there are so many reasons why retirees want to relocate. The list of aspects to consider when determining where to retire is endless!

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