10 Dream Retirement Locations in California

September 22, 2023

10 Dream Retirement Locations in California

September 22, 2023

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California, known for its diverse geography and stunning landscapes, has become one of the top retirement destinations in the United States. From the sunny beaches and cultural diversity to the lush wine country and mild climate, California offers an endless list of possibilities for those seeking the perfect place to retire. In this guide, we’ll explore 10 dream retirement locations in California that cater to various lifestyles and preferences.

1. San Diego: The Coastal Haven

San Diego is synonymous with beautiful weather, pristine beaches, and an overall relaxed lifestyle. Retirees can enjoy world-class golf courses, a wide range of dining options, and numerous cultural attractions like museums and theaters.

Median home sale price in 2023: $870,000 (realtor.com)

2. Palm Springs: The Desert Oasis

Palm Springs has long been a favorite among retirees due to its stunning desert landscapes and natural hot springs. With over 350 days of sunshine each year and a plethora of outdoor activities, this area offers an active and healthy lifestyle for seniors.

Median home sale price in 2023: $732,500 (realtor.com)

3. Santa Barbara: The Mediterranean Retreat

With its Mediterranean climate and upscale charm, Santa Barbara provides retirees with an elegant and serene environment. The city offers a rich cultural scene, wineries, and beautiful parks that make it a popular choice for relaxation and leisure.

Median home sale price in 2023: $2 million (realtor.com)

4. Napa Valley: The Wine Lover’s Paradise

Known for its world-renowned vineyards and culinary scene, Napa Valley is perfect for those who appreciate fine dining and wine tasting. Retirement communities here are often surrounded by picturesque landscapes, offering a unique blend of nature and sophistication.

Median home sale price in 2023: $875,000 (realtor.com)

5. Sacramento: The Vibrant Capital

For those who prefer a more urban setting, Sacramento offers a mix of history, culture, and modernity. With affordable living costs, excellent healthcare facilities, and various recreational activities, it’s a great city for retirees seeking convenience and entertainment.

Median home sale price in 2023: $485,000 (realtor.com)

6. Carmel-by-the-Sea: The Artistic Retreat

This quaint and artistic town is ideal for those seeking creativity and inspiration in their retirement. With its stunning coastal views, vibrant arts scene, and pedestrian-friendly streets, Carmel-by-the-Sea has become a haven for those looking for a more bohemian lifestyle.

Median home sale price in 2023: $2.6 million (realtor.com)

7. Laguna Beach and Newport Beach: The Coastal Gems

Laguna Beach is famed for its breathtaking coastal views, art galleries, and outdoor activities. Retirees can enjoy beachside living with all the amenities of a larger city, making it a prime location for relaxation and recreation—especially water-based activities.

This comes with a price tag, though, as both locations have a high cost of living. The median home sales prices in Newport Beach were $2.9 million and Laguna Beach were $3 million—the highest on our list.

8. Ojai: The Spiritual Haven

Ojai is a small town that offers a peaceful and spiritual environment. With its yoga retreats, organic farms, and wellness centers, it’s a top choice for retirees seeking a mindful and holistic approach to life.

Median home sale price in 2023: $1 million (realtor.com)

9. San Luis Obispo: The College Town Vibe

Home to a well-known university, San Luis Obispo has a youthful energy and vibrant downtown. The town offers a wide array of outdoor activities, cultural events, and community engagement, making it an appealing choice for retirees who want to stay active and connected.

Median home sale price in 2023: $973,800 (realtor.com)

10. The Affordable Inland Choices: Fresno, Modesto, and Bakersfield

It goes without saying that the closer you are to the coast or a major city, the more expensive the cost of living will be. But retiring in California doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank to enjoy the Golden State’s unique charm and sunny weather. While the allure of coastal cities often comes with a higher price tag, there are affordable inland choices like Fresno, Modesto, and Bakersfield that offer a lower cost of living without sacrificing quality of life.

Fresno is a gateway to the stunning Sierra Nevada and offers a rich agricultural heritage, cultural attractions, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Modesto, known for its friendly community and vibrant arts scene, provides retirees with a blend of small-town charm and modern amenities. Meanwhile, Bakersfield, positioned at the southern end of the Central Valley, offers a strong sense of community, country music legacy, and proximity to both the mountains and desert landscapes.

These cities provide excellent healthcare facilities, a variety of housing options, and a sense of community that makes them attractive to retirees on a budget. While they may not boast ocean views, their affordability and diverse offerings make them viable options for those looking to retire in California without the coastal price tag.

Fresno median home sale price in 2023: $370,000 (realtor.com)
Modesto median home sale price in 2023: $439,800 (realtor.com)
Bakersfield median home sale price in 2023: $378,000 (realtor.com)

Factoring Access to Healthcare into Choosing Your Retirement Location

Another key to choosing the best retirement location is proximity to quality medical care. As we age, the potential need for medical services generally increases. Choosing a retirement location based on proximity to quality healthcare can further alleviate some of the challenges related to aging. Being close to renowned hospitals, specialist physicians, and other medical facilities can provide peace of mind and facilitate access to necessary medical care, reducing the time and stress involved in traveling long distances for treatment.

Moreover, living in an area with top-tier healthcare providers can offer more options and potentially better outcomes for various medical conditions. In some cases, retirees may even consider relocating to cities or countries known for their excellent healthcare services, as this can greatly enhance their quality of life during their golden years, enabling them to live more comfortably and confidently.

According to U.S. News, some of the best hospitals for geriatric care are located in California cities, many of which are close to our top retirement locations listed above. These include:

  • UCLA Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Keck Medical Center of USC in the Los Angeles area
  • UCSF Health-USCF Medical Center and Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital in the Bay Area
  • UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento
  • UC San Diego-La Jolla and Hillcrest Hospitals and Scripps La Jolla Hospitals in the San Diego area


Retirement is an opportunity to explore new horizons and embrace a lifestyle that resonates with your personal preferences. California’s vast diversity offers something for everyone, whether you’re seeking beachside tranquility, cultural vibrancy, or outdoor adventures.

These dream retirement locations in California represent just a snapshot of the incredible options available in the Golden State. Explore these destinations, and you’ll surely find a place that will make your retirement years fulfilling, enjoyable, and truly unforgettable.

If you found this comprehensive guide helpful, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family who are also considering retirement in California. And if you’re ready to make the move, reach out to local real estate experts to find the perfect home that fits your needs and dreams. The professionals at Liberty Group can also help you determine how much money you might need to retire in California and develop a plan to help you maintain your desired lifestyle. Contact us here today.


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This blog expresses the author’s views as of the date indicated, are subject to change without notice, and may not be updated. The information contained within is believed to be from reliable sources. However, its accurateness, completeness, and the opinions based thereon by the author are not guaranteed – no responsibility is assumed for omissions or errors.  This blog aims to expose you to ideas and financial vehicles that may help you work towards your financial goals. No promises or guarantees are made that you will accomplish such goals.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and any expected returns or hypothetical projections may not reflect actual future performance or outcomes. All investments involve risk and may lose money. Nothing in this document should be construed as investment, tax, financial, accounting, or legal advice. Each prospective investor must evaluate and investigate any investments considered or any investment strategies or recommendations described herein (including the risks and merits thereof), seek professional advice for their particular circumstances, and inform themselves about the tax or other consequences of any investments or services considered.

Investment advisory services are offered through Liberty Wealth Management, LLC (“LWM”), DBA Liberty Group, an SEC-registered investment adviser.  For additional information on LWM or its investment professionals, please visit www.adviserinfo.sec.gov  or contact us directly at 411 30th Street, 2nd Floor, Oakland, CA  94609, T: 510-658-1880, F: 510-658-1886,  www.libertygroupllc.com. Registration with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or any state securities authority does not imply a certain level of skill or training.


Alberstadt, Hannah & Brooks, Ashlyn. (July 21, 2023). Health care costs in retirement. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/money/blueprint/retirement/healthcare-costs-in-retirement/

Chen, James. (April 24, 2023). Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) Explained. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/tips.asp