Chico, California

Best Places to Retire in California


Chico (population 69,000) is located in the Northern Sacramento Valley, 90 miles north of the City of Sacramento. It is an historic community that has maintained a sense of small-town living with family oriented neighborhoods. At the same time it is a regional business center and offers a great many cultural and recreation activities. It is also home to California State University with 14,000 students. The University is also the area’s largest employer. The adjacent unincorporated areas have an additional population of 30,000, and all of Butte County has a population of about 211,000.  Butte County was one of the original California Counties, dating to 1850, and is rich in the history of gold mining. Chico was founded in 1860 by General John Bidwell and was incorporated in 1872. John Bidwell’s wife, Annie, gave the city 2,500 acres of recreation land in 1905 as a park, and through the years additional properties have been acquired to equal more than 3,600 acres. Bidwell Park today is the focal point of the city’s park system and one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S.

Chico is a friendly community with affordable housing and a relatively low cost of living. It offers excellent dining choices, including interesting cafes, and fine dining. The area offers very good health care and has outstanding recreational opportunities. It is minutes from the Sierra foothills where you’ll find great hiking, fishing, hunting and skiing, and it is also within reach of San Francisco or Lake Tahoe, and a number of outstanding parks.

Arts & Culture

Bidwell Mansion at Bidwell State Historic Park is a 26-room House Museum. The home is a 3-story Italian villa, completed in 1868. It is maintained as memorial to John and Annie Bidwell. John Bidwell, founder of Chico, was well known as a soldier, statesman and philanthropist. 

Blue Room Theatre is an independent theatre group offering live theater, including classics, regional premieres and commissioned works. 

Chico Cabaret Theater – 

Chico Theater Company produces family oriented shows with an emphasis on musical theater. 

The California State University Department of Theatre Arts offers from eight to ten productions annually. These include two major musicals, an opera, a dance concert, student directed one-acts, plus comedies and dramas. 

The California State University Department of Music has a great many performing ensembles, including choral groups, Opera Workshop, North State Symphony, jazz ensembles, chamber music, brass ensembles, and more. 

Master Calendar of California State University arts events. 

Theatre On The Ridge (in Paradise, CA) is 10 miles from Chico. It is the area’s longest-running community theater. 

Paradise Performing Arts Center –

Butte County Library has six branches with one located in Chico.

Chico Art Center is located in the old Chico railroad depot. It is an ongoing visual art display featuring California artists. The center also offers classes, lectures and workshops. 

California State University Art Gallery in Taylor Hall – 

California State University Museum of Anthropology is located in Trinity Hall at the University.

Chico Museum offers rotating historic exhibits and a permanent exhibit of Chico’s history. 

Gold Nugget Museum features dolls, minerals, guns, mining artifacts, and Native American artifacts.

Butte County Pioneer Museum (Oroville) includes Chinese artifacts, relics from the 49’ers of gold rush days, an arrowhead collection, basket collection, and other treasures.


Bidwell Park, comprised of 3,670 acres and nearly 11 miles in length, is one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S. Annie Bidwell established it through a donation of 2,500 acres in 1905. The park has scenic vistas, canyons with the rushing waters of Big Chico Creek, and both mountainous and flatland terrain. It offers swimming, many miles of mountain biking trails, horseback riding, hiking, picnic sites, an outdoor amphitheater, children’s playground, an 18-hole golf course, and baseball fields. 

Chico Creek Nature Center, located in Bidwell Park, operates a natural history museum, nature center, and information center for Bidwell Park. 

Lassen Volcanic National Park encompasses over 100,000 acres and offers magnificent beauty and a wide variety of activities. These include auto touring, backpacking, bird watching, boating, camping, cross country skiing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing, wildlife viewing, and more. 


California State University at Chico is a liberal arts school with an enrollment of 14,000 students. 

Butte Community College, Oroville (about 22 miles) has an attractive 940-acre campus. It enrolls about 13,000 students annually, with 7,000 full-time students.

Senior Programs

Passages Adult Resouce Center serves seniors, persons with disabilities and caregivers. 

ElderCollege at California State University at Chico offers lifelong learning programs for persons 60 and older. 

Independent Living Services of Northern California offers “links for Seniors.”


Enloe Medical Center is a 391-bed acute care hospital serving more than 400,000 residents in a six-county region. 


Chico Municipal Airport, with a main runway of 6,722 feet, offers scheduled commercial service to San Francisco. 


Average temperatures for Chico for January are a high of 54 degrees and low of 35 degrees. The July average temperatures are a high of 93 degrees and low of 61 degrees. The average precipitation for January is 5.9 inches and 0.1 inches in July.


Chico Enterprise-Record – 

Chico News Review – 

Property Taxes

Butte County Assessor’s Office, or the Clerk of the County Board.

State Taxes

California Franchise Tax Board – 

Chamber of Commerce 

State Aging Agency


Paradise – 10 miles
Oroville – 22 miles
Sacramento – 90 miles
Napa – 148 miles
Sonoma – 157 miles
Reno, NV – 162 miles
San Francisco – 176 miles
Lake Tahoe – 191 miles
Carson City – 194 miles

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