Best Cities to Retire in California

Best Cities to Retire in California


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In our roundup of the top 10 best cities to retire in, we noticed that not a single California city made the list. But the state did take up a sizeable number of spots on our list of the top 200 cities in America to retire and performed well in our annual survey.

California boasts a beautiful climate, with warm weather all year long (with some mild exceptions—looking at you, Bay Area). The Golden State offers good access to health care, which is an important consideration as we grow older, and there are still some affordable small towns where the cost of living won’t necessarily break the bank. 

Promising metrics aside, California isn’t always a top destination for retirees, in large part because of economic reasons. The state taxes both retirement accounts and pensions, which can eat away at your income. Plus, with rising expenses already a challenge for many, more than 50% of our survey open responses cite costs as a contributing factor to a lackluster rating on their state. If you’re used to living in a more affordable part of the country, adjusting to California’s higher costs of living can be a challenge.

But if you’re already living and working in California and would like to stay close to your friends and family, the 15 cities below offer a pleasing mix of affordability, entertainment, activities, and location.

15 Best Cities to Retire in California

15. Chino, California

Chino, California
  • Population: 93,140
  • Share of population 65+: 11.70%
  • Average household income: $91,107
  • Median home price: $503,800
  • Median rent price: $1,833
  • Poverty rate: 8%

Chino residents love the low crime rates and safe nature of their neighborhoods. This quiet Southern California city has a suburban feel and a very low poverty rate as well. Retirees will find plenty of entertainment, shopping, and recreation nestled among the tile-roofed stucco homes.

14. Redlands, California

Redlands, California
Redlands, California
  • Population: 73,849
  • Share of population 65+: 14.10%
  • Average household income: $87,184
  • Median home price: $455,700
  • Median rent price: $1,598
  • Poverty rate: 8.70%

Redlands is an attractive, quiet community in a perfect location. In this Southern California city, you’ll be just an hour away from the beach, or the mountains, or the lake, or the desert — whatever you’re in the mood for. Downtown Redlands is quite walkable and offers plenty of cultural activities thanks to its proximity to the University of Redlands, so there’s always something for retirees to see and do. And with median rent at under $1,600 monthly, fixed-income seniors may find it more affordable than some of the other locations on our list.

13. Temecula, California

Temecula, California
Temecula, California
  • Population: 111,752
  • Share of population 65+: 10.80%
  • Average household income: $103,546
  • Median home price: $490,900
  • Median rent price: $2,055
  • Poverty rate: 7.70%

If your idea of the perfect retirement involves wine tastings and leisurely rounds of golf, Temecula will be just the ticket. This Riverside County location in Southern California offers numerous championship golf courses, award-winning wineries, and a charming Old Town district with antiques and shopping. Not far from Temecula are Santa Rosa Plateau Wildlife Preserve and Diamond Lake. Plus, with the annual Balloon and Wine festival occurring nearby at Skinner Lake, you may see a few hot air balloons drifting calmly overhead.

12. Elk Grove, California

Elk Grove, California
Elk Grove, California
  • Population: 177,558
  • Share of population 65+: 12.50%
  • Average household income: $106,797
  • Median home price: $466,600
  • Median rent price: $1,898
  • Poverty rate: 8.40%

Just south of Sacramento lies Elk Grove, California, a city with a suburban feel and a family focus. Residents love the sense of community, the food, and the overall diversity (though traffic can still be a pain). Retirees will appreciate Elk Grove’s relatively affordable housing and quiet neighborhoods. With a new hospital opening in 2026, Elk Grove is poised to be a favorite for seniors looking for a little small-town charm (with big-city amenities).

11. Visalia, California

Visalia, California
Visalia, California
  • Population: 143,966
  • Share of population 65+: 12.50%
  • Average household income: $69,252
  • Median home price: $267,400
  • Median rent price: $1,150
  • Poverty rate: 13.50%

Smack in the center of the state is Visalia, an affordable community with an active downtown and plenty of churches for those looking for a new spiritual home. Nestled in the San Joaquin Valley, near Fresno, Visalia gets plenty of heat and sun to defrost the chilliest Midwestern transplants. While some residents aren’t a fan of summer air quality, Visalia’s low average home prices will attract budget-minded seniors who want to put down roots in California.

10. Tracy, California

Tracy, California
Tracy, California
  • Population: 97,328
  • Share of population 65+: 9.60%
  • Average household income: $102,336
  • Median home price: $508,500
  • Median rent price: $2,000
  • Poverty rate: 9.80%

Another San Joaquin Valley destination for retirees is Tracy, California. Quiet, safe, and suburban, Tracy is a diverse and welcoming city with a number of tasty dining options. Widely considered something of a commuter town, Tracy is well positioned for jaunts to Sacramento or San Francisco for cultural activities or a wide ribbon of national forests to the east for more outdoorsy pursuits. 

9. Murrieta, California

Murrieta, California
Murrieta, California
  • Population: 113,783
  • Share of population 65+: 11.80%
  • Average household income: $98,466
  • Median home price: $458,000
  • Median rent price: $1,996
  • Poverty rate: 6.10%

Murrieta ranks as one of the safest cities in California and the nation, with a police force that works to build collaborative relationships in the community. With 263 sunny days per year and a location equidistant from both Los Angeles and San Diego, seniors looking for access to both indoor and outdoor excursions from an affordable home base should take a closer look at Murrieta. Retiring in Murrieta also provides seniors access to quality health care, with several hospitals and medical centers nearby.

8. Manteca, California

Manteca, California
Manteca, California
  • Population: 86,928
  • Share of population 65+: 13.40%
  • Average household income: $82,538
  • Median home price: $432,100
  • Median rent price: $1,665
  • Poverty rate: 10.70%

Located near Stockton, Manteca is a central-California city with a small-town feel. Seniors retiring here can enjoy hot dry summers and mostly mild winters, with a range of small markets and festivals throughout the year. Anglers will enjoy some nice fishing opportunities on the San Joaquin River and multiple other spots in the area. If you’re looking for a slow pace of life, numerous parks, and fun things for the grandkids to do when they visit, Manteca may be just the place.

7. Hemet, California

Hemet, California
Hemet, California
  • Population: 90,689
  • Share of population 65+: 21.10%
  • Average household income: $46,194
  • Median home price: $226,000
  • Median rent price: $1,220
  • Poverty rate: 17.20%

This Inland Empire city was a haven for retirees a generation ago and today still has more than a fifth of its residents over the age of 65. Housing costs are quite low for California standards, with the average home price just $226,000 and rent at $1,220. Hemet residents can enjoy mountain views from nearly every angle as they travel to the city’s Diamond Valley Lake for recreation. Health care facilities are readily accessible, and Los Angeles or Palm Springs are just a short drive away.

6. Indio, California

Indio, California
Indio, California
  • Population: 91,980
  • Share of population 65+: 19.60%
  • Average household income: $59,399
  • Median home price: $311,700
  • Median rent price: $1,210
  • Poverty rate: 14.50%

Retirees love Indio living for its mild winters, relatively affordable cost of living, and good access to health care. Nearly one in five Indio residents is age 65 or older, so you may find it easier to make friends your age here. Plus, there are numerous arts and cultural events (including the famous Coachella Festival), as well as casinos, golfing, and spas nearby. Just be ready to handle the heat: summer temps in Indio are blazing, averaging over 100 degrees for four months straight. At least there’s no humidity.

5. Clovis, California

Clovis, California
Clovis, California
  • Population: 124,556
  • Share of population 65+: 13.10%
  • Average household income: $89,796
  • Median home price: $361,800
  • Median rent price: $1,340
  • Poverty rate: 8.10%

This clean, quiet community, known as the Gateway to the Sierras, has a lot of old-town charm. Located close to Fresno, Clovis offers its residents excellent health, whether it’s access to top-notch medical facilities or the city’s focus on green and sustainable living. Seniors looking to settle in California will appreciate the safe neighborhoods and walking trails, consistently sunny weather, and terrific community events.

4. Rocklin, California

Rocklin, California
Rocklin, California
  • Population: 73,857
  • Share of population 65+: 13.80%
  • Average household income: $106,164
  • Median home price: $553,800
  • Median rent price: $1,907
  • Poverty rate: 4.60%

Just 22 minutes from Sacramento is the pleasant town of Rocklin, home to friendly neighbors, clean streets, and excellent schools, which keeps the community a desirable place to live. Rocklin retirees will appreciate the slightly milder climate in Rocklin compared to other options further south, plus the slower pace of life for residents here. Although homes in Rocklin cost a little more on average than some of our other picks, it’s an indication of high property values and a well-kept town, though property taxes may be a tradeoff in this department.

3. Menifee, California

Menifee, California
Menifee, California
  • Population: 109,399
  • Share of population 65+: 17.30%
  • Average household income: $80,741
  • Median home price: $371,500
  • Median rent price: $1,793
  • Poverty rate: 7.90%

This Inland Empire city is a suburb just a little over an hour away from Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, and other cultural centers. A good portion of the community is aged 65 and older, drawn perhaps to the peaceful neighborhoods, hot climate, and proximity to a wide variety of recreational activities. There are plenty of master-planned communities for seniors who appreciate the lifestyle and amenities such places have to offer, such as Audie Murphy Ranch near Canyon Lake. Although some residents are disappointed in Menifee’s traffic woes (often hard to escape in a car-based state like California), the overall vibe is beautiful, clean, quiet, and safe.

2. Roseville, California

Roseville, California
Roseville, California
  • Population: 154,817
  • Share of population 65+: 16.20%
  • Average household income: $102,660
  • Median home price: $502,800
  • Median rent price: $1,787
  • Poverty rate: 7.00%

For seniors, life is rosy in Roseville, a family-oriented, well-maintained suburb in Placer County, near Sacramento. A web of bike trails connects to downtown, while Folsom Lake is just a short 20-minute drive away. Roseville’s premier quality of life offers a bustling downtown, variety of dining options, and easy access to mountains, lakes, wineries, and skiing. An underrated perk? Roseville’s electrical utility is community-owned and very reliable, so you won’t have to worry about expensive bills or rolling blackouts. Retiring in Roseville lets you put down roots in an area with affordable cost of living, great health care, and tons of recreational activities.

1. Folsom, California

Folsom, California
Folsom, California
  • Population: 83,269
  • Share of population 65+: 12.60%
  • Average household income: $128,421
  • Median home price: $598,100
  • Median rent price: $1,944
  • Poverty rate: 5.00%

Retirement Living’s No. 1 pick for California cities to retire in is Folsom. This beloved Sacramento suburb on Folsom Lake is close to a wide variety of outdoor recreation and less than two hours to Lake Tahoe. Folsom is a safe community with a low poverty rate and 34% lower incidence of crime than the national average. For seniors, the parks, walking and biking trails, and shopping and dining options are attractive, and the year-round warm weather and abundance of nature make it a beautiful place to settle down. We love the clean, quiet atmosphere, friendly and welcoming neighbors, and thriving local economy, too. Retirees looking for their next nest would do well to choose Folsom as a landing spot.

Ready to Retire in California?

Planning your retirement can be stressful. If you’ve decided on California but aren’t sure how to choose a spot or what to keep in mind as you navigate this next phase, we recommend working with a financial advisor near you. They can help you with everything from pension payouts to life insurance to taxes in retirement.


To help readers find the best California cities for retirement, we evaluated all cities with populations greater than 80,000 residents. Then, we evaluated 12 government data sources, including the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the FBI, as well as Retirement Living’s internal resources and more. All data sources were available at the city level, except for the homelessness rate, which was collected at the state level. 

To rank each city, we created an equation and standardized each metric so we could compare each data point equally. The data points and their corresponding percent weighting are as follows:

  • Population growth (2019 – 2022): 20%
  • Persons 65 and older: 10%
  • Median monthly mortgage payment: 8%
  • Median monthly rent payment: 6%
  • Median household income (2022 dollars, adjusted for inflation): 8%
  • Persons in poverty: 6%
  • Population per square mile: 6%
  • Homelessness per 10,000 residents (only state-level data available): 6%
  • Sales tax rate, including local taxes: 6%
  • Taxes on retirement income: 6%
  • FBI crime statistics: 6%

Data can only go so far, and what’s happening on the ground has the potential to greatly affect quality-of-life metrics in ways our data points cannot detect. To fill in the gaps about factors affecting retirement planning and satisfaction, Retirement Living surveyed 1,075 residents aged 55 and older across the U.S. and asked the following questions:

  1. Would you recommend your city (nearest metropolis) to a friend as a retirement location? Why or why not? 
  2. Which of the following would you say is your most important consideration for determining where to retire: affordability, quality of life, access to health care, or something else?
  3. How satisfied are you with your retirement in your state, on a scale from 1 to 5, and why?
  4. Are you willing to move to a state with a more favorable retirement climate? Yes or no?

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  1. The United States Census Bureau
  2. The Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  3. Retirement Living survey data, November 2023
  4. Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Data Explorer
  5. California Department of Revenue website