10 Best Places To Retire In California For 2019


We analyzed over 348 places in California to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the best places to retire in California.

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When you think of retirement, where do you envision yourself to live? Do you find yourself soaking up the sun on sandy beaches? Reading on a porch overlooking mountain ranges? Or do you want to live a more fast-paced lifestyle in bustling urban centers?

Wherever you pick, you know one thing: you will not want to be living in a boring town with nothing to do.

Retirement in America is no longer about spending years huddled up at home getting older, but rather about exploring life and spending quality time with family and friends. Retirement is actually an extremely social time for many older Americans.

So when you plan your future long-term vacation, how do you know which cities are the best for retirement? If you are living in large cities like New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, you might find it hard to afford on your pension.

You also may want to find a city that is filled with many other retired families because what’s the use of being retired if everyone you want to socialize with is too busy to hang out?

When people think of glamorized retirement states, many first think of Florida. But what about other states, what about California? It is one of America’s most idealized states because of the perfect weather, activities, and people. So why not think of California as a top destination for your retirement?

When you stop and think about, California has it all. It has mountains and trails, beaches and surfing, and cities with a seal or two. What else could you possibly want?

The best of the best, of course.

Luckily, we have figured out just which cities in California are best for retirement. Here are the top 10 best cities for retirement in California for {year}:

We analyzed 348 places in California to bring you the best of the best. After crunching the numbers, we found just which city came in first: San Marino.

San Marino reigned over the rest because of its unparalleled retirement factors: great weather, great people, and most importantly, great location.

No matter where you end up California, you will likely love the environment and location.

Interested to see how we crunched the numbers? Keep reading for a detailed look at our top 10 best cities for retirement in California and to learn more about methodology.

For California state reading:

San Marino, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 13,324
Rank Last Year: 388 (Up 387)
Median Rent: $0
Distance to Closest Airport: 20 miles
More on San Marino: Real Estate | Data | Photos

San Marino is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Incorporated on April 12, 1913, the city was designed by its founders to be uniquely residential, with expansive properties surrounded by beautiful gardens, wide streets, and well maintained parkways. The city is located in the San Rafael Hills. The population was 13,147 at the 2010 census.

Palm Springs, CA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 46,714
Rank Last Year: 78 (Up 76)
Median Rent: $973
Distance to Closest Airport: 2 miles
More on Palm Springs: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Palm Springs is a desert resort city in Riverside County, California, United States, within the Coachella Valley. It is located approximately 55mi east of San Bernardino, 107mi east of Los Angeles, 123mi northeast of San Diego, and 268mi west of Phoenix, Arizona. The population was 44,552 as of the 2010 census. Palm Springs covers approximately 94 square miles, making it the largest city in the county by land area.

Review Of Palm Springs by HomeSnacks User

I came to Palm Springs for a visit and decided to stay. The people are friendly and warm and welcoming. It truly felt like home from the beginning.

Palm Springs has long been known as a vacation destination to Hollywood stars, Marilyn Monroe was said to be discovered at the legendary Racquet Club. Palm Springs boasts many tourist attractions: the Tramway, Art museum, Living Desert and many antique boutiques. Palm Springs while extremely LGBT friendly is also very family friendly. Whatever you want from a tourist destination you can find here. A short commute to Los Angeles and the beaches of the Pacific coast and the ski resorts of the local mountains, Palm Springs is truly a gem and worth the visit.

Auburn, CA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 13,858
Rank Last Year: 226 (Up 223)
Median Rent: $1,066
Distance to Closest Airport: 30 miles
More on Auburn: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Auburn is a city in and the county seat of Placer County, California. Its population was 13,330 during the 2010 census. Auburn is known for its California Gold Rush history, and is registered as a California Historical Landmark.

Sierra Madre, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 11,067
Rank Last Year: 391 (Up 387)
Median Rent: $1,469
Distance to Closest Airport: 25 miles
More on Sierra Madre: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Sierra Madre is a city in Los Angeles County, California whose population was 10,917 at the 2010 U.S. Census, up from 10,580 at the time of the 2000 U.S. Census. The city is located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley below the southern edge of the Angeles National Forest. Pasadena and Altadena are to its west, with Arcadia to its south and east. Sierra Madre is known as “Wisteria City”, and its city seal is decorated with a drawing of the now widely known 500-foot vine. It is also called the “Village of the Foothills” and was an All-America City in 2007.

Moraga, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 16,977
Rank Last Year: 381 (Up 376)
Median Rent: $1,909
Distance to Closest Airport: 10 miles
More on Moraga: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Moraga is a suburban incorporated town located in Contra Costa County, California, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is named in honor of Joaquin Moraga, whose grandfather was Jos Joaquin Moraga, second in command to Juan Bautista de Anza. As of 2010, Moraga had a total population of 16,016people.

Torrance, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 147,307
Rank Last Year: 358 (Up 352)
Median Rent: $1,512
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
More on Torrance: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Torrance is a U.S. city in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County, California. Torrance has 1.5 miles of beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Torrance has a moderate year-round climate with warm temperatures, sea breezes, low humidity and an average rainfall of 12.55inches per year.

Alameda, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 77,409
Rank Last Year: 309 (Up 302)
Median Rent: $1,478
Distance to Closest Airport: 2 miles
More on Alameda: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Alameda is a city in Alameda County, California, United States. It is located on Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island, and is adjacent to and south of Oakland and east of San Francisco across the San Francisco Bay. Bay Farm Island, a portion of which is also known as “Harbor Bay Isle”, is not actually an island, and is part of the mainland adjacent to the Oakland International Airport. The city’s estimated 2017 population was 79,928. Alameda is a charter city, rather than a general law city, allowing the city to provide for any form of government. Alameda became a charter city and adopted a council-manager government in 1916, which it retains to the present.

Saratoga, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 30,830
Rank Last Year: 403 (Up 395)
Median Rent: $2,410
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
More on Saratoga: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Saratoga is a city in Santa Clara County, California, United States. It is located on the west side of the Santa Clara Valley, directly west of San Jose, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 29,926 at the 2010 census. Located on the Western edge of the Silicon Valley, Saratoga is known locally for its suburban small-town feel, wineries, and high-end restaurants. Major attractions of Saratoga include Villa Montalvo, Hakone Gardens, and the Mountain Winery.

Imperial, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 16,583
Rank Last Year: 268 (Up 260)
Median Rent: $1,233
Distance to Closest Airport: 12 miles
More on Imperial: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Imperial is a city in Imperial County, California. Imperial is located 4 miles north of El Centro. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 14,758. It is part of the El Centro metropolitan area. Nearby recreation facilities transform the desert into a popular Valley tourist destination due to availability of activities. Three year-round golf courses are within minutes of Imperial. The sand dunes provide a place for campers and dune buggy enthusiasts. This region is well known for its abundance of bird species such as dove, quail, ducks, pheasant and geese.

Claremont, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 35,827
Rank Last Year: 298 (Up 288)
Median Rent: $1,399
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
More on Claremont: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Claremont is a city on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, California, United States, 30.3 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It is in the eastern San Gabriel Valley, at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, and has a population, as of the 2015 United States Census estimate, of 36,283 people.

How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Golden State for 2019

To create our list of the best places in California to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Golden State — 1481 cities and towns.

We then narrowed it down to places with at least 10,000 people that weren’t townships. This left us with 348 places from across the state.

For these 348, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:

  • Low cost of living as measured by rent
  • Low crime
  • Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
  • Nice weather
  • Distance to the closest international airport
  • Other retirees (High median age)

We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 348, with the lowest number being the best.

Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case San Marino, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.

Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire In California Yet…

So there you have it, the best place to retire in California goes to San Marino.

If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:

  1. Arvin
  2. Los Banos
  3. Perris

For more California reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Retire In California?

Rank City Population Median Rent
1 San Marino 13,324 $0
2 Palm Springs 46,714 $973
3 Auburn 13,858 $1,066
4 Sierra Madre 11,067 $1,469
5 Moraga 16,977 $1,909
6 Torrance 147,307 $1,512
7 Alameda 77,409 $1,478
8 Saratoga 30,830 $2,410
9 Imperial 16,583 $1,233
10 Claremont 35,827 $1,399

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.