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With its miles and miles of coastline, stunning mountain and forest vistas, and mild climate, California is a dream for most retirees. It’s a surprisingly diverse state, offering desert, forest and mountain landscapes as well as its trademark beaches. And it has a high quality of life—with some of the best weather in the world.

California truly does offer something for everyone. Retirees who love golf will find whole communities dedicated to it, with a wealth of championship golf courses built by former golf champions themselves. Those who love the outdoors are surrounded by gorgeous scenery at every turn, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, boating, fishing, camping, and any other sport you can imagine. And those who love culture and entertainment can settle in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco, San Diego, or Los Angeles—where star sightings are commonplace.

However, not everyone can afford California. Real estate in this state is about the highest in the country—almost twice the US average. With no state programs designed to encourage retirees to move there, taxes are quite high for retirees. In addition, sales and income taxes are also high compared to the nationwide average. Even so, pension income isn’t taxed if it isn’t collected directly as income or dividends.

If you’re considering senior living in California, here are a few areas that might merit a closer look.

San Diego

Known for its mild weather and extremely high quality of life, San Diego offers a beautiful oceanside downtown full of restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment. The weather is beautiful year-round, with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Los Angeles

The country’s top entertainment mecca, Los Angeles is home to top production companies, famous music studios, and the homes of fabulous celebrities. It’s a sophisticated town with plenty to see and do—including top-notch cuisine and shopping. Even so, Los Angeles can be extremely expensive. In addition, public transportation is not widely available—a car is practically a necessity here.

San Francisco

A completely walkable city, San Francisco is vibrant and full of natural beauty. There’s easy access to cultural events, shopping, museums, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is known for its hills, which can make foot navigation difficult for some seniors—but it has an excellent public transportation system.

San Mateo

Located between San Jose and San Francisco, San Mateo is a very healthy place to retire. Located on the coast, it’s got easy access to outdoor recreation spots including Coyote Point Park and Sawyer Camp Trail. If being near a hospital is a priority for you, this is the place—San Mateo has over 200 hospitals within a 30-mile radius and over 2,000 doctors living in the county.


Anaheim is full of grandchild-friendly things to do—visit Disneyland, for example, or catch a Dutch or Angels game. It’s close to the beach, and includes several top-notch golf courses. There are over 420 hospitals within a 30-mile radius of the town, with over 8,000 doctors living in Orange County. CNN Money listed Anaheim as the healthiest place in the country to retire—and with all the medical facilities and outdoor recreation opportunities, it’s easy to see why.

The cost of California senior living isn’t for everyone. But if you can afford it, it’s worth a closer look. California offers some of the best weather in the country, as well as a wealth of things to do in the cities, towns, and rural areas—and a consistently high quality of life. With its stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, and major metropolitan areas boasting a wide range of cultural and entertainment options, you’ll never be bored in California.