The 10 Best Places To Retire In California For 2021


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

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Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best places to retire in California.

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? Well, California has the place for you.

When people think of glamorized retirement states, many first think of Florida. But 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. It is one of America's most idealized states because of the perfect weather, activities, and people. So if you're thinking of California as a top destination for your retirement, we put together a list of the best places to rest on your laurels.

If you are thinking of living in large cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco, you might find it hard to afford it on your pension. So we took into account places in California that had things to do like museums and libraries, but that wouldn't make you go broke -- California has some of the highest average rents in America. That means you're more likely to end up in a sunny, beach side town with a quality farmer's market and proximity to an airport and a lower cost of living.

At the end of the day, we have figured out just which cities in California are the best for retirement based on factors you'd want when considering a great city to relax and enjoy life. Wherever you pick, you know one thing: you will not want be living in a boring town with nothing to do after a hard life's work if you live in a city on our list.

The 10 Best Places To Retire In California For 2021

  1. Palm Springs
  2. Sierra Madre
  3. Auburn
  4. Saratoga
  5. Claremont
  6. Rancho Mirage
  7. Moraga
  8. Los Gatos
  9. Torrance
  10. Banning

Why did Palm Springs take the top spot? And where are Los Angeles and San Diego?

We analyzed 348 places in California to bring you the best of the best for retirement. After crunching the numbers, what city was crowned the best place to retire in California? Palm Springs is the best place to retire in California according to our most recent data.

Palm Springs 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 ten best cities for retirement in California and to learn more about methodology.

For more California state reading:

The 10 Best Places To Retire In California For 2021

Palm Springs, CA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 47,897
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Rent: $1,114
Distance to Closest Airport: 2 miles
More on Palm Springs: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Sierra Madre, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 10,932
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Rent: $1,615
Distance to Closest Airport: 25 miles
More on Sierra Madre: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Auburn, CA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 14,011
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Median Rent: $1,147
Distance to Closest Airport: 30 miles
More on Auburn: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Saratoga, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 30,697
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Rent: $3,091
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
More on Saratoga: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Claremont, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 36,090
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 10)
Median Rent: $1,561
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
More on Claremont: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 18,193
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Rent: $1,191
Distance to Closest Airport: 6 miles
More on Rancho Mirage: Real Estate | Data

Moraga, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 17,539
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Rent: $2,128
Distance to Closest Airport: 10 miles
More on Moraga: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Los Gatos, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 30,729
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Rent: $2,341
Distance to Closest Airport: 9 miles
More on Los Gatos: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Torrance, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 145,492
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Rent: $1,736
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
More on Torrance: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Banning, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 31,072
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Rent: $1,010
Distance to Closest Airport: 23 miles
More on Banning: Real Estate | Data | Photos

How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Golden State for 2021

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 Palm Springs, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers. You can download the data here.

Maybe You're Not Ready To Retire In California Yet...

So there you have it, the best place to retire in California goes to Palm Springs.

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

  1. Lake Elsinore
  2. Arvin
  3. Atwater

For more California reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Retire In California?

Rank City Population Median Rent
1 Palm Springs 47,897 $1,114
2 Sierra Madre 10,932 $1,615
3 Auburn 14,011 $1,147
4 Saratoga 30,697 $3,091
5 Claremont 36,090 $1,561
6 Rancho Mirage 18,193 $1,191
7 Moraga 17,539 $2,128
8 Los Gatos 30,729 $2,341
9 Torrance 145,492 $1,736
10 Banning 31,072 $1,010

How Is The Area In ?

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.