GOBankingRates

10 Most Affordable Places To Retire in California

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Meandering Trail Media / Shutterstock.com

Retirement does not mean the end of an adventure – it could be the best opportunity to start a new one. While many choose popular retirement hubs like Florida and Maine to settle down in, you could consider moving out West for an entirely different adventure.

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Despite the high cost of living in popular cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, there are a number of affordable cities in California, with aspects that could benefit retirees. If you’re considering fulfilling your Manifest Destiny in retirement, continue reading GOBankingRates’ list of the top 10 affordable places to retire in California.

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Vacaville

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,472.86

Thirty-five miles outside of Sacramento, the city of Vacaville is the number one most affordable place to retire in the Golden State. Locals enjoy exploring parks like Lagoon Valley Park, the occasional shopping trip to premium outlet stores, and the monthly Vacaville Vintage Market. The average resident is estimated to spend $445.60 per month on groceries and $452.99 on healthcare there.

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Citrus Heights

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,524.14

Citrus Heights is a dense suburban area with 17 percent of the residents ages 65 and older. Monthly healthcare costs come out to an estimated $417.18, about four percent lower than the national average. As a bonus, Citrus Heights is located near many family attractions like Roseville Golfland and Sunsplash and the Sacramento Zoo, so grandkids will always have something to look forward to when they visit.

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Chula Vista

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,626.00

A suburb of San Diego, Chula Vista offers a mix of suburban and city life. Residents have easy access to bayside activities like parks, beaches, and the Living Coast Discovery Center, and can even make the quick drive to enjoy the island of Coronado. Chula Vista has the most affordable price for monthly healthcare on the list, estimated at $383.96 per month.

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Fairfield

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,575.86

Back up north, Fairfield is a midway point between major cities Sacramento and San Francisco at a more affordable cost. Rent in the city is the second-lowest on this list. The city has several wineries, breweries, and golf courses to boot, and residents there say the community is diverse and welcoming.

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Burbank

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom:  $1,678.00

Adjacent to the hub of studios in Los Angeles, Burbank has plenty to do while still maintaining the ease of suburban life. It is a convenient option for retirees who want a central location and affordable healthcare – the monthly cost of $385.69 is just 89.4 percent of the national average. Despite typical LA traffic, Burbank residents benefit from proximity to shopping centers, parks, and hiking trails.

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Roseville

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,654.57

Roseville’s variety of activities and affordability make it one of the top livable cities in California, and a top option for retirees. Seventeen percent of Roseville’s residents are age 65 and older, and the monthly healthcare costs sit below the national average.

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Glendale

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,714.00

The city of Glendale offers a variety of shopping, restaurants, and an easy commute to downtown Los Angeles or the suburbs of Pasadena. Retirees can move to Glendale in good company, with 18 percent of the local population age 65 and up. Healthcare costs an average of $385.69 per month, which is 10.6 percent below the national average. 

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West Covina

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,746.29

West Covina is full of places to explore, with historical museums, parks, and the region’s premium shopping center The Lakes Mall. While this city has the highest rent on the list, it has the lowest estimated monthly cost of groceries at $420.48 and a monthly healthcare cost of $452.99, which can even out your expenses. West Covina boasts a small town charm, residents saying that the neighborly attitude established in the 1880s is still alive in the city today.

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Berkeley

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,644.00

The coastal city of Berkeley is home to waterfront parks, outdoor activities, and a variety of arts venues like the Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley Rep, and Greek Theater. The city has one of the most affordable rent prices on the list, and newly renovated senior centers with a variety of activities. Seniors in the area can also access specialized transportation services provided by the city.

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Folsom

  • Cost to rent one-bedroom: $1,731.43

With an exceptional livability score, it’s no wonder that Folsom rounds out this list. There is something for any retiree to enjoy with the old-world charm of the Folsom Historic District, views from Folsom Lake, and sounds of Folsom Lake Symphony at the Harris Center.

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Methodology: To find the most affordable places to retire in California, GOBankingRates first used ApartmentList’s data to find (1) average 2022 one-bedroom rents. GOBankingRates then used Sperling’s Best to find the cost of living index for each selected city, looking at (2) grocery and (3) healthcare index scores. Next, GOBankingRates used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find the annual expenditure amount for both grocery (“food at home”) and healthcare costs for people aged 65 and older to determine how much a retired person might spend on groceries and healthcare in each city monthly. GOBankingRates then added monthly housing, grocery, and healthcare costs together to find the most beautiful and affordable places to retire in California. In order for a place to be qualified for the study, its population had to be 10% or more over the age of 65, (4) according to the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey; and (5) must have a livability score of 65 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of September 13, 2022.

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