The Golden State...A Great Place To Spend Your Golden Years
Truly, California is the Golden State, and it literally has something for almost anyone seeking a retirement destination…miles of dramatic Pacific shoreline, majestic snowcapped mountains, acres of pristine wilderness, some of the most challenging golf courses in the world, cities with a diverse mix of cultures and entertainment venues or a myriad of picturesque, charming small towns sprinkled across its varied terrain. For many, the task of selecting one’s retirement spot can be almost overwhelming.
Confronted with this variety of climates, geography and cultures; retirees, especially those from out-of-state, find this litany of options more than they can readily absorb. Then, of course, there is the issue of the high cost of housing which exists in most of California. Many retirees just assume that there are no longer any affordable places to live here and arbitrarily elect to focus their search in some other place. However, while it certainly helps if one is fortunate enough not to be overly concerned about the cost of their retirement home, the truth is that there are, in fact, a number of affordable retirement options still available. One just has to sift through a mountain of information and concentrate on finding just where those properties are located.
Although retirement housing here can be expensive, especially when compared with the median home prices found in other areas of the country, for many retirees who live in the major urban areas of California and other western states, relocating within the State may still be perceived as an affordable option. In fact, there are a number of adult communities for retirees 55 and over where prices for a new home are less than $250,000. Also, there are many existing, well-established safe and secure neighborhoods with affordable and attractive housing for retirees and families.
For some, especially those with sufficient financial resources, the starting point for an ideal retirement destination may well be the Central Coast, 400 miles of rugged, dramatic seascapes nestled between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Here coastal resort towns and pastoral inland communities are blended together in an idyllic setting of unsurpassed beauty that offers an inviting quality of life for those who live there. Home to places like Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, known for their wineries, enclaves of artists and writers and picture perfect golf courses, this region has recently seen the development of several new high-end active adult communities.
Scattered throughout most of California’s diverse regions, whether it be in the fertile agricultural plains of the Central Valley, along the towering peaks of the High Sierras or amidst a lush oasis of the Desert in the extreme southeast corner of the State, there are numerous picturesque small towns and dynamic mid-sized cities where retirees can still find reasonably priced homes and exciting opportunities for a broad range of cultural and recreational activities.
One such choice is Redding, two hours north of San Francisco. Nestled among the rivers and mountains of Northern California, this city of 80,000 is emerging as a popular and affordable destination for retirees attracted by the spectacular scenery, rich cultural scene, outdoor recreation and excellent medical facilities.
Another area, one that is off the beaten path and yet great for retirees looking for a quiet retreat away from urban congestion, is Humboldt County, along California’s North Coast and home to magnificent redwood forests and Victorian-era communities. The small towns of Ferndale and Eureka have proudly preserved numerous magnificent architectural gems from a by-gone period. With median home prices of $206,000, the cost of living, along with the natural scenic wonders of the region, is proving to be a magnet for a growing number of retirees.
Another possible destination worth considering for retirement is Fresno, the business, financial, cultural and entertainment capital of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the nation’s most productive agricultural lands. Surrounded by majestic lakes, rivers and foothills and mountain ranges, Fresno’s accessible location, mild climate and reasonable cost of living make it an ideal choice for retirement in California. Here, in this fast-growing metropolis and nearby communities, there are several developments offering new homes priced under $300,000.
For anyone wanting to retire in the mountains of California, Murphys may be just the place. Cited by Frommer’s Budget Travel as one of the "coolest small towns" in the U.S.A., this is a quaint and charming Gold Rush-era town replete with well-preserved historic buildings, a welcoming atmosphere and an abundance of recreational and cultural opportunities. Located in Calaveras County in the Sierra Nevada Mountains between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park, Murphys is a vibrant, flourishing community of approximately 2,000 residents. Retirees will find a culturally rich society, art galleries and live theatre, eclectic shops and fine restaurants.
Even in some of the more densely populated coastal areas, retirees can often find affordable housing choices, ranging from new and resale homes in active adult communities, manufactured home communities or in traditional neighborhood settings. Notably, the towns of Escondido, Valley Center and Fall Brook in San Diego County are just a few miles from public beaches and still offer the advantage of a mild climate, excellent medical facilities and moderately priced dining and shopping. Also in San Diego County, the coastal towns of Carlsbad, Oceanside and Encinitas, with miles of beaches breathtaking scenery. present a broad range of housing prices, though truly affordable homes are much rarer. There are some active adult communities where prices begin around $200,000. But individual oceanfront homes will normally exceed $1,000,000.
While it must be conceded that the cost of retirement in California may remove it as an option for many retirees, the fact remains that many of us are still attracted by its wonderful climate, exciting and varied lifestyle choices and especially by its natural wonders and scenic beauty. And for those willing to spend the time and effort to explore the many possibilities that are available for a place to retire, there is a very good chance that they can find something that suits their personal tastes and financial requirements.
This Month’s Spotlight City: Redding