California isn’t exactly the cheapest place to live in, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain gems in the state that offer affordable housing options as well as a lifestyle abundant in activity. For those who are nearing retirement and are seeking a place to settle down in that provides an active and enjoyable lifestyle without the sky-high price tag, the following spots might be perfect.
1. Grass Valley
Median home price: $359,900
This small Gold Rush-period town is perfect for retirees who plan to spend the majority of their days outdoors. With the fabulous mountains in the background and plethora of lakes, Grass Valley is a great alternative to Lake Tahoe. And at a median home price of $359,900, this picturesque spot makes a great affordable place to retire.
Historic downtown Grass Valley is littered with quaint art galleries, local entertainment, and plenty of dining options. Throughout the summer, the downtown area is home to various festivals, farmers markets, street fairs, community events, and even an annual art and wine walk. There are also three hospitals in the area, so there’s never a concern for a lack of medical care.
Grass Valley is perfect for retirees, offering several different housing options with a median home price of just $359,900, well under the state median of $458,599. There are also many senior communities that offer either assisted living, short-term stays, and independent living.
Median home price: $264,000
There is plenty for the active retiree to do in Redding. With a host of different outdoor water activities to choose from while enjoying the mild climate, retirees who settle here will certainly never be bored.
As far as housing is concerned, retirees will be delighted to hear that the median home price is only $264,000 and an average 2-bedroom apartment goes for approximately $860 per month. That’s well below the average prices across the state, making Redding a highly affordable place to spend the Golden Years.
This town has a prominent senior community thanks to the ideal lifestyle that it offers retirees. In addition to water activities, residents can also enjoy a slew of other fun pastimes to take up, including bingo, dancing, computer training classes, and more. The art and theater scene is also strong in Redding thanks to the Cascade Theater and Riverfront Playhouse.
Residents have state-of-the-art medical care to take advantage of, including the award-winning Mercy Hospital and various medical clinics. Seniors can also take advantage of a wide range of cost-saving programs specifically designed for retirees, such as assistance with utilities, legal services, and even a nutrition program.
Median home price: $308,300
Another great spot for the active retiree who doesn’t necessarily want to pay the high price tag for housing that is typical in California is Sacramento. Being within easy reach of Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Yosemite, Sacramento is a great option for retirees who love having access to various outdoor spots to stay active in.
Retirees can take advantage of the active Sacramento Senior Citizens Club, which organizes all sorts of activities for seniors to enjoy, including technology training, trips to the casino, acting lessons, art history, and painting classes. The downtown area features Old Town, a national historic landmark that’s loaded with things to see and do, including riverboat rides, railroad excursions, riverside bike trips, and plenty of eateries that boast the use of local produce in their dishes.
The median home price in Sacramento currently sits at $308,300. For those who prefer not to make a purchase, the average rent for a 2-bedroom unit is $986 per month, making this spot a very affordable place to plant some roots.
Median home price: $268,800
Retirees who are looking for something a little quieter compared to the average bustling city in California, Eureka may be the perfect spot. With a population of 27,000, it’s just large enough to offer all the amenities needed but small enough to offer some peace and tranquility that many seniors crave in the later stages of life.
Nature lovers will appreciate Eureka’s gorgeous beaches and soaring redwoods. Casual strolls can be enjoyed along the Pacific as well as around the beautiful downtown district that’s decorated with historic Victorian homes. The lifestyle may be serene in Eureka, but it’s anything but boring. With live music at local venues, social opportunities with the Humboldt Senior Resource Center, the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, and the Redwood Coast Jazz Festival, there is plenty to keep retirees entertained.
Eureka offers access to plenty of dining options, health care, and modes of transportation. With a median home price of just $268,800, Eureka is one of the most affordable places to retire in the Northern part of the state.
5. Palm Springs
Median home price: $370,000
Thanks to its desert climate, gorgeous landscaping, rich art and culture scene, and a plethora of golf courses, Palm Springs has become extremely popular among retirees. This small resort town offers plenty for retirees to see and do, including lots of outdoors activities, cultural events, training sessions at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and art at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Nature enthusiasts will be in close proximity to the Joshua Tree National Park, which is characterized by its striking desert landscapes and distinguished rock formations. Active retirees will be able to enjoy the spectacular scenery in the park overlooking the Coachella Valley, as well as some awesome hiking along the many trails that weave in and out of Hidden Valley.
The median home price in Palm Springs is a modest $370,000, making Palm Springs a great place to live and still have plenty of money leftover to enjoy all sorts of leisurely activities to fill the days.
Median home price: $380,000
Just east of Los Angeles is Riverside, a growing city that has been increasingly drawing retirees thanks to its climate, easy access to much-needed services, and housing affordability. The median home price in Riverside is $380,000, much lower than the median price of $580,000 in L.A. County. There are also 10 active senior communities for retirees to choose from as well.
With a population of about 300,000, Riverside is by no means a small town and is more geared toward those who are seeking something a little more lively with more action. There are tons of cultural events that take place in Riverside throughout the year, including movies in the park and the Festival of Lights during the holiday season.
The art scene is very prominent in Riverside with the likes of the California Citrus State Museum, International Automotive Museum, and Fox Performing Arts Center available for perusing. Riverside is also known for its quality medical care, with three highly-ranked hospitals and plenty of assisted living communities in the area.
7. San Luis Obispo
Median home price: $662,200
Situated on the gorgeous Central Coast of California, San Luis Obispo offers five main beach towns that have all the charm and allure that all the other beach towns on this coastal area have, but it comes at a much more affordable price tag to live there.
While not nearly as affordable as the other spots on this list, San Luis Obispo is a much less expensive option compared to nearby spots like Santa Maria or Monterrey. The median home price in San Luis Obispo is approximately $662,200, which might sound expensive right off the bat, but it’s actually on the lower end of the price scale for this particular area in California, with many areas fetching over $1 million.
The city of San Luis Obispo is easily walkable, with all daily amenities easily reached on foot or even by bike. Retirees will enjoy all the impeccable restaurants and shopping boutiques to choose from. For those who wish to get away for a quick escape, the five beach towns (Pismo, Avila, Morro, Cayucos, and Cambria) offer gorgeous coastal surroundings to immerse in, as well as film festivals and farmer’s markets.
The Bottom Line
Despite the fact that California is known for having some of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, it’s still possible to find affordable housing in the state to retire in. The above spots offer not just affordable housing options, but also a rich lifestyle for retirees to enjoy after hanging up their career hats in exchange for something completely different to wake up to every morning.
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