Benefits of Retiring In California (Pros & Cons)

When planning to retire, who wouldn’t want to pack up their belongings and move to the Golden State? Stay tuned as we explore the pros and cons of retiring in California.

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When planning to retire, who wouldn’t want to pack up their belongings and move to the Golden State? Stay tuned as we explore the pros and cons of retiring in California.

Whenever someone mentions California, one can’t help but think of sunny, breathtaking beaches, ravishingly green golf courses, stunning modern homes with top-of-the-line amenities and in-ground pools, exceptionally amazing shopping places, and of course, the chance to bump into Hollywood celebrities. What’s not to love about California?

California is known for its warm weather, higher average salary, good quality of life, business opportunities, outdoor recreation activities, entertainment industry, and diversity. On the flip side, California has a high cost of living, pollution, higher taxes, overpopulation issues, and below-average public transport.

As the most populous and third most extensive state in the United States, California is undoubtedly one of the most attractive retirement locations. Home to the Silicon Valley and Hollywood, California is home to everyone from celebrities and actors to tech geniuses and digital billionaires. With some luxe beaches and summer that lasts all year, this magical place can entice anyone to retire here!

There are several great and persuasive reasons that may push you to enjoy the rest of your retirement days in California. However, considering every place has its own cons, it’s important to consider the downsides of moving to the Golden State. Having served as a retirement consultant for years, I’ve put this article together to help you figure out whether California is a good state to retire in or not. So, if you’re considering retiring in California, stay tuned!

Table of Contents

Should I Consider Retiring in California?

The easiest answer to this question is yes. When choosing a country to retire in, you can’t possibly leave California out of the mix. This lovely state is home to many communities and is welcoming to everyone. Moreover, if you’re looking to bid farewell to the shivering-cold northern winters or raining Midwest seasons, then what better place to move than somewhere that experiences all-year-long warm weather?

But, this isn’t just it. Most people, especially Americans, view California as the ultimate place to live a happy and fulfilled life, something you desperately desire when nearing your retirement age.

The point is that if you’re looking for year-round sunshine, fame, or even a happier life in a content community, California is an excellent choice to consider. However, before rushing into any decisions, it is worthwhile to weigh your options and evaluate the pros and cons of retiring in this state. After all, you don’t want to uproot your entire life only to regret it later on.

From daily expenses, climate, locals, housing options, community, and the stress of moving, there’s most certainly a lot to think about!

Pros of Retiring in California

Well, I’ve highlighted most of the pros of retiring in California above, which we’re going to discuss in detail in this section.

So, without further ado, here are some of the incredible benefits you can expect to enjoy if you retire in California.

Year-Round Sunny Climate

One of the best things about California is its hot climate, which lasts all year long and attracts people from around the country. California serves as an escape for seniors who have spent their entire lives in states with brutal winters and seemingly endless rainy seasons, as it allows one to go outside regularly and enjoy many outdoor activities and relax at the beach.

Unlike with many other states, you won’t have to plan your days around the forecast or bundle up and lock yourself at home during the winter season. You can very conveniently go about spending your day outdoors with a little bit of SPF and maybe a hat for protection. So, if the sun and summer is what you seek, California should most definitely be your first choice.

Better Quality of Living

There’s a reason the term ‘Californian life’ was coined; it depicts the positive experience that most people have in the Golden State. If you’re willing and able to tackle the high living costs and can spend a few extra 100ks on properties, the lifestyle in California can exceed that of many other countries in the world.

California houses some of the breathtaking beaches, pristine hiking trails and manufactured parks, stunning homes, and has a rather people-focused government. Through its many amenities and strong economy, the quality of living in the state easily outweighs the costs.

Improved Health

Sometimes, sunshine and saltwater are all you need for better health and a more content life. The warm California climate offers benefits that are not just limited to outdoor recreation. For instance, the warm temperature helps alleviate common symptoms associated with chronic illnesses and respiratory issues.

Besides the health benefits, living in a sunny and pleasant environment improves your positivity and, as a result, your overall mental health. Those who move to California have a lesser or virtually almost no chance of suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.

Higher Average Salary

California has a higher than average cost of living than other US states. However, the good thing is that along with these expenses comes the potential for higher than average salaries. California has several major cities that are lined with various start-ups and established companies offering extensive possibilities and competitive salaries.

A high average salary probably won’t be a major factor for those who have fully retired, but it can be a deciding factor for partially-retired individuals looking to remain professionally active.

Business Potential

If you’re a businessperson who has retired but hasn’t really retired, California has something incredible to offer to you, too! As the hub of many start-up companies, mainly related to tech, California is the perfect plan to transform your vision into reality.

Rich History and Culture

Although everyone views California as a progressive, innovative, and forward-thinking state, which is not wrong, there’s more to it than that. California has a very rich history, culture, and stories that will leave you stunned.

As home to the American entertainment industry, the Golden State has housed many famous inventors, musicians, actors/actresses, performers, and even politicians, so you can imagine how happening it must have been, and well, still is!

Most major California cities have various museums, art galleries, opera houses, music venues, and breathtaking architecture that will rival any European destination.

Outdoor Recreational Activities

If outdoor recreation is your thing, there’s a fun sport or activity at every nook and cranny for you to enjoy. You can hike, bike, surf, rollerblade, longboard, or run in one of the various lovely outdoor recreational parks and facilities. Also, living close to the beach means bonding family days. Moreover, the many national parks offer hiking enthusiasts various possibilities to test their skills. All in all, if you’re looking for fun outdoor activities, California has it all!

Tolerance and Diversity

Compared to other southern states, California is known for being the most tolerant and open-minded in the United States. With a mixed population that comprises a majority of liberals, California offers a range of diverse communities to those belonging to different genders, ages, ethnicities, and orientations. This is an especially important factor for those who belong to a marginalized community.

Strong Environmental Regulations

California has made a solid commitment and taken several steps towards regulating recycling and climate change awareness. Even though this state-wide project comes at the cost of additional taxes to residents, they do offer various benefits and peace of mind that the state government is equally concerned about the planet’s future as you.

Cons of Retiring in California

Now that you’ve seen the numerous pros of retiring in California let’s dive into the various cons that might hold you back in this state.

High Cost of Living

Unfortunately, as dreamy as the Golden State is, it boasts a higher-than-average living cost in contrast to other US states in terms of housing costs, taxes, day-to-day expenses, and even miscellaneous expenses, such as haircuts and clothing. While everything may seem great, it is more than essential to consider the financial impact of moving to California.


California has very high tax prices, at least higher than the average of other US states. The state's income tax rates depend on the resident’s income, so if you’re partially retired but still earning, you can expect to pay from between 1% to 12.3% in taxes.

Living Expenses

Besides taxes, the day-to-day living expense in California is higher than the national average. In fact, the Average Cost of Living Index in 2020 noted that Californian cities are 38% more expensive than other US cities. San Francisco, California, was also listed as the second most expensive city in the US.

While the grocery prices are estimated to be 5% to 33% higher in California than in other major cities, transport costs are estimated to be almost 27% to 45% higher. Moreover, you can expect to pay up to 40% higher prices for miscellaneous activities, such as clothing or eating out.

Housing, Rental, and Property Prices

If you decide to move to California, you will probably need an apartment, house, or another type of accommodation. The average monthly rental price for an average studio apartment in California is $1,156, whereas the rental price of a 3-bed apartment can be almost $2,375.

This goes to say that purchasing or renting real estate or property in California isn’t a piece of cake. Given the luxury most accommodations offer, the property prices can be even higher in some cities. For instance, Los Angeles, probably the most popular Californian city, has skyrocketing property prices.

Moreover, if you have the resources and have decided to buy a house in California, make sure to look up additional costs such as property taxes and yearly resident taxes.


Although the state government is all for protecting the environment, unfortunately, overpopulation doesn’t help when it comes to limiting pollution. Cities such as LA and San Francisco have way too many vehicles due to the subpar public transport, which has resulted in massive pollution levels throughout the state. However, it is important to acknowledge the strides the government is making to tackle this issue.


Just as you’re weighing the pros and cons of living in California, others are too! Given that California has something to offer to everyone, many people flock here in herds, adding to its population. Some cities in California are majorly overpopulated, resulting in issues of housing, transportation, pollution, and other factors.

Below Par Public Transport

One of the biggest drawbacks of retiring in California is its below-par public transportation system. This doesn’t go to say that California has a terrible public transport system but rather suggests that it requires considerable improvements, especially considering the popular growth. All Californian cities are connected by buses, trains, ferries, and subways, but many residents still drive themselves around.

The main reason behind their dependency on personal vehicles is the slow and costly public transportation system of the state. As a result, there are more cars in cities such as San Diego, LA, and San Francisco than necessary, leading to traffic and potential accidents.

Flawed Healthcare System

California has an overall substandard healthcare system. While it offers seniors and the under-privileged access to many affordable healthcare plans, such as Medicare and Medi-Cal, these programs aren’t of much help.

Healthcare accessibility is more than just being enrolled in a program. It is about receiving the help you need at a hospital or the doctors’. Sadly, being enrolled in Medicare or Medi-Cal doesn’t make it any easier for seniors and other patients to access the right medications and treatments. However, if you’re looking for private healthcare coverage, you can opt for various short-term insurance plans. Although they may be expensive, you will be able to gain more benefits.

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