Senior Resources » Best Small Towns for Retirement in California

Best Small Towns for Retirement in California

California has gone through its fair share of ups and downs, but it still remains very appealing to retirees because of the great weather and attractions. Below, we take a look at the best small towns in California to retire in. Most have 55-plus communities nearby!

California road sign, retirement in California

Carlsbad, CA

Carlsbad is located right outside of San Diego. It’s a little costly to live there but if you can afford it – it’s worth every penny. The coastal weather is perfect year-round, with warm summers and very mild winters. Carlsbad has been voted one of the best places to retire by virtually every major senior publication.

There’s plenty to do, including visiting one of the area’s two beaches, spending the day at one of the town’s parks that cover almost 1,000 acres, or shopping at one of the many Carlsbad premium outlet stores. There are also the world-famous flower fields and the weekly farmers market.


Escondido, CA

This town is located about 15 miles from the coast. The sun shines 90% of the time so you can hit the links at one of the town’s senior-friendly golf course communities. Even if you don’t golf there are plenty of things to do to keep you and your guests busy. There are several affordable restaurants; three theaters that offer live productions, and sports complex, a children’s museum, and the SD Zoo. The town also hosts annual events such as the “Cruisin’ the Grand” car show.

Related: Best Retirement Cities Near Los Angeles

Oceanside, CA

Besides a near-perfect climate, Oceanside has a lot to offer retirees. There are a total of nine 55+ senior retirement communities with affordable housing. The town also has two state-of-the-art senior centers including the new El Corazon Senior Center. There are five local golf courses, great beaches, a weekly farmers market, and several town-hosted events going on all throughout the year.

Rancho Bernardo, CA

Rancho Bernardo is another one of southern California’s great places to retire. The population is only 54,000, with a large quantity being retirees who live in the town’s two great senior communities of Seven Oaks and Oaks North. It has everything a retiree could ask for including:

  • Great dining
  • Golf
  • Low crime rate
  • World-class medical care
  • Mild weather year-round

Rancho Sante Fe, CA

Rancho Sante Fe is ultimate luxury retirement living. It is one of the most expensive places to live in San Diego County but has all the bells and whistles that go along with the expensive living. The town of 3,500 has six exclusive golf clubs, over 25 miles of equestrian riding trails, elegant shopping and dining, and a peaceful rural setting.

Recommended: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Moving to a 55+ Active Adult Community

Vista, CA

Vista has a population of approximately 65,000 people and is just seven miles from the Pacific Ocean. The town offers seven 55+ retirement communities that fit nearly any budget. Retirees can select from mobile homes, condos, suburban homes, and elegant country estates. It offers a great variety of older and new homes.

Encinitas, CA

Encinitas is a great retirement community that offers beach, rural, and suburban lifestyles. The town’s population is around 66,000. Encinitas is divided into two sections; old and new. There are 11 public beaches with a variety of shops, RV sites, and campgrounds.

The community is known as the “Flower Capital of the World” and draws people from all over the world. Mira Costa, the local community college, offers some senior classes as does the Encinitas Senior Center.


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Originally published September 17, 2022

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