Senior Resources » Best Small Towns in Southern California for Retirement

Best Small Towns in Southern California for Retirement

Southern California has five counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino. The border between Mexico and the United States lies on the southern border of the state. Southern California is practically synonymous with Hollywood but is also home to the Walt Disney Company headquarters, Sony Pictures, and Warner Brothers. Though the area may seem all glitz and glitter, there are several smaller towns in the suburbs of southern California that make for great retirement living. Let’s look at some of the best!


Pismo Beach, CA

Pismo Beach is a beach town with a population of 7655. The town sits on a Mexican land grant called Rancho Pismo. It’s known as the Clam Capital of the World, a moniker bestowed in the 1950s. Here, you can find a yearly Clam Festival that includes clam chowder competitions as well as a parade. The Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce is home to an 8-inch shell of the Pismo clam.

Idyllwild, CA

Best Small Towns in Southern California for Retirement

Idyllwild is located in the San Jacinto Mountains within Riverside County. This town of 4,000 used to be the summer residence of the Cahuilla Indians. It was called Strawberry Valley because of the vast amount of wild strawberries that grow in the town, mainly along Strawberry Creek, which flows through the town. There are some notable folks who’ve lived in Idyllwild including Sean Connery, Dolly Parton, and Doris Day!


Coronado, CA

Coronado is an affluent resort town in San Diego County. With a population of 25,000, it is listed by U.S. News and World Report as one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. However, Coronado Beach was ranked the best beach in the U.S. by Doctor Stephen Leatherman, the Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research. The town is home to two popular live theaters, Lamb’s Players Theatre and the Coronado Playhouse.

Julian, CA

Julian is one of the official California Historical Landmarks. It is a small town that has a population of 2,000 people. It is located in San Diego County and is a nice, quiet town with many of the best neighborhoods in the county. The main sources of employment in Julian are tourism and agriculture, especially apples. The town is not only famous for its apples but the town attracts many antique lovers as well.

Cambria, CA

Cambria is a seaside town that is located in the middle of Los Angles and San Francisco. Other communities it has gone by in the past include Santa Rosa, Roseville, and Slabtown. It has a population of 6,000 residents. Tourists are the main source of income for the town. Since it is located on the Pacific Ocean, it attracts many tourists for its nice beaches and rocky cliffs. Recreational activities include kicking, dog walking, ocean fishing, and kayaking.

Borrego Springs, CA

Borrego Springs is a small town that is known as a resort in the summer for tourists while the residents live in the town year-round since they consider it a town that is the best, to live year-round. It has a population of 4,000 folks. The town is entirely encircled by the largest state park in California, Anza-Borrego State Park. The downtown area includes two shopping malls, various restaurants, and unique shops.


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Originally published January 29, 2024


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