15 Surprisingly Affordable California Cities Where Retirement Is Possible

The Golden State isn’t always as expensive as you might fear.
Updated Dec. 5, 2023
elderly couple at tropical resort

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California is known for its warm weather, sandy beaches, and expensive housing market.

But some places in the Golden State are relatively affordable. These are places where you can retire and still keep more money in your bank account.

Check out these 15 cities that won’t bust your retirement budget. All home price figures come from Redfin’s September summary of median sales prices.

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Matt Gush/Adobe aerial view of housing in Fontana California

Fontana is located in San Bernardino County. It offers plenty of sun, with temperatures getting into the 90s during the summer months.

It also has affordable housing compared to other places in California. The median price for a home in Fontana was $585,000 in September, compared to $786,500 for the Golden State as a whole.


Ning/Adobe sunset in millerton lake fresno

Central California is home to Fresno, which is part of the state’s top agricultural region.

Housing here costs $396,000, which makes this a much cheaper choice than more expensive markets such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Nancy Pauwels/Adobe anaheim orange county

You may be familiar with Anaheim as the home of Disneyland, but there are also fun options available for adults in the area.

If you’re set on living near a big city, Anaheim gets you close to Los Angeles but costs slightly less. Expect to pay $858,380 for a home in Anaheim, compared to $983,000 in Los Angeles.

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Matt Gush/Adobe fairfield california usa

Wine lovers should check out Fairfield, which is just east of the Napa Valley and the wineries that the area is known for.

In September, the median price for a home in Fairfield was $625,000. Compared to other California cities, that price will help you keep some extra cash in your pocket for activities and wine tastings.


belyay/Adobe Sacramento Walks, California shots

Sacramento is the state’s capital. Living here can save you cash if you’re looking for a decent-sized city that’s also affordable.

Expect to pay about $485,500 for a home in Sacramento.

Bass Lake

Jan Hemstad/Adobe glass rock bass lake

Bass Lake is near Yosemite National Park, making it a great option if you want to spend more time outdoors.

The median price of a home in Bass Lake is $485,000.


Matt Gush/Adobe  downtown Bakersfield California USA

Head to Bakersfield if you want easy access to outdoor activities or hope to enjoy nights on the town at the city’s breweries and wineries.

Homes in Bakersfield sold for a median price of $400,500 in September.


Matt Gush/Adobe 99 Freeway and urban downtown core of Modesto California

Modesto is located in California’s Central Valley area. It is another market with reasonable home prices by California standards.

You will pay about $450,000 to buy a home here.


Diana Vyshniakova/Adobe beach near Eureka California

Check out the charm of the coastal town of Eureka in the northern part of California. You’ll find unique Victorian homes and can venture north to Redwood National Park.

You will also find affordable homes, with a median price of $420,000.


Matt Gush/Adobe clock tower downtown Ontario

Ontario is east of Los Angeles. It features plenty of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment for residents to enjoy.

Expect to pay $664,000 for a home here. That might not seem cheap, but it’s a bargain compared to what you might pay in L.A.

Twentynine Palms

fotoping/Adobe joshua tree

Further east of Ontario is Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert. The city serves as the north entrance for Joshua Tree National Park and beautiful desert landscapes for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.

The cost of housing in the area could also make your wallet happy, with a median price of $266,500 for homes in the area.


Matt Gush/Adobe downtown city center of Stockton

Stockton is another Central Valley city in California that is sure to keep you busy with museums or shows at the historic Bob Hope Theatre.

The city also is easy on your wallet when it comes to housing, with a median price of $438,000.

Citrus Heights

spiritofamerica/Adobe beautiful shot of orange groves near fillmore

The Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights could be a great place to retire if you want something in the Central Valley that isn’t too expensive.

Homes sell for a median price of $465,000.


David Diaz Official/Adobe palmdale california

Palmdale is north of Los Angeles. It has plenty of affordable housing and a better cost of living than some other areas in the state.

Expect to pay $520,500 for a home here.


Andy Konieczny/Adobe snow covered mount san jacinto

Idyllwild is in the San Jacinto Mountains, making it a great location if you want outdoor activities and beautiful landscapes when you retire.

A home in the area costs a median of $557,500.

If a California city on this list sounds like a good place to retire, grab one of the best travel credit cards in your wallet and take a trip to check it out. That way, you will discover if it’s really the right city for you.

Bottom line

Rawpixel.com/Adobe senior women doing exercise

If you want to retire early — or just retire at all — it is important to find someplace affordable to settle down. Fortunately, there are places in sunny California that cost less than you might think.

California can be a great place to retire to if you’re looking for something warm and beachy or you simply enjoy the outdoors. So, don’t let the state’s reputation for high costs scare you away.

FinanceBuzz is not an investment advisor. This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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