10 Best Places to Retire in Central California

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Most people approaching the retirement age look forward to transitioning from their busy work life into a quiet retirement period. However, one of the main challenges they face is deciding where to live. Central California is one of the perfect places to begin afresh as a retiree.

Some of the best places to retire in Central California include Fresno, Hanford, Marina, among others. These regions have California’s beautiful beaches, stunning ocean and mountain views, and breathtaking forests. There’s also warm, sunny weather all year and top-class social amenities. 

If you are looking forward to spending your retirement life in Central California and aren’t sure of the best location to choose, you are in the right place. We’ve compiled a list of the ten best places to retire in Central California to help you make a sound decision. Read on to get an idea of the ideal locations and what to consider when choosing a retirement place.


If you are looking for a place in Central California to enjoy active retirement life, Visalia is the perfect place for you. 

According to a recent population report, this city in Tulare County has an average population of 136,959 people and a metro population of 469,407 people. About 12% of its population consists of older people above 65 years of age. This means that as a retiree, you’ll not fall out of place here since there are several peers to interact with.

Over the recent years, the median rental costs in Visalia have come to approximately $1,050 per month, while the median house value is roughly $236,400, which is affordable for most wealthy retirees.

Visalia’s perfect location also makes it an ideal place to spend your golden years. This city is within proximity to the famous Sierra National Forest, Kings Canyon National Park, Inyo National Forest, and the Sequoia National Forest and National Park.

Additionally, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, including the contiguous United State’s tallest mountain, Mt. Whitney, are located here. Therefore, living in Visalia gives you an ideal home base from which you can marvel and explore what Central California has to offer.

Visalia enjoys a conducive climate dominated by plenty of sunshine throughout the year and measurable precipitation.

This city also offers adequate health care facilities for its people. It’s also known for its economic and ethnic diversity that is accommodative to retirees from all walks of life. Additionally, the security of Visalia is well managed, making it a fairly safe place to live.

Generally, this city offers a suburban atmosphere if you seek to escape from the hustles and bustles of busy city life.


10 Best Places to Retire in Central California


Modesto is another vibrant city in Central California’s Stanislaus County that captures the attention of many retirees. With a 2021 population of about 216,810 people, approximately 14% are adults above 65 years. Modesto’s metro population is about 555,728.

This city offers a dense suburban atmosphere for its residents where the monthly median rental costs are about $1,176, with the median house value being approximately $283,800. Housing cost here is slightly high compared to Visalia but still pretty much affordable for most retirees.

If you are into agriculture and farming, you’ll enjoy living here. Modesto is surrounded by rich farmlands and has been honored many times as a Tree City USA. Its region, Stanislaus County, is ranked among the most productive (farm produce) counties in Central California. It is also home to the famous Gallo Family Winery, one of the largest family-owned wineries in the US.

Modesto city has something for everyone. If you are into history, you’ll enjoy the proximity to historical places such as Hawke Castle, McHenry Mansion, Robert Walton House, and Dry Creek Bridge. For party lovers, Modesto boasts amazing nightlife and unlimited entertainment opportunities.

The climate in Modesto comprises long, hot, dry summers and mild winters with moderate rainfall. When it comes to economic and ethnic diversity, this city is among the most diversified in the United States. It acts as home to thousands of people from different parts of the world; thus, you are not likely to suffer from a language barrier or racial discrimination.

Although the crime rate is relatively high, it is managed by the local authorities, meaning you are safe living here. Top healthcare facilities are also available within the city, and the area is accessible by air, road, and rail.


Who says you can’t spend your golden years like a youth? Retirees seeking a retirement life full of youthful fun and activities find life in Fresno. This town is known for its rich entertainment, fun, culture, and affordable housing.

Currently, it has a population of 537,100 and a metro population of 1,013,400. About 11% of Fresno’s population comprises people above 65 years, mostly retirees. The housing cost under this dense suburban atmosphere is slightly high, with the median monthly rental being about $1,005 while the median house value falls at about $242,000.

If you are worried about ethnic and racial discrimination, don’t fret because Fresno is highly diversified, with people from different ethnic backgrounds. For example, it is one of the United States towns to record a long history of Armenian immigrants.

For fun, entertainment, and culture, there are numerous historic theatres, museums, performing arts, music, and regular events. Fresno also has a vibrant nightlife ideal for fun lovers. If you have the energy to spend your retirement like a youngster, don’t miss out on some fun activities and events such as:

  • Fresno Maker Month (April)
  • Rogue Festival (March)
  • Swede Fest (November)
  • Vintage Days (March or April)
  • Armenian Grape Blessing (August)

The climate here is semi-arid with long, hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters. In Fresno, December and January are the coldest months, with July being the warmest. There is also access to good healthcare. Crime rates here are pretty low, making it a relatively safe place for retirees.

Fresno also boasts modern transportation through air, rail, and road. By living in Fresno, you’re sure to live your life to the fullest.


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Bakersfield is a famous charter city strategically located in Kern County. It is surrounded by mountains, the Sierra Nevada to the east, Tehachapi Mountains to the south, and Temblor Range to the west. It has a current population of 389,007, of which approximately 10% are people aged 65 and above. The current metro population in this city is about 913,090.

When it comes to housing costs, the prices are slightly high, with the median monthly rental going for $1,104. On the other hand, the median house value is approximately $247,000.

Bakersfield boasts a thriving economy built on agriculture and oil industries. Additionally, there is a steady supply of food from the rich farming land of Kern county. The most popular food crops include almonds, grapes, carrots, citrus, cotton, and roses. You’ll never go hungry in Bakersfield!

An interesting aspect of Bakersfield is that it’s the hometown of Bakersfield sound, a popular country music genre. Therefore, you’ll be sure to have unlimited entertainment while living here. Bakersfield has modern multiscreen theatres and horse shows hosted all year round for your fun and entertainment needs.

You can also explore the Kern County Museum and some historic restaurants such as Wool Growers, Pyrenees, and Narducci’s. If you are a nature enthusiast, you’ll enjoy exploring the beautiful mountains that surround this city.

It is also home to top-class medical facilities and wellness centers. The crime rates in this city are manageable, creating a safe place for retirees to live.


If you are looking for an ideal place to retire on a budget, you should try Porterville. This city in Tulare County is home to about 59,427 people, of which 11% are retirees aged 65 and above. It has recorded a metro population of 469,407.

One of the most attractive aspects of this city is its sparse suburban atmosphere, ideal for retirees seeking to live in a less crowded area. Additionally, the housing costs here are relatively low compared to other cities in Central California, making it suitable for retirees living on a budget. The median monthly rental costs go for about $941, while the median house value is approximately $172,500.

Porterville’s location on the Tule River and its proximity to the Sierra Nevada creates a unique site to explore. Its primary means of transport are air and road connected by modern highways.  

When it comes to economic and ethnic diversity, this city is highly diversified, accommodating retirees from all walks of life.

Crime and safety issues are well handled, and therefore, you don’t have to worry about your safety. You also have access to quality health care.


Hanford is a popular commercial and cultural city in Kings County, Central California. According to the recent population data, it has a population of 59,167 people, of which 12% are above 65 years, mostly retirees. The metro population in this region is 156,056.

This city gives its residents a sparse suburban atmosphere with an average housing cost. The median monthly rental price is about $992, while the median house value falls at $221,300.

As a retiree living in Hanford, you don’t have to worry about ethnic discrimination since this city is highly diversified, accommodating people from different races. This city also enjoys a thriving diversified economy, deriving most of its income from the agricultural and industrial sectors.

Hanford also boasts a modernized transport sector, where you can use air, rail, and road to connect from one place to another. It also has good nightlife if you need some fun and entertainment activities.

If you are into history and culture, you will enjoy visiting the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, Hanford Carnegie Museum, Kings Art Center, and Kings Symphony Orchestra. There is pretty much for you to explore.

The conducive climate with cool winters and hot, dry summers also attracts most retirees. Additionally, the well-equipped healthcare facilities and Hanford’s safety also add to its suitability as a place to retire.


If you are looking for a quiet town full of charm and life, you should consider Mariposa. This town in Mariposa county may be portrayed as old fashioned, but it is ideal for retirement.

It has a sparse population of 1,186 people, out of which about 35% comprises people above the age of 65. The housing prices here are quite affordable for most retirees, with the median monthly rental amounting to about $749 while the median house value is approximately $276,200.

Mariposa town is located close to Yosemite National Park, the Merced River, and several national forests, making it a perfect home base for nature enthusiasts. Despite its sparse population, this census-designated place (CDP) has adequate, well-equipped health facilities beneficial to its elderly population. The climate here is conducive, and Mariposa also boasts ethnic and economic diversity.

Given that a good number of its residents are above the age of 65, you will have a good retirement time interacting with people of like minds while engaging in multiple outdoor activities.


Do you dream of retiring in a place close to the coastline? Marina town is the perfect place for you. This beautiful town is located on the Central Coast of California, and it has a population of 23,431 people. 14% of its population comprises older people above 65 years.

The housing costs here are relatively high if you intend to live on a budget. The median monthly rental prices are about $1,402, while the median house value is approximately $513,000.

Marina town boasts high ethnic diversity, creating a home to retirees from different ethnic backgrounds.

Living close to the coastline allows you to explore the beautiful coastal view such as the Marina State Beach and Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Additionally, if you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will enjoy the numerous hiking and trails in this town while still enjoying the warm coastal climate.

This coastal town offers its residents a dense suburban atmosphere with adequate healthcare facilities. It is also a safe place for you to retire.


Merced is a city in Merced County with a population of 84,802 people. Out of this population, retirees, or people above the age of 65, occupy approximately 10%. Merced has a metro population of 284,738.

This town borders the Yosemite National Park to the east and the Pacific Ocean, Monterey Bay, and other beaches to the west. As a result, it creates a good home base from which you can explore Central California’s natural endowments.

Merced offers its residents a dense suburban atmosphere with median monthly rental costs of about $1,005 and a median monthly house value of $237,500.

This town also boasts ethnic and economic diversity, with its economic boosters being agriculture and other production industries.

Although Merced is not as big as other cities in Central California, it offers its residents unlimited fun and entertainment opportunities. For example, there are numerous movie theatres, restaurants, and eateries.

People living here are welcoming, calm, and friendly. You won’t have a hard time finding a friend upon moving in here. Although there are a few reported cases of criminal activities, they are pretty manageable, making it a safe place of residence.


Monterey is one of the oldest cities in California that has undergone revolutions over the years. Following its development and urbanization, it has attracted many retirees seeking an urban-suburban mix atmosphere.

This beautiful town has a population of 28,194, out of which approximately 17% are aged 65 and above (mostly retirees). Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, Death Valley, and Big Sur gives you unlimited exploration opportunities.

You also have access to outdoor recreational facilities such as hiking, tide-pooling, surfing, and biking. Monterey has a vibrant nightlife for your added fun and entertainment.

Due to its rich urban-suburban atmosphere and the high demand for houses, the housing prices are relatively high. The median monthly rent costs approximately $1,793, while the median house value is about $782,500. These high housing prices make Monterey a choice for the wealthy retirees seeking a high-end place to retire.

Monterey boasts a thriving economy and ethnic diversity. It is also home to arts and culture where you can enjoy exploring the theatre arts, literary arts, music, and visual arts. Therefore, if you are an art enthusiast, you will have much to focus on.

There is access to top-class health care, and it is also a safe place to retire. If you are willing to dig a little deeper into your pockets to finance your retirement life, Monterey is the ideal place for you.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Place to Retire in Central California

Here are some of the factors that you should consider before making a decision.

  • Lifestyle: You should decide on the kind of lifestyle you want to lead during your retirement. Is it an active social life, a calm and reserved, or a busy life full of explorations? Your preferred lifestyle determines your ideal place to retire since it has to be somewhere that will enable you to live as you wish.
  • Cost of living: The cost of living includes housing costs and utilities. These expenses vary from one place to the other, and your choice mainly depends on your income level. Are you independently wealthy, or do you rely solely on retirement benefits? Choose a place where you can comfortably afford the cost of living without straining or running bankrupt.
  • Access to care: As your age progresses, your immunity may grow weak, exposing you to frequent illnesses. As a result, you need to live in a place with access to quality healthcare. Look at the proximity to medical facilities and care centers as well as their charges.
  • Accessibility: Look at the modes of transport. Is it easy to access shopping malls, eateries, medical facilities, etc.? If you spend most of your time moving around, consider the ease of connectivity from your location to major air and waterways.


Selecting a perfect place to retire in Central California may be overwhelming, given the numerous cities available to choose from. However, you can find your ideal location from our list above. Choose one that perfectly suits your needs factoring in:

  • The cost of living
  • Access to healthcare
  • Lifestyle
  • Accessibility



Hey there, my name is Ruth, I'm in my late fifties. My life was turned upside down a few years ago as I experienced a burn-out. But I saw it as a sign that something had to change in my life. I'm happy I used this tough experience as a stepping stone. I now feel happier than ever and hope to inspire you to do the same, no matter how old you are.

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