California vs. Florida for Retirement: Which Is Better?

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If you are looking for a relaxing place to retire, California and Florida are two wonderful states you might want to consider. Both are popular destinations filled with warm weather, pristine beaches, and accommodating retirement communities. Still, each of these states has many unique qualities to offer. 

Florida is a better state to retire if you want a lower cost of living and very little taxes. However, California is a better choice to retire in if you are looking for warmer weather, sunnier days, and lower crime rates. 

Category California Florida
Cost of Living Avg. monthly payment for homeowner ~ $567, estimated total retirement cost ~ $1,397,174 Avg. monthly payment for homeowner ~ $494, estimated total retirement cost ~ $1,191,451
Tax Environment Marginal state tax rate ~ 2.00%, avg. local and state tax rate ~ 8.25%, Social Security benefits are exempt No state taxes, Social Security benefits are exempt, property tax ~ 1.02%
Climate Primarily Mediterranean, wide variations in temps depending on elevation, location, and season Primarily humid subtropical, winter temps can range from 64°F to 77°F (18°C to 25°C), summer temps can range from 70°F (21°C) to lower 90°F (32°C)
Lifestyle Avg. life expectancy is 85.7 years, more urban living Avg. life expectancy is 85 years, more rural living (except in cities)
Notable Attractions Laguna Beach Art Festival, Old Towne Orange, Historical Sites, Sam Clemente Everglades National Park, Walt Disney World, Orlando Ghost Tour

Florida is known as the “Sunshine State” because of its warm, sunny weather year-round. It is one of the most popular states for retirees. You can expect the cost of living to be lower and for the state to be very tax-friendly. 

California is also a great state for retirees. The weather is variable there, depending on the location you want to live in. As a larger and more urbanized state, there are also many notable attractions for one to attend. You will also come to find that the average life expectancy is higher there. 

In this article, you’ll find useful information on each state that will help you decide which is the best for you to retire in.  

California vs. Florida for Retirement: Which Is Better?

Cost of Living

Your retirement spending will be based on many variables, such as property taxes or perhaps some entertainment. It will also depend on how much money you save and what you plan to budget for the future. Some advise that 70% to 90% of your income maintains the same standard of living. However, this might not be necessary as most tend to find they don’t need as much room or have as many mouths to feed. 

Depending on where you choose to live, the cost of living will vary. 

In Florida, the average annual expenses are approximately $51,159. While in California, the average annual expenses are approximately $86,171. That is a difference of $35,012!

Tax Environment

It might be a surprise to learn that after you retire, you still have to pay taxes. Of course, the rate depends on many factors such as which state you reside in, what kind of property you have acquired, how much your overall retirement income is, how you file for tax returns, and many other things. 

Luckily, in some states, like Florida, there are no state taxes. This is a relief for many individuals that are looking for relief on added expenses. Florida is also one of the few states that don’t have taxes on Social Security Benefits or pension incomes. However, when residing in Florida, there is a property tax of 1.02%

While Florida is mostly tax-friendly, California has several different state tax laws. As with many states, California does charge a local and state tax, which is approximately 8.25%

The marginal tax rate is approximately 2.00%. However, as similar to that of Florida, California does not tax Social Security Benefits or pension incomes. This will add some relief to the other tax rates that do apply. 


If you are looking to avoid sweltering summers and chilly winters, then there are no better states to look at than California and Florida. While they offer different climates, they are relatively mild compared to other states and very comfortable. Not too hot and not too cold. 

California’s climate is probably the most diverse. It is one of the very few places where five climate types can occur in near proximity. California’s most prominent climate type is the Meditteranean climate, which is bordered by Desert, Cool Interior, Highland, and Steppe Climates. Further, California’s temperatures can range anywhere from 37°F to 100.4°F (3°C to 38°C) as the average temperature for warmer weather.

On the other hand, the average winter temperatures can range from 12°F to 58°F (-11°C to 14°C). These are wide ranges but vary due to elevation or location, as California is quite large!

Florida has a bit more simple weather. The most prominent type of climate is humid subtropical, with temperatures ranging from 64°F to 77°F (18°C to 25°C) in the winter and from 70°F (21°C) to the lower 90°F (32°C) in the summer. Florida is known as the Sunshine State for a reason! It’s beautiful, sunny, and warm a lot of the time. 


Enjoying a high-quality life on a limited retirement budget can seem tough, but it doesn’t have to be. You get to choose how you want to live your life and where the best place is to do that. 

Perhaps you are looking to settle in a more urbanized area. Maybe you want to enjoy closer amenities or go on more shopping sprees, or perhaps you prefer the buzz of a busy town, whatever the reason, the urban life may be for you. California is the best state to retire in if you are looking to live in an urban setting. 

What is even better about California is that there is a higher life expectancy of 85.7 years. This is one of the highest life expectancy ratings in the U.S. 

However, if you are looking to settle down in a more rural area, then Florida is certainly the place for you. What could be better than breathing in the fresh, clean air and being closer to nature? It would be a relaxing environment with few interruptions. 

You can also expect a still high life expectancy rate at 85 years. There is a long, peaceful road ahead for your retirement in Florida. 

Notable Attractions

As a retiree, you have the freedom to choose how to spend your time. Are you looking for leisure activities? Or maybe you would prefer to just relax? Either way, California and Florida have plenty of options available for you to enjoy an entertaining retirement. 

Florida holds one of the most popular attractions and the “Happiest Place” on Earth – Walt Disney World! This is the perfect place to go as a retiree. You can enjoy food, games, rides, shopping, and so much more – all in one place! Other great places to look for while in Florida are Everglades National Park or the Orlando Ghost Tour. These are great for exploring nature, the beach, and historical sites. 

California also offers many popular attractions. For example, Disneyland! It is a prime place for people to go but doesn’t offer as much as Disney World. Other places include Laguna Beach, where you can enjoy an annual Art Festival, or the Old Towne Orange Historical sites that are great for educational purposes.  


So there you have it—a closer look at these two destinations that would make for a wonderful retirement!

We recommend Florida for those that are interested in lower tax rates, lower cost of living, and beautiful weather. But California is a great option for more retirement entertainment, lower crime rates, and more urban living. 



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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