Palm trees, a golf course and mountains in the background.

The 10 best places to retire on the West Coast, according to data

March 28, 2023
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Best places to retire on the West Coast

If planned well, retirement can be fun, social, and relaxing. But much of that depends on where you end up living. For many, the West Coast is ideal, with natural beauty, bustling cities, good hospitals, comfortable weather, and much more to offer. But what areas of this region are best for retirees?

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to retire on the West Coast, using data gathered from Niche 2022 rankings. The rankings were based on the number of retirees in any given area; weather; access to health care; restaurants and other amenities; crime rates; and entertainment options. Only towns, cities, and suburbs in California, Oregon, and Washington state were considered.

Though most of these locations are in California, it's worth noting that the California Dream can be complicated for retirees, as it's a notoriously expensive state. In 2022, housing affordability rates dropped to the lowest levels seen in the Golden State in more than a decade, as only 16% of households had the means to purchase a median-priced home of over $883,000.

The U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey showed 10.5% of California seniors live below the poverty line. State officials have launched a program to boost Californians' retirement savings, and have discussed increasing access to food stamps for seniors and making it easier to qualify for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, which pays for health care for low-income people. Given all this, it's clear that the ability to retire comfortably in California often rests on one thing: financial wealth.

However, the population of older Californians is still expanding. For those who can afford it, California boasts high life expectancy, a wide array of sights and attractions, coastal living, and year-round access to the outdoors. The good news for those on fixed or low incomes is that Oregon and Washington have plenty of attractive options, which are typically more affordable.

What makes each of these cities and towns fantastic for retirees? Read on to find out.

#10. Pacific Grove, California

- National rank: 247th best place to retire
- Population: 15,471

Right next to the city of Monterey lies Pacific Grove. It's known for the storied Asilomar Hotel and Conference Center and Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the West Coast. Golfers will also love its proximity to Pebble Beach.

#9. Beverly Hills, California

- National rank: 241st best place to retire
- Population: 33,709

The exclusive, expensive city of Beverly Hills, located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, is home to celebrities and professional athletes. It's also famous for the Rodeo Drive shopping haven.

#8. Harbor, Oregon

- National rank: 238th best place to retire
- Population: 2,071

Harbor is located near the southern Oregon border and just across the Chetco River from Brookings, Oregon. The area remains warmer than surrounding areas and has become known as the Easter lily capital of the world due in part to its favorable growing conditions. Outdoor activities abound for anyone interested in fishing, hiking, sailing, or the like.

#7. Corte Madera, California

- National rank: 202nd best place to retire
- Population: 9,793

Corte Madera is located in lush Marin County. Here, visitors and residents can find a marsh, a town park, and a library. It's also the location of The Village, an open-air shopping center. Residents can also easily swing over to Mill Valley, which is another city on this list.

#6. Seal Beach, California

- National rank: 175th best place to retire
- Population: 24,268

Hang out at the lovely Seal Beach Pier, enjoy the area's 1.5 miles of beach, or even go fishing. This quiet, small beach community is home to amazing year-round weather and is near Long Beach and Huntington Beach.

#5. Laguna Woods, California

- National rank: 174th best place to retire
- Population: 16,056

Ninety percent of Laguna Woods encompasses the Laguna Woods Village retirement community. That community boasts resort-style offerings: swimming, tennis, lawn bowling, horseback riding, performing arts shows and art studios, and golfing on two different courses. The retirement community is so vast that it has three neighborhoods to offer its residents.

#4. Indian Wells, California

- National rank: 168th best place to retire
- Population: 5,463

When there's an affordable oasis in the desert, why choose to retire anywhere else? Indian Wells offers a wide array of activities from golf and walking trails to a farmers market and nearby mineral-water spas. It also maintains much of its original desert beauty, with the stunning Santa Rosa Mountains overlooking the city.

#3. Del Mar, California

- National rank: 154th best place to retire
- Population: 4,331

This beach city in San Diego County is famous for its racetrack, beaches, fairgrounds, and restaurants. Residents enjoy shopping, hiking, biking, hot air balloon rides, endless water activities, and more.

#2. Larkspur, California

- National rank: 151st best place to retire
- Population: 12,363

Historic homes. Easy access to San Francisco. Adult sports leagues. Hiking and biking paths. Outdoor movies. There's a lot to like about Larkspur in Marin County. This community prides itself on maintaining its neighborhood feel during a time when the overall Bay Area is expanding and urbanizing.

#1. Del Monte Forest, California

- National rank: 90th best place to retire
- Population: 3,783

Del Monte is located in breathtaking Monterey County. The town offers residents picture-perfect walks along the beach, golfing galore, and charm for miles.

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