LOS ANGELES - Retiring in California sounds like a dream, doesn't it? With everything from ocean views and mountain backdrops to a year-round pleasant climate and consistently sunny weather to enjoy the outdoors, the Golden State surely offers seniors a breadth of options to spend their golden years.
The high quality of life, job opportunities, and top-rated health care options make California a desirable place to retire, according to a recent U.S. News analysis of the 150 largest U.S. metropolitan areas as potential retirement spots.
But it doesn't come cheap.
A new study from GOBankingRates analyzed the median listing price for a home and the average expenditures for someone 65 and older, identifying which of California's cheapest places to live also offer a similar kind of lifestyle to the more expensive options that one might consider first.
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To get the results, analysts considered three factors - Zillow median home listing price data by city; the average cost of living index in those selected cities; data from the Bureau of Labor Statistcs 2021 Consumer Expenditure Survey to find annual expenditure amounts to determine how much someone 65 and older might spend in each city monthly.
Here's what the study found in terms of cities to avoid, and the alternative, more affordable option.
Los Angeles to San Bernardino
No surprise here that the second-largest city in the U.S. is among the most expensive. In LA, the median home price is about $1 million, with the cost of living for ages 65 and older households a staggering $117,927.14.
Neighboring San Bernardino, however, offers many of the same benefits without costing an arm and a leg, according to the study. Here, the median home price is $463,783 - which is $509,045 less than Los Angeles. Also, the average senior spends less than $44,000 a year living in San Bernardino, according to the study.
Oakland to Modesto
The median home price in Oakland is $955,409, followed by an average cost of living for seniors a whopping $118,000.
The study suggests the inland city of Modesto, where the median list price of a home is $450,204 - less than half that of Oakland. The average cost of living for seniors in Modesto is nearly $77,000.
Santa Ana to Henderson, Nevada
In Santa Ana, the median home price is $788,712 and the average annual expenditure for those whoa are 65 and up is $96,000, analysts found.
Instead, Henderson across the border in Nevada adjacent to Las Vegas is a lower-cost alternative, according to the study. Here, the median home price is $513,542, and the annual expenditure for those 65 and up is over $21,000 a year lower.
Anaheim to Las Vegas, Nevada
Located just south of Los Angeles and home to Disneyland, Anaheim's cost of living is not much to be happy about. Here the average annual expenditure for seniors is over $100,000 while the median home price totals to $877,761.
But in Sin City (aptly also called the Disneyland for adults), the median home price is nearly half that in Anaheim, and the average annual expenditures in Las Vegas is just under $75,000 annually. That's nearly $25,000 a year one can save on basic needs.
San Francisco to Sacramento
Though home to the Golden Gate Bridge, spending one's golden years in the City by the Bay will break the bank. Here the median home price is a staggering $1.5 million, with the average senior spending over $164,000 a year for necessities.
In the state capital just a way's up north, Sacramento's median home price is about a quarter of San Francisco's at $503,651, according to the study. Here, the average senior spends $81,384, more than half of what seniors spend in San Francisco.
Riverside to Fresno
One of the largest cities in the Inland Empire also happens to be pretty expensive for seniors. According to the study, the average price of a home in Riverside is $632,436 and the average annual expenditures for those 65 and up is $89,750.45.
Relocating to Fresno in the Central Valley will give you the same type of weather and other amenities at a fraction of the cost. Here seniors will save $256,000 buying a home compared to Riverside, in addition to saving more than $20,000 annually in expenses.
San Jose to Stockton
The Capital of Silicon Valley comes at quite the price. It's a little cheaper than San Francisco, but not by much. Here the median home price is $1,385,280, with the average annual expenses estimated at around $143,895.20.
Compare that to Stockton, where according to the study, the median home price is less than a third of San Jose's at $454,453. The average annual expenditure for seniors is $77,368.77 - that's almost half that of San Jose.
Long Beach to Corpus Christi, Texas
Spending one's golden years by the beach may be a dream for many, but it's a costly one in Long Beach. Here the median home price is $808,501, with the average annual expenditure for those 65 and up $106,482.45.
The study suggests Texas' gulf coast city Corpus Christi as a cost-friendly alternative. Here the median home price is $219,190 and annual expenditures are estimated at around $56,018.74. Retirees would be saving nearly $600,000 by buying a home here.
San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida
America's Finest City comes with a fine price tag, alright. According to the study, the median list price for a home here is $968,370 and retirees will need over $107,000 a year to cover basic expenses.
Seniors who are brave enough to swap coasts and head to Jacksonville, Florida can still enjoy beaches and warm weather at a fraction of the cost. According to the study, the median home price here is $650,000 lower than in San Diego, with the average annual expenditure totaling around $63,000.
To see the full study and national rankings, tap or click here.