Senior Living
Best retirement communities in San Diego: What makes the city popular among retirees?

Best retirement communities in San Diego: What makes the city popular among retirees?

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retirement communities in San Diego

Many people dream of retiring to a place where they can enjoy the best of both worlds. A place that offers them the opportunity to take advantage of all a big city has to offer while also keeping their feet on the ground and living in a small town. San Diego is one of those places that meet these criteria! Also, for many seniors who have to reevaluate their living arrangements, there are hundreds of assisted living facilities in San Diego alone, along with other health and senior living communities to meet the demand, which makes the city stand out. 

This blog will highlight the pros and cons of retiring in San Diego, the cost of retiring, and list down the best retirement communities in San Diego County. So, if you are an older adult considering spending your retirement years in ‘America’s Finest City,’ look no further!

Is San Diego a good place to retire? 

A lot of older Americans consider San Diego an ideal place to retire, and for good reasons. Not only does it have a diversified landscape, with cities, villages, beaches, and mountains all within close proximity to each other, but it also has nearly perfect weather year-round. In addition, San Diego has plenty of local attractions, recreational activities geared towards those aged 50+, and a plethora of long-term care facilities and healthcare services.  

The cost of living in San Diego is generally higher than in other parts of the country; however, there are still affordable housing options within the city limits. Additionally, retirees can benefit from lower taxes due to California’s Prop 13 tax relief. All these factors combine to make San Diego a wonderful place to retire. 

Pros and cons of retiring in San Diego 

Just like any other location, there are some pros and cons of retiring in San Diego. So, let’s explore some of the advantages and drawbacks of living in San Diego for retirees! 

The Pros

Let’s look at the pros of retiring in San Diego:

1. The weather 

San Diego has the perfect weather. With a temperate that rarely dips below 60 degrees or rises above 90 degrees – San Diego makes it easier for retirees who want an escape from cold winters. Also, the city is at the southern end of a mild climate zone, meaning that it is much less susceptible to hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. 

2. Cultural diversity 

San Diego is diverse when it comes to people and culture. The city has many different neighborhoods for retirees from all walks of life. The cultural diversity of San Diego reflects in its local food scene, multicultural festivals, and vibrant arts scene. It is easy for retirees to feel at home since there are so many people that they can relate to their age group. 

3. Array of events and activities 

Older people who live in the city can take advantage of all the cultural events happening throughout the year. For example, there are a number of museums, live theaters and musical performances. San Diego has it all! On top of that, there are many hiking trails, parks, and beaches for those who love being outdoors. Some of the notable cultural events that are happening this year include Balboa Park Centennial Celebration, PrideFest, Mural Festival, etc. 

4. Low crime rate 

San Diego has a relatively low crime rate, so it is safe to walk around at night and live in a quiet neighborhood without worrying about break-ins. Besides, San Diego also has one of the lowest rate of car thefts and robberies, making it easy for older people to feel safe leaving their houses unattended. However, it should be noted that the rate of car thefts jumped by 27% in 2021, which can be a little concerning. 

5. Access to healthcare

Access to quality healthcare facilities is crucial for older people as they are more susceptible to age-related health issues. San Diego has some of the best healthcare facilities in all of California, so it is easy to find medical support that will cater to your needs. There are many hospitals and nursing homes located within driving distance.

The Cons 

Now let’s look at some of the cons of retiring in San Diego:

1. High cost of living 

San Diego consistently ranks as a top ten city with a high cost of living, based on the statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. Housing prices and costs like energy bills or food each year, among other factors for this high living cost. In addition, San Diego has one of the highest sales tax rates, and if you combine factors like transportation, food, and entertainment, the expenses skyrocket further. 

2. Traffic conditions 

Though San Diego’s traffic is not as bad as in New York or Los Angeles, it is still bad considering its size. Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, certain areas of the city may experience heavy traffic throughout the day. However, the city is very walkable, but older people with mobility issues might have to keep this in mind before moving here. 

3. Homelessness 

The homelessness issue in San Diego has been a problem for decades. The homeless population is often on the rise, and it can be seen everywhere, especially downtown, where they are most prominent. Their presence is felt especially near food sources like large parks or grocery stores. It may raise some safety concerns among retirees. 

4. Lack of public transportation 

San Diego is a city that relies heavily on cars for transportation, and due to this reliance, public transport systems have not developed as much here. With gas prices being so high, it can make things more challenging for those, including older people who are unable to drive or afford a car all the time. 

What are the best places to live in San Diego? 

San Diego offers a variety of wonderful neighborhoods and communities to live in, each with its own unique charm and appeal. Here are some of the best places to live in San Diego: 

1. La Jolla 

Located along the coast, La Jolla is known for its beautiful beaches, upscale shops, and stunning ocean views. It’s an affluent community with a relaxed atmosphere and a vibrant arts scene. 

2. Del Mar 

Del Mar is a picturesque coastal town with a small-town feel. It’s known for its stunning beaches, excellent schools, and the famous Del Mar Racetrack. Del Mar offers a luxurious lifestyle with a range of upscale homes and amenities. 

3. Downtown San Diego 

Downtown San Diego could be a great option if you prefer a more urban lifestyle. It’s a vibrant neighborhood with a lively nightlife, trendy restaurants, and cultural attractions. The area offers a mix of condos, lofts, and apartments. 

4. North Park 

North Park is a hip and eclectic neighborhood with a thriving arts and culinary scene. It’s known for its diverse community, trendy bars, and restaurants. The area has a mix of historic homes and modern apartments. 

5. Pacific Beach 

Pacific Beach could be one of the best places to live in San Diego if you enjoy a beach-centric lifestyle. It provides a vibrant ambiance filled with numerous water-based recreational options, along with bars and restaurants right on the beach. It tends to attract a younger demographic and provides a diverse selection of housing alternatives. 

6. Coronado 

Situated on the opposite side of the bay from downtown, Coronado is a delightful island community recognized for its immaculate beaches, luxurious resorts, and laid-back way of life. The region presents a blend of historic residences and more contemporary properties. 

7. Encinitas

Situated in North County San Diego, Encinitas is a laid-back coastal town with a strong surf culture and a thriving organic food scene. It has beautiful beaches, excellent schools, and a range of housing options. 

8. Carlsbad 

Carlsbad is another desirable coastal community in North County. It features beautiful beaches, a charming downtown area, and family-friendly amenities. Carlsbad is known for its excellent schools and high quality of life. 

How much do you need to retire in San Diego? 

Retiring costs in San Diego depend on a variety of factors, such as lifestyle and financial preferences. For example, if you plan to live a budget-friendly lifestyle, you may need less money to retire than someone with a more upscale lifestyle. Additionally, the cost of living in San Diego varies based on the location, healthcare needs, type of housing, etc. 

Generally speaking, a person should have saved about 10 – 15 times the amount of their annual income to retire in San Diego. For example, if you earn an average salary of $70,000 per year in San Diego, you would need to save between $700,000 and $1 million dollars for retirement. According to various reports, San Diego retirees should have a six-figure saving if they want to live off their reserves or Social Security benefits. 

In order to determine the exact amount needed for retirement in San Diego, it is best to speak with a financial advisor or elder law attorney who can help you calculate your specific income requirements based on your individual needs and goals. 

10 best retirement communities in San Diego

San Diego boasts some of the top-rated 55+ communities in the country. From resort-style retirement facilities to tranquil ocean-view condominiums, these comfortable communities make perfect places to spend the golden years. Let’s explore some of the best senior communities in San Diego. 

1. Vi at La Jolla Village 

Location: 8515 Costa Verde Blvd, San Diego, CA 92122. 

Care provided: Assisted living, memory care, independent living, skilled nursing. 

Vi at La Jolla Village is a world-class retirement community located just minutes from downtown San Diego. Residents can enjoy an array of personalized services and a wealth of amenities, including 24-hour onsite nursing care, specialized therapeutic programs, stylish apartments with modern appliances, tranquil outdoor spaces, and stimulating activity options. On top of that, their Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are some of the bests in the business! 

2. La Vida Real 

Location: 11588 Via Rancho San Diego, Rancho San Diego, CA 92019. 

Care provided: Assisted living, memory care, independent living. 

La Vida Real is a Spanish-village style is a luxurious 55+ community in Rancho, San Diego. The community offers everything you would expect from a high-end retirement facility. At La Vida Real, all units include spacious one- or two-bedroom apartments that are equipped with contemporary appliances. The grounds feature lush landscaping and well-maintained walking paths, while a 24-hour staff is available to assist residents with any needs. On top of that, they offer opportunities for physical exercise, social events, and stimulating activities for older adults. 

3. Wesley Palms Retirement Community 

Location: 2404 Loring Street, San Diego, CA 92109. 

Care provided: Memory care, independent living. 

Wesley Palms is one of the best retirement communities in San Diego County. They offer beautiful patio homes as well as spacious apartments, providing a warm and inviting space for seniors to enjoy their retirement years. The campus also features an array of recreational activities such as arts & crafts classes, fitness programs, and spiritual gatherings. In addition to offering nutritious daily meals prepared by professional chefs, they also provide health screenings and transportation services when needed. 

4. The Remington Club 

Location: 16922 Hierba Drive, San Diego, CA 92128. 

Care provided: Assisted living, independent living, rehab. 

Another excellent 55+ community in San Diego is The Remington Club. Residents enjoy striking mountain views in its 17-acre campus, spacious apartments, and robust activities that encourage healthy living, intellectual engagement, and socialization. The facility offers personalized meal plans, an outdoor pool, beauty salons, physical therapy programs, and many other amenities. With all these features, it’s easy to see why Remington Club is one of the best retirement communities in San Diego, CA. 

5. Merrill Gardens at Bankers Hill 

Location: 2567 2nd Ave, San Diego, CA 92103. 

Care provided: Assisted living, independent living. 

Merrill Gardens at Bankers Hill is perfect for seniors looking to live an active, independent lifestyle while enjoying all that San Diego has to offer. From private studios with kitchenettes to one- and two-bedroom apartments with full kitchens and balconies, residents can choose from a variety of floor plans. They can also take advantage of its plethora of amenities, including outdoor barbecues, fitness classes, charity engagements, game rooms, and many more! 

6. Canyon Villas 

Location: 4282 Balboa Avenue, San Diego, CA 92117. 

Care provided: Assisted living, independent living, respite care, hospice. 

Canyon Villas was voted as one of the best 55+ communities in San Diego. Besides long-term care options, Canyon Villas also offers respite care and hospice services. They have a team of compassionate caregivers, 24-hour security services, and a variety of living options that are tailored to their individual needs and budget. In addition to these, the community offers fine dining options, recreational areas, and personalized health care plans. 

7. HarborView Senior Assisted Living 

Location: 2360 Albatross Street, San Diego, CA 92101. 

Care provided: Assisted living, memory care. 

HarborView is a retirement community in San Diego, CA that offers assisted living and memory care services to older adults. The community offers a charming view of Italian-style architecture, overlooking the bay. Their highly trained staff provides round-the-clock assistance to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Apart from that, the facility has various social and recreational opportunities, educational seminars, a pet-friendly environment, and regular housekeeping services. 

8. Casa Aldea Senior Living 

Location: 14740 Via Fiesta, San Diego, CA 92127. 

Care provided: Independent living. 

Casa Aldea is a premier retirement community in San Diego County. The facility promotes active adult living like no other retirement home in San Diego. At Casa Aldea, residents enjoy resort-style living with 24-hour staff support and onsite medical care. On top of that, they have group fitness classes, physical therapy sessions, social gatherings, art studios, and close proximity to spiritual centers. All these services and amenities are designed to keep the residents active and engaged with the community.

9. Torrey Pines Senior Living 

Location: 13101 Hartfield Ave, San Diego, CA 92130. 

Care provided: Independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing. 

Torrey Pines Senior Living, now known as Bayshire Torrey Pines, is a remarkable Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that offers a comprehensive range of services to meet the diverse needs of its residents. With a commitment to excellence, Bayshire Torrey Pines provides unparalleled independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing services. Here, seniors can enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle, an engaging environment, and round-the-clock medical assistance. 

10. Atria La Jolla 

Location: 4025 Pulitzer Pl, San Diego, CA 92122. 

Care provided: Independent living. 

Starting at $4,595 / month, this retirement community in San Diego has exquisitely designed living spaces that exude elegance and comfort. Atria La Jolla also offers enriching activities and events tailored to foster meaningful connections and personal growth. In addition, they provide exceptional amenities and services to enhance the overall quality of life, including chef-prepared meals, transportation services, housekeeping, etc., ensuring that the residents’ needs are well taken care of. 

What is the cost of senior living facilities in San Diego? 

The cost of senior living facilities in San Diego, CA may vary depending on the location, care needs, amenities, and similar factors. But the table below shows the approx. monthly average cost of retirement communities in the city: 

Care Type 

Average Cost (Monthly) 

Home Care 


Assisted Living 


Nursing Homes 

Semi-private room: $11,558 

Private room: $15,208 

Memory Care 


Independent Living 


Things to do in San Diego for adults 

San Diego offers a vivid range of activities for older adults to enjoy. Here are some fun things to do in San Diego for adults: 

  1. Explore Balboa Park: Visit museums, gardens, and theaters. 
  2. USS Midway Museum: Tour a retired aircraft carrier and learn about naval aviation. 
  3. Craft Beer Scene: Take brewery tours and sample local brews. 
  4. Gaslamp Quarter: Enjoy nightlife, live music, and diverse dining. 
  5. Harbor Cruise: Take in waterfront views and learn about the city’s history. 
  6. San Diego Zoo: See a wide variety of animals from around the world. 
  7. Beaches: Relax, swim, and surf at beautiful coastal spots. 
  8. Wine Tasting: Visit nearby wine regions for vineyard tours and tastings. 
  9. Hiking: Explore scenic trails like Torrey Pines and Cowles Mountain. 
  10. Sporting Events: Attend games of the Padres (MLB) or Chargers (NFL). 

What are the best hospitals in San Diego? 

San Diego offers exceptional healthcare and is home to several renowned hospitals. Here are some of the best hospitals in the San Diego: 

  1. UC San Diego Health – Hillcrest: Renowned academic medical center with comprehensive services and innovative research. 
  2. Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla: Leading facility in the Scripps Health network, known for advanced care in specialties like cardiovascular and orthopedics. 
  3. Sharp Memorial Hospital: Highly regarded facility within Sharp HealthCare, offering advanced technology and specialized centers. 
  4. Rady Children’s Hospital: World-class pediatric hospital affiliated with UC San Diego, providing comprehensive care for children. 
  5. Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center: Comprehensive facility within Kaiser Permanente health plan, offering a broad range of services. 
  6. VA San Diego Healthcare System: Dedicated to serving veterans, providing primary care, specialized care, and mental health services. 

Final thoughts 

With so many options for senior communities in San Diego, it can be tough to choose the right one. When considering retiring in San Diego, potential retirees should weigh all their options carefully before moving in. We hope this list has helped you curb your search for the best retirement communities in San Diego. 

If you have any questions about these communities on our list, or if you need help finding the perfect retirement community for your needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help! In the meantime, check out some related articles from our blog: 


  • Who qualifies for senior housing in San Diego? 

In San Diego, senior housing is available for individuals who are at least 62 years of age or older. In addition, some senior housing facilities may also accept applicants who are an adult with a disability. In order to be eligible for most types of senior housing, applicants must have an income at or below a certain level as determined by the local housing authority. 

  • What is the most affordable neighborhood in San Diego? 

The most affordable neighborhoods in San Diego are likely to be El Cajon, National City, Santee, or Chula Vista. These areas are generally lower than the rest of San Diego, making it ideal for anyone looking for an affordable place to live. 

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