Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Retire in Sonoma, California?
Overview: Forty five miles north of San Francisco, beautiful, upscale Sonoma is in the heart of California's wine country, tucked amid a landscape of rolling hills, farmland and vineyards. It grew up around a 1823 Spanish mission, giving it a Colonial ambiance that still lingers today.
The town is laid out around a plaza lined with faithfully maintained stone and adobe buildings from Sonoma's early days. Still the center of community life, the plaza is home to more than 40 stylish shops and 30 top-notch restaurants. Two wineries with tasting rooms are in town and open every day. Another 400 or so wineries are in the surrounding valley. There are wine tours, wine festivals, wine charity events, wine weekends and more. Breweries are also well represented. The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art has a wide range of contemporary showings, and the Sonoma County Museum, located in an old post office, is known for its offbeat exhibits. Residents enjoy dozens of art galleries, three theater groups, two botanical gardens, fun festivals, gourmet markets, art shows and the well attended Sonoma International Film Festival.
Exquisite homes, including Victorian farmhouses, white washed Mediterraneans and wood-sided contemporaries, are easy to find, but there are also modest manufactured homes and classic mid-century ranch ramblers.
Population: 11,500 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 58%
Cost of Living: 70% above the national average
Median Home Price: $750,000
Climate: This area has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and cool, wet winters. Summer temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, and winter temperatures are in the 30s and 40s. On average, the area receives 30 inches of rain each year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Very, very liberal
Is California Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? No
Cons: The earthquake risk is 1,372% higher than the national average. Sonoma County suffered through devasting wildfires during the fall of 2017 and 2019. Most vineyards were spared, but local officials worry about future fires and their impact on tourism and the economy.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
Thanks to the treaty that ended the Mexican-American War, the Golden State became a U.S. territory in 1847. Soon after, gold was found at Sutter's Mill. The land crowded with fortune seekers, and, shortly thereafter, California entered the Union as its 31st state in 1850.
California has 900 miles of coastline and claims the highest and lowest point in the continental U.S. Its terrain varies dramatically - from sandy beaches to rugged mountains, deserts to fertile farmland. Landmarks like Hollywood, Disneyland, and the Golden Gate Bridge play a large part in the nation's history and imagination.
Although Texas and New York have tried to close the gap, California's economy continues to be nation's largest. Agriculture, manufacturing, biotechnology, and tourism are some of its leading industries.
Cities of the Golden State have put some odd laws on the books. It's illegal to molest a monarch in Pacific Grove. Want to throw a frisbee on an L.A. County beach? Better ask a lifeguard first. What about bowling on the sidewalks of Chico? Strictly forbidden!
Population - 39,802,500
Persons 65 years old and over - 13%
High school graduates, age 25+ - 81.0%
Bachelor's degree or higher, age 25+ - 32%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 39%
White persons, not Hispanic - 39%
Median household income - $64,500
Median home value - $399,000
Social Security Taxed - No
Source: U.S. Census
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