Have you been thinking about packing up to retire but haven’t decided where you want to live? Consider Los Angeles. Say what? LA is not usually on one of those best places to retire lists. Most lists feature quaint little towns in Midwest America and not big urban cities. But hear me out. I’ve lived in Los Angeles most of my life and it’s an extraordinary place to live.
LA is indeed HUGE and the cost of living is HIGH. But, according to this study, it’s lower than New York City, Honolulu, San Francisco, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston or San Diego.
That said, here are 7 reasons I love Los Angeles and why I think it’s one of the best places to retire.
1. Los Angeles is rich in culture, diversity, and tolerance
Our enlightened mayor, Eric Garcetti, and hard-working Governors, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown and Gavin Newsom have both contributed to making Los Angeles an even better place to live in the last few years. They’re dedicated to bringing people of all races, religions, and cultures together in harmony, are committed to improving the environment, improving education, building businesses, and taking care of the homeless.
Sometimes people from other parts of the country see news stories about our homeless problem but don’t factor in that we have warm weather most of the time. That’s one reason why we tend to have more homeless people than most states.
LA’s police department, fire department, and other first responders are second-to-none. They’re often sent to other states to help during disasters. Sure, there’s crime like any other big city. We’ve even had intense riots in the past, but they’ve taught us the importance of working together and why we need to respect each other. Our crime rate has dropped significantly in recent years.
2. The mixture of cultures in Los Angeles makes it an exciting city to live in and visit
On any given weekend, you’ll find multi-cultural festivals, theater, and events taking place. California was a part of Mexico before it became a state and Mexican, as well as Native American families, have lived in the city for centuries. Cultural festivals like Cinco De Mayo, (Mexican independence) and Dios Los Muertos, (Day of the Dead) are festive and fun. Murals, city art, theater, and Pow Wows give us insight into the hard-fought struggles of the past. Mariachi bands, street vendors, taco trucks, and restaurants are colorful and tasty reminders of Los Angeles’s rich Hispanic heritage.
Los Angeles also welcomes immigrants from Asia, India, Africa, Eastern, and Western Europe, the Islands of the Pacific, and the Middle East. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, and New Age spiritualists. We all manage to live happily together with little conflict.
You can never complain about having nothing to do in Los Angeles because there’s always something of interest going on.
3. The weather alone makes Los Angeles one of the best places to retire
We occasionally have a rainstorm (thank you to the rain Gods) or a few chilly nights. (no cooler than about 40 degrees) Overall, the weather in Los Angeles is spectacular. It’s occasionally colder and foggy at the beach but is mostly sunny and pleasant. Humidity is low so even if the temperature reaches 110 degrees in the summer, it’s bearable. Gentle ocean breezes keep the super-dry weather at bay, so you won’t wrinkle up like a prune, even in a Santa Ana wind. I don’t know about you, but when I think about the best places to retire and my arthritis acts up, I want the weather to cooperate.
4. Natural disasters – OK, we have earthquakes
Buildings that weren’t up to code after the Northridge Quake of 1994 were mostly demolished or have been brought up to code. Los Angeles has strict earthquake rules when it comes to new construction. To avoid damage to your home, it’s best to live on bedrock rather than in areas sitting on liquefaction. Single stories are safer than multiple level buildings. Los Angeles has had remarkably little loss of life in both earthquakes and fires in all areas of the city because of its strict safety measures. Building codes in new buildings also include provisions for those who are handicapped or otherwise disabled.
We don’t have to worry about blizzards, tornados, hurricanes, cyclones, or even tsunamis. Our rainstorms are quiet compared to other cities in the U.S. It’s rare to hear lightning and thunder and if it does occur, it’s tame.
5. Los Angeles is a health-conscious and active city
One reason I believe LA is one of the best places to retire is that residents are outside and active all year round. You can see them jogging, biking, hiking, or working out in gyms 24 hours a day. There is also an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and natural food stores are everywhere. Farmer’s markets all over the city take place on weekends. You can also have fruits and vegetables from local farms delivered to your door all year round.
6. Choose your favorite terrain and enjoy the view
The landscape of Los Angeles is a mixture of environments from beachfront, urban, hills, rocks, canyons, and flatlands.
- Visitors flock to Los Angeles to enjoy the beaches. Beach cities are the most expensive areas to live in because of their popularity. Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Playa Vista, Venice, Malibu, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Culver City all offer sun, sand, and relaxation.
- Downtown Los Angeles is urban but rich in arts and culture. It’s been cleaned up, beautified, and a Metro ride away to avoid parking. Downtown has world-class art museums, theaters, upscale and quirky restaurants, Pershing Square, Grand Park, Grand Central Market, The Music Center, Disney Concert Hall, China and Korea Towns, and Exposition Park. Industrial lofts have been converted to living spaces and are filled with budding and well-established artists, many of whom are Baby Boomers.
- The San Fernando Valley is wide and sprawling. It’s the bedroom community of the city. Because it’s so vast, it’s easier to find parking and shop. I enjoy the valley because it’s only a short freeway ride to other densely populated parts of the city. It’s a less stressful living environment and is family-friendly. The valley offers post-war tract homes, newly developed apartment complexes, hillside retreats, ranch homes, and mobile home parks.
- Canyon living is like living in the country in the middle of the city. For a while, I lived in a mobile home park on top of the rock formations overlooking the valley. It was like living in Fred Flintstone’s bedrock and has a spectacular view of the valley below. Now I live in Burbank, near Toluca Lake, surrounded by movie studios. Topanga Canyon, Box Canyon, and Beachwood Canyon are artsy havens with a few hippies who never left. Malibu Canyon has over 70 vineyards between the valley and the sea. Canyon life means you may have to watch out for mudslides and fires, but otherwise, you can find cozy little hideaways filled with all sorts of wonderful wildlife.
- The Hollywood area and Griffith Park is a mixture of city, canyon, and equestrian. I used to live under the Hollywood sign in Beachwood Canyon, where the architecture is reminiscent of Old Hollywood during the ’20s and 30’s with some odd ’50s, ’60s, and ultra-modern structures mixed in. The beautiful neighborhood of Los Feliz is located nearby and is popular with celebrities. Hollywood was revitalized after earthquake damaged buildings were red-tagged. It’s becoming a “happening place” to live with new apartment buildings and trendy restaurants. West Hollywood, is the center of the Gay Pride Parade and has a large gay/lesbian population. A fun activity is to hike up to the Griffith Park Observatory during the day or go in the evening to see the stars.
Other fabulous areas include Beverly Hills, Westwood, Century City, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Glendale, Eagle Rock. Each has its own charm and attractions and are exciting places to retire. I could go on and on but it would be impossible in this post.
7. Healthcare – Los Angeles is a good place to be if you’re sick
UCLA, USC, Cedars-Sinai, Providence, Kaiser Permanente, and the City of Hope (in nearby Duarte) are top Los Angeles hospitals. Because it’s a large city, there are health care choices for every need available including plenty of alternative health modalities. If you’re low income, there are excellent facilities for families on Medi-Cal. The future of healthcare in the U.S. is currently up in the air, but Los Angeles takes care of its people no matter what. Health fairs, free screenings, immunization programs, wellness education and exercise programs for people over 50 are readily available.
State of the art retirement communities and senior living housing is available in most areas of the city. If you’re looking for the best places to retire that cater to retirees, consider a new development at Fountainview at Gonda Westside in Playa Vista. It’s a senior living complex that resembles a resort and caters to those who live independently as well as those who require assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing and rehab. The development is associated with the Jewish Home to the Westside.