Santa Rosa : California


What It Is Like to Retire in Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa, a town of 178,127 (2020 Census), is the County Seat of Sonoma County.  That location puts it solidly in California's wine country and makes it a popular retirement community for baby boomers who enjoy wine and good food. The area is hilly with several nearby state parks. Outdoor activities and a slower lifestyle are also available here in plentiful supply.  Santa Rosa is the largest city in California's wine country. Nearby towns include Sonoma, Healdsburg, and Napa. The city is actively engaged in economic development centered around wine, food, tourism, and making the center of Santa Rosa an attractive and engaging community - they seem to be succeeding.  Restaurants and other retail stores occupy several historic buildings in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square district in the downtown area, including these along Fourth Street. Photo of The Hotel La Rose, built in 1907, is a functioning historic hotel in downtown Santa Rosa, courtesy of Wikipedia and Wulfnoth (public domain). Also in the public domain, photos of Charles Schultz Museum and Discovery Center and the Prince Memorial Greenway.


Where to Retire in Santa Rosa and Home Prices

There are several active adult communities in the area, including at least one very large one (see link for list of communities at left). There is a 55+ development for the LGBT community here, among others. Median home prices in Santa Rosa have been climbing steadily in the last few years. Zillow reports the median home value to be $698,022 in early 2022.


What Is Special about Santa Rosa

Railroad Square makes for a great downtown. Great restaurants and wine country make it an interesting place to live. Many historic neighborhoods. Annadel State Park, on the eastern edge of Santa Rosa, offers miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and trail riding. Armstrong Woods and Austin Creek State Parks are just some of the parks close by Santa Rosa. There is a college, a junior college, and an extension of the University of San Francisco in Santa Rosa.


What Is Not Special about Santa Rosa

This is California and taxes and real estate expenses are high. It might be too rural for some people.

Who Will Like Retirement in Santa Rosa

People who want to live a relaxed lifestyle where food, wine, and recreation are important

Local Economy Is Driven by

Wine, construction, tourism, healthcare

Climate and Physical Environment

Sonoma Valley is somewhat arid and very hilly.  The average January low temp is in the high 30s and the average daily high in July is in the low 80s. Winters are wet and summers very dry. The climate is great for grapes, which means it is good for people too. There was a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in 2007. The elevation of the town is only 160' but nearby hills climb a few thousand feet.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Thanks to the tourist towns near Santa Rosa, there is always something to do. Food and wine are big cultural entertainment here as well. There is a Santa Rosa Symphony, a Performing Arts Center, and many other cultural venues. The bright lights of San Francisco are a short drive away. Local colleges also provide culture to the community.



The crime rate is slightly below average.

Medical Facilities

Santa Rosa has 4 hospitals including a Kaiser and Santa Rosa Memorial


there is no Amtrak service. SMART (Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit) commuter rail service has two train stations in Santa Rosa. There is a small airport named for Charles Schulz with flights to LA, San Diego, Portland (OR) and Seattle.   Santa Rosa is about average in walkability when compared to other communities.


Valuable Links

City of Santa Rosa

Guide to California retirement and retirement communities


What people are saying about Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa California really?
I have lived here for 30 years and can\'t wait to get out. It might be described as somewhat arid but it usually isn\'t comfortable do to the dew point. It\'s not easy finding a smooth road and traffic has increased. Our gang activity is ever increasing and I recently learned that there are now 24 gangs vying for position in various parts of town. If you are allergic to mold and mildew, don\'t move here. It is one of the most allergen areas. Cost of living here and in most of California is high and taxes and fees continue to climb but not a lot to show for it. The state legislature just can\'t seem to control their give away programs and with increased illegal occupation and give away programs it isn\'t going to get better. Oh, we do have some very nice restaurants.
Posted by kteissere on February 25, 2015

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