How To Retire Comfortably in California

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

How much do I need to retire? This guide will provide a clear path to retiring comfortably in California, living on a guaranteed fixed income stream for the rest of a retiree’s life. In addition, you will learn how to:

  • Take the guesswork out of retirement income planning.
  • First, solve for your fixed income amount.
  • Next, increase your retirement income to 24% by reducing the tax liability.
  • Finally, efficiently structure your income from 3 different retirement plans.

This retirement income planning guide is ideal for

  • Californians don’t want to spend less money when they retire but to maintain or improve their current lifestyles.
  • Retirees know they’ll have to budget their savings and are looking for the best way to invest for income.
  • Those who want to simplify their income problem by expecting a monthly paycheck as if they are still working.
  • Consumers want more income than a CD but want the guarantees that come along with them.

The key to a comfortable retirement is laying a foundation for a fixed income to pay for essential monthly expenses as if you still were employed. Any investments outside the desired monthly paycheck are secondary.

The goal is to achieve your desired fixed income with the least amount possible, leaving the remainder of your retirement savings for vacations, luxuries, investments, and emergencies.

To retire comfortably in California starting today, you will need to save at least $65,000.

Here’s how we came to this amount.

Want To Retire Efficiently?

Are you planning for retirement and unsure where to begin? Visit our Learning Lab for expert guidance and insights.

The Cost To Retire In California

One must understand the statistics to understand how much it costs in California.

Cost Of Living

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median monthly cost for rent or mortgage in 2019 is

  • Mortgage: $2,357
  • Rent: $1,503

The estimated monthly expenses for a couple in Los Angeles are $2,120.56.

The inflation rate is currently at 1.7% in the Western region of the United States for the past year.


  • Federal Taxes: Between 12% and 24% on average.
  • State Taxes: Between 1% and 13.3%.

The Cost of Healthcare

The cost of Medicare starts at $148.50 a month and can reach up to $504.90 per month.

The Cost of Long-Term Care

In 2020, the average cost of care per year in the state of California was

  • Homemaker Services: $66,352
  • Home Health Aide: $66,352
    • Check out our Home Health Care Guide
  • Adult Day Care: $20,800
  • Assisted Living Facility: $60,000
    • Check out our Assisted Living Facility Guide
  • Nursing Home Semi-Private Room: $110,960
  • Nursing Home Private Room: $137,240

Funeral Costs

In California, the average cost of a traditional funeral is $7,290.

How Much Do You Need To Retire In California

California State Tax Guide for Retirees

  • The statewide sales tax ranges from 7.25% to 8.82%.
  • The state of California does not tax Social Security benefits.
  • No estate or inheritance tax for California retirees.

How Do We Generate a Guaranteed Income?

To create a fixed income, one must utilize a few retirement tools to create a guaranteed lifetime income. These tools are:

  • Social Security Income: The average SSI paycheck in 2021 is $1,543 a month (per person).
  • Roth IRA Annuity: Provide a monthly paycheck for life, tax-free. Retirement income increases up to 24%.
  • Non-Qualified Annuity: Provides a monthly paycheck for life; only the interest earned is taxed.

By utilizing these three income sources, a retiree could collect a monthly paycheck for life and reduce their tax bill, leaving more money for savings to pay for long-term care costs in the future.

Note: Once a Roth annuity is depleted, any supplemental payments from the insurance company may be subject to tax, as they no longer originate from tax-exempt contributions or profits, contingent on the distribution method. 

What if I don’t have a Roth Annuity or a Non-Qualified Annuity?

If you’re nearing retirement, you might not have these options for your income planning.

Don’t fret.

You can roll over a 401k or transfer an IRA to an annuity, just like the other two retirement plans. However, you will be taxed on the entire income amount versus none or a portion of your income from the Roth or non-qualified annuity.

Solving For Fixed Income

Based on the estimated monthly expenses, housing, and Medicare, a household (2 people) would need to generate the following per month to pay for the essentials.

  • Total Monthly Expenses with a Mortgage: $4,626.06 a month
  • Total Monthly Expenses With Rent: $3,772.06 a month

You will need a few sources of income coming in monthly to pay for these costs:

  • Social Security Income: A couple would bring in an average of $3,086 per month.
  • Level Income Annuity: $360,000 in retirement savings would generate an additional $1,540.00 monthly.
  • Increasing Income Annuity: $165,000 in retirement savings would generate an additional $274.00 a month for life and increase overtime to help with inflation.

Note* The annuity premium amounts can be lower depending on age and time, deferring the annuity before starting the income stream. The longer you wait to begin the guaranteed lifetime income, the less money will be required to generate the desired income upfront.

You can find your California Social Security Administration office here.

How To Pay for Long-Term Care in California

Above, we mentioned the median costs of long-term care services and facilities in California are costly. A long-term care annuity will offset these costs in the future. Let’s see how much retirement savings would pay for these services and costs.

Purchasing a Long-Term Care annuity with a portion of your retirement savings could quickly offset these costs. Most LTC annuities double or triple your investment to pay for these costs tax-free, freeing up more of your retirement savings and fixed income that generally would pay for these expenses.

  • Nursing Home (Private Room): $193,450 (Preferred) and $290,175 (Standard)
  • Home Healthcare: $132,704 (Preferred) and $199,056 (Standard)
  • Assisted Living: $274,480 (Preferred) and $411,720 (Standard)
How To Retire Comfortably In California

How to Pay for a Funeral in California

The average cost of a funeral in California is $7,290. Burial Insurance (final expense) can offset these costs. A burial insurance policy can cost as little as $48.85 monthly for a $10,000 benefit at age 62. You can reduce that cost and get a $25,000 benefit by purchasing a 20-year term life insurance policy for as little as $27.27 a month.

Buy Burial Insurance

Why waste time worrying about funeral expenses when you can have them taken care of in minutes?

How To Start Retiring Comfortably

  1. Calculate your essential monthly expenses.
  2. Subtract those expenses from your Social Security income.
  3. Request a quote for the remaining amount.
  4. Pick out your annuity and apply.
  5. Start the income at your targeted retirement age.
  6. Live comfortably.

Use Our Free Annuity Calculator

Calculate how much income you’ll have in retirement. Then, get quotes from top annuity providers. Then, sleep easy knowing you’re taken care of in retirement.

Next Steps

A clear path to retiring comfortably in California on a guaranteed fixed income stream for the rest of your life is possible. With this guide, you now have an understanding of how much you need to retire and what steps need to be taken to make sure that you live a comfortable retirement. All that’s left is to contact us for a quote so we can get started on making your retirement dreams a reality.

Request a Retirement Income Quote

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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