As the third most expensive city in the country, San Francisco is rarely a top spot for retirees, even with its mild climate. But for Sandra Perkins, the city was the best place to retire after her real estate career in Las Vegas was abruptly cut short by the subprime financial crisis. "My husband and I had saved just enough to move to my favorite city on Earth, so we left," says Perkins.
Costs are much higher than in the Perkins' previous hometown; with an average home price of nearly $814,000, buying was out of the question. "We were skeptical about renting in retirement, but there was little choice. We still worry about having to downsize if our investment income can't keep up," Perkins says. "But we're both 59 -- so we're young enough to move if we must."
Perkins says she copes with other high costs by being frugal and shopping around. "Some produce is cheaper here than it was in Vegas. A lot of my friends buy their food at co-ops, but I try to buy in bulk to save. Fortunately, we have very good private health insurance, so our health care costs haven't changed since we moved." The average doctor's visit in San Francisco costs about $125, but Perkins says, "We only pay $20 when we see the doctor, minus prescriptions."