Among the many retirement cities The Senior List has already explored as potential retirement destinations, San Diego, California’s second largest city with small-town charm, seems quite appealing.
A popular retirement town since World War II, not only does this beautiful and stimulating city offer a mild and sunny climate (annual temperatures range from the upper seventies to the low forties), but also boasts a lower than average crime rate among U.S. cities.
What people like about San Diego
As for what you, and any visiting guests, might do for entertainment, here’s a quick overview, along with some purely practical amenities:
- Tons of opportunities for outdoor activities including hiking, biking, surfing, swimming, spectator sports and 92 golf courses situated across San Diego county. (San Diego's Torrey Pines public course is highly recommended.)
- Glorious scenery and photo opportunities.
- Regardless of where you choose to live, the town is worth exploring. Check out the historically and culturally rich Barrio Logan, upscale La Jolla with its ocean views, the quiet of Sabre Springs, or the varied terrain of the Rancho Peñasquitos neighborhood. If you’re into winemaking, there are numerous vineyards you could tour.
- Access to 70 miles of glorious beaches.
- This town has a diverse population, and events throughout the year reflect that.
- The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System bus and trolley systems will help you get where you want to go.
- An exciting downtown provides shopping, eateries, museums, opera, theater, art galleries, nightlife, city parks and access to boating and other sports. Don’t skip the carefully rejuvenated Gaslamp Quarter, its 16+ blocks packed with 94 historic buildings, all still in use.
- Suffer from migraine headaches? One of the major triggers can be changes in barometric pressure. Thanks to San Diego’s relatively constant climate, this trigger may be nearly nonexistent.
- Tap into the University of California, San Diego, whether for classes or cultural events. (There are nine other colleges in the area too.)
- Let's not forget the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
- Those intrigued by military history will enjoy touring the Naval Base, not to mention the Midway Museum.
- San Diego is the home to at least 10 hospitals.
- Air quality – though not the best in the country – does not seem to be a problem for most. The city managers are continuing efforts to improve it further.
- Throughout the U.S., San Diego county is uniquely aggressive and prompt in a) preventing and b) dealing with charges of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of assisted living facility or nursing home residents.
Other considerations for San Diego
Really, San Diego’s only two significant drawbacks seem to be housing prices and traffic. However, if you’re living in a senior housing community, and relying on that facility’s transportation or mass transit, neither of these issues should be a stumbling block.
Best Assisted Living San Diego, California | Who makes the list?
Atria Collwood – San Diego, CA 92115
Atria Living offers Independent Living and Assisted Living.
Caring – 22 Reviews, Average Rating 4.5
SeniorAdvisor – 52 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorHomes – 3 Reviews, Average Rating 4
GoldenReviews – 4 Reviews, Average Rating 4.71
What they liked: Great staff, friendly/attentive/caring, pets welcome, staff excellent, low turnover, staff really exceptional!, treat residents as individuals, outgoing, staff very happy and helpful, highly dedicated/very accommodating, empathy, wonderful respite care, anticipating needs, director excellent at answering questions, rates affordable, staff is best thing about this facility, absolutely wonderful attitude, very happy place, clean and bright, smelled nice, liked med-techs, good communication (with family), wholesome community, facilities clean/modest/quiet, safe and comfortable, many amenities, variety of packages/individual needs, beautiful library, great choice of floor plans, large rooms, private bath, sliding glass door to courtyard, full-time events director, emergency call system, concierge, restaurant-style meals, dining room 7am-7pm, medication assistance, local transportation, game room, nice dining room, flexible dining schedule, food excellent, delicious, nice garden. all day and all-night cafe with complimentary snacks and beverages, meals OK, cocktails served, card room, club and volunteer opportunities, life programming, home/cheerful, like a second family, bingo, cards, TV, book club, painting, crafts, art, shopping, beautiful/peaceful garden, residents allowed little garden areas, activity is adequate, a lot of activities, very loving relationship executive director/residents, medical attendant’s care very good, round-the-clock care, good staff-to-resident ratio, studio/1-bedroom/some shared rooms, reasonable-sized room, medication management available but not required, room shape/very accommodating, stores/restaurants walking distance, more of a resort vibe, onsite hairdresser/pedicurist, a lot of communication between staff and doctors
What they didn’t like: Food could be better, staff needs follow-through, staff could be more responsive, rooms small (but affordable), wish it was cheaper, 210 square foot room too small, set menu/few options, reception desk/housecleaning staff not very friendly, want more activities, layout could be confusing, a lot like a nursing home/not assisted living, charged for every little thing, common areas functional but not inviting, only problem getting info from visiting doctor, only allowed to bathe twice a week, closet bar too high, bathroom too small, a little expensive, wish there were more nurses, food OK but required reheating, ants in bathroom, resident not briefed on safety procedures, could use more nurses at night, wish more outdoor area, not making sure food warm enough, dining room service slow, facility is older/not as appealing to the eye
Belmont Village at Sabre Springs – San Diego, California 92128
Belmont Village at Sabre Springs provides Independent Living, Assisted Living, Circle of Friends, Memory Care, and Short Stay.
Caring – 11 Reviews, Average Rating 4.8
SeniorAdvisor – 37 Reviews, Average Rating 4.5
SeniorHomes – 6 Reviews, Average Rating 4.9
GoldenReviews – No Reviews
What they liked: Very clean, gorgeous facility, beautifully decorated, staff seems to know everyone by name, big bang for your buck, caters to diversity, fabulous facility and staff, compassionate, individualized care, nice, very spacious, tucked away from busy highway/close to San Diego proper, surrounding land cannot be developed, a beautiful atmosphere, a lot of outdoor space and sitting areas, staff makes transitions easy, friendly and fun atmosphere, no long halls, pretty friendly, food very good, food OK, countryside/mountains/wide open/beautiful scenery, small gym, outdoor garden/walking, group activities, yoga, putting green, very homey, lots of activity, grounds/rooms/dining area very nice, food top notch, nice neighborhood, will serve food in resident’s room, bistro/light snacks, bands and singers visit, wine/cheese parties, secure for severe dementia, best/safest/cleanest residence available, staff are great advocates, several mobile doctors, could not ask for better support team, staff very welcoming/really care about residents, PALS program, nurse on staff/each floor, playing cards, blackjack, poker, water aerobics, history lessons, play music, bridge, memory games, ping pong, billiards, happy hour on Thursdays, annual carnival, live performances/dance, current events, parks, concerts every weekend, crossword puzzles, great place for someone who does not need one-on-one care, staff were attentive, very good program for people with milder dementia/Circle of Friends, cheerful with lots of light from inside and outside, like a hotel, rooms nice and big, church outings, transportation, shopping, parties for holidays, hair salon, good-sized studio with kitchen, all rooms private/3 separate sizes/all with microwave/fridge
What they didn’t like: Too fancy, too upscale, very pricey, 10-15 minutes to respond to resident, only issue is needs better communication between staff members, very expensive
Brookdale Carmel Valley [Formerly Emeritus at Carmel Valley] – San Diego, California 92130
Brookdale Carmel Valley offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and Health Care Services.
Caring – 19 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorAdvisor – 22 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorHomes – 3 Reviews, Average Rating 2
GoldenReviews – No Reviews
What they liked: CNAs kind/respectful/worked VERY hard, all staff worked very hard, staff excellent, very attentive, therapy excellent, P/T outstanding, very clean facility, warm, staff very friendly/kind/helpful, food is good, good service, Brookdale’s takeover/facility well-maintained, seemed very secure, nice rooms, lots of entertainment and activities, outings, theater, computer classes, bingo, management helped furnish room, rooms laid out well, common areas adequate, dining room large, food very good, fairly good food, walking distance to a lot of businesses, games, outside entertainment, piano
What they didn’t like: Very understaffed at night, depressing (but clean), since Brookdale takeover service to residents inadequate/generally unresponsive, staff very nice but overworked/under-educated, manager in over his head, good but would like gardens, SNF side of Brookdale/15-30 minute delayed response to call button, staff kind but stretched, check daily costs before moving in, need to itemize bills, could use more caregivers, large suite/bedroom/den/large living room/bathroom. mother-in-law not bathed in 5 days/no one looking in on her, understaffed, rooms very small, no view, no patio or balcony, understaffed and poor communication, do not accept Medicare/Medicaid, physical/occupational therapists make no effort
Casa de las Campanas – San Diego, California 92127
Casa de las Campanas offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Rehabilitation, and Skilled Nursing.
Caring – 8 Reviews, Average Rating 4.2
SeniorAdvisor – 1 Review, Average Rating 5
SeniorHomes – 3 Reviews, Average Rating 4.66
GoldenReviews – 11 Reviews, Average Rating 3.8
What they liked: Pet-friendly, beautiful weather, verdant greenery, open spaces, food decent, food excellent, dining area very nice/well laid out, like a nice restaurant, dining room absolutely beautiful, very nice cafeteria and restaurant, buffet, order from menu, very clean facility, very inviting atmosphere, very nice memory center, staff caring, very nice staff, staff excellent, very friendly, facility stays clean 24/7, very large facility, well-trained staff/available 24 hours a day, expert doctors, doctors very helpful and caring, beautifully decorated/very clean, facility really awesome, like a happy family, transportation provided, provide services/bathing/dressing/meals, hallways wide, all levels of care, type A community/monthly fee never goes up even if you shift to different level, two-bedrooms-plus-den, balconies, wonderful floor plans, rooms large and beautiful, pools, recreation area, 300 sq. ft. theater/(residents) do plays, incredible variety/activities, lots of day trips, (resident) orchestra/choral group, cost controlled/non-profit, new hospital nearby, liked that they would take care of you even if you ran out of money, Hyatt Regency quality
What they didn’t like: Water stains here and there, understaffed and staff not cooperative, care and administration suck, didn’t see lots of active people, upfront cost was very expensive/monthly charges reasonable, only buy-in part bad
Elmcroft at Point Loma – San Diego, CA 92110
Elmcroft at Point Loma provides what it terms “Multilevel retirement living communities,” incorporating Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Nursing Home Care.
Caring – 11 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorAdvisor – 20 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorHomes – No Reviews
GoldenReviews – No Reviews
What they liked: Thorough tour/very informative, smaller community, very homey, well-maintained, good environment, very clean, cleanliness is awesome, very pretty, nicely furnished, rooms really nice, different options/shared room/single room or shared bathroom, assigned people enough staff for residents, Elmcroft very good, excellent care!, great staff/low turnover, more than pleased with Elmcroft, staff very friendly, kind, compassionate, helpful, patience and (good) attitude, love/attention given to residents, staff goes above and beyond, supportive, they value resident, very expensive/but do really good job, (residents) occupied, like location/layout, three meals a day, music, current events, The Buddy System, safe and in good hands, very welcoming/reasonably priced, locked facility, management made transition easy/responsive, safe and caring place, saw resident making progress, Alzheimer’s care unit/exceptionally good, reacts to special requests in timely manner, big dining room, good food, food amazing/gourmet, attention to specific food needs, place small enough for safety/roomy enough for walkers, only one story, perfect place for Alzheimer’s residents, daily walks/activities, two nice porches/sunny areas, (staff) bring residents out for activities, wide hallways, lovely garden, allow residents to help with little chores
What they didn’t like: Expensive, not much curb appeal, neighborhood not warm/inviting, facility small, near freeway, homeless people, all activities seemed to take place in dining room, severely understaffed/unable to deal with at-risk patients, unresponsive management, malnutrition/unexplained bruises, price changed after moving in, communication is an issue, short staffed/care less than stellar, lost a couple of items/dentures, severe over-medication/doctor unresponsive, need to walk patients more/be responsive about insurance issues, traffic difficult, don’t seem to keep resident's mouth clean
St. Paul's Manor – San Diego, CA 92103
St. Paul's Manor provides Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, Day Programs, and Managed Medical Care.
Caring – 12 Reviews, Average Rating 4.5
SeniorAdvisor – No Reviews
SeniorHomes – 1 Review, Average Rating 4
GoldenReviews – No Reviews
What they liked: Reasonably priced, very homey, pet-friendly, develop a community, safe, very clean, comfortable, ocean view, classy, close to museums/parks, pond, grounds well-maintained, older building/well-maintained, rooms very nice/updated, people in halls said “hello,” good home, patio/single bedroom/separate living room, waiting staff great, friendly, very accommodating, tour guide very knowledgeable, staff very lovely, dropped in for tour without appointment, very impressed with the people, everyone seemed very happy, intense interview with prospective resident, several members like classical music, food served restaurant style, food good/variety, nice programs for residents, good parking, well organized/clean, social rooms, areas for projects and activities, food good, lovely lunch, price included 1 meal a day, gym, residents seemed satisfied with the place, large and small studios, smallest studios with kitchenettes, 1-bedroom apartments, lots of social activities, lounge area for reading, on Bankers Hill/safe for walking, near Balboa Park/zoo/museums, city bus service convenient, banks/restaurants within walking distance, price good, field trips, great for independent residents
What they didn’t like: No parking, no swimming pool, food varies
Sunrise at La Jolla – San Diego, CA 92109
Sunrise at La Jolla offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Respite Care, Personal Care Services, and Skilled Nursing.
Caring – 9 Reviews, Average Rating 4.2
SeniorAdvisor – 13 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorHomes – 3 Reviews, Average Rating 4.33
GoldenReviews – 5 Reviews, Average Rating 4.39
What they liked: Much nicer facility, nice and small, clean and well kept, facility is moderately sized/adds to the warm feel, residents looked happy, lovely community!, near beaches, walking distance to restaurants, 2nd story has ocean view, nice part of San Diego, upscale community/staff, residents and staff quite friendly, nurses took time to get to know resident, very nicely decorated interior, flowers everywhere, paintings, very welcoming, warm/inviting, director very welcoming/friendly, staff always very friendly/attentive to residents, very personal touch/staff knows residents, staff careful, sympathetic/empathetic/greets you with a smile, extremely helpful/caring, nurses update us on grandma's health/activities/good days and bad days, staff very nice/pleasant/polite/respectful, open door policy/easy to communicate with, food definitely five-star, grand staircase, people greeted us, standout staff member: attentive chef, open/functional floor plan, not many places within walking distance/but facility offers transportation at additional cost, (facility) bus, ton of activities, everyone involved in activities, staff encourages participation, several patios/sunshine, media room, TV room, workout room, activity room, bingo, flower arranging (flowers then put on display), area surrounding facility/scenic and peaceful, great memory care program, care is above average, tour good, dining room beautiful, food awesome, food good, facility encourages family to visit/dine, walk-in bathtubs, big rooms, exercise programs daily, walking tours, every day some sort of class like knitting, musical performance
What they didn’t like: Expensive, very tired-looking, very small, awful smelling, could offer different variety of activities, could be more upfront/pricing, initial problems with medication service, bit of rocky start (with new manager) but worked through it, small compared to other facilities, no outside grounds for walking or swimming, question whether staff certified, closer to Pacific Beach than La Jolla, lunch menu limited (but vegetables fresh), in busy/not pretty part of town, very limited guest parking, gloomy, biggest issue: some items got lost in laundry
The Arbors at Rancho Penasquitos – San Diego, CA 92129
The Arbors at Rancho Penasquitos provides Assisted Living and Memory Care.
Caring – 21 Reviews, Average Rating 4.1
SeniorAdvisor – 39 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorHomes – 10 Reviews, Average Rating 4.5
GoldenReviews – No Reviews
What they liked: Staff kind/considerate/caring, knowledgeable and proactive, tour guide extremely knowledgeable/informative/warm, all staff excellent, dietitian, wonderful experience, very clean, professional, extremely nice/patient/caring, staff and residents have family feeling, “My mom can be a pill but the staff remain kind and caring,” food very good/chef wonderful, think food is homemade, menu variety, food outstanding, accommodate dietary needs, peace of mind, unique in that staff urge drinking water/cranberry juice, activities director, facility clean/resident rooms spotless, dedicated van, shopping, bingo, crafts, (resident) cooking days, visiting DJ, (activities) every day, news discussions, dancing, parties, exercise, really in to holidays, whole place smells nice/normal, cleaning every day, cleaning weekly/trash daily, open floor plan, apartments quaint and comfortable/not modern but cozy, garden, location easy to access/nice surroundings, a lot of amenities, nice view, assisted living nice, community newly renovated/always nicely maintained, wonderful activity coordinator, everyone is really just amazing!, call button pushed/staff response timely, management responsive to requests, walking distance IHOP and other shops, a lot of communication, Activity Director awesome, above average staff/activities/meals, best Senior Care facility
What they didn’t like: Only concern is new management to take over, could have been better oriented to how things work, memory unit small, facility too big, a bit small, hallways narrow/rooms small, located on busy street, laid out like a hotel, terrible smell/2nd floor, rooms unfurnished, didn’t get good feeling about place, memory care wing small/dark, seemed like a converted motel, dark and kind of sad, need to improve caring/cleaning of residents, layout not very good, bathroom not wheelchair-accessible, hallways too narrow, can’t get up to dinner table with wheelchair, some issues with pricing, poor internal communication, remodel going on, staff unresponsive, not all agreed-upon services provided, no outdoor area for assisted living, didn’t like companion suites, rooms small/no kitchen sink
The Remington Club – San Diego, CA 92128
The Remington Club offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Rehabilitation, and Skilled Nursing Care.
Caring – 8 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorAdvisor – 10 Reviews, Average Rating 4
SeniorHomes – 2 Reviews, Average Rating 4.5
GoldenReviews – 3 Reviews, Average Rating 4.67
What they liked: Did not require much money upfront, big, beautiful, clean, aesthetically very pleasing, well kept, a lot to offer, nice/clean, staff accommodating, very friendly, hard-working, management staff/supportive of outreach programs, very receptive/responsive, professional, good communication, kind, attentive, very caring, caters to specialized diets, meal options, dining room looked very nice/appealing, food good, facility very nice, staff goes out of their way to help, food excellent, buffet, dining rooms, a lot of social activities, card playing, games, bingo, trivia, game shows, organized trips, shopping, people seemed happy, nice common areas, scheduled and non-scheduled activities, book club discussion, grounds well-manicured, dining room really lovely, guest lunch meals, snacks/fresh baked goods/fruits/vegetables, living spaces well-designed/spacious, peaceful yet fun environment, good parking, onsite salon services, physical/occupational therapy, transportation to town/medical visits, walking distance to shops/restaurants, upbeat community, nice social calendar, residents engaged, beehive of activity, family feeling
What they didn't like: Don’t care for atmosphere, depressing, expensive, outdated décor, very depressing, Assisted Living can't have microwave/coffee maker
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