If I had the opportunity to retire somewhere close to San Francisco and money wasn’t an issue, I’d seriously consider Carmel. The town is about a 2-hour drive south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast. The great thing about Carmel is that it’s got great shops and world-class restaurants yet it is still a small town. If there’s any small town that has to have a Tiffany & Co., it’s Carmel. On top of that, the houses look like cottages from fairy tales! Check them out here.
Carmel Valley, about a 10-minute drive inland from Carmel, is a hidden gem. The climate there is warm and sunny all-year round. It’s a contrast to the cool, foggy, coastal weather because it’s surrounded by the Santa Lucia Mountains. Access to it doesn’t come cheap, unless you’re invited to a wedding at one of the resorts.