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Port Costa, California

This tiny, funky waterfront town backs into a lush canyon 30 miles northeast of San Francisco and is part of the beautiful Carquinez Strait shoreline. It started out as a busy ferry landing in the late-1800s, but today Port Costa is off the beaten path.

Neighborhoods are overgrown and populated with interesting bungalows and shabby chic Victorians. The small, slightly tumbledown downtown boasts wood and stone buildings, the dimly-lit Warehouse Cafe with 250+ kinds of beer, a couple of eateries, including the beautifully restored Bull Valley Roadhouse, a post office, some fun shops and a few trees. Wild turkeys occasionally wander onto the main road and stop traffic.

Much of the bucolic landscape around Port Costa is managed by the East Bay Regional Park District. Locals enjoy gorgeous views and spend time on the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop, which includes 26 miles of the larger Bay Trail bike system.

Cost of Living

Port Costa has an overall cost of living 44% higher than the national average.

The median household income is $180,335.

Real Estate

The median home price is $565,310. This is a 31% increase over the previous year. This median price can vary greatly from one month to the next in a town this small. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $341,600.

Estimates are that real estate prices will increase by 10% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,350 per month.


Port Costa has 195 residents. It lost population for much of the last decade until the last couple of years, when its population grew by 6%.

The median age is 56. For comparison, the median age of the U.S. population is 38.

There is no local medical center, but Sutter Solano Medical is six miles away and across the water in Vallejo.

The crime rate meets the national average.

The earthquake risk is 1,280% higher than the national average.

More in-depth shopping and services are in neighboring Martinez or in Vallejo.


The sales tax rate is 8.75%.

California does not tax Social Security, but it does tax all other forms of retirement income at rates between 1% to 13.3%, depending on annual income.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Port Costa is .85%. The annual taxes on a $565,310 home are approximately $4,803.

Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and mortgage rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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