Checking out new areas
I moved from New York (not the city) 6 months ago to North Carolina and I'm moving back in the spring. You have given it a good shot, alot longer than me, however I'm dissatisfied with my locale for many reasons.
Yes, the area is beautiful and full of nature and the weather is better than NY in the winter (but still cold with snow sometimes!) however the housing prices to purchase are ridiculously high (Asheville), there are too many people, traffic is terrible, and even though there are many opportunities to do things here, it is still difficult to make new friends. As you stated, many women seem to be married and/or involved with their families and single people understandably have to take a back seat to that.
My next plan will be to return to my small home (so glad I didn't sell it like I was planning to) and enjoy beautiful NY state during the nice seasons (spring, summer, fall) and look for an area to live for next winter. Who knows, I may find some place I really like and will want to relocate there permanently.
Northern California is beautiful and it sounds like a great opportunity for you to get to know another area, with the added benefit of having family there. No one says you have to be there forever if you find you don't want to be.
In the apartment house I currently live in, there are a number of over 60 single women who have come here for the same reason I have - to check it out and see if we like it or not. That's the beauty of retirement.
Thinking of maybe trying out Sun City in Arizona or The Villages in Florida next winter and would love to hear from others who are single who have experienced one or the other to get their take on it. The many activities sound great and maybe there are more opportunities for friendship.
Best of luck to you and remember that at this point you don't have to be stuck anywhere!
p.s. This post was written in response to this one: https://www.retirement-online.com/get-better-not-retirement-stinks.html
but its too good not to share more widely! Wendy