I can't/won't weigh in on most of this .I *think*, however, there is a Prop 13* loophole for older folks who move to another California county to a cheaper house which allows them to bring their low prop 13 property tax with them. I know there is a minimum age...55? 62? 65? Might be worth checking out to see if you're eligible now or in a few years. Buying a cheap house with low or no mortgage payment might make it more reasonable to retire.
*Prop 13 is a California thing. If you aren't in California no reason to try and understand it.
FYI - This is correct. Prop 13 allows you a one time transfer of your property tax basis if you are 55 or older and the new place you buy costs the same as, or less, then the place you sell. This is only good for your primary residence though. So if, say, you bought a house back in ye olde olden times in Cali for $20,000, and had a Prop 13 tax basis of $20,000 and a tax rate of 1% ($200/year - plus a 2% increase/year) and sold it once you were 55 or older for $700,000 and bought a new place for $700,000, then you could transfer you $200 plus/year tax rate to the new place.
Prop 13 also allows you to transfer your property tax basis/rate if your home is sold (at any age) between parents or grandchildren (and visa versa). I did this when I bought my Mom's place and my annual property tax was $300/year rather than the over $1500/year it would have been.