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The Top 10 U.S. Cities for Retirees — No. 1 Isn’t in Florida

Many cities in Florida remain popular retirement destinations, but a Pennsylvania city ranks as the best place to spend your post-work years.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is the No. 1 city to retire in, according to U.S. News & World Report’s recent “Best Places to Retire in the U.S.”

U.S. News & World Report evaluated the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, using data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the Tax Foundation. The report assigns each city an overall retirement score based on six factors:

  1. Housing affordability
  2. Desirability
  3. Happiness
  4. Quality of health care
  5. Retiree taxes
  6. Job market

The researchers surveyed 3,100 people aged 45 and older about which of those categories would be most important to them in retirement and assigned weights to those categories accordingly.

Lancaster scored particularly high marks in the health-care category, but scored lower in the housing-affordability category on its way to an overall score of 7.2 out of 10, according to the analysis.

The city offers a combination of rolling farmlands and a bustling downtown that hosts arts and culture events such as “First Fridays,” which features exhibitions and performances from the local art community. Additionally, about 18% of the population is above the age of 65, per the study’s findings.

For those looking to save money on housing in retirement, those costs in Lancaster are below the national average. The median home price there is about $290,354, according to U.S. News & World Report. Meanwhile, the national median home price as of the first quarter of 2023 is around $436,800, per the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.

A second Pennsylvania city, state capital Harrisburg, is No. 2 on the list. It scored slightly lower in the health-care category, which dragged down its ranking, but earned high marks in the housing-affordability section.

Florida makes it first appearance on the list with Pensacola in the third spot. Although the beach town received a slightly higher housing-affordability score, it didn’t score well in the health-care category, which brought down its rank.

It’s clear Pennsylvania and Florida dominate the top spots on the list of best places to retire. Retirees do benefit from certain tax breaks in both states. Florida doesn’t tax income and Pennsylvania doesn’t tax retirement pensions and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs or Social Security, according to Kiplinger.

Here are the top 10 U.S. cities for retirees, according to U.S. News & World Report:

  1. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  2. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  3. Pensacola, Florida
  4. Tampa, Florida
  5. York, Pennsylvania
  6. Naples, Florida
  7. Daytona Beach, Florida
  8. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  9. Allentown, Pennsylvania
  10. Reading, Pennsylvania

While lists like these can be helpful while researching potential retirement locations, remember that everyone’s ideal retirement is unique and shaped by different priorities. For example, you may want to be closer to family or move to a state with a lower cost of living than where you currently are.

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