Top Retirement Destination Scores High on Housing, Healthcare

This well-known ranking of 10 best places to retire holds some surprises.

By Eleanor O'Sullivan

Pennsylvania metropolitan areas dominate the just-released U.S. News & World Report list of the 10 Best Places to Retire for 2022-2023.

Five diverse locations in the Keystone State made the new list, including the first-place winner, Lancaster, home of the bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch County.

Placing second is the state capital of Harrisburg, about two hours west of Philadelphia, which placed 19th. Older manufacturing cities that have become appealing retirement destinations complete the state’s strong showing: Allentown, at nine, and Reading, coming in at 10.

High scores for health care for seniors, retiree tax rates and overall happiness of residents accounted for the strong showing by Pennsylvania. For instance, York, Pa., jumped 12 positions on the list from last year, moving to fifth place based on its appeal to respondents.

“The drastic shift in the housing market, high inflation and concerns of a pending recession have retirees weighing housing affordability more heavily when considering where to retire,” said Emily Brandon, U.S. News senior editor for retirement. “Additionally, with COVID still a concern and access to good, affordable health care being of importance to retirees, Pennsylvania dominated the Best Places to Retire ranking’s top positions, taking five of the top 10 spots on the list,’’ Brandon said.

Florida Still Scores Well

In stark contrast to Pennsylvania, a state that was one of the original 13 colonies and offers a mix of industry, agriculture, tourism and frigid winters, Florida, which gained statehood in 1845 and is appealing for its balmy weather and low taxes, garnered four winning locations in the top 10.

A shift from the dominance once enjoyed by the east coast of Florida is reflected in the showings: three locations on the west coast made the list, including Pensacola, at number three, Tampa in fourth place, and Naples in sixth place. The Sunshine State’s only east coast winner is Daytona Beach, which was seventh in the annual list.

Only midwestern Ann Arbor, Mich., home of the University of Michigan, broke through the dominance by Pennsylvania and Florida. The popular city, which can have up to 45 days of snow yearly, placed eighth on the list of 10.

150 Regions Evaluated

Data comes from a report that evaluated the country’s 150 most populous metropolitan areas based on how well they meet Americans’ expectations for retirement, including housing affordability, health care, desirability and overall happiness.

Rankings were based on a March 2022 public survey from respondents who are nearing retirement (ages 45-59); and those who are of retirement age (60 and older).

Other data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Labor. The survey asked respondents the most important factor in choosing where to live.
Indexes used by U.S. News & World Report measured the strength of a location’s job market; (unemployment rate, average salary); a value index, also called the Housing Affordability Index, which measures how comfortably the average resident in each metro area can afford to live within their means; the quality of life index, which measures how satisfied residents are with their daily lives based on crime rates, quality and affordability of health care; quality of education; and indexes measuring well being, commutation and air quality.

Other indexes used were desirability — where respondents said they would prefer to live, and net migration, measuring whether people are moving to or away from each metro area.

California Falls From Favor

Among the last 10 places on this year’s list of 150 locations were eight California cities, once considered highly desirable places, such as San Francisco, Santa Rosa, San Jose and the state capital, Sacramento.

The only west coast metro area to place in the Top 25 of the list is Eugene, Ore., at 25. The only New England area to place in the Top 25 list is Manchester, N.H., at 18 and the only southern state to place on that list, aside from Florida, is Asheville, N.C., at 24.

Best Places

Here is the list of the Top 10 best places to live for retirees, from the U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-2023 annual list:
1. Lancaster, Pa.
2. Harrisburg, Pa.
3. Pensacola, Fla.
4. Tampa, Fla.
5. York, Pa.
6. Naples, Fla.
7. Daytona Beach, Fla.
8. Ann Arbor, Mich.
9. Allentown, Pa.
10. Reading, Pa.

Here are the metro areas that placed 11 through 25:
11. Sarasota, Fla.
12. Melbourne, Fla.
13. Lakeland, Fla.
14. New York City
15. Fort Wayne, Ind.
16. Ocala, Fla.
17. Scranton, Pa.
18. Manchester, N.H.
19. Philadelphia, Pa.
20. Pittsburgh, Pa.
21. Youngstown, Ohio
22. Port St. Lucie, Fla.
23. Toledo, Ohio
24. Asheville, N.C.
25. Eugene, Ore.

For more information, visit U.S. News & World Report.

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