December 5, 2022

The state of Florida no longer has a lock on having the most cities ranked in the top 10 best places to retire in the U.S., according to the latest rankings from U.S. News and World Report. 

Instead, metropolitan areas in Pennsylvania dominated the top spots on the list, with Lancaster earning the number one slot for its quality health care for seniors, retiree tax rates and overall happiness of residents. 

Last year, the city was ranked the fifth best place to retire. The shift towards Pennsylvania comes as Americans increasingly prioritize housing affordability in their golden years, making it the most heavily weighted category in the retirement rankings. For most retirees, housing is the largest expense. 

Researchers evaluated the top 150 metro areas, assigning them scores based on a weighted average of points earned across the following six categories:

  • Housing affordability (24%)
  • Resident happiness (22%)
  • Health care quality (16%)
  • Retiree tax rates (16%)
  • Desirability (13%)
  • Job opportunities (9%)

Cities in Pennsylvania claimed five of the top 10 places to retire. Last year, cities in Florida made up eight of the 10 top places on the list to retire.

Here are the top 10 place to retire for 2022-2023:

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

To be sure, Florida remains a highly desirable state for retirees, with a total of nine areas ranking in the top 25 places to retire, according to U.S. News and World report. More than two-thirds (68%) of the top 25 metro areas to retire are either in Florida or Pennsylvania. 

Housing costs

Cities including Austin, Texas; Phoenix; Salt Lake City and Denver saw home prices skyrocket last year. And while home prices around the U.S. are now beginning to cool, affordability is still key for retirees in particular, given that they live on fixed incomes. 

The average interest rate on a typical 30-year mortgage surpassed 7% last month, the highest level since 2001, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. 

“Due to inflation, retirees are very concerned about finding an affordable place to live,” said Emily Brandon, senior editor, U.S. News. “If you are living on a fixed income, it’s important for your budget to stretch as far as possible, and housing is the biggest expense for most people.”

Securing affordable housing can free up cash to spend on groceries and other necessities as well as leisure activities. “It can help the retirement budget stretch further than it otherwise would,” Brandon added. 

Happiness scores came from polling area residents and also factored in criteria like crime rates and air quality. Job opportunities were considered too, given that many retirees seek out part-time work to stay engaged or help make ends meet. 

Florida cities still earned high marks in a number of categories and the state remains an attractive place for Americans seeking to live close to the beach in their later years. But housing in some Florida cities has grown increasingly expensive, putting it out of reach for some retirees.

“Retirees are still interested in Florida and the beach retirement. Housing prices are slightly higher in Florida, so people who are budget-conscious might be rethinking that plan. But many Florida cities are still highly desirable to people looking for that experience,” Brandon said. 

Click here for the complete rankings.

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