What cities would you guess top the list of the best places to retire in the U.S.? Somewhere warm year-round? Someplace on the beach? You might be surprised to find out that a recent analysis found that the overall best place to retire in 2022-2023 doesn’t actually meet either of these criteria.

Ranking the best places to retire

U.S. News and World Report analyzed data about the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the nation. This included stats from the U.S. Census Bureau and research from the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan, not-for-profit think tank that monitors tax policies and government spending.

Each of the cities that were analyzed was given an overall score based on the following factors:

  •         Housing affordability
  •         Desirability
  •         Happiness
  •         Quality of healthcare
  •         Retiree taxes
  •         Job market

Additionally, the research team surveyed 3,100 people age 45 and over to determine which of these six categories were the most significant to them when considering a place to retire. Based on these survey responses, the categories were weighted for importance.

>> Related: 5 Important Factors for Choosing a Retirement Location

Retiring to the Keystone State

Looking at these six criteria, where would you think the top city in the U.S. to retire in might be? If you, like many others, guessed someplace in Florida … you’d be mistaken. Based on U.S. News’ analysis, the top city for retirees in 2022-2023 is actually Lancaster, Pennsylvania!

Lancaster topped this list for a variety of reasons. It scored high in the healthcare quality category and also has housing costs that are lower than the national average, making it an affordable place for retirees to live. According to data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, the median price of homes in Lancaster is about $290,354, versus the national median home price, which, as of the first quarter of 2023, came in at $436,800.

In addition to affordability, Lancaster sits at the convergence of beautiful countryside and the conveniences of urban and suburban life. It boasts an active arts and culture scene, which is appealing to many retirees, as well as parks, hiking trails, and green spaces. What’s more, 18% of the population of Lancaster is age 65 or older, so there is a relatively large pool of peers and prospective new friends with whom retirees can mix and mingle.

Interestingly, another Pennsylvania town came in second U.S. News’ list of best places to retire: Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. Located on the picturesque Susquehanna River and close to numerous hiking and biking trail options, Harrisburg also scored high for its housing affordability, and rated just slightly lower than Lancaster for healthcare quality.

One reason that these Pennsylvania towns take the top two spots on the best places to retire list is because the state doesn’t tax retirement pensions and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, or Social Security. This can potentially result in substantial tax savings for retirees who are drawing on their retirement savings.

  >> Related: A Look at State Rankings for Long-Term Care Services

The 2022-2023 top places to retire in the U.S.

The other cities that made the list of the top 10 best places to retire in 2022-2023 might also come as a surprise. The U.S. News list is dominated by places in Pennsylvania and Florida.

  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

As mentioned, there are tax benefits to retirees living in Pennsylvania who are drawing on their retirement savings, which explains in part the number of slots the state takes on the list. As for Florida, in addition to the appealing climate, there is no tax on income, which also has the potential to result in significant savings for retirees (as well as other residents).

View the full U.S. News and World Report Best Places to Retire in the U.S. in 2022-2023 and the related analysis.

What’s on your “best places to retire” list?

Choosing a senior living location is highly personal. One person’s list of the best places to retire might be entirely different from someone else’s. It’s important to consider what factors are most important to you and then select a location that fits the bill. You can learn more about retirement in various states by visiting our Articles and Guides and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

FREE Detailed Profile Reports on CCRCs/Life Plan Communities
Search Communities