Why the Best Places to Retire are in Pa.

By Hope Walborn | Nov. 22, 2023 | 4 min. read

U.S. News’ top five best places to retire in the country include Harrisburg, Reading, Lancaster, Scranton and Allentown, but what makes these Pennsylvania places so ideal?

For retirees, Harrisburg takes the top spot with a metro population of 587,411, a median home price of $223,842 and a median monthly rent of $1,019. Its overall score according to U.S. News is 7.1, and the metro area scores a 6.8 for housing affordability and a 7.9 for healthcare.

“The U.S. News ranking shows that Harrisburg is a great place to raise a family and then remain during your retirement years,” says Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors® President Wendell Hoover. “Affordability both in terms of real estate and overall living costs is a major factor for those on a fixed income. Additionally, the close proximity to high-level healthcare facilities and cultural and recreational activities are major reasons why Harrisburg is on this list.”

“The Susquehanna River provides outdoor activities and scenic views,” Hoover adds, highlighting some of the area’s offerings. “The arts scene is vibrant with a good amount of historical landmarks. Harrisburg also has a four-season climate, which provides a variety of weather conditions throughout the year. Harrisburg’s central location and proximity to other major cities also allows access to their amenities without having to live in a bustling city. “

Reading scores No. 2 for retirees with an overall score of seven, a housing affordability score of 6.7 and an 8.3 in healthcare. Located about an hour east of Harrisburg, Reading has a metro population of 426,967, a median home price of $225,296 and a median monthly rent of $985.

“The Reading area being named No. 2 Best Place to Retire in the nation is a great honor, and not too surprising since it was also named one of the hottest housing markets in the fall of 2022,” says Reading-Berks Association of Realtors® President Jason Burkholder. “The city offers a place where differences are celebrated and there’s a welcoming feeling of diversity and inclusion. Reading offers the perfect blend of amazing restaurants, arts and entertainment. We have fantastic sports teams and a world-class theater and stadium that brings in everything from comedy shows to large concert tours – all while being just minutes from some of the most amazing green views and natural lands in Pennsylvania. There is always something to do here!”

“On top of what Reading has to offer in home choice, affordability and things to do, it’s just a few hours drive to New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C,” Burkholder adds. “When you put all of that together with Pennsylvania’s friendly reception for retirees and a plan for continued growth, Reading is an attractive place for everyone to live.”

At No. 3, Lancaster scores seven points overall for retirees, 6.4 points for housing affordability and 8.3 points for healthcare. Its metro population is 550,480, with a median home price of $290,354 and a median monthly rent of $1,114. The area offers the best of both worlds, from rural farmland to bustling urban life. Lancaster is also Pennsylvania’s most walkable city, making its easy access to attractions a desirable selling point.

Scranton slides in at No. 4 with an overall score of seven, a housing affordability score of 7.5 and a healthcare score of 7.4. This metro area has a population of 566,743, a median home price of $227,312 and a median monthly rent of only $834.

“Scranton is a great place to retire because the cost of living is below the national average, which makes it super affordable for retirees on a fixed income,” says Greater Scranton Board of Realtors® President-Elect Dan Taylor. “And with an abundance of healthcare facilities in the city, along with our close proximity to larger metropolitan areas, retirees have plenty of access to quality medical care. That, combined with our culturally rich and diverse communities, our close-knit neighborhoods and the beautiful landscape and serenity of northern Pennsylvania, makes Scranton the perfect place for retirees seeking a comfortable and cost-effective lifestyle.”

Allentown takes fifth place with an overall score of seven, a housing affordability score of 6.2 and an impressive healthcare score of 8.8. With a metro population of 857,997, a median home price of $321,770 and a median monthly rent of $1,141, Allentown rounds out the top five places to retire in the country, all of which are places in the Keystone State. Also in the top 10 are York and Pittsburgh.

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