The 7 Best Places to Retire in Pennsylvania

Danny Newman
Danny Newman is a nationally syndicated freelance writer with a focus on travel. MSN feed and Associated Press bylines. Danny is a digital nomad from the UK who’s been traveling full-time since 2018.

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Why do people choose Pennsylvania to retire? Let’s discover the best places to retire in Pennsylvania and learn what makes the Keystone State stand out.

It was the 2nd state to enter the Union and the location where both the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed in the 18th Century.

It boasts an impressively low cost of living, doesn’t tax retirement income, and has 2 of the best hospitals in the country. It has bustling big cities and quaint rural communities, as well as a thriving sports culture and fantastic outdoor opportunities. Its motto is “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence,” and it’s the home of the iconic cheesesteak sandwich.

It’s none other than the Keystone State itself, Pennsylvania. And for all these reasons and more, it’s become a popular retirement destination. But where are the best places to retire in Pennsylvania these days?

In this article, we’re going to discuss 7 of them. Let’s get started.

1. Pittsburgh

Although many people picture themselves strolling down sun-kissed sandy beaches during their retirement, others prioritize affordable housing, low crime rates, and access to high-quality healthcare. If you fall into this second category and can put up with cold weather in winter, then the old industrial town of Pittsburgh (AKA “the Steel City”) could be perfect for your golden years.

Per David Berns, a retirement expert from Truadvice Wealth Management:

“Pittsburgh is a vibrant city located in western PA, with a relatively low cost of living. Perfect for those who love city life, Pittsburgh offers a rich cultural scene with lots of parks, museums, and theaters. It is also known for its excellent healthcare systems, an important fact for any retiree.” 

Devin Faddoul, founder of Adda Financial and a Pittsburgh financial planner who serves millennials, adds:

“I can’t tell you how many friends and colleagues have visited Pittsburgh and said something like, ‘I had no idea it was like this!’ They imagined a dirty, featureless, midwestern wasteland with very little to offer. But it never takes long to flip the script. Once they take in the view from Mt. Washington, wave a Terrible Towel at a Steelers game, or try their first slice of Fiori’s pizza, they appreciate this town for what it is. They just had to challenge their perceptions.”

Located in western PA, this historic city’s modernizing at pace and ditching its former industrial image in the process. It boasts all the conveniences of modern city life, with a glut of bars, restaurants, cafes, and museums at your fingertips.

You’ll enjoy its low cost of living, vibrant cultural scene, and easy access to green spaces too. Indeed, Pittsburgh has over 2,000 acres of parkland to explore and various state and county parks in the vicinity. That’s good news for anyone who’s planning an active retirement.

2. Philadelphia

Philly is the biggest city in the state and offers everything you’d expect of a destination with that title! It’s jam-packed with historical sites, cultural activities, and educational institutions, as well as world-class retail and dining opportunities.

Active retirees will appreciate the many parks and walking trails in town too. Oh, and sports fans will love it, thanks in part to the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, and 76ers that call the city home.

The low cost of living in Philadelphia (relative to other major US cities) is another obvious bonus, as is its first-rate public transport system and access to the Philadelphia International Airport. Throw in the amazing medical facilities at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of PA, and Philly more than deserves a spot on any list of the best places to retire in Pennsylvania.

3. Lancaster

Fun fact: Lancaster was once the capital of the United States. It held the title for exactly 24 hours, following the capture of Philadelphia by the British in 1777!

A place full of history, Lancaster’s diverse nature caters to both city and rural lovers alike – not to mention the Mennonite and Amish communities that reside in the surrounding countryside. Whether you want urban amenities, leafy suburbs, or access to expansive farms, it’s all here in this city of 60,000 people.

Low crime rates, an accessible location, a very competitive cost of living, and access to excellent healthcare at the Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital are just a few of its appealing attributes for retirees. Numerous assisted living communities, plus an array of theaters, bars, and restaurants provide the cherries on top.

4. Allentown

Located in Lehigh County in south-eastern PA, Allentown’s a fast-growing city of over 125,000 people that has something for everyone.

Ayad Amary, Certified Financial Planner (CFP) of Wealthcare of The Lehigh Valley and lifelong resident of Lehigh Valley, shares several insights on the area: 

“The cost of living is reasonable, and you have plenty of choice between suburban living and city life without the congestion of major metropolitan areas. However, for those wanting big-city activity, New York, Philly, and Baltimore are within easy driving distance. Lots to offer for the outdoor fanatic, with many hiking/biking trails, and the Pocono Mountain area is just a short drive away for even more scenery… Last but not least, you get all four seasons’ worth of weather, and very seldom do we get devastating storms such as hurricanes or tornadoes due to the topography of the region.”

Those hunting for compelling cultural pursuits in their golden years will value the theaters and art museums in town. History buffs will appreciate the Pennsylvania Dutch history in which it’s steeped. Sports fans will benefit from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball team. And outdoor enthusiasts will adore its award-winning park system (plus the Blue Mountain range that sits just north of the city).

Allentown’s affordable housing and the Lehigh Valley Hospital have your accommodation and health care needs covered too. Oh, and Philadelphia’s a short drive south, meaning the buzz of the big city’s only ever a stone’s throw away.

5. Jenkintown

Next up on our list of the best places to retire in Pennsylvania is Jenkintown. This small borough of 4,400 people in Montgomery County is just 10 miles north of Philadelphia’s city center and brims with historical sites and a thriving art scene.

You’ll also find a slew of fantastic shops, cafes, independent businesses, and eateries in town, plus the central Hiway movie theatre. On the subject of movies, you may be interested to know that the actor Bradley Cooper once lived in Jenkintown too. If it’s good enough for a Hollywood A-lister like him, it’s good enough for us!

Jenkintown’s proximity to Philadelphia is a likely plus point for retirees with a penchant for big cities. However, it also means the world-class healthcare facilities there are relatively accessible – an obvious boon in retirement.

6. New Castle

New Castle’s located a mere 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh and is the county seat of Lawrence County. It’d be an ideal place to retire for anyone who wants small-town vibes without relinquishing the degree of ethnic and racial diversity that’s found in larger urban areas. Indeed, the population of New Castle’s so diverse that some people have called it, “Little New York City”.

That’s where its similarities to The Big Apple end though! New Castle’s a quiet place with fewer than 22,000 residents. It also has a strong community spirit and boasts a crime rate that’s as low as the cost of living. Your healthcare needs would be catered for thanks to the high-performing general medical and surgical facility, UPMC Jameson. As for entertainment, there’s an array of local parks, historical buildings, restaurants, and family-friendly entertainment options at your disposal.

7. Harrisburg

Whether you love history, adventure, cultural pursuits, or the great outdoors, Harrisburg’s well worth considering as a place to settle in your golden years. Pennsylvania’s capital city and the county seat of Dauphin County, it’s viewed by many as the best place to live in the entire state.

One thing’s for sure: you’d never be bored in Harrisburg.

Alongside the usual activities and amenities available in the city, outdoor types would be spoilt for choice. The outstanding Appalachian Trail’s nearby and the city itself is situated on the Susquehanna River, with hiking and biking trails available at the Riverfront Park. Then there’s the adrenaline-fuelled family theme park, Hersheypark, to visit whenever the grandkids come to stay. And, if that wasn’t enough, the famous town of Gettysburg is under an hour away too.

Remember the Best Places to Retire in Pennsylvania

The Keystone State may lack the sunny weather and beachside location of some retirement hotspots. Yet, thanks to its prestigious history, scintillating cities, relaxed rural communities, and general affordability (to name but a few of its attributes), PA remains a popular retirement destination.

That’s why we prepared this article about the best places to retire in Pennsylvania to help you begin thinking about the cities and towns which may be right for you.

Of course, making the transition from earning a paycheck to living off your savings and resources like Social Security can be a major adjustment impacting your budget and quality of life. Hiring a financial advisor can help you navigate the journey so you can enjoy decades in retirement in Pennsylvania with less money stress.

You’ll find financial advisors featured on Wealthtender based in Pennsylvania and others who can meet with you online no matter where you live today or tomorrow. Be sure to ask the right questions and understand the costs of hiring a financial advisor before deciding on the right financial advisor for you.

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