Best Places to Retire in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is our country’s leader in places to retire. That isn’t our opinion, but rather that of U.S. News & World Report, according to their list of the Best Places to Retire in the U.S. in 2024. They analyzed data for the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. and scored how well they met the retirement needs and expectations of Americans, including factors like resident happiness, housing affordability, tax rates, and the quality of healthcare.

Pennsylvania not only took the top five spots, but also added two more throughout the top 10—that means seven of the 10 best cities to retire, according to U.S. News & World Report, are in Pennsylvania.

But why?

The answer lies in a wonderful blend of affordability, accessibility, and amenities. Pennsylvania is more than just historical charm and cheesesteaks, it boasts significant tax advantages and plenty of options for an active or relaxed retirement lifestyle. Housing markets, particularly outside the major cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, offer a lower cost of living, allowing you to stretch your budget further. And convenient access to major highways and interstates make exploring that much easier.

Even though Pennsylvania reigns as the top U.S. state for retirees, the key to a successful retirement regardless of where you settle is thorough research. You don’t want to fall for common retirement mistakes in the eleventh hour. We’ll get you started with everything you need to know about retiring in Pennsylvania so your retirement lasts as long as it can.

If you have any questions about retirement, as you settle in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, consider attending a retirement workshop to learn more.

Pros and Cons of Retiring in Pennsylvania


State tax friendly: Pennsylvania has exemptions for: Social Security income from state taxes, pensions for residents over 60, and retirement account withdrawals. (There’s also has a relatively low state sales tax at 6 percent.)

Affordable cost of living: Pennsylvania has a four percent lower cost of living compared to the national average. This makes it easier to make your retirement income last longer. 

Quality healthcare: Pennsylvania has a good network of hospitals and healthcare providers, offering access to quality medical care throughout your retirement.

Plenty of activities to do: You can explore state parks (like Presque Isle State Park), embrace history (with the Liberty Bell), and immerse yourself culturally (at the Philadelphia Museum of Art), on top of so many other activities, to enjoy your retirement.


High property tax: Pennsylvania has some of the highest property tax rates in the U.S., which could be a big burden for retirees on a fixed income.

Potential additional hidden sales taxes: While PA has a base sales tax of 6 percent, many localities tack on additional sales taxes so factor that in when budgeting for everyday expenses.

Weather in PA

Pennsylvania weather could be a pro or a con depending on who you are. The state offers a change of scenery throughout the year. Your warmer months are nice to explore and enjoy the sunshine, but winters may be cold and last longer than you’d like. 

Best Cities in Pennsylvania to Retire

From bustling cities to charming historical towns, these top-ranked cities offer a host of benefits for retirees looking to settle in Pennsylvania.

Retiring in Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia is a major city, and while you’ll definitely have traffic and noise, it offers a blend of history and culture, and surprising affordability compared to other major East Coast cities. With iconic landmarks and museums for history buffs, great restaurants for foodies, and very walkable neighborhoods for active retirees, Philadelphia has a strong sense of community that makes it a top place in PA to retire. You’ll also find access to great healthcare with top-ranked hospitals in the city.

Some disadvantages of Philadelphia are that an urban environment might not suit everyone, and the city has higher local taxes.

Did you know? Philadelphia is known as the “Mural Capital of the World” and boasts over 4,000 murals painted on buildings around the city. They range from city scenes to stories of Philly’s history and diversity.

Retiring in Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg took the number one spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Places to Retire in the U.S. for 2024. It offers a combination of affordability, great healthcare, and a blend of city life with outdoor activities. Housing options range depending on your budget and, like Philadelphia, the city offers high-quality hospitals and healthcare. 

The city has an active adult community with social events and programs. You can also hike a trail or take a scenic drive by day, and head to the movies or a museum at night. In short, Harrisburg is an affordable city blending urban and outdoor living.

Did you know? Harrisburg is home to The National Civil War Museum which houses one of the most extensive collections of Civil War artifacts in the entire country.

Retiring in Reading, PA

Landing right behind Harrisburg in the number two spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list is Reading, a metro area attracting people for its low cost of living and low crime rates. Reading is honestly a great option for budget-minded retirees. There’s tons of housing options and access to the arts, parks, and other adventures, like a day trip to Philadelphia.

Reading provides a comfortable environment with a strong sense of community, ideal for retirees looking for a slower pace in retirement. 

Did you know? Reading is known as the “Pretzel Capital of the World.” It was once home to over 20 pretzel factories and while not as active in pretzel making as before, still has several bakeries.

Retiring in Pittsburgh, PA

The “Steel City” might seem like an unexpected choice for retirement, but it offers a surprising combination of city life and easy living. This blend could explain its position at number 10 on the list for Best Places to Retire in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report. Museums, theaters, and a good food scene contrast Pittsburgh's natural beauty of trails, rivers, and nearby parks. For retirees concerned about healthcare, the city is a major medical center with top-tier healthcare facilities. 

Did you know? Even though Pittsburgh is known for the steel industry, there is a strong connection to the art world. Famous American artist Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh in 1928.

Retiring in Lancaster, PA

Lancaster is your bronze medal winner, landing third on U.S. News & World Report’s  list. The city offers a unique retirement experience with a delicate balance of nature and city. While not the absolute top choice, it does have a quiet charm that you as a retiree may be looking for. 

Lancaster has a strong cultural scene with theater productions, museums, and farm-to-table restaurants. Various affordable housing options and Pennsylvania's tax breaks for seniors make Lancaster a frontrunner for cost of living.

Did you know? Lancaster was the capital of the American colonies for one day in September 1777 after Philadelphia was briefly captured by the British.

Retiring in Allentown, PA

Allentown is the third largest metro area in PA and number five on the Best Places to Retire in the U.S. list. It’s nestled in the Lehigh Valley and boasts a lower cost of living with diverse housing options. The city itself offers a unique blend of downtown vibes with museums, theaters, and city life, while still maintaining a friendly, small-town atmosphere. If you love nature, then Lehigh Valley's parks, trails, and proximity to the Pocono Mountains are right up your alley. 

Allentown also caters to retirees with social activities, senior centers, and active adult communities. With its affordability, mix of city and nature, and a strong community, it makes sense why Allentown would round out the top five.

Did you know? Allentown is home to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, an amusement park founded in 1884 still welcoming thrill-seekers today.

Retiring in Scranton, PA

Scranton is a strong contender for retirees looking to settle in PA given its position at number four on the Best Places to Retire list. The city offers a surprising blend of affordability and historic charm, affording retirees a lower cost of living with diverse housing options. 

Scranton has a vibrant arts scene (The Office, anyone?) and a lively downtown perfect for walking. Parks and trails provide opportunities for you to be active, and social events and adult communities increase a sense of community as you settle into retirement.

Did you know? Scranton is known for an unusual but important invention—the first electric streetcar in 1886.

Retiring in York, PA

York’s budget-friendly cost of living, historic charm, and walkable downtown all contribute to its spot at number seven on U.S. News & World Report’s list. It’s an art lover’s dream and a foodie’s paradise with plenty of farm-to-table options. Retirees can enjoy social activities, active adult communities, and easy access to nature. 

Did you know? York is home to the York Cone Company—founded by Henry Kessler in 1920 and merged with The Hershey Company in 1988—who created the delicious York Peppermint Patties in 1940.

Interested in retiring in Pennsylvania, or at least curious? Consider attending one of our retirement seminars or webinars, hosted by experienced financial advisors who can assist with all your retirement planning needs. Check out what Pennsylvania events are located near you!