Retirement—a time when work becomes a distant memory and every day feels like a perpetual vacation. As you dream of this idyllic phase in life, the question arises: where should you live during your post-career years? The possibilities are endless, with the world as your oyster.
However, it all boils down to your desires and priorities. Some yearn for year-round golfing, while others crave proximity to family. Factors such as cultural opportunities, cost of living, access to healthcare, and overall happiness also come into play.
In an era where people are living longer, the availability of high-quality long-term services and supports (LTSS) plays a crucial role in determining the quality of life. These services encompass community programs, home health aides, and reliable facilities.
M.T. Connolly, an eminent national expert on elder justice, stresses the significance of adequate support for informal caregivers—typically family members—who provide the bulk of elder care.
So, if you’re inclined to remain within the United States, which states offer the best retirement prospects? A recent study conducted by U.S. News & World Report may hold the answer.
The study assessed the 150 most populous metropolitan areas in the country, including Puerto Rico, to determine the “best” retirement destination for 2023. Read on to uncover the city that emerged as the champion.
The Study’s Criteria: Weighing the Elements
U.S. News & World Report analyzed public data and surveyed over 3,100 individuals aged 45 and above across the country. The survey respondents were asked to prioritize their retirement destination preferences from a list of options.
Based on this input, U.S. News assigned weights to various indexes when calculating scores for each city. The following criteria influenced the rankings:
- Happiness Index (22%): This index encompassed crime rates, the air quality index (AQI), and well-being, measured using Sharecare’s 2022 Community Well-Being Index scores.
- Housing Affordability Index (24%): Affordability is a crucial factor, even if you’ve diligently saved for retirement. This index considered living expenses in relation to income, with particular emphasis on housing costs.
- Health Care Quality Index (16%): Given the importance of healthcare for retirees, this index examined the quality of healthcare services available in each city.
- Retiree Taxes Index (16%): Taxes can significantly impact your financial situation in retirement. This index considered the tax burden on retirees in each location.
- Desirability Index (13%): This index assessed the overall appeal of a city based on factors like climate, scenic beauty, and recreational opportunities.
- Job Market Index (9%): While retirement marks the end of your professional career, this index still factors in the availability of part-time job opportunities for retirees who choose to work during their golden years.
And the Winner Is…
According to U.S. News & World Report, the top spot for retirement in the United States goes to none other than Lancaster, Pennsylvania! Lancaster offers a unique blend of a vibrant downtown, ample farmland, and meticulously maintained suburban neighborhoods. Moreover, a change of scenery is never far away. However, there’s more to Lancaster than meets the eye. Let’s delve into the reasons why it stands out as an ideal town for your later years.
While the top five cities in the study earned an overall score of 7.2 out of 10, Lancaster edged slightly ahead in terms of healthcare. This factor holds immense importance for retirees, and Lancaster boasts outstanding healthcare facilities.
Penn Medicine, with its three facilities in Lancaster County, including an acute-care hospital and three specialty hospitals, ensures access to state-of-the-art medical care. Lancaster’s orthopedic and heart programs even rank among the top 50 in the country, and the city boasts an exceptional cancer center.
Regardless of the size of your retirement nest egg, stretching your funds as far as possible remains a priority. Lancaster delivers in this regard as well. While food and living expenses align with the national average, home prices comfortably fall below the national median.
In 2022, the national average house price was $383,883, whereas in Lancaster, it dipped nearly $100,000 lower to $290,354. Surprisingly, traffic congestion is also less of a concern in the area.
As they say, location is key in real estate. Lancaster scores well in this aspect too. With convenient access to Amtrak trains, New York City and Philadelphia are within easy reach. For those who prefer driving, the journey to these cities takes merely 2.5 hours and 1.5 hours, respectively.
Additionally, Washington, D.C., is just a little over two hours away. Nonetheless, Lancaster itself offers a fantastic city atmosphere, albeit on a smaller scale. The presence of Franklin & Marshall College infuses the town with creativity and innovation, characteristic of college towns, thereby ensuring a vibrant ambiance appealing to people of all ages.
Abundance of Activities
Lancaster is a pedestrian-friendly city brimming with cultural events, exceptional theaters, and a monthly First Friday art walk. These features foster more social interaction compared to places where individuals drive from one strip mall to another.
M.T. Connolly emphasizes that social interaction is a vital indicator of well-being, particularly for older Americans grappling with increasing levels of isolation and loneliness. Moreover, the area teems with history, antiques, arts and crafts, and charming shops.
Notably, Lancaster Central Market, the country’s oldest continually operated farmers market since 1730, stands as a proud culinary institution. If you’re an ice cream enthusiast, Lancaster’s homemade ice cream shops will surely delight your taste buds.
The Top Five Retirement Destinations
While Florida may be the first state that springs to mind when contemplating retirement, it indeed finds a place on this list. However, it claims the third spot. Here’s an overview of the top five cities for retirees according to U.S. News & World Report:
- Lancaster, Pennsylvania
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Pensacola, Florida
- Tampa, Florida
- York, Pennsylvania