As the sunset of a fulfilling career approaches, the prospect of choosing the perfect city for retirement becomes an exciting yet pivotal decision. While professionalism steers the ship, a dash of casual consideration adds a personal touch to this significant journey.
In this round-up, I’ll navigate through the myriad of choices and unveil the top contenders — three cities that seamlessly blend the allure of leisure with the essentials of a well-rounded retirement. These top cities are featured by a variety of different sources online.
What makes a city ideal for one retiree may not hold the same allure for another. Is it the temperate climate, a vibrant cultural scene or perhaps the affordability factor? Let’s dive into each source and see which cities they think are the best for retirees and why.
It should be noted that these lists focus exclusively on U.S. cities, and the results may surprise you.
Source 1: U.S. News Real Estate
Selecting the perfect retirement destination involves considering various factors. A recent U.S. News analysis evaluated the 150 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, factoring in job market, retiree taxes, healthcare, affordability and happiness. New elements include weather temperateness, resilience to extreme weather, price parity and establishments-to-population ratio. These were ranked based on a survey of 3,500 individuals aged 45 and older, focusing on their top priorities.
Here are the U.S News’ top five best cities to retire according to its research:
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, rose to the top spot, praised for quality healthcare (No. 10) and resident happiness (No. 15). Tax-friendly (No. 32 for retiree taxes), it offers outdoor activities at Riverfront Park and is close to major metro areas. The city enjoys proximity to major regions like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Reading, in southeastern Pennsylvania, surged from No. 10 to No. 2 on the U.S. News’ Best Places to Retire list, praised for top-quality healthcare (No. 6). Its charm, affordability and diverse community, along with proximity to Philadelphia, enhance retirees’ experiences. Reading offers retirees unique experiences, such as exploring the historic pagoda built in 1908.
Lancaster, despite dropping two spots from the top position, remains a favored retirement destination. Known for excellent senior healthcare, low retiree taxes and resident satisfaction, Lancaster offers proximity to Philadelphia (90 minutes away) with the affordability of a smaller town. Featuring beautiful farmlands, a substantial Amish community and vibrant farmers markets, it caters to diverse interests. The city provides outdoor opportunities with hiking and water sports and boasts a growing foodie scene in repurposed warehouses.
Scranton, located two hours from New York City and Philadelphia, attracts retirees seeking proximity to major cities with a small-town feel, affordable housing and low crime. The location is ranked 13th for healthcare access and features historical sites like the Lackawanna County Courthouse. About 20% of the population is aged 65 or older. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore trails at Sturgis and Nay Aug Parks.
Situated 90 miles from New York City and 60 miles from Philadelphia, Allentown — ranking fourth for health care access — offers proximity to major cities with lower housing costs. As Pennsylvania’s third-largest metro area, it combines historical charm with family-friendly attractions. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore hiking trails, and winter brings joy to avid skiers. The Da Vinci Science Center and America On Wheels Museum cater to families in the area.
Source 2: Orchard.com
A recent Boston College study highlights housing as a major concern for retirees, with 17 million adults aged 65 or older classified as house-poor, spending 30% or more on housing. Only 46% of Americans aged 50 or older expect to stay in their current homes. In response, a study analyzed 100 cities for housing, healthcare and quality of life indicators, revealing under-the-radar cities for retirees.
According to Orchard.com, the following cities on the list were ranked based on affordability and quality of life for retiree homebuyers. Here are its top five best cities for retirement:
Toledo, positioned along the Maumee River, is celebrated for its friendly community and affordability. With the lowest list price and second-lowest rent prices in the study, it caters to both homebuyers and renters. Additionally, it ranks fourth for its population over 65, offering a welcoming environment for retirees seeking community.
Nestled in the hills of western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, with a vibrant mix of industrial history and modern vitality, stands out. Renowned for world-class medical institutions like the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a high density of Medicare providers, it offers an affordable option with the third-lowest list price among the cities studied.
Buffalo, New York
Situated on Lake Erie’s eastern shores, Buffalo provides retirees with architectural richness and a thriving food scene. Affordable housing, with a median list price of $222,450 (7th lowest), and abundant Medicare providers (7th place overall) make it an enticing option. However, potential residents should be ready for extreme cold, with three storm events recorded since 2022.
Heading to the southern shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland emerges as a top under-the-radar city for retirees. With the second-lowest list price at $204,450 and a median rent of $1,375, well below average, it offers affordability. Renowned for excellent medical care, The Cleveland Clinic stands among the top hospitals globally, boasting a strong Medicare provider ratio of 1.28 providers per beneficiary.
St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg stands out for retirees seeking community, with the largest over-65 population at 19.3%. However, access to this community comes at a premium, as it holds the highest list price at $479,000 and rent at $2,046.
What stood out to me among these U.S.-based lists of cities to retire in was the overwhelming support for Harrisburg and other cities in Pennsylvania as premium picks. I’ll have to check out Harrisburg and more places in Pennsylvania moving forward, as this state absolutely dominated this year. Honestly, retirees have their pick of cities to choose from in Pennsylvania, but I’m going to have to say Harrisburg earns the top spot.
I’d put Cleveland in second place, largely due to affordability and the quality of healthcare retirees can expect. These factors were prominent in the surveys and the cities that made the list, and Cleveland appears to be a clear winner.
Last, I’ll have to include St. Petersburg on this list, given the more favorable year-round weather. While more expensive, there’s a reason why so many Americans choose to live in Florida — taxes being another key consideration.
On the date of publication, Chris MacDonald did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.