Is Philadelphia a Good Place to Retire?

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Twilight view of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

10 minute read

What You’ll Gain From Reading This Article: Readers gain a comprehensive understanding of Philadelphia as a desirable retirement destination, from its diverse neighborhoods, cost of living, and climate to its rich cultural scene, entertainment options, and available active adult communities.


Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia is a great place to retire for many good reasons. Though it’s much smaller than nearby New York City, it still offers world-class attractions, greenspaces, and outlying suburbs with a slower pace of life. There are also attractive communities in other parts of Eastern Pennsylvania in appealing towns like Hershey, Washington Crossing, New Hope, and Haverford.

Within the 136- square-mile city itself, there are dozens of smaller neighborhoods that all have their own unique personalities. Philly is divided up into Center City, Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, North, and West. From these parts, you can drive out to the suburbs on the east, north and west. Head south to cross one of the PA/NJ bridges (the main ones are the Walt Whitman, Ben Franklin, and Betsy Ross) and you’ll land in New Jersey.

Here’s everything else that you need to know about this area if you are considering a Philadelphia retirement.

Twilight view of the Philadelphia skyline from across the Schuylkill River.

According to BestPlaces.net, Philadelphia’s cost of living is just 1.2 percent higher than the national average. The average home in the City of Brotherly Love is $221,400, compared to $234,800 for the state of Pennsylvania and $291,700 for the entire country.

Grocery prices are just a tad over the national average, and utilities aren’t far from the average either. Transportation costs are higher because of major bridge tolls, parking fees, time spent sitting in traffic, and public transportation tickets.

Taxes

As for taxes, Pennsylvania is known to be a retirement-friendly state. According to Smartasset, all income from Social Security and retirement accounts (like IRAs and 401(k)s) are exempt as is pension income for those ages 60 and up.

The property tax rate is slightly higher than the national average; 1.5% compared to 1.07%. As for the sales tax rate, it’s six percent for the state plus an additional two percent local tax when you buy things in Philly.

View of the Downtown Philadelphia skyline from across the Schuylkill River on a sunny day.

The city of Philadelphia experiences all four seasons. Weather Spark claims that this region is partly cloudy throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 26 to 87 degrees overall. The hottest time of the year is normally May 30 through September 16, with average temperatures reaching over 77 degrees. July is usually the steamiest month of the year, and city dwellers leave the area in search of cooler temperatures at the New Jersey shore or in the Pocono Mountains.

The coldest time of year in Philly is December 2 through March 7, when you’ll experience daily highs below 49 degrees. The wet season is March 31 through August 27. The wettest month in Philly is July, averaging 11.1 days that have at least 0.04 inches of precipitation.

The leaves change color in the autumn, and when you combine that with the clear skies, the weather and scenery can be quite breathtaking. Philadelphia does get its share of snow as well, with an average of 31 snowfalls of at least 1 inch from November 22 to March 28. The hillier areas and city streets can be hard to navigate after heavy snowfalls, so those in the know stay put when this happens.

A paved walkway in a park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on a sunny day.

Philly is nestled alongside the Delaware River, so it’s not surprising that so many of its outdoor activities are near the water. While there are too many to list here, some of the top ones are Penn’s Landing (festivals, restaurants, and entertainment venues), Fairmount Park, and Benjamin Rush State Park. These outdoor hot spots attract dog walkers, hikers, bikers, runners and cross-country skiers after it snows.

Locals and tourists also enjoy kayaking and canoeing at Core Creek Park’s Lake Luxembourg, and bicycling and spotting wildlife along the 60-mile long Delaware Canal State Park.

The east entrance of The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Museum of Art and the empty main plaza with Greek revival style facade.

Steeped in Revolutionary War history, Philadelphia draws in tourists every year who want to visit centuries-old attractions like the Betsy Ross House. The city also has a major sports scene (courtesy of the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers) and large concert venues where major performers showcase their talents. You’ll also find world-class shopping and restaurants here. There are unique pockets of culture like Little Italy, Chinatown, and South Street, plus year-round festivals.

Dining Scene

Philadelphia has a varied mix of chain, niche, and fine dining options for every cuisine imaginable. You can also find ones that are BYOB, upscale hotel restaurants, and outdoor eateries on patios. Some of the legendary ones are Parc, Talula’s Garden, and El Vez.

Local Attractions

Philly is overflowing with historical and cultural attractions, especially Revolutionary War-era treasures like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The best local attractions in the city include Rittenhouse Square (amazing restaurants and shopping), Reading Terminal Market (indoor restaurants, bars, bakeries), the Barnes Foundation Museum, and Philadelphia’s Magical Gardens.

In addition to those, you have the main tourist hubs of the National Constitution Center, Independence National Historic Park, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Italian Market. And don’t forget to sample the city’s cheesesteaks and soft pretzels—these are iconic symbols of Philly.

Big-City Entertainment

Philadelphia is home to the Academy of Music, the very first opera hall in the country. Along with the Merriam Theater, this is part of the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts complex, which also has restaurants and hotels and is the main venue for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Fairmount Park is a great outdoor entertainment venue, and the Orchestra also plays here. Other places to enjoy performances include Franklin Music Hall and The Met Philadelphia. You can see large shows and sports games at Verizon Hall, Lincoln Financial Field, and Citizens Bank Park.

A bench in the Rittenhouse Square park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Healthy Eating

Though Philly is known for those cheesesteaks and pretzels, healthy dining options abound here as well. There’s Alba, Charley Dove, and Barbuzzo, and there are many others that offer vegetarian, fresh seafood, and other heart-healthy menu items.

You’ll also find the usual health-conscious chain grocery stores, like Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Market, plus smaller, family-owned ones such as Martindale’s Natural Market. If you like farmers’ markets, a Philadelphia Magazine article shows locations for some of the best ones—there are many.

Health Care

Philadelphia area residents benefit from having access to some of the top medical organizations in the world. U.S. News chose The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center as the 13th best hospital(s) in the country. Jefferson Health-Thomas Jefferson Hospitals also made the list as did Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood.

Other top performing medical organizations in the region include Chester County Hospital and Main Line Health Bryn Mawr. The renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper is right over the bridge in Camden, New Jersey.

The clubhouse at Village of Buckingham Springs in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

There are 123 55+ communities in the Philadelphia area, with four located in the city proper. When considering the group as a whole, you can find new and resale condos, attached, and single-family homes at different price points ranging from below $100k to over $1 million. Here are some of our favorites:

The Arbours at Eagle Pointe

High $300s – Mid $600s

This newer active adult community was built from 2008 to 2020 and offers 398 resale attached and single-family homes with eight floor plans. They’re all generously sized and include garages, plus desirable features like luxury bathrooms and 42″ cabinets.

Community amenities include a private clubhouse, an outdoor pool and spa, a putting green, and lovely grounds with natural space and lakes. Another great thing about The Arbours is the convenient location. You can walk to grocery stores, shops, and restaurants, or hop on a bus.

The Villages at Pine Valley

Low $300s – Mid $300s

Geared for downsizing, this smaller 55+ community of 160 resale condo and attached homes is right next to a park, and just 15 minutes from the heart of Philly. The floor plans range from 800 to 3,243 square feet, and offer options like first-floor master suites, balconies, porches, and modern kitchens with stainless steel appliances.

There’s a nice clubhouse with a movie theater, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool to enjoy. Group activities include yoga, holiday parties, day trips, game nights, and line dancing.

Hershey’s Mill – Hershey, PA

Mid $200s – High $900s

Completed in 2005 with 1,720 attached homes and world-class amenities, Hershey’s Mill is a dream come true for active adult homebuyers. It’s located an hours’ drive from Downtown Philadelphia.

In addition to having an 18-hole golf course (membership fees required), a clubhouse, swimming pools, and sports courts, it also has its own TV station and pet park. There are nine models ranging from 1,158 to 3,153 square feet, and all have at least two bedrooms and attached garages. This age-restricted community also has a long list of clubs and ongoing events, like a bicycle group, ceramics, bus trips, pickleball, a ski group, and of course, Bingo.

Village of Buckingham Springs – New Hope, PA

Low $200s – Mid $300s

Located in PA’s sought-after Bucks County, this retirement community has 646 resale single-family homes sized from 1,056 to 1,680 square feet. Also, there’s a community bus for residents, plus a heated outdoor pool, a clubhouse with a ballroom, and well-attended activities like exercise classes, ladies nights out, casino trips, and dinner dances.

New Hope has a charming downtown area full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues—they also sponsor special events like car shows. It takes about an hour to drive here from Philadelphia.

Is Philadelphia a good place to retire? Considering the large number of active adult communities, proximity to two of the most exciting cities on the east coast, and endless historical attractions, the answer is a qualified “yes.”

55places.com is an outstanding resource for locating and comparing Philadelphia area properties that have available homes for sale. We provide information about floor plans, amenities, and important details about the locations. When you’re ready to take the next step, just give us a call and someone will get back to you right away!

Discover what’s next.

To learn more information or connect with a real estate expert, contact us today.

Can you spot the $207,744 difference between these identical homes?

Financing is the difference!

Get the details in The 62+ Loan Homebuyers Guide.

55places Mortgage is a joint venture between Mutual of Omaha Mortgage and 55places.com.
Details here.

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I agree that 55places and its affiliates, partner providers or agents may call, text, or email me about my inquiry, which may be made with automated means. I understand that my consent is not a prerequisite for buying a property. I may revoke my consent at any time by contacting optout@55places.com. Message/data rates may apply. I also agree to 55places.com’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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