Lancaster is a popular retirement destination in Central Pennsylvania. Easy access to larger metropolitan areas, a tight-knit art community, and distinctive local shopping make this city a go-to for active adults seeking big city amenities with a small-town feel.
Climate & Geography
Centrally located between Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Baltimore, Lancaster is one of the oldest inland towns in the U.S. The city experiences all four seasons, with very hot summers and cold winters. Lancaster experiences higher than average precipitation, which is evenly split between summer rainfall and winter snowfall. On average, residents can expect over 200 sunny days each year.
Lancaster is surrounded by rolling hills, and to the west of the city are the Susquehanna River and the South Mountains. The Conestoga River outlines Lancaster County Central Park to the south of the city, limiting its southern expansion. The city has seen larger sprawling growth on its north and east sides.
Recreation, Culture, & Entertainment
Residents of Lancaster can expect shops steeped in history and the arts. The city has many boutiques and vintage shops, and Gallery Row is home to several local art galleries. They also host an Art Walk in spring and summer.
More shops can be found at North Queen Street, which has a collection of eclectic and quirky retro shops and restaurants, as well as brand-name stores. Those looking for larger-scale shopping can head to Park City Center, the largest enclosed shopping center in the county.
Outside of galleries and shopping, retirees in Lancaster can enjoy a large selection of local wineries and breweries. The Lancaster Central Market, the oldest continually operating farmers market in the U.S., is another popular destination because of its uncommonly large amount of Amish goods.
Retirees can also enjoy the nine public golf courses in and around Lancaster, as well as the American Music Theatre and Fulton Theatre for concerts and shows.
Cost of Living & Taxes
Lancaster is one of the more affordable cities in Pennsylvania. The overall cost of living is far below average, and housing is much lower than the rest of the state. Other factors like groceries, utilities, and transportation all match the national average, while health care is higher than average.
Pennsylvania is a good destination for retirees because it does not tax Social Security benefits or other forms of retirement income, such as IRAs and 401(k)s. Pensions are tax exempt for retirees over the age of 60. Property taxes in the state tend to be fairly high, but there are some rebates available to those over the age of 65. Sales tax in the city of Lancaster is 6 percent, which is average for the U.S.
Gallup’s Well-Being Index scores Lancaster very highly as part of the top 10 communities in the country.
Lancaster has one U.S. News nationally ranked hospital: Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital. It is also ranked No. 7 in the state of Pennsylvania. Nearby Philadelphia has several nationally ranked hospitals, including the Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, which is the No. 1 hospital in Philadelphia and is part of U.S. News’ Honor Roll of hospitals.