Editor's Note: In response to the U.S. News & World Report “Best Places to Retire in the U.S. in 2022-2023” list that placed 5 Pennsylvania cities in the Top 10, I've turned to one of our frequent contributors, a native Pennsylvanian, for his thoughts. Take it away Andy!
Is Pennsylvania the next great retirement destination?
According to the recently published U.S. News & World Report list of the country’s top retirement destinations, that might be the case.
The top two spots on that list are Pennsylvania towns, both edging out peaceful Pensacola and exciting Tampa. Then Pennsylvania goes on to claim three more spots in the top ten, compared to only four Florida cities ranked in that top ten. (See the full list here.)
Are you surprised by that? I was!
As a native Pennsylvanian, I don’t disagree that these are all great places to call home. But when I am carefully planning for my early retirement, I don’t see how anything could be better than the fantastic retirement cities the Sunshine State has to offer!
So with that in mind, let me break down eight painfully obvious reasons I can’t recommend a Keystone State retirement compared to one of the many options in the Sunshine State.
I Can’t Deal With Snow Anymore
The primary reason that Pennsylvania can’t hold a candle to Florida as a retirement destination is that the weather won’t ever be able to stack up.
I’ve spent my entire life dealing with an abundance of clouds and rain throughout the warm months. And that’s only followed by WAY too much snow in the cold months.
I’m not going to spend my golden years doing the same.
Retirees that relocate to Florida don’t have to maintain snowblowers. They also don’t need to own a separate set of “snow tires” for their vehicles.
That alone is enough to convince me that Florida is my retirement destination.
Pennsylvania weather also means owning an abundance of sweaters, boots, and jackets. Florida residents don’t have to bother with any of this nonsense, and can usually wear shorts and sandals all year round.
Speaking of Wardrobe Requirements…
It’s also worth pointing out that the dress code is “resort casual” just about everywhere in Florida, so I can finally ditch those pleated Dockers and my collection of Geoffrey Beene dress shirts.
I’m a casual guy, and the idea of wearing shorts and boat shoes (or my new Hey Dudes) as “formal attire” is one of the most appealing aspects of a Florida retirement. You just can’t pull that off most places in Pennsylvania.
Housing Affordability is Nonsense
The U.S. News & World Report list cited housing affordability as a critical factor that makes Pennsylvania such an optimal retirement location.
That may be true when looking at the overall numbers, but I have noticed that most of the “affordable” homes up north come with WAY too many stairs.
And while many builders in Pennsylvania advertise low starting prices on new construction, buyers quickly learn that the prices go up in a hurry once you add on all of the features that come standard with almost every new home in Florida.
Florida is the ultimate retirement community destination, and all of those communities are designed to offer floor plans that are perfectly attuned to retirement living. That means you can easily find a home with no steps and minimal maintenance.
That is easier said than done up north.
Retirement Communities Make for Ideal Lifestyles
Not only do Florida retirement communities make it easier to find the perfect home for retirement living, but there is also the benefit of having plenty of fantastic activities and events geared toward the ideal retirement lifestyle.
Florida retirees are also more likely to be surrounded by neighbors in similar stages of life, which means you’ll be able to make new friends in a neighborhood full of people looking for the same lifestyle you seek.
Hershey Park isn’t Disney World, and Lake Erie isn’t the Atlantic Ocean
They say that everything in real estate comes down to location, location, location. And when it comes to location, it’s hard for any state to beat sunny Florida.
No matter where you choose to live in Florida, you’ll never be more than a short drive away from beautiful beaches and world-class theme parks.
Meanwhile, the best that Pennsylvania can offer on that level is a strange combination of Lake Erie, Hershey Park, and driving to Atlantic City for a weekend getaway.
There’s no comparison here.
Florida Offers Just as Many Outdoor Activities
The lifestyle options in Pennsylvania get a lot of hype from outdoor enthusiasts, but just about everything you can do up north can also be done in Florida. Plus, Florida gets bonus points because you can do those things all year round.
Pennsylvania residents love fishing in streams and rivers, but Florida residents get to head out on the open water to chase down deep-sea monsters.
Florida also boasts more options for kayak enthusiasts, and there are walking trails and nature preserves near almost every community we have profiled here at Florida for Boomers.
Outside of downhill skiing, there isn’t much that Pennsylvania can offer that can’t be replicated in Florida (all year round), so unless you are obsessed with snow-covered mountains, heading south is the ticket.
You Have to Pay State Income Tax in PA
Pennsylvania gets a lot of credit for being a great tax state for retirees. That may be true compared to the country as a whole, but don’t forget that there is no state income tax at all in Florida.
Comparing low taxes to no taxes might not seem like a huge deal at first because most people aren’t planning on having a significant income during retirement. But if every little bit is going to help, you absolutely need to make the most of every dollar.
Healthcare Ratings Can Be Misleading
There is no denying that Pennsylvania has outstanding healthcare facilities across the state, which is another reason cited for many of the popular retirement destinations there.
However, Florida is home to a similar amount of world-class healthcare options, and residents will find that those healthcare facilities are even more tailored to seniors than they are up north.
Florida also has the advantage that many of its best healthcare facilities are located right in various retirement destinations. In contrast, Pennsylvania residents will likely have to drive to one of the big cities on either side of the state to get the best care.
Bringing It All Together
There’s no denying that Pennsylvania is a beautiful state with a lot to like about it. But Florida offers slightly better options in almost every single category for anyone looking for the perfect retirement destination.
Once you process all of their reasons, it becomes relatively easy to see why so many Pennsylvania residents are planning to pack up their homes and head south.
Life is better in Florida.
Florida is far from perfect but you would have to admit winters are great in Florida. I agree healthcare is questionable unless you live near Tampa or Jacksonville. I would never be a permanent resident in Florida, just a snowbird as they call us part timers. High insurance rates, hurricane and flood insurance by far makes up for lower real estate taxes. My personal favorite area is St George, Utah. However, it’s hard to get to St George, the closest airport is Las Vegas 125 miles away. Summer in St George is dessert and reaches 115 degrees. Yeah, it’s dry heat but so is an oven. St George has the most beautiful national park I’ve seem, Zion national park. Utah taxes everything, including pension. My point is nowhere is absolutely perfect. Prove me wrong…
Dave Warnick says
Grew up in Pa. Lived south of Pittsburgh for first 25 years. Joined the USAF and eventually lived in Fl. for 33 years, 32 years at Tyndall AFB/Panama City. Retired in 2021 and moved back to Pa.
Florida has no income tax.
Back in Pa. my house insurance is half as much…there were insurance companies dropping customers in Fl. because it is Florida.
Car insurance cut in half…why? Because so many drivers in Florida are uninsured so YOU have to make up for it.
With no income tax, Florida is gonna get theirs somehow.
Bugs…no see ’ems, lovebugs that ruin your car paint, and palmetto bugs….giant cockroachs.
Plenty of water moccasins.
You can bet there’s a gator in every body of freshwater.
Hurricanes….many of them are major. Lived through Opal and Michael….Tyndall is still rebuilding the base 4 years after Michael.
Heat and humidity…great if you’re young….can’t stand it once you get north of 50. You can’t stand to stay outside.
No change of seasons.
I could go on, but you get the point. To each his own, but even with Fetterman, I’ll take Pa. And the southern hospitality…I get better hospitality in Pa.
I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and moved down to Florida in 2001.
Many things to like about both states and depending on ones preference is were you should be to live out your life.
To those who want to talk about extremism . Since when is enforcing the law and keeping criminals behind bars considered so. Educating children with what others around the world are learning and not garbage the NEA wants them to learn..
I’ll take Gov. Desantis over any of those you have so ignorantly elected.
Many reasons why people from the north are leaving. Had enough of poor government and taxation.
Just stop bringing crime down here. Yes it has been on the rise do to population explosion.
I lived in Fla for a few years. If I came out of Burdines one more Xmas in shorts & tshirts I was going to go crazy.
When it rained it was a celebration !
The lawns are the same crab grass we try to kill in lawns up north & horrible to walk on.
You have to be in doors most of the winter months bc it’s so hot, the then the A/C in the restaurants is usually too cold.
If you don’t speak Spanish in the Miami area you’re at a disadvantage .
There is no Paradise on earth, to each his own… but for me the sameness of Fla got old
ild rather rent in different states, countries, cities & towns.
After I can’t do that, & after taking care of very very old sr. parents, I found, in hide-site a major city such as NYC is the perfect place to be as those old sr’s are out & about by nurses aids pushing in their wheel chairs, going to museums, eating in restaurants, sitting in Central Park, & being around many people than sitting alone in a nursing home watching the walls.
All of this is just my humble opinion.
Carol Nagg says
Have relatives that live in Florida, panhandle area. They must prepare for more frequent hurricanes.With repairing roofs often, expensive windows and expensive insurance. Their activities in the summer are mostly where there is air-conditioning. It’s a nice state to visit. My children love Disney in the winter or early spring.
ron pivovar says
PA has an inheritance tax that must be paid within 9 months after a resident’s death. Add up total assets, property and all investments, multiply by a factor determined by the estates’s relation ship to the deceased…different rates from 4% to 12%…and mail it in. We paid $12 K on my father’s estate. Does FL have such a tax???
Ryan Erisman says
No, Florida does not have an inheritance tax. More details can be found here: https://smartasset.com/estate-planning/florida-inheritance-laws
Lynne Shine says
The political environment in Pennsylvania is reason enough to leave.
I grew up in Virginia and have always been conservative But the Governor is a fascist. If you see a turtle on a fence post someone put it there.
Thomas W Thomas says
Plan on working right up until I die. I enjoy being around people of all ages not a bunch of old people waiting to die . Florida is one big strp center, nice to visit Disney with children and grandchildren. Pennsylvania has skiing which I enjoy, but not interested in living in Pennsylvania or Florida. Somewhere in the middle suits me fine.
Whoa, dude. You have not seen The Villages. No one waiting to die here. We are all out playing.
I am from WA State and I drove to Florida to live 3 years ago! I love it! I retired 1 year ago and had my Condo in a 55+ paid off and no other bills.
Bugs? We have them, but I haven’t had one bite yet! Snakes? Not in my lovely Canal. Storm Surge? I live 6 miles from the Beach! Hot weather in the Summer is real, but I have 6 pools to soak in and a poolside Cafe! Because I am tired of Pennsylvania People and honestly, (what kind of a fool would vote for Fetterman?)
they come down here and tip poorly, drive crazy and are mostly rude, I think they all need to stay up there!
Florida is a nice place to vacation in Frbi but honestly I wouldn’t want to live there ! Way too hot and touristy! Tragic is bad enough in Pittsburgh ! Wouldn’t want to navigate Florida traffic year round!. Pa is still beautiful IMHO
John Bradbury says
The problem with all of these “best places to retire” articles is that it depends on the criteria used and whether those are the same criteria that are important to you.
We moved from West Virginia to Florida because we wanted to be able to play golf year round instead of only 7 months out of the year, and no state income taxes was also a major factor. I grew up in Texas, so hurricanes and heat were nothing new, in fact it’s cooler here due to the Gulf breezes. A conservative governor was a big plus.
It all depends on what’s important to you.
One word, Fetterman, enjoy your stay in PA!
I think the person writing this article wants to keep beautiful Pennsylvania all to himself. That is why he talks up Florida, hoping to get as many people to move south as possible! I’m all for it!
“Florida…the greatest place on the planet!!”
What a bunch of Non Pennsylvanians !! They can’t appreciate a good thing when they see it. Don’t hurry back !!
Jerry PAZAK says
Vietnam vet Raised in PA, retired to central Fl in 2003; lived on a lake with decent water level only before and after my stayq. Moved to SOUTHERN Indiana in 2016. Weather here better than PA & FL. Taking motorhome to Pensacola for the winter.
Teresa Bihlmire says
We lived in FL for 17 yrs nerve wracking for 7 months of the yr worrying about hurricanes had to evacuate too many times even tropical storms are damaging its just not worth loosing your home from a hurricane and storm surge just for nice weather. Unless you have lived through one you have no idea what its like. We moved back home to PA in 2018 and I would rather deal with snow than a hurricane any day. FL is great for a vacation but not great to live and it’s not that much cheaper there either yes no state income tax but they are high with everything else. Medical care is horrible and the heat bugs and snakes are too much to handle. My advice spend a few moths there starting in May and rent
If you like hot weather 8-9 months a year, mosquitos snakes and assorted reptiles Florida works. Not being a hot weather lover Florida is not for me. Really no different than being housebound in winter up north. You need A/C all summer or you go to malls to avoid the heat. No thanks! Beaches are nice but it’s mostly tourists in my experience. A week or two in March is plenty of Florida for me. Btw, there’s plenty of ranch style houses in PA and elsewhere. Just sayin’
Denise Shelton says
We’re in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and we love it. Florida is a great place to visit but I definitely would not want to live there. Heat, humidity, insects, and way too many people in Florida. As for snow, it our area it isn’t much of an issue. I shovel fewer than five times a winter. Snow doesn’t stay on the ground long, it always melts quickly. Global warming has significantly reduced the number of cold and snowy days. I don’t own a snowblower. There’s no point. No hurricanes, either!
K. Coe says
Florida is a great state to retire to, as well as other warm weather places. You can always find overpriced houses everywhere, a fool and his money are soon parted. We purchased a nice retirement home in central Florida for a reasonable amount. A 1 hour drive and I’m at the beach, a 1 hour drive and I’m at Disney, etc.
You have got to be kidding?!! Nice try US News. In light of recent events, people will be bailing faster than the criminals being let out of prison in PA! They must think we are stupid.
Mark Robinson says
I currently live in Indiana and have always thought of Florida as a great retirement Destination but have now decided to look elsewhere. Florida housing has just become too expensive compared to our housing in the Ohio Valley…. Severe weather has been plaguing Florida and the future global warming issues will only make things worst. Florida has also became a Extremest state with your current governor and all of his Stunts. I am more than willing to deal with the four seasons than to deal with what we’re seeing and hearing about Florida these days.. I will continue visiting Florida but I just will not become a resident.
Christine OConnell says
I disagree several messages in the above:
This is from Forbes
The Villages, Florida
CONS: Median home price of $388,000, 3% above national median. Not very walkable. Physicians per capita below national average.
I also feel in florida you do need to travel for a good hospital for healthcare. I’ve been in 2 in St. Lucie County and wouldn’t recommend either.
Weather is good in florida for a few months in winter, but longer and longer summers are way to humid and hot! I feel like I never leave air conditioning in the state.
Steve Hottenstein says
We can relate to every aspect of what was stated about Pennsylvania. My wife and I left PA in 1997 and only go back to periodically visit family. We have lived in the Allentown, Emmaus, New Tripoli, and Macungie areas and enjoyed it in our younger years; however, the winters are what caused us to make the final move. We are getting ready to retire in 3 to 6 years and plan on staying in the sunshine and investigating the various 55+ communities.
Piratzky Stephanie says
John Kenney says
Do you have the same type of analysis for Delaware? Need independent views to show the wife.