When it comes to retirement destinations, Lancaster is No. 1. According to U.S. News & World Report, Lancaster now ranks as the top retirement spot in the country, taking the lead over last year's highest-ranking city, Sarasota, Florida.

In a statement accompanying the results, U.S. News senior editor for retirement Emily Brandon says, "The Best Places to Retire offers a way for future retirees to make a more informed decision based on what matters the most to them. Whether that be housing affordability, access to quality hospitals or the desirability of a place in general, the rankings offer a comprehensive list that can point people in the best direction for their needs."

The rankings are based on six factors: housing affordability, desirability, retiree taxes, a happiness index, job market and health care quality. Both increases in housing affordability as well as overall happiness of residents helped boost Lancaster's ranking on the list.

The county is attracting more and more retirees from out of state, who view Lancaster as an ideal spot to spend their retirement years.

"Many people who choose to retire here who move from larger metropolitan areas find that they get more bang for their buck because our housing values are more affordable than in some neighboring counties," says Connie Buckwalter, director of marketing for Mennonite Home Communities.

Affordability combined with proximity to larger cities and a variety of arts, culture and dining experiences throughout the county also add to the appeal of retiring in Lancaster, she says.

According to a 2016 New York Times article, Pennsylvania has the most continuing care retirement communities in the country. Retirees have other options as well as retirement communities in the county, including several neighborhoods and residences for ages 55 and older.

Here's a spotlight on a few retirees who chose to move to Lancaster for retirement.


Ages: 78 and 79, respectively

Luther Acres, Litiz

When did you move here?

We moved seven years ago, in 2011, but it was a surprise. We came to Luther Acres for an open house in October, and moved here to a cottage the following January

Where are you from?

We are from up and down the East Coast for 60 years, originally from Harrisburg. We moved to Lancaster County from Bangor, Pennsylvania, in Northampton County.

Why did you want to leave your former town?

We were working at a retreat center in the mountains. The winters were very difficult and icy for aging seniors.

What appealed to you about Lancaster County?

We were looking for cost and quality of living as well as diversity. We were introduced to Luther Acres by dear friends who told us about the community. They didn't live here yet, but they are now our neighbors once again! Lancaster County had the best options for value for your dollars — and we wanted to be walking distance to Lititz.

We love the beauty of the farmland, the extreme friendliness of the people, and the belief amongst most that you truly are your brother's keeper.

What do you like most about living here?

We like living here because we have another family. Our children are not close by (one lives in New Jersey and the other in California), so our friends have stepped up to the plate to love us and lend a hand or foot when needed, not only to us but to all the residents here at Luther Acres.

Has anything surprised you about living here?

We knew nothing about the City of Lancaster. We just envisioned that it was going the way of many cities in the U.S. Wow, it's a city full of arts, culture, entertainment and fine dining, all in one lovely city. No, to all our New York friends, we do not live on a farmer's field.

What's been the hardest thing to get used to in living here?

Traffic backups behind the buggies, although we are patient. We consider it a privilege to be among all the different religious sects here in Lancaster County and to hear of their history and traditions.

What do you like to do in your free time?

At Luther Acres, we enjoy playing water volleyball at the campus pool, and we like to help with fundraising activities.

What's your favorite local place to eat?

Sukhothai, Checkers, Bistro Barberet, Cafe Chocolate, Stoner Grille, Oregon Dairy and Lititz Family Cupboard. (We really enjoy getting together with friends, and we like to eat, too.)


Ages: 79 and 77, respectively

Willow Valley Communities, Willow Street

When did you move here?

We moved in 2012.

Where are you from?

Armand: I attended Lancaster Seminary and graduated in 1964. We have lived in Virginia Beach (where Barb attended law school to become a constitutional law attorney) and near Clearwater, Florida (where Armand was a pastor).

Why did you want to leave your former town?

Armand: We wanted to leave the Florida heat and the always-looming threat of hurricanes. You never knew when one was going to hit you.

Barb: We missed the seasons. I love the snow. When we lived in Florida, I would make an annual trip up north in the winter to get my "fix" of snow.

What were you looking for in a retirement destination?

We researched senior living communities for about five years all over the mid-Atlantic states as well as Florida comparing amenities, atmosphere and geography. We finally decided on Willow Valley Communities and Lancaster for a variety of reasons.

What do you like about living here?

Armand: I love the atmosphere of Lancaster. It's not as crowded here as in Florida. Almost all the roads in Florida are quadruple-lane highways. People in Lancaster drive differently. In my experience, the drivers are more courteous in Lancaster than in Florida.

I never got used to Christmas lights on palm trees. It was impossible to dream of a white Christmas down in Florida. I now enjoy snow because I don't have to shovel it.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Armand: I love to read and play the guitar. I'm also very involved in my church, Grace Community Church in Willow Street, where I play in the praise band, teach Bible study and am on the Music and Arts Committee as well as the Congregational Life Commission. I also teach a summer Bible study at Willow Valley Communities.

What's your favorite local place to eat?

Miller's Smorgasbord


Age: Both 76

Traditions of America, Lititz

When did you move to Lancaster County?

We had our three-year anniversary in August.

Where are you from?

Conyngham, Pennsylvania. which is a suburb of Hazleton

Why did you want to leave your former town?

Mary: We chose to leave because our children and grandchildren had moved away, and many of our friends had moved elsewhere in retirement, too. And also, although we lived in our neighborhood for 20 years, we still only knew a few people. Most were working or had children at home and so it was not as easy to make friends.

What appealed to you about Lancaster County?

Mary: We were looking for a location that was close to a, namely Lancaster, that offered things we like — great restaurants, theater and good, easy transportation to airports. We also like the changing seasons and no drastic weather. 

We spent several years occasionally looking at possibilities for retirement. These included Mechanicsburg and Bethlehem but we couldn't walk to things as easily as we can here. Then we looked at Delaware, but that seemed so far from places we liked, although it did have nice beaches. And finally, Florida, where some best friends retired. We gave it the ultimate test — an August visit! We decided that we would rather live here where we can put on a coat and walk to a coffee shop in the winter, than live there where it is impossible to go for a walk in the summer.

Fred: We were looking for a location that is suitable and more convenient for us. Our first home after marriage was here in Lancaster on West Chestnut street so that made it more comfortable, too.

What do you like most about living here?

Mary: We love the neighborhood and the abundance of activities. We could be busy all the time!

Fred: The people in Lancaster area are very polite, industrious and of good character. This is the main reason to move here.

Has anything surprised you about living in Lancaster County?

Mary: I think the only surprise is liking retirement and a new location even more than we anticipated. Having lived many places over our working years, we seemed to adapt perfectly!

What's been the hardest thing to get used to in living here?

Mary: The hardest thing is finding our way to various other small towns, etc. All the roads seem to have similar route numbers. We can never decide if we are still heading in the direction we started. Thank goodness for GPS!

Fred: All the roads here are numbered with 7s and 2s and they are not straight!

What do you like to do in your free time?

Mary: Our favorite activity is walking and biking and sharing restaurants and theater with our new friends and neighbors.

Fred: Our hobby is traveling. Our favorite things we like to do while traveling are to hike, trek, bike and eat wherever we go!

What's your favorite place to eat in the county?

Mary and Fred: That's the most difficult question yet! We love Himalayan Curry & Grill and also Iron Hill Brewery and then there is Stoner Grille. So many more, too!


Age: 78

Steeple View Lofts, Lancaster

When did you move here?

I moved at the ripe old age of 75, three years ago.

Where are you from?

I am originally from New York, but I moved here from Indiana.

Why did you want to leave your former town?

I had no family left in that area. My son lives in western Tennessee and my daughter lives here.

Why did you choose Lancaster County?

This whole area just appeals to me. I'm one of those crazy people who likes the four seasons. My daughter loves this area, too, and I have nieces and nephews I'm close to who live in New York, so it's easy for me to visit them.

What do you like most about living here?

I like the area. I just like the countryside. I like living in town and for the last few years before I moved here, I lived in a rural area, so now it's nice to be able to get out and walk to a restaurant. But, it's not such an urban area that I can't get out in the countryside.

Has anything surprised you about living here?

I acclimated pretty quickly to the area, because I had visited my daughter before I moved here. Traffic can be an issue that's been hard to get used to. I wasn't accustomed to that, being from Indiana, although I also lived in New York so I know how to handle traffic.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I have a 2000 BMW Z3 Roadster, and I like to put the top down and cruise around. I'm also really good at doing nothing. I enjoy retirement. I like to kick back, relax and not do much of anything.

What's your favorite local place to eat?

My favorite restaurant would depend on which week it is, because there are so many to choose from. I really like Cork & Cap.