Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which sits in a county dubbed the "Garden Spot of America," is now considered the top place to retire in the nation.
Lancaster tops the latest U.S. News & World Report list of the 2019 Best Places to Retire in the United States, out Wednesday. The city – situated in south central Pennsylvania less than two hours from Philadelphia and three hours from New York City – held the No. 2 spot in U.S. News' list last year but vaulted past Sarasota, Florida, in this new list.
Sarasota dropped to No. 3, while two other Florida cities moved up: Fort Myers took the No. 2 spot, up from No. 15 last year, and Lakeland was No. 10, up from No. 26.
Pittsburgh climbed three spots to No. 5, while Grand Rapids, Michigan, dropped from No. 4 to No. 6.
Three Texas cities made the top 10: Austin rose five spots to No. 4, San Antonio fell five spots to No. 8, and Dallas-Fort Worth advanced two to No. 9.
Nashville, Tennessee, No. 35 last year, filled out the Top 10 at No. 7.
“Deciding where to retire is a big decision,” Emily Brandon, senior editor for retirement at U.S. News, said in a statement accompanying the results. “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.”
U.S. News based the rankings, now in their second year, on six factors: housing affordability, desirability, retiree taxes, the happiness index, job market and health care quality. The happiness index quantifies how content residents were based on Gallup-Healthways “State of American Well-Being: 2017 Community Well-Being Rankings" report, published in March.
Desirability was weighted slightly more heavily this year, based on responses to consumer surveys of 841 preretirees (ages 45 and older) and retirement-aged persons (ages 60 and higher) conducted by U.S. News in September 2017.
Lancaster, which is also No. 32 on U.S. News' list of best places in the U.S. to live, has a mix of suburbia, farmland and charming downtown with arts, theater and dining, with the Pennsylvania Amish country to the east. It rose in the list because of increases in housing affordability and the overall happiness of its residents, U.S. News says.
Fort Myers, Florida, rose because of increases in desirability and happiness scores, while Sarasota, Florida, dropped due to declines in overall happiness and desirability.
The full list of the Top 100 retirement spots can be found on the U.S. News site.