Pennsylvania for Baby Boomers? Not so fast!
Editor’s note: In response to US News & World Report’s “Best Places to Retire in the US in 2022-2023” list which placed 5 Pennsylvania cities in the Top 10, I turned to one of our frequent contributors, a Pennsylvanian native, for his take. Take it Andy!
Is Pennsylvania the next big retirement destination? According to US News & World Report’s recently released list of the nation’s top retirement destinations, that might be the case.
The top two spots on this list are cities in Pennsylvania, both tranquil Pensacola and exciting Tampa. Next, Pennsylvania claims three more top ten spots, compared to only four Florida cities in that top ten.
Are you surprised by this? I was!
As a Pennsylvania native, I don’t dispute that these are all great places to call home. But when I carefully plan my early retirement, I can’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 why I can’t recommend a Keystone State retreat over one of Sunshine State’s many options.
I can’t handle the snow anymore
The main reason Pennsylvania can’t compete with Florida as a retirement destination is that time can never pile up.
I have spent my whole life dealing with an abundance of clouds and rain during the warm months. And that is only followed by WAY too much snow in the cold months.
I’m not going to spend my golden years doing the same thing.
Retirees moving 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 having an abundance of sweaters, boots, and jackets. Florida residents don’t have to worry about that nonsense and can usually wear shorts and sandals year-round.
Speaking of clothing requirements…
It’s also worth pointing out that the dress code is “resort casual” pretty much everywhere in Florida, so I can finally ditch those pleated Dockers and my collection of Geoffrey Beene dress shirts.
I’m a laid back 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 retreat. You just can’t pull that off of most places in Pennsylvania.
Housing affordability is nonsense
The US News & World Report list cited housing affordability as a critical factor that makes Pennsylvania such an optimal retirement location.
This may be true when looking at the overall numbers, but I’ve noticed that most “affordable” homes in the north have WAY too many stairs.
And while many builders in Pennsylvania advertise low starting prices on new construction, buyers quickly learn that prices rise quickly once you add all the standard features found in almost all new homes in Florida.
Florida is the ultimate retirement destination, and all of these communities are designed to offer floor plans perfectly suited for retirement living. This means that you can easily find a home without steps and with minimal maintenance.
This is easier said than done in the North.
Retirement communities create ideal lifestyles
Not only do Florida retirement communities make it easier to find the perfect home for retirement living, but there’s also the added bonus of having plenty of fantastic activities and events geared toward the perfect retirement lifestyle.
Florida retirees are also more likely to be surrounded by neighbors at similar life stages, which means you’ll be able to make new friends in a neighborhood full of people looking for the same lifestyle you’re looking for.
Hershey Park is not Disney World and Lake Erie is not the Atlantic Ocean
They say 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 from beautiful beaches and world-class theme parks.
Meanwhile, the best Pennsylvania has to offer at this level is an odd combination of Lake Erie, Hershey Park, and driving to Atlantic City for a weekend getaway.
There is no comparison here.
Florida offers so many outdoor activities
Lifestyle options in Pennsylvania are attracting a lot of interest from outdoor enthusiasts, but just about anything you can do in the north can also be done in Florida. Plus, Florida gets bonus points because you can do these things year-round.
Pennsylvania residents love to fish in streams and rivers, but Florida residents can head out into the open waters to hunt monsters from the deep.
Florida also offers more options for kayaking enthusiasts, and there are walking trails and nature preserves near nearly every community we’ve featured here at Florida for Boomers.
Outside of downhill skiing, there’s not much Pennsylvania has to offer that can’t be replicated in Florida (year-round), so unless you’re obsessed with snowy mountains, head to south is the ticket.
You must pay state income tax in PA
Pennsylvania is widely recognized as an excellent tax state for retirees. This may be true for the country as a whole, but remember that there is no income tax in Florida at all.
Comparing a low tax rate to no tax may not seem like a big deal at first, because most people don’t expect to have a lot of income in retirement. But while every little bit is going to help you, you definitely need to get the most out of every dollar.
Healthcare ratings can be misleading
There’s no denying that Pennsylvania has outstanding healthcare facilities across the state, which is another reason given for many popular retirement destinations.
However, Florida is home to a similar number of world-class healthcare options, and residents will find that these healthcare facilities are even more senior-friendly than they are in the north.
Florida also has the advantage that many of its best healthcare facilities are located in various retirement destinations. In contrast, residents of Pennsylvania will likely need to travel to one of the major cities on either side of the state to get the best care.
Bring it all together
There’s no denying that Pennsylvania is a beautiful state with a lot to love. But Florida offers slightly better options in almost every category for those looking for the perfect retirement destination.
Once you’ve dealt with all of their reasons, it becomes relatively easy to see why so many Pennsylvania residents are considering packing their bags and heading south.
Life is better in Florida.