A retired company enjoys a Pennsylvania autumn, sitting in the woods holding pumpkins

The Pros and Cons of Retiring in Pennsylvania

Retirement Pennsylvania

by Matt Lyons Posted on March 5, 2024

As one of the most populated states in the country, the Keystone State of Pennsylvania is also one of the hottest places to retire in 2024. Aside from its lively culture and historical roots, Pennsylvania also offers a number of benefits for retirees, in particular, including a lack of taxes on retirement income and access to quality healthcare. But while moving to the state may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to weigh both the pros and cons of retiring in Pennsylvania before making your final decision. Here’s what we think you should consider.

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Fun Facts You Should Know About Pennsylvania

  • The term “Keystone State” alludes to the crucial part Pennsylvania played in the country’s formation.
  • As of July 2023, PA’s population was estimated to be around 12.9 million residents.
  • Philadelphia is the former capital of PA, and in 1776, The Declaration of Independence was signed there.
  • The oldest still-operating roller coaster in the world — Leap the Dips at Altoona’s Lakemont Park — is in Pennsylvania.
  • There are 20 state forests and over 100 state parks in PA.
  • The oldest golf course in the U.S. is located in the PA city of Clarion.

Retiring in Pennsylvania — FAQs

Q: Is Pennsylvania a good state for retirees?
Yes! Retiring in PA means you can have a high quality of life without having to worry about breaking the bank!

Q: What taxes do retirees pay in Pennsylvania?
There are no taxes on any forms of retirement income in PA. 

Q: How much money do you need to retire in Pennsylvania?
According to Yahoo Finance, the annual cost of living in PA after using income from Social Security is about $32,700. 

Q: Is it a good idea to move to Pennsylvania?
Based on PA’s amenities and affordable living costs, it’s a great idea to move there for any walk of life, but it’s particularly desirable for retirees! 

Pros and Cons of Retiring in Pennsylvania 

It’s important to weigh both the pros and cons of retiring in Pennsylvania before deciding if a move is right for you. So here are some of the main things we think you should know pertaining to living costs, entertainment, healthcare, housing, and more.

Pro: Affordable Cost of Living Versus Other Popular Retirement Spots

The cost of living index of 94.6 in PA is more than 5 percent lower than the national average. When you look at other popular retirement destinations — like Delaware and Florida — you’ll see those numbers are a lot higher. Not only do you have easy accessibility to different amenities in the Keystone State, but you’re also getting them at a steep discount.

How much money do I need to retire in Pennsylvania, you ask? According to Yahoo! Finance, you would need nearly $817,000 saved up to retire and maintain the average cost of living in Pennsylvania. 

Snow-covered streets and cars in a Pennsylvania winter

Con: Harsh Winter Weather 

Pennsylvania gets to experience each of the four seasons throughout the year, which is a benefit for some retirees who enjoy the change in climate. However, once wintertime rolls around, the weather can dramatically change and become quite harsh, with low temperatures, heavy winds, and occasional snow storms. 

The winter weather can make any outdoor activity more difficult, including going out to run simple errands. And on average, PA gets 38 inches of snow annually, which is more than the national average of 28 inches. 

Pro: Some of the Best Places To Retire in the Nation

According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the best places to retire in Pennsylvania are also some of the best places to retire in the country! Harrisburg, Reading, and Lancaster are all at the top of that list. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Harrisburg, PA: Harrisburg is the spot to settle down if you want to stay active during your golden years. Residents have prime access to the trails of Riverfront Park for walking and biking, and various events/festivals are even held here throughout the year.
  • Reading, PA: The innovative history of Reading is the main source of the area’s charm, including the Reading Railroad (which you may recognize from the game of Monopoly). The community of Reading is also quite diverse and is well known for its popular attractions, such as Reading Pagoda and the Reading Public Museum.
  • Lancaster, PA: Lancaster provides many opportunities for retirees to stay active in the community. Although they live more of a quiet, rural life, retirees of Lancaster enjoy attending events such as the art- and music-focused “First Fridays in Lancaster.”

Con: Issues With Traffic and Road Conditions 

Most of Pennsylvania’s cities are quite dense and lack an efficient system of public transportation. And the road conditions don’t help much with this, as PA was even ranked by Uplift Legal Funding as one of the top 10 states with the worst road conditions in the country. Ever since Pennsylvania was founded in the late 1600s, the infrastructure of the roads (and even waterways have continued to decline). It’s actually estimated that over 3,350 bridges and over 7,500 miles of highway are considered to be in poor condition. 

Pro: Top-Notch Healthcare 

Ranked as the 21st best state in the U.S. to receive healthcare, according to WalletHub, Pennsylvania is known for its quality physicians, affordable insurance costs, access to coverage, and more. The health system in PA also performs best in reducing the amount of 30-day hospital mortality rates, ER visits, and preventable hospitalizations.  

Con: Air Pollution

One of the major benefits of retiring in Pennsylvania is getting to experience the phenomenal outdoor opportunities, from the various state parks to the plentiful areas of forest. However, if you consider yourself an outdoor enthusiast or simply enjoy spending time outdoors, it’s important to be aware of some of the problems regarding air pollution within the state. There’s no way to sugar coat it: Air quality issues are a problem due to the numerous coal-burning power plants in the area.

A retired man prepares his taxes on a laptop, with files and and a calculator close at hand

Pro: Tax-Friendliness for Retirees

Does Pennsylvania tax retirement income? PA is considered a very tax-friendly state for retirees, as all income from social security is tax-exempt. You also won’t see tax on retirement account withdrawals, public and private pensions, or 401(k)s and IRAs.

But while there are several tax-friendly perks for retirees, it’s important to note that PA does have among the highest property tax rates in the entire country. Certain counties, such as Allegheny County, have even higher property tax rates than other areas, but fortunately, there are property tax relief programs available to lower some of the costs. 

Con: No Beach Access in the State

If access to the beach is one of your preferred amenities when retiring, then you’ll have to travel some, if you decide to settle down in Pennsylvania. Weekends on Lake Erie are a possibility, but we know that’s not exactly the same as settling by the ocean. You can always travel to the nearby state of New Jersey, though, to get your saltwater fix, which is home to a number of beautiful beaches, such as Avalon Beach

Pro: Ideal Central Location on the East Coast 

While exciting opportunities abound in the state — like visiting Hershey, PA, the Chocolate Capital of the U.S. — you don’t have to travel far if you’re looking for a change in scenery and some new things to do. Atlantic City, New York City, and Baltimore are a few examples of nearby major cities with a lot to explore. Pennsylvania is also close to Niagara Falls, one of the nation’s most scenic sights. And from there, you could get to Toronto in just about an hour and a half. 

Con: Liquor Laws 

Buying alcohol has been a challenge in Pennsylvania ever since the end of the Prohibition, and you won’t always be able to get what you need all in one place. You can buy beer and wine at the grocery store — similar to other states — but you’ll have to go to a state-owned liquor store for any other alcohol (and how much you can buy at once will be limited).  

It’s also difficult for restaurants to obtain liquor licenses, so you’ll definitely come across some BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) restaurants around the state.

 The National Memorial Arch dedicated to George Washington and the United States Continental Army in Valley Forge National Park.

Pro: Abundant History 

Historic attractions allow you to get a glimpse into an area’s past while also appreciating what it has become today, and boy does Pennsylvania excel in that aspect!

History buffs can take the time to explore the Gettysburg National Military Park, take a train into the mountains at No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum, or learn about the history of anthracite coal at the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum — just to name a few things. And, of course, you have to see the Liberty Bell and where the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philly!

Con: High Crime Rates in Certain Cities

Just like with any large city, there are always going to be instances of crime. In places like Philadelphia, it’s important to watch out for the most dangerous areas, which include Hunting Park, Fairhill, and Allegheny West. With that being said, though, Pennsylvania still has property and violent crime rates that are lower than the national averages.

Pro: Strong Sports Culture 

Whether you’re into professional or non-professional sports, there are plenty of teams to root for as a resident of PA! If you’re a fan of football, both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh come with their own set of die-hard fans. Watch the Philly Eagles compete in the NFC East division, or take a trip to Pittsburgh and watch the Steelers play at home. Both of these cities are also home to baseball, basketball, and hockey teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia 76ers, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Con: Nuclear Sirens

Because Pennsylvania is home to multiple nuclear power facilities, you may be subjected to nuclear siren tests every once in a while. These include the systems at Limerick, Beaver Valley, Peach Bottom, Susquehanna, and Three Mile Island. Even though the sirens typically don’t last for very long, they are quite loud, and can cause disturbances for those dealing with hearing issues. 

A couple loads up a PODS container, getting ready for their move to Pennsylvania.

Retire in Pennsylvania With PODS

Abundant history, plenty of entertainment, and favorable taxes are among the standout qualities that make Pennsylvania so desirable as a retirement destination. Once you’ve considered all the pros and cons of retiring in Pennsylvania and ultimately decided that it’s worth it to make the move, look no further than PODS to assist with the logistics! A portable moving and storage container will be delivered right to your driveway and picked up whenever you’re finished packing and loading your belongings. Moving to Philadelphia, in particular? PODS City Service will specifically help you navigate those narrow streets and parking hassles with ease. 

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