Best places to retire that aren’t far from DC

By now, Florida is practically synonymous with the word “retirees,” and the latest rankings of Best Places to Retire from U.S. News & World Report bear that out.

Eight cities from the Sunshine State are in the top 10 this year, with several more ranked not far behind.


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  • “After over a year of staying at home, many people are dreaming about a Florida beach retirement,” said Emily Brandon, U.S. News’s senior editor for retirement.

    Indeed, the appeal of living in a place like No. 1-ranked Sarasota is self-evident, especially after months and months of isolation: Plenty of sunshine, no winters, lower taxes, beaches, etc. But it can be a little too far away for retirees who want to live closer to D.C.

    Fortunately, there are other options closer to the District.

    How about Lancaster, Pennsylvania, just about 120 miles away? It’s ranked No. 5 overall. Those surveyed mentioned it’s a safer place to live, with lower cost of housing as well as great quality of life.

    Or perhaps Allentown, Pennsylvania? It’s ranked the 11th best place to retire, and is less than 200 miles up the road. It, too, boasts a good quality of life as well as lower home prices and a close proximity to both Philadelphia and New York.

    Other standouts from the Keystone State include Harrisburg (No. 13), Reading (No. 15), York (No. 17), Philadelphia (No. 19) and Scranton (No. 21).

    Another city in the region that ranked well – in part due to its solid quality of life – is the No. 46 city, Salisbury, Maryland, just 117 miles away on the Eastern Shore. It edged out D.C. itself (No. 47), which scored particularly well for its job market.

    Other mid-Atlantic standouts are Asheville, North Carolina, (No. 14) and the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area (No. 22).

    U.S. News surveyed over 3,000 people 45 and older as it put together its rankings of 150 cities. The rankings focused on housing affordability, health care quality, taxes, desirability and the job market (which Brandon said is important for retirees looking to work part time).

    They also scored cities on happiness. That variable weighted most heavily in the rankings – accounting for over 22% of scores. U.S. News’s “happiness index” changed up a bit this year, when it began factoring in the rates of both murder and property crime, as well as air quality.

    According to U.S. News, that particular change to the happiness index helped cities in both Pennsylvania and Florida. Allentown, for instance, jumped 29 spots to No. 11, while Daytona Beach jumped 12 spots to No. 3.

    Check out the full list of these and all the other ranked cities on the U.S. News website.

    Jack Pointer

    Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer. In a previous life, he helped edit The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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