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Best places to retire? Pittsburgh ranks No. 8 for 2018; Lancaster No. 2; Philadelphia 19th

Shirley McMarlin
| Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, 10:45 a.m.
Sunset lights the buildings of Pittsburgh on July 4, 2017. Pittsburgh ranked No. 8 in a U.S. News and World Report survey of best places to retire.
Steven Adams | Tribune-Review
Sunset lights the buildings of Pittsburgh on July 4, 2017. Pittsburgh ranked No. 8 in a U.S. News and World Report survey of best places to retire.

Sarasota, Fla., as the best retirement spot in the U.S.? OK, we can get behind that. Sandy Gulf Coast beaches, lots of mid-century modern architecture and high-class cultural amenities like opera, symphony and theater.

Pennsylvania's own Lancaster as No. 2? We might need a little more to convince us than the nation's oldest farmers market and the birthplace of Peeps.

But that's the word from an Oct. 2 article from U.S. News & World Report , listing the 35 top spots providing a high quality of life at an affordable price.

Along with all the "best" accolades Pittsburgh has received in recent years, our beloved city of bridges checks in at a respectable No. 8.

(Take that, Philly — you're a distant No. 19. But honestly, we're surprised you made the list at all.)

What's great about Pittsburgh? First, it's a sports fan's paradise. Next come its world-class universities and hospitals. Then, its affordability, with median home value of $136,700. Put a cherry on top with free public transportation for those 65 and older.

Apparently, U.S. News thinks Philadelphia will appeal to history buffs, due to its many museums and national historic sites. (Though we think the Liberty Bell is actually kind of puny, for all the hype it gets.) Like the Burgh, Philly is relatively affordable and has great universities and hospitals, and it has professional football, baseball and basketball teams — just watch out for the fans.

What might be even more surprising is that Allentown is ranked No. 25, though we think the praise it gets is rather faint: Affordability, proximity to health care and four distinct seasons, including SNOW in the winter. Yeah, like shoveling is high on the average retiree's list.

But if Allentown is a surprise, what about Grand Rapids, Mich., at No. 4? Yes, the yearly average snowfall is 68 inches, but the old Rust Belt furniture-manufacturing city is enjoying a resurgence as a Midwest art mecca with world-class museums, gardens and sculpture park, along with an annual city-wide ArtPrize exhibition with $500,000 in awards. Access to health care is good, and median rent is $726.

Florida lived up to its long standing as a retirement mecca, with eight cities on the list. Following Sarasota are Daytona Beach (7), Fort Myers (15), Orlando (20), Jacksonville (23), Lakeland (26), Tampa (29) and Miami (30). No surprises there.

Texas garnered second place with six, with San Antonio top-ranked at No. 3. For more heat and sun, there's Honolulu at No. 24 and Phoenix at No. 34.

The 2018 Best Places to Retire were determined by factors including housing affordability, desirability, retiree taxes, the happiness index, job market and healthcare quality. These measures were selected and weighted based on a public survey of pre-retirees (age 45-59) and retirement-age individuals (age 60 and up) across the U.S to find out what matters most when considering a place to retire.

Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings.

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