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Disclaimer: Links and mentions of Pennsylvania 55+ communities in this post do not constitute an endorsement. Price ranges, services, and amenities can change — please visit a community’s website for the most up-to-date information. HomeLight always recommends doing your own research to determine which community destination is best for your situation.
Deciding where to retire can be one of the most significant financial decisions you make. Pennsylvania is a natural choice for many, with affordability, four seasons, and convenient proximity to several of the East Coast’s biggest cities. There is no income tax for residents earning from retirement, pension, or Social Security accounts, making it a popular choice for budget-minded retirees.
Over 2 million retired people call Pennsylvania home. Many are attracted to the affordable living, historic sites, and excellent healthcare available in the state. In this post, we’ve researched some of the best 55+ communities in terms of lifestyle, location, affordability, and safety.
To compile this list, we considered the following:
- Location and amenities (proximity to beaches, golf courses, airports, and other points of interest)
- Nearby access to quality healthcare
- Established and enforced age restrictions (55+)
- Ratings and reviews (55places.com, Niche.com, Yelp, Google)
- Living options available (floor plans, housing types, and price points)
- Homebuyer interest (popularity)
- Security and surrounding crime rates
What is a 55+ community?
A 55+ community is an age-restricted community that may not necessarily be exclusive to retirees. These developments require residents to be over the age of 18, and they often require full-time residents to be over the age of 55; younger visitors are welcome for certain portions of the year. 55+ community members often enjoy convenient hobbies and amenities, including access to outdoor and fitness activities, social life infrastructure, and provided transportation to nearby places for shopping, entertainment, and healthcare.
These communities are a popular choice for Americans making a move to retire, downsizing as they prepare for retirement, or just simplifying their lives after reaching the age of 55. Housing options may include everything from single detached houses to duplex- or condominium-style units.
What are the most popular retirement cities in Pennsylvania?
According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the most popular or best cities in Pennsylvania for retired or older Americans include:
- Lancaster (population 57,000)
- Pittsburgh (population 300,431)
- Allentown (population 125,944)
- Harrisburg (population 50,135)
- Philadelphia (population 1.5 million)
The news site notes a low cost of living available to retirees across the state and easy access to some of the nation’s top healthcare facilities as reasons why these cities are ideal.
Why do seniors choose Pennsylvania to retire?
There are many reasons why Pennsylvania is an appealing destination for Americans making a move to retire or to downsize in anticipation of retirement. Some of the most notable include:
- No state income tax for retirees (includes pension, retirement account, and Social Security income)
- Favorable cost of living
- Four seasons with enjoyable weather
- Outdoor activities accessible throughout the year, including pet-friendly hiking trails and golf
- Historic sites across the state to explore
- Proximity to top healthcare facilities
Our picks for some of the best 55+ communities in Pennsylvania
There are many 55+ communities in Pennsylvania. Based on the parameters we listed above, we’ll provide information about some communities we feel are worth extra consideration. We’ll also provide a section on how you can locate 55+ communities in your area.
Please note that all prices in this post are based on active listings at the time of writing, as well as advertised price ranges provided by community sales offices.
About: The Villages at Hershey’s Mill are located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, less than 30 miles outside of Philadelphia. Comprised of over 1,700 homes in 25 villages, each village with its own homeowner’s association, this is one of the largest 55+ communities in the state. Homes were constructed here beginning in the 1970s and lasting into the 2000s, in groupings as small as eight units and as large as more than 140.
Activity groups invite participation year-round, appealing to exercise hobbies, cards and board games, book clubs, an acting group, volunteer opportunities, and more. The community has its own golf club, community center, neighborhood library, wood shop, garden, and other amenities. For seniors looking to connect with their neighbors, the infrastructure in this community is strong and time-tested.
Ratings and reviews: Reviewers at 55places applaud this community’s many activities and amenities, as well as its proximity to nearby shopping and other conveniences. Google reviewers rank the community strongly (reviews are overwhelmingly 5 stars) and make mention of renovations and improvements coming to the community.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Just outside community gates are a number of houses of worship, grocery stores, and pharmacies. The community is minutes from multiple hospital campuses and within a 15-minute drive from the Westtown Amish Market, which boasts everything from local produce to handmade furniture.
Foxfield at Naamans Creek
About: Located a mile from the Delaware state line, Foxfield at Naamans Creek offers single-family homes, carriage homes (townhomes), and villas (condominiums) for residents, with over 500 units total. The community offers the amenities many have come to expect from a retirement community: sports courts, a golf course, a swimming pool, and shared activities like crafts and clubs.
For RV enthusiasts, Foxfield at Naamans Creek offers special parking for recreational vehicles, keeping them stored conveniently on-site without blocking entire driveways.
Ratings and reviews: Google reviews praise the ease of parking and all-around accessibility in this community’s homes and common areas. Reviewers at 55places comment positively on the community’s walking trails, well-kept grounds, and proximity to the Philadelphia International Airport (within 15 miles).
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: As mentioned above, this community is uniquely situated, close to both the sales-tax freedom in Delaware and the top-tier healthcare facilities and arts communities of Wilmington and Philadelphia.
Athertyn at Haverford Reserve
About: In the affluent Philadelphia suburb of Haverford, the Atheryn is known for setting the standard in age-restricted luxury living in the area. This community advertises its condominium homes as offering “lock-and-leave” convenience for retirees who would like to own a property without any worry of upkeep. While “condo” may evoke thoughts of smaller units, floor plans are available for up to nearly 3,000 square feet. This community has been peppered with awards, and was developed by the lauded Pohlig Builders.
Amenities here range from an indoor golf simulator to a garden with gazebos and include a clubhouse, bar, and many social activities and clubs. A trail system accessible from community grounds offers curated walks through the woods. Private parties and charity events keep residents connected and with things to look forward to year-round.
Ratings and reviews: Google reviews rave that this community is “almost too good to be true,” and convenient for retirees who want to leave home for travel or to visit family and friends. Because units are condominiums, they are secure and require no maintenance when residents are gone. A glowing review at 55places commends “outstanding” quality of life and says the experience here is “like living in a resort.”
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: In addition to the community’s private amenities, this campus is located just next to the city’s Recreation and Environmental Center. While the Athertyn has its own golf simulator and putting green, those seeking a full game of golf can find it five minutes away at the Merion Golf Club’s West Course. This community is a 10-minute drive from upscale shopping, healthcare providers, the Bryn Mawr College campus, and commuter lines into downtown Philadelphia.
Reserve at Gwynedd
About: Originally developed by Del Webb, a well-known name in planned senior living, the Reserve at Gwynedd community offers single-family and condominium-style living for residents. This resort-style community is gated and boasts an 8,000-square-foot sports pavilion in addition to its clubhouse, billiards, and swimming pool. A variety of clubs are open to residents, appealing to every interest, from Scrabble and photography to pickleball and water volleyball.
Ratings and reviews: Google reviews averaging 4.4/5 stars note that this “vibrant” community offers a variety of living options. Reviewers at 55places note the active and engaged community members and well-maintained property as highlights of living here.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Trails, parks, and nature preserves surround this community, which is just outside of Philadelphia. Striking a balance between convenience to both the city and nature, residents will appreciate nearby woods, golf courses, and memorial parks — as well as a commuter rail station connecting to Philadelphia proper. Shopping and healthcare facilities are also mere minutes beyond this community’s gates.
Traditions of America at Southpointe
Phone number: (352) 753-6655
Location: Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, southwest of Pittsburgh
Price range: Mid $500s to low $800s
About: The Traditions brand is a big name in this region, with communities across the state. In terms of age-restricted communities in the Pittsburgh area, this is one of the newest options available, with constructions beginning in 2019 and continuing now. For residents who are seeking a newly-built home, this community is at 132 houses and counting and offers resort-style amenities.
For those seeking new construction, homes are highly customizable here, with a variety of floorplans and configurations to select from. The community offers a brand new, 11,000-square-foot clubhouse for residents, in addition to a wine-tasting room, heated outdoor pool, yoga studio, and fire pit.
Ratings and reviews: With Google reviews averaging 4.5/5 stars, this dazzling newer community has yet to gain specific feedback in terms of online reviews. The community was, however, recently recognized in the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh’s 2021 Housing Excellence Awards, winning the categories for both Best 55+ Single-Family Attached Home and Best 55+ Single-Family Detached Home.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Within 30 minutes of downtown Pittsburgh, residents of this community can enjoy the sports, culture, and nearby attractions of the city. Closer to home, plenty of shopping, numerous houses of worship, and a generous town park are accessible to residents just a short drive from the community entrance.
About: History buffs who want the conveniences of a newly-built home will love the proximity of Amblebrook to the many battlefields and historic attractions of Gettysburg proper. In addition to the standard community amenities of a pool and clubhouse, this development of over 2,000 homes boasts many amenities, including an amphitheater, local produce and milk delivery, a dog park, fishing ponds, and more.
Those looking to lead socially-connected lives will be able to find their niche at Amblebrook, where a packed social calendar offers everything from a beer club to team sports and more.
Ratings and reviews: This community maintains a shining 4.8/5 stars on Google reviews, and reviews on 55places commend this development’s beautiful homes. Some reviewers note that because the development is outside of downtown Gettysburg, prospective residents will want to scope the area and its conveniences for themselves; a short drive is required to reach conveniences nearby.
Noteworthy nearby amenities or attractions: Home to the Gettysburg National Battlefield, military memorials and historic sites scatter the town. A health complex operated by WellSpan is located in town, within a 15-minute drive. For those looking for an adventure, the Haunted Trails of Gettysburg are just beyond this community’s entrance.
How can I find a 55+ community near me?
There are many other 55+ communities in Pennsylvania. One way to see your options is to search the internet with phrases such as “55 and older communities near me” or “retirement communities near me.” Check ratings, reviews, and comments posted on the Better Business Bureau, Google Reviews, and industry websites.
Another way to find a quality 55+ or retirement community near you is to consult a top real estate agent in your area. An experienced agent who knows your market can provide valuable insights into community characteristics, such as crime rates, affordability, home construction quality, and the reputation of the governing association.
12 questions to ask before you buy a home in a 55+ community
Here are 12 essential questions to ask before you commit to purchasing a home in a 55+ community.
1. Will I own the home, or is this a lease community?
This may seem obvious, but when it comes to 55+ or retirement communities, various types of property can be available. You may wish to own your home for financial reasons, or you may wish to lease a unit to maximize your flexibility in retirement. Some communities offer both; others may allow you to own and lease out your property. You’ll want to be sure to check community rules (see #3 on this list) before renting your property out if that is part of your retirement plan (for instance, if you’re out of state for part of the year). Not all communities permit renting residents.
2. What is included in your monthly payment?
Identifying all the costs of living in the community is important, not just rent or mortgage payments. You will want to consider whether various things are included with your monthly property expenses; a few to consider are:
- Landscaping and pool maintenance
- HOA fees
- Community class fees
- Admission to community features like restaurants, classes, clubs, or spas located on the grounds
- Shuttle service to amenities nearby
Be sure to get the most for your dollar, but also that you aren’t paying for amenities that will go unused.
3. What are the community rules?
Most active adult communities have a set of rules that residents must follow. These might include:
- Visitor restrictions (age, number, and duration of stay for children, grandchildren)
- Pets (limits on how many, allowable breeds and sizes)
- Parking (number of vehicles and where they can be parked; consideration for RVs, boats)
- Exterior paint colors
- Dress codes in public areas
- Lawn/landscaping maintenance enforcement
- Renting (limitations or restrictions)
- Renovation/improvement restrictions
- Noise (daytime and nighttime decibel allowances)
4. What are your new neighbors like?
Good neighbors play a considerable role in your quality of life, especially when you retire. Learn about what life is like in the neighborhood. If possible, attend some community events and get to know some of the residents in your prospective neighborhood. Many communities offer “discovery” events, including overnight guided tours of various home options and neighborhood amenities.
Many 55+ communities offer social events like book clubs, art classes, fitness activities, cookoffs, and more to connect residents. You may be looking for a community of like-minded people with shared interests or seeking exposure to diversity where you live. No matter what you’re looking for, knowing what’s in store socially will factor into your decision-making process. For example, some communities value quiet and calm, while others offer a more lively pace.
5. What plans are there for the adjacent property?
This is a crucial question for newly-constructed 55+ communities. Knowing what you can expect to find nearby can be increasingly important as your age advances (and potentially your mobility declines). Know whether properties adjacent to your own are planned for further residential development or if there are other things in store. If you plan to stay at this property indefinitely, you’ll want to know whether that vacant lot nearby is fated to become an elementary school or a regional airport. Such developments could have a long-term impact on your property’s appeal and value.
6. What type of assessments have been made?
Assessments can be expected for any community development, but for seniors living on a fixed income, being able to predict your property taxes may be crucial to balancing the rest of your budget each month. Even once your mortgage payment is a thing of the past, property tax bills will continue — and you’ll want to know what to expect. In addition, property taxes vary depending on where you are looking to buy, so be mindful of the cost and whether it has a history of fluctuating.
7. Is the community financially sound?
You will want to know if the developer and association are on solid financial ground before you commit to purchasing or leasing a home. These parties are often responsible for community maintenance and amenities, so you will want to ensure their solvency as much as you want to ensure your home is the right fit. In short: do your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask for detailed information about board governance or community financials.
8. Is the community able to keep up with future growth?
Is there sufficient infrastructure, wise planning, and expandable space to grow as needed? What if the interests of the community shift over time? If the community has been established for years, are there long-range plans to repair and replace key infrastructural components like water lines and local streets? These responsibilities may fall within the purview of your village or community rather than in the city where you reside. Be sure you know who is responsible for these decisions and their costs.
9. Is there a reserve fund for maintenance?
Also sometimes known as a sinking fund, this is a financial safety net for significant unexpected future expenses incurred at the community level (for instance, re-roofing the community center). Know whether there is a reserve fund set aside for large community maintenance projects like replacing pool furniture after a storm or facilitating an air conditioning replacement at the clubhouse. While some communities maintain funds for these expenses and address them as needed for residents, others may expect you to actively raise funds as an HOA member. Either way, how large upkeep expenses are handled may impact your decision to buy in a particular development.
10. What other projects belong to this developer?
Research the builder of your home and the larger community, and ask for references. How long has the company been in business, and have they successfully invested in similar communities in other cities or states? A company or investment group with the proven ability to drive property values upward will likely do the same for your new neighborhood. On the other hand, if the company has allowed its previous investments to decline, you may need extra reassurance that history won’t repeat itself — or you may wish to seek property elsewhere.
11. Is the governing association easy to work with?
You will want a community board with a proven track record of working together and finding solutions. If you discover a dysfunctional board led by power-hungry or inept individuals, it may cause great angst and harm the unity of the entire community. Ask several different residents; check with your real estate agent. Find out if the board and its members are competent, effective, and civil. One free resource to research your association or HOA is communityassociations.net.
12. What lifestyles are accommodated?
You will want to consider whether you’d prefer an active community of younger senior residents or a community where you can age into services like assisted living or memory/hospice care if needed. Do you want a single-family home, or are you looking to purchase a unit within a larger building? Is handicap accessibility vital to you or a family member? Do you need a community that is fully navigable on foot or by golf cart?
Check out the community surrounding your neighborhood
Vetting the 55+ community with the 12 questions above will help you uncover crucial insights into what life might be like within the boundaries of those neighborhoods, but you will want to look beyond the front gates.
To truly identify the best 55+ community, you should also research the history, reputation, culture, and amenities of the surrounding host city or town. Then, find out what the area offers that can improve or enhance your retirement years.
- How far away are the nearest hospital and other medical facilities?
- What are the safety and crime rates of the surrounding city or town?
- How easy is it to access major highways and commuting routes?
- Is it located directly on a busy, noisy highway or near other potential noise disturbances like a schoolyard?
- Are there various conveniences nearby, such as restaurants, banks, or grocery stores?
- For pets, are there parks, groomers, and veterinarians nearby?
- Is there a bus route or commuter rail that serves the area?
- Are there nearby churches or places of worship that fit your beliefs?
- Are there undesirable businesses or manufacturing facilities nearby?
- Is it near enough to an airport for convenience, or too close with excessive noise?
- Are there connecting bike paths or walking/hiking trails?
Q&A: More tips and insights about 55+ communities in Pennsylvania
What is the largest 55+ community in Pennsylvania?
As mentioned earlier in this article, the Amblebrook and Hershey’s Mill communities are Pennsylvania’s largest, with 2,000 homes and 1,720 homes, respectively.
How much does it cost to live in a 55+ community in Pennsylvania?
There are 55+ communities in Pennsylvania to suit every price point, from residents with a restricted cash flow to those with a taste for top-tier luxury. Smaller condominium units can be found starting at around $100,000 for a 1 bed / 1 bath at just under 1,000 square feet.
What is the 80/20 rule in some 55+ communities?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates that to comply with fair housing laws, age-restricted communities for residents aged 55 and up must fill at least 80% of their units with at least one occupant fitting the age designation. There are no restrictions on the age of the population in the remaining 20% of residences.
Communities wishing to market themselves as 55+ must be clear about their intent to house older populations and have a method in place for verifying resident age.
When should I visit a prospective 55+ community?
To get the clearest picture, it’s best to visit at different times of the year. You may love an area you visited on vacation in the fall, but that does not mean you will like it in the winter. Remember, you are making long-term retirement plans, so multiple visits are worth the time and investment. It’s also valuable to consider several different retirement locations and compare the benefits and drawbacks.
Are there real estate agents that specialize in helping seniors?
Yes. Agents can receive a specialty certification from The National Association of Realtors to become a Seniors Real Estate Specialist or SRES. An SRES agent will be well-versed in the areas of retirement, downsizing, and more. See our post: Should You Hire an Agent Who Is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist?
Conclusion: Try before you buy
There are so many options for these types of communities in Pennsylvania. If you can, take the time to visit a few of the locations that are most interesting to you. This will help you to discern one from the next, and which 55+ community might be the best fit for you.
Working with a trusted real estate agent who is well-versed in the local market can help to match what you are looking for with the many options available. In addition, connecting with an SRES agent or a top-performing agent in the area you’re looking to purchase can make the search process much more streamlined — and enjoyable. To get started, visit our free Agent Match platform to kick off your search for a great 55+ community in Pennsylvania.
Header Image Source: (Jonathan Rivera / Unsplash)