Is Lancaster County, PA, a Good Place to Live?

January 9, 2024

Written by Juanita Fox

Jump To: Reasons to Love | Family Fun Activities | Welcoming Community | Best Places to Live | Retire At Garden Spot Village

If you love the hustle of city life but feel rejuvenated by the open fields of a farm, few places in the United States can give you access to both.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, gives you the fresh air of farmland and the excitement of a city. Few other places can call themselves home to both Broadway stars and Amish families. Lancaster County’s residents represent a unique cross-section of the country, providing opportunities to enjoy many cultures, follow current events and even travel back in time to explore American history.

Lancaster County belongs to a unique part of Revolutionary history, and people there still enjoy a rural way of life. It also is perfectly situated, with easy access to major cities like New York City and Washington, D.C., in addition to the blossoming city of Lancaster itself.

This city and county have something to offer people of all ages. Whether you’re apartment hunting for the first time or finding a place to settle during retirement, Lancaster County could be the community you are searching for.

3 Reasons to Love Lancaster

When looking for a place to live, you need to consider what’s most important to you. The best way to do that is to ask yourself:

  • Do you love the suburbs, the city or the countryside?
  • Do you want to have access to incredible farm-to-table food and homemade goods?
  • Do you want to lead a sustainable lifestyle?
  • Do you want to live somewhere with a strong sense of community?
  • Do you love living somewhere with strong historical roots?

So, what is it like living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania? Perhaps the most important reasons to love Lancaster are:

1. Proximity to Major Cities

If you love big cities but don’t love big city prices, living in Lancaster County gives you easy access to many of the major Northeast cities. This way, you don’t need to pick just one city you love — you get access to multiple at once.

New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are all within a reasonable driving distance, and mass transit options, like Amtrak, make your visit even easier. And, when you live in Lancaster County, you aren’t far from the city of Lancaster, which has so much to offer.

New York City

If you love Broadway, sightseeing, museums and nightlife, having access to the Big Apple is a must. Thankfully, when you live in Lancaster, traveling to NYC is only a short drive or train ride away.

Here’s what it takes to get to NYC from Lancaster:

  • Miles: From Lancaster County to NYC, the trip is only 149 miles, mostly on I-95.
  • Driving time: The drive takes about two and a half hours, so you can go and spend time in the city and return on the same day.
  • Mass transit options: From Lancaster Station to Penn Station on Amtrak, the trip takes two hours and 45 minutes. Penn Station puts you in the middle of Manhattan, and when you take the train, you don’t need to worry about finding parking or the stress of city driving.

Philadelphia, AKA Philly

Philly is home to the Flyers, Eagles, 76ers, Union and Phillies, so if you’re a sports fan, there’s no better place to catch a game and show your Pennsylvania pride. In addition to Flyers hockey games, the Wells Fargo Center hosts many concerts and shows throughout the year, so if sports aren’t your thing, you can still have a blast.

Philadelphia also has a rich history, and with several interesting museums and changing exhibits, there are plenty of sights to see, art to enjoy and science to explore.

Here’s what to expect when heading to Philly:

  • Miles: The drive from Lancaster to Philadelphia is only 63 miles.
  • Driving time: The drive to Philly is half the time to NYC, only taking an hour and 15 minutes. You stay mostly on US-76.
  • Mass transit options: From Lancaster Station to 30th Street Station, it takes less than one hour and 15 minutes. Depending on your travel time, taking Amtrak can help you avoid the notorious Philly traffic, making your trip even more accessible.


If you want a city with a gorgeous waterfront and irresistible crab cakes, Baltimore is the place to go. The Ravens, a team named after Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, make their home here. During football season, you can catch a game at M&T Bank Stadium.

You can also visit Poe’s gravesite and home, which has been turned into a museum.

Here’s what you should know when planning your trip to Baltimore:

  • Miles: The trip from Lancaster to Baltimore is only 84 miles.
  • Driving time: It takes less than an hour and a half to get to Baltimore from Lancaster. The fastest route is US-30 to I-83.
  • Mass transit options: You get to Baltimore the fastest by car. If you cannot drive, you can take Amtrak from Lancaster Station to 30th Street Station to Baltimore Penn Station, but it would take an extra hour.

Washington, D.C.

Visiting the nation’s capital and seeing the White House and national treasures like the World War II monument are experiences everyone should have.

Even beyond its historical significance and large number of historical sites, the city offers plenty in terms of entertainment. The various Smithsonian museums hold countless artifacts, fossils and works of art. You can see a Tyrannosaurus Rex eating a Triceratops and the famous Hope Diamond under the same roof. From interactive tours to waterfront activities to show-stopping theatre, there’s something for everyone in D.C.

Here’s what to know when traveling to Washington, D.C.:

  • Miles: It’s only 115 miles from Lancaster to Washington, D.C.
  • Driving time: The trip takes less than two and a half hours—about the same time it takes to get to NYC.
  • Mass transit options: While not optimal, if you’re set on taking the train, the Amtrak option from Lancaster Station to 30th Street Station to Washington Union Station would take three hours and 15 minutes.


After visiting any of the four close-by major cities, continue the fun in the city of Lancaster by enjoying the unique shopping, dining and events available. Set out on a historical walking tour to learn the hidden history of Lancaster or enjoy walking along the city streets, popping in and out of various small businesses. Experience Lancaster’s expanding arts and culture and wind down by listening to some live music or viewing local art exhibits.

2. Plenty of Family-Fun Activities Near Lancaster

If you love experiencing unique options for personal entertainment and spending quality time with your family, Lancaster has no shortage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Here are some of the most fun things to do in Lancaster, PA, with or without children:

  • Hersheypark: Chocolate World and Hersheypark excite both people with a sweet tooth and those who love a thrill. At Chocolate World, you can learn more about Hershey’s history and the chocolate-making process. In the park, you can go on roller coasters, visit Zoo America and attend seasonal events like the holiday light show or Hersheypark in the Dark.
  • Giant Center and the Hershey Bears: Right next to Hersheypark resides the home of the Hershey Bears, the affiliate hockey team for the NHL Washington Capitals. When the center isn’t hosting a hockey game, it offers everything from concerts to magic shows and stand-up comedy.
  • Sight & Sound Theatres: If you want to experience the Bible coming to life, there’s no better way than a theatrical production at Sight & Sound. The cast tells fantastic, awe-inspiring Bible stories with incredibly talented performers, live animals and amazing special effects.
  • Dutch Wonderland: If you’re looking for a place to take your little prince or princess, Dutch Wonderland offers plenty of attractions, rides and shows to entertain and delight both children and kids at heart.
  • Refreshing Mountain: This faith-based retreat was founded in 1983 by a family who wanted to offer people a place to be “refreshed” by the presence of nature. Their campgrounds provide outdoor activities like ziplining and horseback riding, retreats and cabins for family getaways.
  • Fulton Theatre: This theatre puts on incredible professional productions with actors from the area and NYC. Jonathan Groff, the original King George from Hamilton and Kristoff from Disney’s Frozen, got his start here! It offers mainstage productions, a Studio Series and Family Shows in its historic building with a fascinating past.
  • The Pennsylvania Farm Show: If you love good food, agriculture, animals and crafting, you have to visit the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show. The show is over a week long and has been happening for over 100 years. It has live animals to visit, square dancing to see, food to savor, a sheep-to-shawl contest to watch and even a stall where you can witness a cow give birth. The show celebrates Pennsylvania’s agricultural roots and offers fun for the whole family.
  • Antiquing: If you love hunting for hidden treasures, Lancaster is well-known for its countless antique shops. You could spend a whole weekend hopping from shop to shop and not even come close to visiting them all.

3. Home to a Welcoming Community for Refugees, the Amish and More

In addition to its beautiful farmland and bustling city, Lancaster has earned the title as the Refugee Capital of America. It’s also home to the largest population of people practicing the Amish way of life.

In 2019, Lancaster received its Certified Welcoming status to reflect its open nature and contributions to the refugee community. Since 2013, Lancaster has welcomed 20 times the number of immigrants per capita than the rest of the United States.

If you believe in the power of living with purpose, Lancaster offers countless opportunities to volunteer and help make this city a welcoming home for incoming refugees.

If you enjoy learning from people who are different than you, the opportunity to interact with Amish families gives you the perfect chance to meet with a unique community. You can:

  • Visit markets and eat some of the best food in the world.
  • Take a horse and buggy ride to experience what traveling was like before cars.
  • Go on a tour of their farms and homes.

You will grow as an individual by learning from others, and getting the chance to see a different worldview will inspire you and offer a fresh perspective on your own life.

Is Lancaster, PA, a Good Place to Retire? Yes!

When it comes to retirement-friendly cities, Lancaster, PA ranks highly because of its excellent healthcare, housing affordability and accessible location. With so much to do, Lancaster attracts people of all ages, but the area is especially great for retirees.

Why Is Lancaster a Good Place to Retire?

It’s ranked as the #3 best place to retire in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. In fact, Pennsylvania cities ranked in seven of the top ten spots in 2024. Harrisburg takes number one on the list, with Reading at number two and Scranton and Allentown taking the four and five spots, respectively.

It offers a competitive cost of living. Considering Lancaster’s many attractive offerings, you get more for your money here. Despite the beauty and accessibility of the location, the housing costs stay lower than the national median prices.

If you’re looking for somewhere with a healthcare system equipped to handle any illnesses you might encounter in the future, you can rest assured that you are in good hands in Lancaster.

Is Lancaster County, PA, a Safe Place to Live?

Yes! Lancaster has low crime rates and is rated highly for its safety. In fact, Lancaster ranks as the 16th safest place to live in the U.S., an important factor when considering retirement options.

Additionally, after comparing the safety, affordability, quality of life, economic health and education of small cities across the U.S., WalletHub ranked Lancaster as the number one place to live in 2022. Lancaster continues to rank high across the board, which is a testament to the value and safety of living in Lancaster.

Lancaster is also dedicated to making the city a safe place for people of all ages to live in and enjoy. In December 2021, the city implemented an “Age-Friendly City Action Plan.”

This program is developed from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Framework and works to ensure neighborhoods are inclusive of people of all ages. This program also ensures Lancaster’s older population continues to live in healthy and safe environments.

Lancaster County also offers quieter living and even safer communities in the suburbs surrounding the city. Current residents list Manheim Township as the best place to live in Lancaster County.

Best Places to Live in Lancaster County, PA

With so many great places to live in Lancaster, you may wonder what the best fit is for you. Consider the following areas and their unique features to find one you can see yourself calling home.

Lancaster City

Enjoy the entertainment and downtown feel of a large city with the charm of a small town. Lancaster is a growing hub for arts, culture, food and music, so there is always something new to discover. Lancaster’s unique architecture, rich history and bustling city life mean there is something for everyone to enjoy while in the city.


Lititz may be the place for you if you’re looking for an area rich in history but also modernized with local restaurants and shops. Lititz is home to the oldest commercial pretzel bakery, which is still in operation today. Enjoy a delicious bit of history, then enjoy making new memories at one of Lititz’s many events, such as the 10-day Fire and Ice Festival.

New Holland Borough

Experience country bliss in New Holland Borough while still enjoying all the amenities you may want or need. Enjoy beautiful farmland views and immerse yourself in New Holland Borough’s deep-rooted traditions. Such traditions include attending the annual New Holland Farmers Fair or listening to the New Holland Band, which also happens to be one of the oldest bands in the country.


Millersville is home to Millersville University, making it a quiet college town. If you’re looking to be active in the community, consider joining one of Millersville’s several religious, civic, fraternal service or other community organizations. Millersville is also close to a stunning nature preserve for anyone who enjoys hiking or watching the flowers bloom in spring.

Manheim Township

Known for having some of the best schools in the state, Manheim Township is a great area to raise a family. You will also revel in the magnificent rolling hills and countryside that surround the small town while enjoying luxuries like in-town dining and shopping.

If You’re Retiring and Want to Move to Lancaster, Consider Garden Spot Village

Sycamore Springs is the newest retirement neighborhood at Garden Spot Village and it offers its residents a vibrant community and abundant opportunities for engagement. People here live with purpose through volunteering, connecting with their neighbors and pursuing an active lifestyle.

Our homes were built with large porches to promote community-focused living. We believe in the importance of building lasting relationships and fostering a friendly environment, so we make sure to plan everything we do with the community in mind.

If you have an interest in learning more about our homes, contact us online, and we’d be happy to give you more information about how to live with purpose in retirement at Sycamore Springs.

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