Pensacola was named the third best place to retire in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
The list, which was released Tuesday, was created after analyzing 150 metro areas in the U.S. the find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people’s desire to live there.
Pensacola was No. 44 on the Best Place to Live list, No. 6 on Best Places to Live in Florida and No. 17 on Safest Places to Live.
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So why is Pensacola so high on the list? It might have something to do with the cost of living. Because of a nationwide real estate boom that has led to rising home prices, U.S. News & World Report weighted housing affordability more heavily this year than any of the other five factors that determine the rankings.
The housing market has forced retirees to weigh housing availability more heavily when it comes to choosing somewhere to spend their golden years, Emily Brandon, U.S. News senior editor for retirement, said in a statement.
While housing costs have skyrocketed over the last year — along with the rest of the nation — Pensacola’s median home sale price in 2020, the last year used to analyze rankings, was $200,800. Median monthly rent at $1,046. The average annual salary in Pensacola is $45,179. In 2020, the national average of median home prices was $315,743.
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“With fixed-rate mortgage rates more than doubling over the past year, it stands to reason that falling affordability would lead to changes in the rankings of the Best Places to Retire,” Patrick S. Duffy, real estate economist, said in a press release. “As long as both rates and home prices are high, indexes related to things like happiness or health care quality, while important, will take a back seat to affordability.”
Ranking the best places to retire in the US
The list’s focus on housing affordability made way for some new contenders in the top spots. Pennsylvania earned three of the top five spots on this year’s list, surpassing Florida in Top 10 appearances. Florida cities in the Top 10 were Pensacola (No. 3), Tampa (No. 4), Naples (No. 6) and Daytona Beach (No. 7).
The No. 1 place to retire, according to the list, is Lancaster, Pennsylvania, followed by Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at No. 2.
Pensacola’s overall rating from U.S. News & World Report is 6.4 out of 10. It got 6.4 points for desirability, 6.5 points for value, 5.7 points for job market, 6.6 for quality of life and 6.6 for net migration.
Also in the Top 25 were Florida cities including Melbourne (No. 12), Lakeland (No. 13), Ocala (No. 16) and Port St. Lucie (No. 22).