Lancaster ranked as ‘best small city in America’ by WalletHub

Paula Wolf//November 14, 2022

Lancaster ranked as ‘best small city in America’ by WalletHub

Paula Wolf//November 14, 2022

The hits just keep coming for Lancaster.

Along with being chosen the best metro area in which to retire by U.S. News & World Report, Lancaster can now add “best small city in America” to its impressive resume.

That distinction is from WalletHub, which compared more than 1,300 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 based on 43 indicators of livability. Those indicators range from housing costs to school-system quality to restaurants per capita.

The cities were evaluated based on five key dimensions: affordability, economic health, education and health, quality of life, and safety. Unlike in the U.S News ranking, only the “city proper” was considered, not the metro area as defined by the census.

Lancaster did best in safety and quality of life (which includes indicators like the aforementioned restaurants per capita). Rounding out the top five were Carmel, Indiana; Fair Lawn, New Jersey; Lexington, Massachusetts; and Brentwood, Tennessee.

“That’s fantastic,” said Carole Kirchner, a Lancaster city resident and agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty. “I’ve pretty much lived in the city all my life. I’m amazed at where it was (in the 1980s) and where it’s going.”

In an email, Anne Williams, director of communications for the Lancaster City Alliance, wrote: “These rankings are fun to celebrate, and we are always proud to see Lancaster occupy the top spot. So many different organizations and the people of this community come together to ensure that Lancaster is a special place. While it feels good to be No. 1, not everyone is able to benefit from this success, so as a community, let’s not rest until everyone can share in this achievement.”

Kirchner said she is seeing a lot of younger professionals moving into Lancaster, as well as retirees and empty nesters.

The city attracts people who can work remotely, she said, and like being able to walk downtown to restaurants and entertainment venues. That includes relocators from New York and New Jersey, which is “really, really cool.”

Lancaster residents are taking pride in their neighborhoods, Kirchner said, which are being revitalized through community-led organizations like SoWe in southwest Lancaster.

The city’s many murals are also a sign of strong civic identity. She said “there’s good stuff happening” for singles, seniors, families with children – the whole gamut.

“I love the diversity of cultures and people,” Kirchner said. “It’s such a vibrant city. I can totally get” why Lancaster was ranked No. 1.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer