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Best Cities, States & Places

Why Ligonier, Penn., Is a Great Place to Retire

In southwestern Pennsylvania, this small-town is a nostalgic icon.

Laurel Highlands, PA

Population:
1,540

Nearby large city:
Pittsburgh

What $300,000 will buy:
3-bedroom, 3-bath renovated cottage on 2 acres near the state park and golf course

SLIDE SHOW: See Our Picks for 10 Great Places to Retire, 2017

Ligonier looks like a town that time forgot, and locals like it that way. At the center of this quiet muni­cipality in southwestern Pennsylvania is the Diamond, a small park that serves as a community gathering place. On Sunday evenings in the summer, there are concerts in the park’s bandstand. The first concert of the series features the local high school band, and it always draws a big crowd. If you’re feeling peckish after a performance, stroll over to the Ligonier Creamery for homemade ice cream.

Remember all those mom-and-pop businesses you’d find in small towns before shopping malls and big-box stores arrived? They’re still here. Ligonier has a small bowling alley with a craft beer bar attached, which is elbow-to-elbow on Saturday nights. On Main and Market streets, you can find everything from toy soldiers to hardwood furniture. The renovated Diamond Theater, which was previously used for community theater performances, recently started featuring first-run movies. “It’s almost like Brigadoon,” says Chick Cicconi, 87, the town’s former mayor. For many years, Cicconi was also the town’s Santa Claus.

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Paul Fry, 63, a lifelong resident and secretary-treasurer of Ligonier Borough, says friends who return for reunions are surprised at how little the town has changed since their high school days. “People who had to move away to earn a living want to move back to town,” he says. “They just love the charm and the atmosphere.”

If you need specialized health care or want to see a Broadway show, Pittsburgh is about an hour and 10 minutes away. Can’t get tickets to see the Steelers play? You can watch the six-time Super Bowl champions practice at their summer training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, just 20 minutes away. Admission to the training camp is free.

The nearby Laurel Mountain Ski Resort is nestled in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, where you can bike, hike and go white­water rafting. Falling­water, the historic home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Pittsburgh’s Kaufmann family, is about 45 minutes away.

See Also: 15 Worst States to Live in During Retirement

A regular influx of tourists means that Ligonier has an unusually large number of retail establishments for a town of its size, with more than 60 restaurants and shops. Need to entertain the grandkids? Idlewild park, featuring more than 35 rides and attractions, including Story Book Forest, is five minutes from downtown.

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Homes in Ligonier include close-to-town colonials for less than $200,000 and mountain homes with lots of land for $300,000 and up. The median property tax in Westmoreland County, where Ligonier is located, is $2,010.

Pennsylvania doesn’t tax Social Security benefits or distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement plans. The state has an inheritance tax ranging from 4.5% to 12%, depending on the relationship of the heirs to the decedent.

See Also: The State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees