Bucks County’s 3 Areas to Explore
Click on the gold areas to read more about each Bucks County area.
Award-winning hospital and quality healthcare
Percentage of retirees: 27%
Median home value: $451,200
As a financial advisor, retirement planner, and long-time resident of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, I’m often asked if Bucks County is a good place to retire. My answer to that question is “yes;” Bucks County has many qualities that make it a great place to live at any age, especially for retirees, due, in part, to its low crime rate, central location, and its high-quality healthcare systems. In this article I discuss the reasons why Bucks County is a good place to retire.
Is Bucks County a Good Place to Live?
Before I provide the reasons why Bucks County is good for retirees, I’m going to discuss why Bucks County is a good place to live, for everyone.
Bucks County, PA is unique in its geography. It offers quiet and small-town quaintness, beautiful, forested landscapes, and the majesty of the Delaware River (where Washington famously crossed and led the Continental Army to win the Battle of Trenton). It is also a central location to three major cities on the eastern seaboard; it sits 25 miles north of Philadelphia, is a 90-minute train ride to NYC, and a 2 and half hour train ride to Washington, D.C. It’s no wonder that many of America’s most notable CEOs live in Bucks County, and it has long been a summer haven for famous writers.
If you’re looking to start a family, the schools in Bucks County are top-notch, with an average ranking of 9 out of 10 (putting it in the top 20% of Pennsylvania’s public schools). It is also steeped in history, with attractions like the Mercer Mile, which showcases the life and achievements of Henry Chapman Mercer and author James Michner, Washington Crossing Park, and Pennsbury Manor, the home of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania.
One of the most attractive aspects of living in Bucks County is its cost of living, which is relatively low considering its affluence. BestPlaces.net gives Bucks County a cost of living score of 119.7 while comparable nearby areas like Hunterdon County, NJ and Somerset County, NJ have a much higher cost of living score (130.5 and 131.6, respectively).
Is Bucks County a Good Place to Retire?
In addition to the aforementioned reasons why Bucks County is a good place to live, here are 5 reasons why it’s a great place for retirees.
1. Excellent healthcare access
Whether you’re just starting out or settling down in your retirement years, the quality and accessibility of healthcare are two top priorities for everyone. Considering an area like Bucks County, gives the comfort of a small town with access to the best doctors a prestigious city can offer. Being placed at the center of 3 big cities, results in easy access to several top medical facilities including:
- Doylestown Hospital
- Wills Eye Hospital – Philadelphia
- Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian
- Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals
2. Moderate weather with the change of the seasons
If you love the beauty of the change of the seasons, Bucks County is the place for you. The region’s continental climate provides comfortable weather all year around (with the occasional snowstorm and thunderstorm), delivering ideal conditions to enjoy outdoor recreation and activities year-round.
The summers are warm while spring and autumn offer milder temperatures. Autumn in Bucks County brings some of the most spectacular fall foliage you’ve ever seen. Though winter can be chillier than tropical climates, given Bucks County’s location on the southern border of Pennsylvania its winters are still relatively mild compared to the northern regions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. In Bucks County, we get just enough snowfall for an occasional cross-country skiing excursion.
3. Great location with plenty to do
Bucks County is a 30-minute drive to Philadelphia, a two-hour drive to New York City, and a 3-hour drive to Washington D.C., so there is plenty of easy access to urban activities and events.
But Bucks County itself has no shortage of things to do. In addition to the aforementioned historical sites and activities, summers are filled with outdoor festivals and concerts, you can take a self-guided Covered Bridge Driving Tour, attend a world-class play at Bucks County Playhouse, or bike one of the many (and lengthy) Bucks County Trails winding throughout the neighborhoods.
With a great location, so much nature, so much history and a plethora of options, it’s hard to be bored in Bucks County.
4. Low crime rate
Bucks County is home to 9 of the top 100 safest places to live in Pennsylvania and is known for its relatively safe and family-friendly environment. The crime rate is 14.69 per 1000 residents during a standard year with the northeast part considered the safest. The most common types of crimes in Bucks County include burglary, theft, as well as some instances of violent crime like assault. However, with Bucks County’s low crime rate compared to the larger urban cities around it, this area remains a huge draw for young families and retired residents alike.
Pennsylvania offers unique opportunities for retirees trying to maximize the savings they’ve worked so hard to accumulate. To start, Social Security benefits and distributions from IRAs and 401(k) plans are exempt from income tax.
Also, taxes in Pennsylvania also tend to be lower than they are in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland and Bucks County local taxes are reasonable. In terms of property taxes, the region hasn’t had an appraisal since 1957, so every homeowner is locked into a decent assessment at the time of sale resulting in no appreciation in your appraisal.
The 3 Best Towns in Bucks County to Live and Retire
While the city of Philadelphia is an attractive place to live, its surrounding suburbs have a lot to offer as well, especially for retirees. As a resident of Bucks County and a Doylestown Financial Advisor, I have a good perspective of the local suburban scene and which neighborhoods give its residents the best chance to thrive. Here is my list of the top 3 suburbs in Bucks County.
Award-winning hospital and quality healthcare
Percentage of retirees: 27%
Median home value: $451,200
This not-so-secret gem of Bucks County proudly flaunts its history and rich culture. Its central location makes both the mountains and the Jersey Shore easily accessible and perfect for a short-day trip.
Residents are proud of their neighborhood. In 2022, Central Bucks High School East was ranked 8th Best School in Pennsylvania by U.S. News & World Report and Doylestown Hospital is nationally recognized. Including minimal crime and a retiree-friendly atmosphere, Doylestown is on the map as a place worth living and a destination worth visiting.
- Mercer Museum: Built in 1916, Mercer Museum, constructed entirely out of concrete, displays a collection of over 50,000 pre-Industrial tools along with funeral carriages, pill bottles, and antique fire engines. The museum offers a unique, floor-to-ceiling view of what man-made objects looked like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- Fonthill Castle and Park: Visit Fonthill Castle and Park to take a glimpse into the unique mind of archeologist and eccentric collector, Henry Chapman Mercer. Constructed in 1908 and home to Mercer until his death in 1930, this 44 room, 32 stairwell, and 18 fireplace mansion, now museum, was made entirely out of concrete to protect his personal collections from a possible fire. As you stroll the interior, you’re sure to appreciate the decorative Moravian tiles, books, engravings, and artifacts collected during his world travels.
- Peace Valley Lavender Farm: With over 3000 lavender plants successfully thriving through years of trial and error and in less-than-ideal situations, this destination is quite a sight (and scent) to see.
- Oscar Hammerstein Museum and Theatre Education Center: A museum dedicated to the works of Oscar Hammerstein II (of Rodgers & Hammerstein, works include Oklahoma!, The King and I and The Sound of Music), recently received a big donation from Lin Manuel-Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights).
- Singer/songwriter Pink, novelist James Michener, and racecar driver Chris Forsberg were all born here.
- Home to Doylestown Hospital, a nationally recognized hospital.
Proud culture with a rich history
Percentage of retirees: 25%
Median home value: $559,500
Located in the heart of Bucks County, New Hope was named one of “America’s Favorite Towns” by Travel + Leisure. Residents and visitors alike can appreciate New Hope’s colorful art scene, gourmet dining, quaint shops, and unique local festivals (all magnified with a scenic backdrop of the Delaware River).
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day strolling downtown, ready to take a nature hike on Towpath Trail (over 90 miles long!), or feeling more adventurous with a tube ride down the Delaware River, there’s something for everyone.
Just like a lot of the other areas in Bucks County, the history is rich. New Hope is home to one of the many important Underground Railroad stops where thousands of slaves took their journey to freedom during the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Aaron Burr House: A charming bed and breakfast where Burr fled after killing Alexander Hamilton in their famous duel.
- James Mitchner Museum of Art: Everchanging exhibits focusing on prominent Bucks Delaware River Valley artists.
- Underground Railroad Tour: Take a guided tour to retrace the steps so many took on their journey to freedom and visit important landmarks such as taverns, churches, and privately owned farms still around today.
- Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve: Increase your knowledge while appreciating over 2,000 native plant species.
Comfortable living at a reasonable cost
Percentage of Retirees: 18%
Median home value: $428,900
Bedminster Township is described by its residents as a small, but serene area set back in nature. Located in the central part of upper Bucks County, its location makes it easily accessible to large cities like Philadelphia and New York, while offering picturesque panoramic year-round. Whether just passing through or living here full time, everyone can appreciate the rolling hills, open farmland, plentiful trout streams, and scattered horse farms.
Though the small town may have you seeking other nearby areas for more dining, shopping and entertainment options, the parks, restaurants, and bars Bedminster Township does have, are local favorites that help enhance its proud community feel. If you’re looking to trigger conversation with the locals, ask about their award winning Pennridge School District.
- Desiato Winery in the Woods: Whether you come for an hour or stay the whole day, visiting Desiato Winery (one of the 10 wineries in Bucks County) is an experience to remember. Take a tour of the vineyards followed by a sampling of wines freshly mulled from the local seasoned grapes.
- Historic Piper Tavern: Open since before the American Revolution, Piper’s Tavern has served generations of customers interested in quality food and a friendly atmosphere with a historical feel.
- Ralph Stover State Park: This scenic overlook provides acres of hiking land, massive rock formations, and peaceful vistas to explore at your leisure.
Though everyone’s idea of what they want out of their community and eventual retirement are different, it’s always important to consider factors in each stage of your life to make the most out of your golden years. As you settle into and make those important decisions about your investment management, retirement planning, or any other financial needs, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call with any questions you have.
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Thomas Saunders is the Managing Partner of Winthrop Partners. Prior to founding Winthrop Partners, Tom was Senior Vice President at what is now JP Morgan. His career includes senior and executive roles at Brown Brothers Harriman and First Niagara Bank, a top 25 Bank. Click here to contact Thomas Saunders about your investment and planning requirements.