Cost Of Living In Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Taxes, Housing & More)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania has the distinct honor of being one of the oldest inland cities in America. With nearly 60,000 residents, it is the 8th most populous city in the state. It’s best known, however, for its thriving Amish population, and everything they bring – including baking, farm life, and more.
With a cost of living index of just 86.9, Lancaster is cheaper than the average US city to live and work in. Housing is incredibly inexpensive, with a housing cost of living index at 58.1. Lancaster is slightly more expensive when it comes to groceries and utilities, as well as property tax rates.
Are you thinking of moving to Lancaster for work, school, or to get away from a big city? This historic town has a lot to offer, including great entertainment and property prices. However, don’t get fooled – it’s not all cheap. Know the facts before you make your choice!
Cost to Buy a Home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The Median Home Value in Lancaster, Compared
|Location||Median Home Value||Homeownership Rate|
It’s clear from the numbers that it’s noticeably cheaper to buy a home in Lancaster than elsewhere, both in the state itself and in the country. The housing cost of living index for Lancaster is just 58.1, which makes sense given these numbers. Despite the low cost of property, homeownership rates lag behind both the state and the country average.
Median Home Prices in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
|Home Price Range||Percentage of Homes|
|$488,000 and Above||2.7%|
It’s clear that there simply isn’t a market for a larger, more expensive home – they don’t really exist in Lancaster! Just 0.3% of all homes are priced above $900,000, to give you a better idea of the inventory.
Only 12.5% of these homes are single-family dwellings, with the vast majority – 48.3% – being townhomes. 3.1% of homes were built in the last 20 years, while 12.4% of homes were built between 1970 and 1999. 26.5% of homes were built between 1940 and 1969. However, a shockingly high 58% of homes in Lancaster were built previous to 1940. Talk about history!
Cost of Property Taxes in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Bad news for potential homeowners, though – just because the property is cheap doesn’t mean you won’t pay in taxes! The average county tax rate in Lancaster County is 1.690%. This is significantly higher than the national average, which is 1.070%, and higher than the state average of 1.500%.
That means for a home purchased at the median price of $133,872, residents can expect to pay about $2,262 annually in property taxes. This is about $800 more than the national average for a home of this value.
Rental Rates & Prices in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
|Housing Size||Lancaster||Metro Area||Pennsylvania||United States|
With 58.5% of residents renting, rental rates in Lancaster are very affordable compared to the national average – though they are more expensive than the average rates in the state.
19.8% of housing in Lancaster consists of smaller apartment buildings, and 19.2% consists of larger apartment complexes. The average home size is 3 bedrooms, with 34% of homes. 26% have 2 bedrooms and 18.3% have just 1 bedroom. The average market rent is $1,038/month.
Utility Rates in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Utility rates are one of the few ways that Lancaster comes in higher than the national average. The utility cost of living index is 104.3. For the average 915 square foot apartment, residents can expect to pay about $175/month for their basic utilities. This means water, electricity, heating, and cooling. The average high-speed internet connection in Lancaster will cost residents about $68/month.
The average residential electricity rate in Lancaster is 8.2¢/kWh. This is less than the national average of 11.88¢/kWh, and significantly lower than Pennsylvania’s average, which sits at 12.75¢/kWh.
Child Care Costs in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster has quite a variety of daycare options for young children, with 81 total daycares in the area, 37 of which are equipped to handle infant care. 17 total are home-based programs, with the majority being daycare centers. The average cost per child for daycare in Lancaster is $1,386. This is higher than the state’s average, which sits at just under $900/month.
Grocery Costs in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
|Item of Food in Lancaster||Price|
|Average Meal for 1||$20|
|Mid-Range Meal for 2||$60|
|Gallon of Milk||$4|
|Loaf of Fresh Bread||$2|
|1lb of Chicken||$2.50|
|1lb of Bananas||$0.60|
One of the few ways that Lancaster comes in as more expensive than the national average is in food. The grocery cost of living index in Lancaster is 102.7. However, there are many places to ‘cut corners’ when it comes to grocery and food in Lancaster. A hub for Amish living, it isn’t hard to find local farmers and farmers markets where fresh and affordable goods can be had.
Lancaster is also home to numerous dining choices at any price range, including fine dining and modern French restaurants. Most people would be surprised to learn the variety and culture in Lancaster!
Transportation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The average resident of Lancaster spends 21.2 minutes one-way on their daily commute to work. This is less than the national average of 26.4 minutes. 65.5% of people drive their own car, while 11.6% carpool. Just 5.4% of residents take the mass transit options.
The transportation cost of living index in Lancaster is 90.1.
Cost of a Gallon of Gas, Compared
|Location||Cost of a Gallon of Gas|
Public Transportation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster County has a public bus system run by the Red Rose Transit Authority. It’s widely used in Lancaster and covers quite a bit of the city and surrounding area.
|Age||Single Ride||All Day Pass||10-Ride Pass||31-Day Pass|
|Base Rate for Adults||$1.80||$3.70||$13.50||$42|
|K-12 Student Rate||$1||NA||$9||$20|
*The half-fare program is set up for those with qualifying disabilities.
Some employers in Lancaster County offer discounted 31-day passes for their employees, to encourage more mass transit and less direct commuting. There is also an AMTRAK station in Lancaster.
Entertainment in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster is full of history, being one of the oldest inland towns in America. The Amish Farm and House is the first Amish tourist attraction, and the farm itself is over 300 years old. A dinner tour that includes an authentic Amish meal is $55/person, and during the holidays they offer a Christmas Cookie Tour that includes both recipes and cookies to take home. This costs $45 per adult or $30 per child.
The Central Market is also located in Lancaster, the oldest continually running public farms’ market in the country. It was established in 1730. There are a variety of bakeries, produce options, meat shops, and more. It’s free to look!
Finally, don’t miss Dutch Wonderland, a kids amusement park that has been running for 45 years. Tickets are just $39 for a single admission or $60 for a season pass.
If you enjoy shopping, Lancaster is home to several outlets, including Tanger Outlets and The Shops @ Rockvale. These are very popular tourist attractions, and often travelers just passing through the area stop for the great prices.
Education in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
There are 56 elementary schools, 40 middle schools, and 15 high schools in Lancaster, with 41 schools total being within the public school district. 1 is a public charter school, and there are 116 total private schools. The public school system caters to over 67,000 students annually.
Lancaster schools regularly rank within the top 50% of Pennsylvania schools. The student: teacher ratio is 14:1, less than the state’s average of 15:1 and the national average of 16:1.
Lancaster has numerous higher learning institutes, including Franklin & Marshall College, Pennsylvania College-Art-Design, and Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, all of which are private institutions. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology is a public school.
|School||Average Tuition Fees||Acceptance Rate|
|Franklin & Marshall College||$58,800 Annually||30.4%|
|Pennsylvania College-Art-Design||$26,600 Annually||43.3%|
|Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences||$29,320 Annually||78.2%|
|Lancaster Bible College||$21,000||81%|
|Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology||$8,250 Annually||88.7%|
The median household income in Lancaster is $66,277, which has increased year-over-year. This is a great sign and shows that the area continues to produce jobs and pays well. The national median household income is $68,400, so Lancaster is slightly behind – but with the cost of living so low, it balances out for many.
Lancaster is 2 hours west of Philadelphia, and 50 minutes southeast of Harrisburg. It is 40 minutes southeast of York.
The biggest industries in Lancaster include healthcare, tourism, public administration, and manufacturing. Much of the town caters to the Amish population.
Is Lancaster Right for You?
Only you can answer this question, but Lancaster has a lot going for it! If you’re looking to slow down your pace of life, you want to get closer to farmlands and nature, or you like the appeal of cheap property prices, Lancaster could be for your family.
The median household income being so close to the national average also makes Lancaster appealing. A higher quality of life can often be had when the cost of living is low, but income is high. Depending on your reasons for moving, Lancaster might just be perfect to call home.
Mary Newman thought that home improvement was all painting and putting down throw rugs... until she bought a fixer upper, and realized it's so much more. With a passion for helping others NOT make the mistakes she did, Mary seeks to always improve her home - and yours, too!
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