What's it like to live in York, PA?

Profile written by local expert:

Keith Schneider

York, Pennsylvania, may not have a towering skyline, but when it comes to historical punching power, this small metro area (dubbed the White Rose City in reference to the symbol of England's House of York) more than holds its own. The region's bragging rights include being the onetime home of the Continental Congress, the birthplace of the Articles of Confederation and even the capital of the U.S. for a brief period.

Newcomers to York will find remnants of both its rich history and industrial heritage coloring the urban landscape, from restored Colonial-era buildings, to unexpected touches of playful public sculpture made from bits of old York machinery. Meanwhile, revitalization efforts work to build a more vibrant future. The resulting increase in shops, high-end apartments and special events – along with a flourishing arts community – has led to downtown living verging on trendy and a growing number of visitors to the WeCo, Market and Royal Square districts that make up York's major activity centers. 

Surrounding townships within York County also add to the metro area’s appeal, providing numerous county parks, plentiful shopping centers and rolling farmland just a short drive from this historic city.

See all the best places to live in Pennsylvania.


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to 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.

York, Pennsylvania is ranked:

#87 in Best Places to Live

#60 in Best Places to Retire

#5 in Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

York, PA Quick Stats

  • 442,216

    Metro Population

  • $44,740

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 41.0

    Median Age

  • $164,258

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.8%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $915

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 27.1 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in York, PA?

Although York isn't as big as nearby Philadelphia or Harrisburg, the metro area has a number of ways for residents to get out and about. Offerings include a popular Central Market farmers market, balconied theaters for classic films and live performances, craft breweries and even a minor league baseball stadium. York also features a thriving arts scene showcased throughout several galleries and art collectives.

There are also history tours available at the Colonial Complex, and throughout the year, York hosts numerous First Fridays, festivals and other seasonal events, including the York Fair, which originated in 1765 and is promoted as America's first fair.

Yorkers are known for their diversified appetites, and a variety of food finds can be had at local eateries serving everything from high-end cuisine to fresh Greek food. To burn off extra calories, locals have access to a 21-mile biking and jogging path that runs from York all the way to the Mason-Dixon Line. Additionally, the area's 11 county parks – together encompassing more than 4,300 acres – and three state parks are home to hiking trails and other recreational opportunities.

Outside the city proper, Gettysburg National Military Park is a major draw for history buffs, while Hersheypark delights families.

What's the cost of living in York, PA?

The overall cost of living in York is slightly lower than the national average and lower than that in nearby communities found just a short drive south over the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. Many individuals working in Maryland take advantage of York County's lower housing costs, with townships in the southern portion of the county serving as bedroom communities for an increasing number of commuters, some of whom travel as far south as Baltimore.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.9 /10

How we calculate this.

York offer a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2018



Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in York, PA.

What's the weather like in York, PA?

York has four distinct seasons. Summer days can range from pleasantly mild to oppressively humid. Autumn, on the other hand, is usually refreshingly crisp, its harvest colors providing a backdrop for trips to apple orchards, corn mazes and the many fall festivals that are held throughout York County. Winters in York start out deceptively mild, and holidays are typically more soggy than white. Later in the season, though, snow falls, roads can become treacherous and bitter cold can linger a bit too long before finally giving way to spring.

What's the best way to get around York, PA?

The York area has a history of auto manufacturing and currently has roots in motorcycle production, so it's not surprising that locals appreciate their combustion engines. Proof can be seen in the large crowds at Bike Night and Street Rod Nationals East events. More proof can be seen in the congestion slowing travel along Route 30 and Interstate 83 at rush hour.

In the downtown area, most destinations can be reached by foot or bike. Public transit is also available in York and surrounding communities by way of rabbittransit buses. The regional transit system operates routes throughout York and to surrounding areas, including nearby Gettysburg and Hanover. For more personal (and fun) public transportation, the i-ron-ic art boutique's Pedi Cabs of York are now wheeling passengers around the downtown area during special event days, such as First Fridays.

Additional travel needs can be accommodated by Greyhound, which has a bus depot in the city. For flights, residents typically use the Harrisburg International Airport, which is a little over 30 miles north of York, or Baltimore-Washington International Airport located about 60 miles south.

Commuting in York, PA

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

27.1 minutes

0.7 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in York, PA?

York is home to a diverse population and people of all ages. In addition to the growing number of young couples and individuals living in the metro area, a large number of families with children make it their home. About a quarter of the metro area's residents are younger than 20.

While the downtown area is attracting young professionals who bring money into the community and spur rebuilding projects, there is a significant amount of York residents living at or below the poverty level, and many neighborhoods in and around the city center show signs of aging and disrepair.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

Fewer single people in York than
national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.