Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   Relocating to Pittsburgh (

Ann41 Jul 25th, 2006 08:00 PM

Relocating to Pittsburgh
Friends are relocating to Pittsburgh, and I'm trying to help them get some info on the area. I grew up about 100 miles away, but I discovered I really don't know much about the city.

Places to live: they have one child, but schools aren't a big issue, as they'll probably go private, but they do want a relatively safe area. They don't want to be stuck in a suburb where all of the houses look the same, but don't necessarily have to be in the city itself, but at least somewhere with some character and buzz. Also, he will be traveling quite a bit, so access to the airport is important--not more than 30 minutes away.

They're very excited after looking at houses online, as it appears they can get something fairly special for $500k or much less. They're coming from the DC area. Is their initial take on housing prices correct?

Any advice?

mooselywild Jul 25th, 2006 10:24 PM

Compared to DC? I'd say- yes:)

...And web browsed out of curiousity- holy smokes, there are some amazing older homes for under 500,000...Far better prices than most of WA. (but I have no idea what is considered premium in Pittsburgh)

here are some links, if they haven't seen these yet.

and this has the best description/explanation of areas I could find-

I know there are some Pittsburgh lovers here somewhere- hopefully, you'll catch someone who really knows the neighborhoods.

Best of luck!

Stephanie Jul 26th, 2006 03:55 AM


The airport area of Pittsburgh (Imperial, PA) about 5 miles away from the airport and is my hometown and where I live now (16 miles west of Pgh). I'd say your friends could easily find one of the cookie cutter new homes out here for 250,000 easily and it would be a huge home not some small 2 BD townhouse for nearly 1/2 a mil or more in Old Town Alexandria, VA. The key is to look for 2nd hand homes where the older generation died off (grandparents) and the g-kids or kids want to sell. We have that alot here and there (I live in my late g-ma's house now). If you would live in my hometown you really wouldn't need to have private school. The education there is very adequate. Other areas could be Sewickley (don't go there much anymore but it is a charming suburb not more than 30 min - just go through Moon Township (another nice area) which doesn't take long and it isn't crowded.

jillb68 Jul 26th, 2006 06:52 AM

Check out Shadyside - beautiful, older homes with tons of character and details not found today. Walk to shops/restaurants. Definitely city-like - coming from DC this would be an easy transition. On the other hand, if they want some land to spread out on, and a country feel there's Peters Township, that may be farther than they'd like. A bit closer is Upper St. Clair - affluent, large lots, lots of ammentities.

lizziea06 Jul 26th, 2006 07:02 AM

I have several college friends from Fox Chapel and Shadyside who attended Shadyside Academy. I think it's a pretty good private school, if you want to refer your friends.

capxxx Jul 26th, 2006 07:07 AM

Ditto Shadyside

Ann41 Aug 1st, 2006 06:03 PM

Thanks--a lot of the houses they liked are in Shadyside, so they'll be excited to hear the positive recommendaitons.

tuscanlifeedit Aug 1st, 2006 06:37 PM

Safer than Shadyside, with more buzz, is Squirrel Hill. Several good private schools nearby. SH is closest to Carnegie Mellon Univ. and has easy access to the highway that leads to the airport. Schenley and Frick Parks.

The problem with Shadyside is that the shopping area has gone from unique independents to national chains. Another problem is that it is surrounded on at least two side by high crime areas. Shadyside has Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the adjacent and fabulous Mellon Park. There are gorgeous homes in Shadyside, but the nicest and on the best streets will probably exceed 500K

I was born here in Pittsburgh and have lived in the city limits for most of my life.

My preference for neighborhoods in the city, with city atmosphere, would be
in descending order,
Squirrel Hill
South Side

All three of the above are close to universities, hospitals, shops, restaurants and all three have shopping, dining and entertainment area that is lively. Squirrel Hill is livliest for adults and families, followed by Shadyside. South Side has a young buzz, with loads of bars.

For close in, but not within the city limits, I would put Roslyn Farms and Thornburgh first. Really charming but neither has a center. But they both have a great sense of community.

For a place with a village center, I think Sewickley would be about it. It is close to the airport, but not particularly close to the Pittsburgh City Center.

A charming little town, on the city line, is Crafton. Not as upscale or as buzzy as Shadyside, but still very nice, with some great unique homes. Lots of yards.

Fox Chapel is nice, with great outdoor things, country clubs, etc. It is much more developed than in its most exclusive days. There is a great sense of community there, also.

I hope these notes help your friends.
I live in a neighborhood inside the city, and 500K would buy several houses on my really cute little block. Including a couple with in-ground swimming pools. ;-)

pittpurple Aug 2nd, 2006 09:29 AM

Have to agree with everything Tuscanlifeedit said... just spent 6 years in Squirrel Hill and can't recommend it enough - it's a wonderful area, and so affordable! It's a great area to walk around, really close to all the best private schools (and public schools too - just in case), and has a really great 'feel' about it - tons of kids and really safe.

There's a huge park nearby (Schenley Park) and a cute playground right on a main street nearby. It's a really quick drive to the airport, and it on lots of bus lines also.

Shadyside is really nice also, but it is right next to East Liberty and Lawrenceville which isn't the safest ever.

Pittsburgh is a wonderful city and we're planning on returning when we move back to the states - your friend will have a wonderful time.

bjboothman Aug 2nd, 2006 10:38 AM

Make sure your friends discuss taxes with the realtor. First, those who live within the city boundaries pay 4% of their gross income to the city in wage taxes (those of us living in the suburbs pay 1% to our local govt). Also the property tax in Allegheny County is higher than it is in Washington County (where you will find Peters Township, mentioned above). Our schools are operated by individual localties (rather than by county as they are in some states), so the school property taxes vary widely depending on which community you choose. If that is of any concern, they should discuss this with a realtor before jumping into Pittsburgh's city limits.

Most of Pittsburgh (the city limits) will not be within 30 minutes of the airport either.

They may want to do a search on "collier township" or "moon township" on in addition to "sewickley" .

tuscanlifeedit Aug 2nd, 2006 07:51 PM

I live very near the Ft Pitt bridge and tunnels in the city limits and it takes me about 20 minutes to get to the airport. Maybe less if traffic is light. Squirrel Hill is definetly 30 minutes from the airport.

Oh my, I totally forgot Mt Lebanon! Within 30 minutes to the airport, 15 to Downtown and just another 10 to places like Squirrel Hill and Shadyside. Mt Lebanon has a huge village center, almost a small downtown, with shops galore. Their school district is rated one or two in the county. They have sidewalks! They don't have malls or strip shopping! For 400K,you can get a fabulous house with tons of character. Squirrel Hill as the best library in a city neighborhood, but the Mt Lebabnon library is fabulous. No high crime areas anywhere nearby. Please tell them to check out Mt Lebanon. I would live there.

Saying that, I have to tell you that I don't much like suburbs, and I think the suburbs of Pittsburgh are particularly execrable. Hideous traffic, shopping malls and strip shopping, McMansions and plans.... Not for me, but I don't know your friends' tastes.

By the way, I taught SAT prep for years, and some of the best prepared students I had were from Mt Lebanon and Upper St Clair. Some of the very worst were from Moon. I was surprised at how poorly prepared they were.

Stephanie Aug 3rd, 2006 01:55 AM


20 minutes from the Airport from downtown Pittsburgh? Highly unlikely unless you are travelling on a Saturday or Sunday morning and there is no construction or special events or you work non-rush hour times. My Mom works at a huge hospital on the North Side of Pittsburgh from 730am-330p, gets to hospital's parking lot at 345pm every day and it still takes her 45 minutes to get back home.

I do agree if you live in Pittsburgh you will pay more for real estate and wage taxes. I lived in Pittsburgh (Squirrel Hill 1996-2001) and paid 3.5% wage tax compared to 1% that I now pay. also, i don't get wanting to pay for private schools when you can go out in the suburbs and get it free. Public education in a Pittsburgh suburb was good enough for me and I am college educated person.

tuscanlifeedit Aug 4th, 2006 03:27 PM

Squirrel Hill will take 30 minutes; from my house to the airport is exactly 20. I live between the Liberty Tunnels and the Fort Pitt Tunnel, south end of both.

At rush hour it takes longer; maybe 30. But weekends, evening and midday or very early: 20.

Ann41 Aug 8th, 2006 11:23 AM

Thanks for so much detailed info. Squirrel Hill is at the top of this list now for my friends.

Now I want to move to Pittsburgh.

erdockac Aug 23rd, 2006 07:55 PM


With that price range Sewickely and Mt. Lebanon would be the top 2 areas that I would consider. No need for private school in either location, however many in Sewickely attend Sewickely Academy.

There is no way that you can consistently get to the airport from Squirrel Hill in 30 minutes. If that becomes less important I would also consider Shadyside and Highland Park. Mount Washing would also be an option if you wanted to stay in the city.



actntime Aug 23rd, 2006 08:23 PM

Since I grew up in Mt. Lebanon, I can verify their school district is one of the best. When we now go back home to visit, I'm in awe when we drive past those beautiful, huge older homes,where there are no two alike and are in a class by themselves.

katyp Sep 26th, 2006 04:17 PM

My husband and I are also moving into the area soon. We are from London, but have been living in San Francisco for the last few years. We have also been advised that Squirrel Hill, Shadyside et al will be the best places for us. We like to be close to shops, places to eat out etc.

We are just married, do not have kids yet (but plan to soon). We would consider the suburbs, but need to be within commuting distance to Export and would want some kind of town close by (not strip malls though :-) )

He also travels quite a bit, so access to the airport is key, but the daily commute will be mainly to Export.

I'd love to hear any thoughts on where we should be living. Our absolute maximum would be 500k, but we would rather spend less..but of course want a nice place!

Shari Oct 6th, 2006 06:11 AM

Export is surrounded by suburbs to the east of Pittsburgh. I would live in Highland Park, Shadyside or Squirrel Hill. Shadyside and Squirrel Hill have more shops, restaurants and dining than Highland Park. Highland Park, however, has beautiful homes and larger plots (for your money)--if you care about having a bigger yard/house.

From any of these neighborhoods, you would be about a 20-30 minute drive to Export. Luckily, you would be driving against the traffic.

If you wanted to live closer to Export, then Murrysville or Monroeville would make your commute much easier. They are sprawling suburbs with a lot of strip malls, though. For $500,000 you could own the biggest lot out that way.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:53 PM.