Moving to Pittsburgh
Are you moving to Pittsburgh? Situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, Pittsburgh is known for its large number of bridges.
With a lovely city centre, the suburbs are generally small and tranquil.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Pittsburgh report includes info on:
• The good transport networks throughout the city
• The best places to live
• Average monthly rental prices
• Details of the excellent schooling system
Putting Pittsburgh on the Map
Situated where the Ohio River is formed, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers (nicknamed the Golden Triangle), Pittsburgh, located in Allegheny County, is known as the steel city due to a large number of bridges and its history as a steel manufacturing centre. Glassed office towers and apartment blocks, some great residential areas and excellent transport links, this vibrant city is a mix of cultures and creeds. It is a city of hills, with some very steep inclines. Four funiculars, or as they are known locally, inclines, transport the public up the steepest hills. The public transport service is efficient and convenient, and many residents do not feel the need to own a car.
• The Regional Public Transit has ten fixed route agencies, with services including bus lines, light rail and inclines.
• The Port Authority of Allegheny County provides transportation throughout the county and the city. Operating 102 routes, these include 98 buses (6 of them operating on fixed guideways), 1 incline and 3 light rail services. The most economical way to travel is using a ConnectCard. Purchase a card then merely tap it on the farebox to use the travel services.
• The Port Authority operates a T-zone, free of charge within the downtown area. This includes the following stations: Gateway; North Shore: North Side Station and Allegheny Station and Downtown Pittsburgh: First Avenue Station, Steel Plaza, Wood Street Station
• Pittsburgh is a very hilly city. Whilst it is pretty with lovely rivers running through, it may seem daunting for cyclist at first. However, protected bike lanes, bike shares and dedicated parking make cycling a lot easier. The bike sharing programme, Healthy Ride, allows you to cycle without using your own bicycle. There are over 40 miles of dedicated and shared cycle paths all over the city.
• Pittsburgh International Airport handles in excess of eight million passengers per annum, with more than 170 daily flights. Transportation from the airport to the downtown area is handled by a shuttle service, buses, taxi companies and Uber/Lyft.
Pittsburgh is a family-friendly city, with great schools, safe public transport and plenty to do. Living in the central areas offers good proximity to work but will be more expensive than living outside of the centre and is generally favoured by young professionals and singles. Accommodation is generally in apartments in towering blocks, but a number of good family houses are available in different areas of the city.
Especially good for families, the small area of Mount Lebanon is ranked as the best school district in the US. Small and compact, and only 7 miles away from the city centre, this friendly neighbourhood has a mix of mainly single-family homes and some apartments. It has a range of local culture, good healthcare facilities and plenty of entertainment for all the family.
Situated centrally in the North Hills of the country, the town has a variety of great housing options, the excellent North Allegheny School District, great green spaces including the huge North Park at 3,075 acres, with activities such as swimming, golf, biking, fishing and hiking. Others are Devin Memorial Park, Vestal Park, Potter Park and Wall Park. Just 20 minutes from the city, this district was ranked 46 out of the Top 100 Best Place to Live in 2011.
12 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, this affluent district is beautifully kept, has stunning homes and great neighbourhoods. A Native American term, Sewickley means sweet water. The local healthcare system is excellent with the Sewickley Valley Hospital and recreation is taken care of by the Valley YMCA and the Quaker Valley Recreation Association. The town is in the Quaker Valley School District, which was ranked in 2012 and 2014 at 8th out of over 100 Regional Public School Districts in western Pennsylvania. There is also a number of private schools. The Sweetwater Centre for the Arts runs community events, art classes and outreach programmes. There is a public library.
The oldest township in the country, Moon Township was founded in 1788. Home to Eaton Electrical Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Nova Chemicals and Fedex amongst other national companies and only 12 miles northeast of the city, the airport is nearby, and the Parkway West and the Interstate 376 makes access to the area easy by motorway. Businessweek.com rated Moon as one of the five best, most affordable suburbs in the northeast.
Recreation facilities are ideal for outdoor lovers, including the Moon Golf Club, the Airport Ice Arena for skating and hockey and the Montour Trail for hiking and biking enthusiasts.
Tranquility and the small-town feel make Bradford Wood popular with families. With a commute of only 25 minutes to Pittsburgh, a mere 500 homes, a Conservancy Board, a Couples Club and a Women’s Club all add to the village concept.
Another small town, with a population of around 500, Rosslyn Farms is just west of the city. A tightly knit community and only 194 homes means that most residents know each other. Recreation is provided by a swimming pool, soccer fields and tennis courts and a gym and library in the community centre.
Many of the charming houses date back to the early 1900s. Not only is the city centre just a stone’s throw away, but those working in the south and the north of Pittsburgh are also pretty close to work. Interstate 79 is located just outside of Rosslyn Farms, making commuting easy. The airport is only 10 miles away.
Who Lives and Works in Pittsburgh
With a population of 306,500, the entire metro area is home to around 2.36 million people. With 300 steel-based companies and 446 bridges, it is aptly known as the Steel City. Both the Economist and Forbes both rated Pittsburgh the most liveable city.
The cost of living in 12% lower than the US average, sales tax is at 7% and income tax, 4.57%.
There are numerous, even by American standards, US headquarters here involved in industries such as pharmaceuticals, banking, transportation, food processing, shipbuilding and heavy manufactured products and, of course, steel, as well as many foreign companies. These businesses include HK Heinz, Bayer, Alcoa, General Nutrition Centres, GlaxoSmithKline, Westco International, American Eagle Outfitters, PNC Bank, PPG Industries, US Steel and Allegheny Technologies. The local economy thrives on steel, oil, glass, robotics, financial services, the film industry, technology, education and healthcare. It is also the 21st largest port in the US. The city boasts six Fortune 500 companies including some listed above and PNC Financial Services, The Kraft Heinz Company and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
18% of the workforce is employed in health care and social assistance, 15% in educational services, 10% in retail, 8% in professional, technical and scientific services and 8.6% in accommodation and food services.
The Best Bits
Known for arts and culture, a very attractive city profile and a low cost of living, Pittsburgh is an active city with plenty of pastimes to keep the population fit, healthy and educated, with a plethora of facilities for culture-vultures.
- The annual Dirty Dozen cycle race takes place over the city’s 13 steepest hills. The steepest of these – by far – is the cobbled Canton. The race dates back to 1983.
- The scenery to the south of the Monongahela River is spectacular. The views to the north – towards Pittsburgh – where the three rivers meet make it easy to work out why the cities forefathers chose to build here.
- The oldest of four funiculars, the Monongahela Incline, was built between the years of 1869 – 1870 and has continually worked since then. It is the oldest operating funicular in the country. One other, Duquesne Incline, is still working. The remaining two have been retired.
- There are literally dozens of theatres and museums throughout Pittsburgh. The Byham, the Benedum, and the Garden Theatre are just some of them, along with the Carnegie Group of museums. The Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Science Centre and the Andy Warhol Museum will make a good start for those culturally active. The ToonSeum Museum is dedicated to cartooning, with workshops and many exhibits.
- The Cultural District, with its clusters of art galleries, theatres and cultural landmarks is home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Benedum Centre for Performing Arts – which stages famous musicals, and a variety of bars and restaurants.
- Mellon Square is an urban park built on top of a parking garage.
- The largest amassment of religious relics, outside of the Vatican, is housed at St Anthony’s chapel and includes bloody cloth, teeth, skulls and, allegedly, a piece of the crown of thorns.
- The coffins propped up on the porch of Trundle Manor in Swissvale aptly describe the oddities inside the building. This popular attraction houses the weird and the wonderful. Vintage taxidermy of strange species can be seen including stuffed animals such as pigeon sharks and rat birds. Scary antique medical equipment, more coffins lining the walls, rusty cleavers and odd artwork, and Trundle Manor’s speciality, Dead Things in Jars are just some of the exhibits.
- The Church Brew Works is homed in the redundant building, St John the Baptist church. After doing extensive renovations in 1996, the company moved into the disused church, tuning a holy sanctuary into a hip-and-happening brewery. The chapel room has become the beer hall with queues of customers waiting for a pint. This has been voted Pittsburgh’s finest brewery.
Numbered protractors are glued to various surfaces around the city. The reason for this is a mystery. Each protractor is numbered, with numbers running into the hundreds. They are fixed to post boxes, street signs, rubbish bins and bridges, and many other structures, with the largest concentration is in the Polish Hill area.
Bringing the Kids
Pittsburgh has an excellent public schooling record with $24,040 being spent per pupil, which well exceeds the US average of $12,383. This works out to a ratio of around 14 students per teacher.
- There are 40 public universities and colleges in Pittsburgh and 29 for-profit institutions.
- There are 19 public elementary schools, 15 middle schools and 9 secondary schools in the city. A+ elementary schools include Franklin, Bradford Woods and Marshall, with Ingomar Middle School and North Allegheny High also meeting this high standard.
- Public schools do not charge fees, but admittance is based on the catchment system, in other words, living within the schools’ catchment area.
- The 19 private schools cater to about 15 students per class. They charge quite hefty fees but they do offer a higher standard of education. Rated the best private school in Pittsburgh, Sewickley Academy achieved the highest accolades based on performance. An entrance exam may be required to attain a place.
- There are only three international schools which are mainly suited to short-stay postings.
Relocating to Pittsburgh
With great accommodation in a variety of good neighbourhoods, an average crime rate for a big city, extremely high educational standards and a surfeit of culture, Pittsburgh is an ideal location for relocated families. The thriving economy is based on a number of activities, including steel, technology, education and heavy engineering. The city has a diverse population, adding to the cultural mix. The public school catchment system may be a little confusing at first, but help is at hand. Using the services of an expert in the area, specialising in relocating families and personnel, will provide help and support throughout the process, helping with finding schools and housing, red tape and form filling, spousal support and many other areas.
Average Monthly Rent - Pittsburgh
|1 bedroom apartment, city centre||$1,234|
|1 bedroom apartment, outside of centre||$847|
|3 bedroom apartment, city centre||$2,242|
|3 bedroom apartment, outside of centre||$1,366|