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Old 07-27-2016, 12:41 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
159 posts, read 162,645 times
Reputation: 177

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We're currently in Pittsburgh, but outside of the immediate neighborhood that we're renting in (and being priced out of to purchase) we're not interested in staying here. So we're looking for the best city where we can purchase a home for $125k. Things most people want that aren't particularly important to us: trendy restaurants (we eat out all the time on business travel and have nearly zero interest in doing so while at home), good job market (it should be decent though, in case self-employment ever fails us), great schools (they should be decent though)

Here's what's important to us, in no particular order and realizing we clearly can't have anywhere near all of this on our budget, and also realizing that we're kinda weird:

  1. Proximity to NYC by rail/public transit
    We love the city but clearly can't afford to live there. Being somewhere within commutable distance and visiting periodically would really be great
  2. Respectful smokers
    Basically, I don't care if you want cancer, but don't light up at the kids' playground or in crowded public spaces where you haven't at least feigned effort to be a respectful distance from others, particularly kids. Bonus points if there are laws against this. It never crossed my mind that this was something warranting consideration until we moved to Pittsburgh.
  3. Walkability
    We like the vibrance that comes with people walking around. We'd personally love to be able to get to a playground/park or grocery store on foot
  4. Grocery store that doesn't suck
    Again, something I would never have considered before Pittsburgh introduced me to the regional monopoly that is Giant Eagle. We'd love at least one good option that's cheap and/or open 24 hours (something like what Winco is out west)
  5. Safety
    We have kids, so we have to throw in safety. That said, we're perfectly OK with up-and-coming-but-not-yet-there neighborhoods
  6. Nice place to raise kids
    To us this means that there are clean playgrounds, parks, sidewalks in good enough condition to push strollers down, and there are plenty of other people with kids. Super bonus points for a drop-in/anytime daycare somewhere in town. Also super bonus points for indoor play-centers
  7. Decently well kept homes
    Somewhere that people spending 125k on a house have a reasonable amount of pride in their homes. If every house in our price range is an ugly neglected box in a dieing neighborhood of ugly neglected boxes then we'll probably pass.
  8. Public Transit
    A regional public transit system with good coverage that operates pretty late into the night
  9. Fairly major airport
    I'm self employed and fly all the time for work. Cheap airfare and decent flight availability is a big deal for me.
  10. Housing bang-for-the-buck
    Either surprisingly great houses available in our price range, and/or a good likelihood that the area will be a better financial investment than other places we can afford.
Right now at the top of our list would be Philly, Detroit area, and St Louis. Feel free to add any others that come to mind, or tell me how any of our current top-3 totally don't match something from our list in non obvious ways (i.e., I'm aware St Louis is nowhere near NYC.) All input is much appreciated!
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Old 07-27-2016, 03:09 AM
 
56,569 posts, read 80,870,855 times
Reputation: 12499
Why not look into areas in Upstate NY or in the eastern third of PA outside of Philadelphia? Granted, they are smaller metros than Pittsburgh, but they are most likely to fit what you are looking for. Perhaps the Wilmington DE area is another to look into.
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Old 07-27-2016, 08:30 AM
 
7,702 posts, read 4,557,747 times
Reputation: 8414
You're in the city that best fits your criteria. I'm sorry you don't like it. Do you mind if I ask what neighborhood you're in?
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Old 07-27-2016, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Downtown Phoenix, AZ
18,927 posts, read 6,856,300 times
Reputation: 5855
Quote:
Originally Posted by maxx233 View Post
We're currently in Pittsburgh, but outside of the immediate neighborhood that we're renting in (and being priced out of to purchase) we're not interested in staying here. So we're looking for the best city where we can purchase a home for $125k. Things most people want that aren't particularly important to us: trendy restaurants (we eat out all the time on business travel and have nearly zero interest in doing so while at home), good job market (it should be decent though, in case self-employment ever fails us), great schools (they should be decent though)

Here's what's important to us, in no particular order and realizing we clearly can't have anywhere near all of this on our budget, and also realizing that we're kinda weird:

  1. Proximity to NYC by rail/public transit
    We love the city but clearly can't afford to live there. Being somewhere within commutable distance and visiting periodically would really be great
  2. Respectful smokers
    Basically, I don't care if you want cancer, but don't light up at the kids' playground or in crowded public spaces where you haven't at least feigned effort to be a respectful distance from others, particularly kids. Bonus points if there are laws against this. It never crossed my mind that this was something warranting consideration until we moved to Pittsburgh.
  3. Walkability
    We like the vibrance that comes with people walking around. We'd personally love to be able to get to a playground/park or grocery store on foot
  4. Grocery store that doesn't suck
    Again, something I would never have considered before Pittsburgh introduced me to the regional monopoly that is Giant Eagle. We'd love at least one good option that's cheap and/or open 24 hours (something like what Winco is out west)
  5. Safety
    We have kids, so we have to throw in safety. That said, we're perfectly OK with up-and-coming-but-not-yet-there neighborhoods
  6. Nice place to raise kids
    To us this means that there are clean playgrounds, parks, sidewalks in good enough condition to push strollers down, and there are plenty of other people with kids. Super bonus points for a drop-in/anytime daycare somewhere in town. Also super bonus points for indoor play-centers
  7. Decently well kept homes
    Somewhere that people spending 125k on a house have a reasonable amount of pride in their homes. If every house in our price range is an ugly neglected box in a dieing neighborhood of ugly neglected boxes then we'll probably pass.
  8. Public Transit
    A regional public transit system with good coverage that operates pretty late into the night
  9. Fairly major airport
    I'm self employed and fly all the time for work. Cheap airfare and decent flight availability is a big deal for me.
  10. Housing bang-for-the-buck
    Either surprisingly great houses available in our price range, and/or a good likelihood that the area will be a better financial investment than other places we can afford.
Right now at the top of our list would be Philly, Detroit area, and St Louis. Feel free to add any others that come to mind, or tell me how any of our current top-3 totally don't match something from our list in non obvious ways (i.e., I'm aware St Louis is nowhere near NYC.) All input is much appreciated!
There are still places where you can buy a house for that little? Here in Phoenix, that will get you a condo at best
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:01 AM
 
Location: Olympia, Washington
1,258 posts, read 698,697 times
Reputation: 1123
Parks of upstate NY are fairly cheap from what I've seen though I cannot comment on the neighborhoods as I'm unfamiliar with that area of the state.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,312 posts, read 6,967,264 times
Reputation: 3503
Quote:
Originally Posted by FirebirdCamaro1220 View Post
There are still places where you can buy a house for that little? Here in Phoenix, that will get you a condo at best
Sure, you can get a very nice home in Murray Hill of Jacksonville for that price. It's an up-and-coming neighborhood but already well past the gentrifying tipping point with over a dozen very popular restaurants/stores and a high concentration of millennial families.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maxx233 View Post
Right now at the top of our list would be Philly, Detroit area, and St Louis. Feel free to add any others that come to mind, or tell me how any of our current top-3 totally don't match something from our list in non obvious ways (i.e., I'm aware St Louis is nowhere near NYC.) All input is much appreciated!
I don't know it that well, but I would think parts of upstate NY would fit very well. Buffalo and Rochester have walkable neighborhoods and rebounding economies.

Jax would be ok but I'm sure other places fit better. With Jax you lose proximity to NYC, we have poor transit overall, good schools can be a little tricky, and the airport (although an awesome facility) doesn't have the best connectivity.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:42 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
159 posts, read 162,645 times
Reputation: 177
Upstate New York certainly stands as a possibility. Buffalo loses proximity to NYC and from our personal experiences there at least, I don't feel it really gains us much (better grocery stores). Overall I think it would be a loss compared to Pittsburgh for sure. Rochester I don't have much experience with outside of stopping there for dinner once while passing through. I'll give it a look.

Wilmington,DE is an interesting suggestion. DE is one of the few states we've never spent any real time in. I'd really like to stay with a larger city, but can sacrifice that if it's easy enough to visit NYC. Not sure just looking at a map that Wilmington fits that - but I'll explore it. I like what I see for housing there. Neat style they've got.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
159 posts, read 162,645 times
Reputation: 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by FirebirdCamaro1220 View Post
There are still places where you can buy a house for that little? Here in Phoenix, that will get you a condo at best
Oh yeah, definitely. Lots of great places you can still get a house for $125k. I'm honestly unsure why anyone lives in Phoenix, we personally hate it there - it's hot, overpriced (in our opinions) and sprawled out everywhere. Lots of resources there and good economy though. But you can get that in a suburb of Philly though with much better weather (we think)
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
159 posts, read 162,645 times
Reputation: 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by gladhands View Post
You're in the city that best fits your criteria. I'm sorry you don't like it. Do you mind if I ask what neighborhood you're in?
We honestly kinda feel that way too, although we don't particularly like the conclusion. Our goal is to pick one other market and look for houses there as well as our immediate neighborhood in Pittsburgh. We're in Garfield near Penn right now. We can walk to Target, whole foods, bike to Techshop and co-working spaces, parks... it really is great - and we do love Pittsburgh honestly. There's just random little things that we really really can't stand, and we know we're probably nuts. But we have to explore the options and come up with at least one solid alternative.
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Old 07-27-2016, 11:53 AM
 
56,569 posts, read 80,870,855 times
Reputation: 12499
Just curious, but what about schools, OP?

Also, are you looking just within the city proper or would you consider walkable suburbs too?
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