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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 04-12-2016, 01:02 PM
 
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My wife is moving to Hershey for Grad school in July. We are both in our 20's. We have both lived in Atlanta, Georgia for most of our lives and are in need of some good advice to plan! Any advce would be greatly appreciated!!!My wife has her living arrangements and everything planned out for June, but I will be relocating at a later date after I find a job. Once I move there we will be looking to purchase a home (but were definitely not leaving renting out as a possibility since we currently rent).


Since my wife has pretty much Ironed out all of her temporary living arrangements and where she will be. The main concern will be for me finding a job and living close enough to Hershey. Currently we live in the middle of the city with very limited space we are looking forward to more room than a 1 bedroom/1 bath 600 sq ft apartment. We are very accustomed to tons of activity, places to eat, nightlife, shopping, etc and love the outdoors! Hiking, fishing, tennis, and cycling mostly. Atlanta has been great due to its proximity to the Appalachians, smokies, beaches, and everything else outdoors....


We are looking to buy our first home in PA, but definitely want a good location to amenities (work, grocery, etc) , weekend trips, and outdoor trips. Personally I am a little bit concerned with living in a very rural area after being around so many people! Definitely looking for a very safe environment to raise kids. We are open to living in a townhome etc...I'm not sure how the rent compares with housing prices/taxes.


I have an accounting and finance background and have worked in banking/financial services/regulation industries. I have looked up on google maps for the commute to Philadelphia and it seems pretty far from Hershey (1hr 40min ish) and am a little concerned that there may be limited places to work in the area? Any tips on where to work? Commute times? Places to avoid?

Last edited by avidhiker32; 04-12-2016 at 01:31 PM..
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Old 04-12-2016, 02:32 PM
 
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Harrisburg is the state capital and has many jobs related to the flow of funds in and out of state government coffers. See for example Harrisburg jobs at Deloitte and https://www.pheaa.org/about/careers/index.shtml

Except for some very small portions of the City of Harrisburg and maybe Steelton Borough, the area is generally "safe" by American or even planetary standards.

Locations within Welcome to Derry Township hold the "suburban good school" real estate premium, not necessarily needed if you are renting without school age kids. This new rental community outside Derry Twp in Hummelstown Borough is nevertheless almost within sight of the Med Center: VERDE Luxury Apartment Community This developer has a number of rental communities a fairly short drive away: Harrisburg and Hershey, PA Apartments | Luxury Apartments in Harrisburg and Hershey, PA | DeSouza Brown

The Harrisburg metropolitan area hosts the mid point of the Appalachian Trail, and its museum. Appalachian Trail Museum - Welcome Here is a hiking club Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club - and a cycling club Harrisburg Bicycle Club - Home - and a racquet club next to an older rental community across the road from the medical center Welcome to the Hershey Racquet Club

Due to long term short sighted design, and the nature of the area as a logistics base for serving the Northeast megalopolis, traffic congestion extends for as far from center of Harrisburg as it does in Atlanta.
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Old 04-12-2016, 04:49 PM
 
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Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post! I think your insight is very helpful.

Unfortunately it looks like the Atlanta traffic problem may follow me. It is good to hear that there will be plenty of outdoor activities in central PA. What is the actual commute time from Hershey to Harrisburg in traffic? Hershey to Lancaster? I know google maps can be very skewed...

I'm curious about What is the pollution like in the Harrisburg area? Is the air quality like that of an Atlanta, Pittsburgh, or Philly?

Also I noticed the housing inventory in Harrisburg area is older. I have no problem looking at older homes, but older homes require certain insights to how they are taken care of/ lead based paint/ asbestos/ and other problems. In the Harrisburg area are the homes solidly built? Or should I be looking at 1980+ homes?

Are rental prices in the Hershey/Harrisburg area more expensive than owning a home of similar size/quality?

Are most jobs in the area located in Harrisburgh, Lancaster, and Hershey?
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Old 04-12-2016, 07:01 PM
 
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Hershey to most Lancaster locations can be close to an hour one way in real time traffic. 30-45 minutes to most Harrisburg locations. The return work commute to Hershey area can be adversely affected by numerous events such as hockey games, concerts, Friday arrivals at the amusement park, etc.

Lancaster has a regional bank HQ https://www.fult.com/careers/ but the area just lost one (Susquehanna Bank based in Lititz bought by BB&T) so competition for jobs that might open at Fulton may be keen.

Fans of urban rowhome living tend to favor Lancaster City these days compared to Harrisburg. Movers to suburban Lancaster areas might complain slightly more about in-bred social life compared to Harrisburg which may have more churn at least from around the state.

Unlike Harrisburg, Lancaster has both an Apple store and a hiking outfitter (EMS, rumored to be seeking bankruptcy protection). The outfitter type stores around Harrisburg cater to the hook and bullet crowd, other than the paddlesport shop Blue Mountain Outfitters: - the nearest REI is in Timonium, MD (north suburban Baltimore).

Housing quality is very much a mixed bag, other than the general observation that lot sizes tend to be smaller than where many move from. Lead paint and lead water service lines are both fairly common.

As far as air pollution, seasonal allergies are commonplace. PM-2.5 has been relatively high, as mentioned there is significant truck traffic. The move of Hershey Co. chocolate production to the recently expanded West Hershey facility has nearly eliminated chocolate smells (they do bother some folks) although that's not so for the Mars factory in Elizabethtown. Peanut roasting aroma remains noticeable sometimes from the Reese factory. Certain times in spring and fall chicken manure smells are evident, arising from fields generally corporate owned awaiting development.

Derry Twp has a population of about 22,000 (including the Milton Hershey School residents) but usually collects around 30,000 occupational privilege taxes (or whatever that per capita nuisance tax is called this year) - certainly many are seasonal employees of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts | Hershey Jobs but the medical center, the Fortune 500 corporate HQ https://careers.thehersheycompany.com/ - the Milton Hershey School, etc. add to the total. The Life You Want | in Pennsylvania
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Old 04-13-2016, 02:59 PM
 
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Very informative post! Thanks for sharing....If any one else comes along with anything else to add please do share! I'm very interested in the overall environment and culture of the area.


I guess commuting to and from Philadelphia or its suburbs would be a bit of a drag seeing how the infrastructure is...(If not correct me)
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Old 04-13-2016, 08:00 PM
 
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Baltimore is actually closer than Philadelphia.
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Old 04-15-2016, 05:48 AM
 
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Thanks Ki0eh. Never considered Baltimore for work...I also found out that MD and PA have a reciprocal tax agreement. Reviews I have read the commute down 83 seems to be fairly lax. Seems like a lot of MD transplants in York. We'll have to see where the jobs show up...I'll keep my eye out!

Any differences in the type of communities of . Reading, York, Hershey, Lancaster, or Harrisburg? Cultural differences? My insight has so far is the following: (please correct my assumptions! if the they're wrong)

Reading - depressed economically and very crime ridden. Suburbs safer. Western part seems better Wyomissing? Variety of work
York - has Maryland Transplants due to 83...small town feel. Older demographic? Local community college..Manufacturing plants nearby...manufacturing work (not sure about business)
Lancaster - larger than york, hershey, lebanon...has more amenities than surrounding areas....Amish population..very conservative..large hispanic population possibly due to farming work etc. Inner city maybe a little rough, but surrounding areas are nice especially the west side facing york?...variety of work due to larger population/proximity to Philadelphia. Amtrak to Philly. Not welcoming to outsiders...maybe lots of racial tension unfortunately
Hershey - more expensive..good schools...most people work at the medical center or hershey...some upscale communities. Transplants due to the medical center and hershey. Manufacturing, Healthcare, and jobs provided by Hershey company....higher taxes due to occupation tax (seasonal work etc)
Harrisburg - Capital, government jobs, up and coming downtown area with several areas like steelton to avoid. Schools are poor. Economically supported by government...although the government is currently in severe financial stress which puts stress on taxes. West side maybe better economically due to business in mechanicsburg and Carlisle.
Elizabethtown: small college town...not sure about culture or anything
Middletown: Small town most people commute to Harrisburg...not sure about culture or anything

Grocery stores: Where do people shop around these areas? Seem like Grocery stores are few and far between?

Taxes seem to be pretty high in all of these areas for property. There is an added school tax it seems as well. Even though income taxes are 3% for Pennsylvania it seems to get high once you include property taxes etc.

Rent vs buy: Many areas see very modest growth in property value. Most inventory is of older homes (may require considerable work...new piping, lead paint, asbestos). Rental inventory seems to be a bit low and pretty comparable to mortgages considering the value of the properties. It would take considerable time to make buying worth it in a lot of areas unless the right deal was found due to the slow growth of property values. However, lower housing prices allow for more space and options...

Asian Grocery Store: Are there any Asian Grocery Stores in the area? Or are they all located in Philly area?
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Old 04-15-2016, 05:58 AM
 
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I'll also I wanted to see if anyone knew where I should concentrate my job search...Seems like I should be focusing on the following with my background and interests:

Harrisburg: Government jobs, Consulting associated with government..some financial institutions?...large corporations like rite aid, te connectivity (middletown)...healthcare industry
Philadelphia: Suburbs have many major corporations (within reach of a daily commute from Hershey Lancaster). Very large variety of work...long commute however.
Lancaster: Maybe hard to find work...not sure about much there
Hershey: Hershey company, medical center
York: Maybe scarce work...
Baltimore: Variety of jobs..maybe not on par with the number in Philadelphia...long commute
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Old 04-15-2016, 06:05 AM
 
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Also any ideas which cities in the geographic area have very nice public parks/Greenspace? We have so many nice parks available in Atlanta...Atlanta is virtually a city within a forest and is very beautiful. Anything like that in Central Pennsylvania?
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Old 04-18-2016, 07:38 AM
 
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With respect to the occupation tax, and the former occupational privilege now "local services" tax, pretty much every PA community has those. The former is where you live, and the latter is where you work. If a community has no occupation tax, they by local option have raised their local income tax from 1% to as high as 2%. Places with a high number of high income individuals (such as Derry Twp/Hershey) tend to be loath to move away from the occupation tax to the higher percentage local income tax.

Rite Aid is probably not hiring much these days as their merger with Walgreens is under review, unless they are looking to backfill folks who have already jumped ship.

There are at least three Asian grocery stores in the south end of Harrisburg, including in the area of the "Asia Mall" on S 13th St (just off an interchange of I-83) which is about as close to Hershey as any non-basic shopping is. I'm not competent to judge their quality.

The main grocery chains are Home - GIANT Food Stores , https://www.weismarkets.com/ , and in the Harrisburg region Karns Quality Foods - Harrisburg's best meat department since 1959! - all 3 are represented in Derry Twp although Weis, right off of Hersheypark Drive nearest the medical complex, has the Hummelstown postal address the med center would have had they not gotten a PO box. The South Hanover Twp "Hummelstown" Giant is larger with better selection than the 1250 Cocoa Ave location. By the standards of where I grew up (upstate NY) I think they're all pricey with limited selection. Potential alternative/supplemental sources of vitamins, protein, and carbs could include Strites Orchard , Risser-Marvel Farm Market | Local Farm Market 717-838-1438 , Groff's Meats in Elizabethtown Pennsylvania , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Count...46624882029294

Wegmans has a location in the far west of the Harrisburg metro, more convenient actually to Carlisle than to Camp Hill, not close enough to Hershey for most grocery trips. A location being built on west end of Lancaster https://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/s...0002&langId=-1 will actually be closer in real time to south/southeast portions of Derry.

The drive from Hershey to Reading is a royal pain, due to many slow roads (a drive on US 422 through Lebanon and the many, many small towns west and east of it is akin to having your fingernails pulled out while listening to chalk screeching on a chalkboard) and faster roads going way too far around or without good interchanges. In truth areas such as Exton (far west Philly exurbs) are as close as Reading real time is to Hershey.

If you want a home on an actual lot, without much opportunity even to mow it due to spending lots of time in a car, one could consider the Ephrata area, although potentially possible (at least you can calculate your commuting cost and time) from Mount Joy or Elizabethtown using Amtrak. If a row home is OK rail commuting to Philly, think of Lancaster City, although the Amtrak station is not well located with respect to the more desirable west end.

Parks and recreational open spaces are widely available in PA, but can be difficult to find due to the prolixity of non-profit conservancies, different townships, counties, and at least four different state agencies with responsibility for recreational open space. One large non-profit is trying to brand the still mostly wooded region spanning the gap between Hershey and the larger metro areas to the south and east as the "Pennsylvania Highlands," and employs GIS analysts creating plans and maps seeking to identify and draw together many of the recreational resources of the area. Conservation and Trail Building in the Pennsylvania Highlands - Appalachian Mountain Club
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