U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Covid-19 Information Page
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 10-11-2020, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,778 posts, read 17,455,875 times
Reputation: 9363

Advertisements

I am considering a move from New Mexico back to my home state of PA. Would like to hear from current and past residents of Williamsport. From your perspective, what are the pros and cons of living in Williamsport?
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 10-11-2020, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
1,106 posts, read 446,208 times
Reputation: 1363
My dad grew up in the Williamsport area and I visited his family there quite often. For me, some basic pros/cons:

Pros:
-Cost of living
-Scenery: the mountains in this area are drop dead gorgeous, and you have the PA Grand Canyon so close by. IMO, The Northern Tier of PA is one of the most underrated areas for scenery in the USA.
-Wegmans (a critical amenity, imo)
-Little League (if you're into that)
-Proximity to fun day trips (Upstate NY Finger Lakes area and Corning, and not too far from longer trips like Philadelphia or NYC).

Cons:
-Generally, not as much to do from a cultural/nightlife standpoint (as most small cities)
-Overall, the economy is slow in the Northern Tier
-Winter is dreary
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-11-2020, 07:37 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
1,430 posts, read 840,268 times
Reputation: 1473
If you enjoy nature then Williamsport is a great choice. It has access to some beautiful mountains and quaint towns. i.e: Wellsboro, Bloomsburg, Corning and the Finger Lakes for recreation. Its economy is not all bad, but not incredibly strong. It has some decent amenities: Wegmans being one. But its large shopping mall has pretty much shut down to give you a state of the economics.

It is a bit too isolated for me personally. But if you enjoy the outdoors then it is a decent choice.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old Today, 06:35 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
264 posts, read 175,522 times
Reputation: 679
Hello-

I was born and raised in Williamsport, and my family is firmly rooted in the area—going back multiple generations on all sides. Both of my parents still live there, so I’m back in town every few months.

You mentioned that Pennsylvania is your home state: What part(s) of Pennsylvania did you live in? Are you trying to remain relatively close to family here? I’ve lived in, worked in, or attended school in many places across the Commonwealth, and I might be able to give you some comparisons with places you already know (and perhaps other recommendations).

Assessing pros and cons is difficult because of the great (and growing) gulf between different people’s values and preferences. So let me offer some observations, and you can interpret them as you wish.


Economy/Employment

You didn’t describe your employment situation…would you be taking a work-from-home position with you or looking for a job locally? Williamsport’s economy is reasonably diversified, and Lycoming County's unemployment rate is close to the state average, but the city is the quintessential “small pond”. Professional jobs aren’t exactly plentiful.

Arguably because of its diversity of industry and gradual growth, Lycoming County remained remarkably resilient through the ’70s, ‘80s, and ’90s—even as other Pennsylvania counties more heavily dependent on coal or manufacturing lost both people and industry. Since the ’50s, the city itself has been losing population to suburbanization, but the greater Williamsport area continued to add residents and jobs until about 2000. Since then, Lycoming County as a whole has begun to contract, and to my eyes, any “development” in greater Williamsport is merely a reshuffling of the pieces of an ever shrinking pie. If I was pressed to rate the direction of Williamsport overall—not just on its economy, but also quality of life, condition of neighborhoods, availability of shopping and amenities, and so on—I’d have to give the city a mixed rating. Some aspects are holding steady or improving while others are declining.


Downtown

On the whole, Downtown Williamsport has undergone a remarkable renaissance since I was a child in the ’80s and ’90s—a time when the few remaining downtown retailers were fleeing the city for suburban plazas and the Lycoming Mall. Today, Downtown Williamsport has a number of good restaurants, coffee houses, and some interesting shops, plus periodic events like First Fridays (at least before the pandemic). Downtown Williamsport is not nearly as picturesque as a touristy downtown like Jim Thorpe or New Hope, nor is it as vibrant as some larger downtowns like Lancaster and Bethlehem. But compared to the downtowns of other small and declining Pennsylvania cities along the lines of Wilkes-Barre and Altoona, Williamsport holds its own.


Wegmans

As mentioned, one of Williamsport’s major assets is a Wegmans. (If you’re not familiar, Wegmans is a sort of super-supermarket with a wide assortment of prepared foods, an array of gourmet and specialty ingredients, and decent prices on everyday groceries.) In this case, Williamsport (and Erie, Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton) merely “lucked out”, being close to the Rochester-based company’s existing distribution centers as the company first tested the waters outside New York State in the early ’90s. Since then, Wegmans has been laser focused on building new stores in high income suburbs, and I’d say it’s highly unlikely that Williamsport would rate a Wegmans these days if it didn’t already have one.


Arts/Culture

For a city that has slipped below 30,000 people, Williamsport has quite a respectable cultural scene, with a symphony orchestra, a civic chorus, a ballet company, a community theatre league, an annual blues festival, and more. I think the presence of Lycoming College, the satellite facilities of a solid public media organization (WVIA), and a number of local arts organizations are instrumental in aiding that scene. The Community Arts Center, a beautifully restored theatre downtown, has hosted some headlining entertainers including Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, George Carlin, and Jerry Seinfeld. (I have to assume Williamsport is a convenient stop-off between, say, New York and Cleveland).


Location

Williamsport is quite isolated—perhaps not by Western or Plains standards, but certainly in comparison with many similarly priced areas of the Northeast. Getting to a slightly larger city (Harrisburg, Scranton) is an hour-and-a-half drive. Driving to New York or Philadelphia (and by extension, a significant airport) is a solid three hours. That may be close enough for the rare day trip or weekend away, but if you appreciate the amenities and experiences of larger cities, you may find Williamsport to be frustratingly remote. And on the topic of travel: Williamsport’s tiny airport, which received an entirely new terminal building a couple of years ago, has just had its three daily flights (all of which go to the same destination—previously Philadelphia, recently changed to Charlotte) terminated indefinitely by American Airlines.


Cost of Living

Yet despite its remoteness, I don’t find Williamsport to be a steal in the cost of living department. A typical postwar suburban split level near Williamsport would run you about $200-250,000; a larger new construction 3/4 bedroom house might cost $350-400K. Those prices aren’t far behind what you might pay in parts of suburban Harrisburg or even areas around Pittsburgh, for instance.


Nature/Climate

As others have observed, one of the region’s major assets is its natural environment. Hunting and fishing are popular, and you’ll find many opportunities to lose yourself in nature. As a cyclist, I appreciate the excellent trails along the Susquehanna River as well as Lycoming and Pine Creeks. The surrounding mountains give Williamsport an ever-present backdrop and certain sense of place—covered in a lush green carpet of trees during the summer and brilliant warm colors in the fall (and, yes, then bare from about November to April).

Winters are a bit longer, colder, and harsher than they are in Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, or Harrisburg, but not dramatically so. Williamsport lacks the lake effect snow machine of Erie and generally escapes the bone-chilling frigid temperatures of Upstate New York and the upper Midwest.


Politics/Attitude

I think no discussion of Williamsport would complete without mentioning the political slant of the area and how that is manifested through the attitudes of the people there. With the exception of a relative few, the people of Lycoming County are intensely conservative in almost all regards—politically and socially. That may or may not be appealing to you.

But regardless of your own political persuasion, I’d argue that the prevailing political and societal outlook of Lycoming County has a stifling effect on both the present and the future of the area. Among my circle of school friends, which included a number of intelligent and talented people who went on to earn degrees at well-regarded universities, almost none stayed in Williamsport. Certainly the lack of professional opportunities and city amenities was a factor, but the overall attitudes and outlook of the people was a significant element, too.


Overall

Williamsport will always be “home” to me, and I will always hope for whatever good news and positive developments are possible for my hometown. But putting my biases aside, Williamsport isn’t outstanding in any single category. If you want a postcard-perfect town with a charming Main Street, there are better options. If you’re looking for a breathtaking natural setting, there are better options. If you simply want a slice of Middle America in the form of an affordable single family home with typical suburban amenities nearby, there are better options. Williamsport is something of a jack-of-all-trades small city that manages to avoid being a truly tiny rural outpost or a hard luck post industrial town. For the right Goldilocks—perhaps you—it might be “just right”.

I hope the above has been of some help to you. Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old Today, 06:49 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
1,430 posts, read 840,268 times
Reputation: 1473
Quote:
Originally Posted by briantroutman View Post
Hello-

I was born and raised in Williamsport, and my family is firmly rooted in the area—going back multiple generations on all sides. Both of my parents still live there, so I’m back in town every few months.

You mentioned that Pennsylvania is your home state: What part(s) of Pennsylvania did you live in? Are you trying to remain relatively close to family here? I’ve lived in, worked in, or attended school in many places across the Commonwealth, and I might be able to give you some comparisons with places you already know (and perhaps other recommendations).

Assessing pros and cons is difficult because of the great (and growing) gulf between different people’s values and preferences. So let me offer some observations, and you can interpret them as you wish.


Economy/Employment

You didn’t describe your employment situation…would you be taking a work-from-home position with you or looking for a job locally? Williamsport’s economy is reasonably diversified, and Lycoming County's unemployment rate is close to the state average, but the city is the quintessential “small pond”. Professional jobs aren’t exactly plentiful.

Arguably because of its diversity of industry and gradual growth, Lycoming County remained remarkably resilient through the ’70s, ‘80s, and ’90s—even as other Pennsylvania counties more heavily dependent on coal or manufacturing lost both people and industry. Since the ’50s, the city itself has been losing population to suburbanization, but the greater Williamsport area continued to add residents and jobs until about 2000. Since then, Lycoming County as a whole has begun to contract, and to my eyes, any “development” in greater Williamsport is merely a reshuffling of the pieces of an ever shrinking pie. If I was pressed to rate the direction of Williamsport overall—not just on its economy, but also quality of life, condition of neighborhoods, availability of shopping and amenities, and so on—I’d have to give the city a mixed rating. Some aspects are holding steady or improving while others are declining.


Downtown

On the whole, Downtown Williamsport has undergone a remarkable renaissance since I was a child in the ’80s and ’90s—a time when the few remaining downtown retailers were fleeing the city for suburban plazas and the Lycoming Mall. Today, Downtown Williamsport has a number of good restaurants, coffee houses, and some interesting shops, plus periodic events like First Fridays (at least before the pandemic). Downtown Williamsport is not nearly as picturesque as a touristy downtown like Jim Thorpe or New Hope, nor is it as vibrant as some larger downtowns like Lancaster and Bethlehem. But compared to the downtowns of other small and declining Pennsylvania cities along the lines of Wilkes-Barre and Altoona, Williamsport holds its own.


Wegmans

As mentioned, one of Williamsport’s major assets is a Wegmans. (If you’re not familiar, Wegmans is a sort of super-supermarket with a wide assortment of prepared foods, an array of gourmet and specialty ingredients, and decent prices on everyday groceries.) In this case, Williamsport (and Erie, Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton) merely “lucked out”, being close to the Rochester-based company’s existing distribution centers as the company first tested the waters outside New York State in the early ’90s. Since then, Wegmans has been laser focused on building new stores in high income suburbs, and I’d say it’s highly unlikely that Williamsport would rate a Wegmans these days if it didn’t already have one.


Arts/Culture

For a city that has slipped below 30,000 people, Williamsport has quite a respectable cultural scene, with a symphony orchestra, a civic chorus, a ballet company, a community theatre league, an annual blues festival, and more. I think the presence of Lycoming College, the satellite facilities of a solid public media organization (WVIA), and a number of local arts organizations are instrumental in aiding that scene. The Community Arts Center, a beautifully restored theatre downtown, has hosted some headlining entertainers including Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, George Carlin, and Jerry Seinfeld. (I have to assume Williamsport is a convenient stop-off between, say, New York and Cleveland).


Location

Williamsport is quite isolated—perhaps not by Western or Plains standards, but certainly in comparison with many similarly priced areas of the Northeast. Getting to a slightly larger city (Harrisburg, Scranton) is an hour-and-a-half drive. Driving to New York or Philadelphia (and by extension, a significant airport) is a solid three hours. That may be close enough for the rare day trip or weekend away, but if you appreciate the amenities and experiences of larger cities, you may find Williamsport to be frustratingly remote. And on the topic of travel: Williamsport’s tiny airport, which received an entirely new terminal building a couple of years ago, has just had its three daily flights (all of which go to the same destination—previously Philadelphia, recently changed to Charlotte) terminated indefinitely by American Airlines.


Cost of Living

Yet despite its remoteness, I don’t find Williamsport to be a steal in the cost of living department. A typical postwar suburban split level near Williamsport would run you about $200-250,000; a larger new construction 3/4 bedroom house might cost $350-400K. Those prices aren’t far behind what you might pay in parts of suburban Harrisburg or even areas around Pittsburgh, for instance.


Nature/Climate

As others have observed, one of the region’s major assets is its natural environment. Hunting and fishing are popular, and you’ll find many opportunities to lose yourself in nature. As a cyclist, I appreciate the excellent trails along the Susquehanna River as well as Lycoming and Pine Creeks. The surrounding mountains give Williamsport an ever-present backdrop and certain sense of place—covered in a lush green carpet of trees during the summer and brilliant warm colors in the fall (and, yes, then bare from about November to April).

Winters are a bit longer, colder, and harsher than they are in Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, or Harrisburg, but not dramatically so. Williamsport lacks the lake effect snow machine of Erie and generally escapes the bone-chilling frigid temperatures of Upstate New York and the upper Midwest.


Politics/Attitude

I think no discussion of Williamsport would complete without mentioning the political slant of the area and how that is manifested through the attitudes of the people there. With the exception of a relative few, the people of Lycoming County are intensely conservative in almost all regards—politically and socially. That may or may not be appealing to you.

But regardless of your own political persuasion, I’d argue that the prevailing political and societal outlook of Lycoming County has a stifling effect on both the present and the future of the area. Among my circle of school friends, which included a number of intelligent and talented people who went on to earn degrees at well-regarded universities, almost none stayed in Williamsport. Certainly the lack of professional opportunities and city amenities was a factor, but the overall attitudes and outlook of the people was a significant element, too.


Overall

Williamsport will always be “home” to me, and I will always hope for whatever good news and positive developments are possible for my hometown. But putting my biases aside, Williamsport isn’t outstanding in any single category. If you want a postcard-perfect town with a charming Main Street, there are better options. If you’re looking for a breathtaking natural setting, there are better options. If you simply want a slice of Middle America in the form of an affordable single family home with typical suburban amenities nearby, there are better options. Williamsport is something of a jack-of-all-trades small city that manages to avoid being a truly tiny rural outpost or a hard luck post industrial town. For the right Goldilocks—perhaps you—it might be “just right”.

I hope the above has been of some help to you. Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!
Really great post! This is about as accurate as you can get!

I would say if you are of retirement age and have family in the area it is a decent place to live with enough community activity to keep one busy and engaged. But if you have no family in the area and are moving solo and are a working professional as Brian said there are better options. The cost of living is shockingly not low given how isolated the area is. You can certainly find older homes that need lots of updates in the 100k - 150k range, but that certainly will come with maintenance costs.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old Today, 08:50 PM
 
9,837 posts, read 20,334,687 times
Reputation: 7655
I think I remember Cosmic Wizard from the Colorado forum years ago.


I drop down out of the mountains to shop in Williamsport once or twice a month. Also had a relative live there for a few years. Overall it's not a bad town or area. I can do my shopping for things at Wegmans or at Tony's Deli I don't get up in the mountains.


Williamsport went through a bad patch previously, as documented on this forum, but around 2009 the natural gas industry brought a lot of money to the area and while the natural gas industry has slowed significantly, it helps the local economy. A lot of the downtown got cleaned up and a lot of the bums moved on to somewhere else.


I'd say if you were going to live in the area, I'd live north of town where it starts to get a bit more mountainous. Williamsport is really not a big city at all, it doesn't take long to get right out in rural country, especially on the north end of town.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply

Quick Reply
Message:


Settings
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2020 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2020, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top