Areas on the South, West, and East Sides of Town (Pittsburgh: for sale, real estate)
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My wife and I flew out to Pittsburgh last week to try to look for a house. We decided to focus on the north part of town, since a few people I'll be working with (downtown) told me the commute is easier from up on the North End. We looked in Cranberry, Allison Park, and McCandless and didn't really find anything within our price range that made sense. We are therefore going to explore areas on the south, east, and west ends of town.
A long commute does not bother me, however I'd like to be somewhat close to a park and ride, as I want to be able to take the bus on days when it snows a lot. (I am a bit freaked out about driving in the snow) Ideally, we'd be within 25 miles of downtown. We'd like to spend less than $300,000 on a 4 or 5 bedroom home that has a large basement.
Also, ideally this home would be somewhat newer in nature. One of the things that drove me nuts with a lot of the houses we saw was that the carpet and appliances wouldn't match at all. You would walk from one room into another and the carpet would go from green to brown. The appliances would be a mix of stainless steel, white, and black. I realize this is stuff that can be changed, but I just didn't understand why people wouldn't attempt to match stuff when they replaced it. I would think a newer home would tend to have more matching items.
We really liked the utopian nature of Cranberry with its parks and whatnot. We've lived in/around a lot of "master planned" communities, and Cranberry sorta had that feeling to it without having every house look exactly the same. Good schools are a "nice to have" since we're probably going to homeschool our kids.
check out southern Allegheny County, and northeastern Washington County...they are littered with great suburban neighborhoods, with more "parks and whatnot" than you can shake a stick at!
my wife and i just moved up from texas...we settled down in Bridgeville, just south of Allegheny County...though technically, Bridgeville is an Allegheny County area. It's got easy access to I-79, and just under 20 miles from downtown...
good luck with your searching...btw, where are you moving from?
Nothing new and big for less than 300,000 in Cranberry? I'm surprised, honestly. That's probably the cheapest area for a newer home.
South: South Fayette Township, Peters Township, Collier Township, Canonsburg, Southpointe, North Strabane Township
West: Robinson Township (Allegheny County), Moon Township, North Fayette Township
East: Murrysville, North Huntingdon Township (both in Westmoreland County bordering Allegheny County)
North: Cranberry Township, Adams Township, Marshall Township (Wexford), Ross Township, Shaler Township
Yeah I was a little surprised at the Cranberry bit myself when I first read this earlier today. $300k could be slightly borderline, but should be enough. Heck, the base price of some of the new construction is below that. I think they're usually 4BR places, but of course they are the "base" and all that stuff is crap anyway. It's not really different than buying a 5 or 10-year-old one, though. Certain things about a recent house will be better (newer safety codes, etc.) but much is also worse (built to absolute minimum standards to lower the price to the levels we're talking about).
One thing I missed earlier was the homeschooling part. That opens up more places that some people wouldn't normally look because the school district is a bit more mediocre. Shaler comes to mind, although there may not be too many newer places there (I know there are some, though; a colleague of mine lives in a house bought new under 10 years ago). Houses should be less there, and it's a fairly short commute to downtown (although the typical commute would use Rt 28 which is going to have a few years of significant construction ahead). The property tax burden will be heavy, though, even tougher to think about when you homeschool since the vast majority of it is to the school district, and you aren't even utilizing most of what you're paying for! Shaler and the rest of that corridor appears to be somewhat less connected by bus than some other spots. I'm not sure why. (Could be remembering wrong. This came from a while back looking for bus routes over there.)
Pushing outside of Allegheny County into Butler (Cranberry area), Westmoreland, Washington or perhaps Beaver counties will save you on property taxes and usually on house price as well, although they've generally inched up over the years. It may be feasible, if you want to be close to Cranberry and within 25 miles of downtown, to take a look at the places next door in Beaver County. Directly west is New Sewickely Township, which is mostly rural, but there may be a few new houses in some spots (it's taking a while because Cranberry is just not yet full, but there is still some spillover from Cranberry), and it's in the somewhat overachieving (given the makeup of the area) Freedom Area school district. Next to that is Economy Borough (I live here) with a less desirable school district (Ambridge Area) but more recent housing built. My house is 5 miles from the middle of Cranberry and 22 miles from downtown (25 minutes in zero traffic, about 40-45 at worst rush times). It's rural here too but more housing rural whereas New Sewickley still has a fair bit more farming rural. There's a Park and Ride at Warrendale at I-79. And sometimes I-79 is actually in worse shape in the snow! (*grumble* PennDOT *grumble*)
Next door to Cranberry on the other side is Adams Township. A lot of new building in there, spills over from Cranberry. You start getting a little bit farther than 25 miles, perhaps, but not by much, and it's almost really part of Cranberry anyway. Happens to be in the smaller Mars school district instead of big Seneca Valley. Either is fine, really.
While all the other places listed above make sense to look, the driving commutes from the south, west and east are just all worse, which is of course what your colleagues told you. It's true. The comparatively small backup on I-279 is not fun but it's nothing compared to the others. But, if you come in from someplace in the south, say, Peters, you could conceivably drive to the South Hills Village Park and Ride and ride the T light rail into downtown. That might make it more bearable. The T may or may not be more reliable than buses in the snow, though.
On East side - Monroeville – plenty of bus service and still plenty of established neighborhood’s with character, Gateway school district is good as well.
Further on 22 you have Murrysville, Delmont, Export, Penn Township (new construction abound in Claridge), Level Green areas, good schools, but commute will be a factor as bus service is sporadic.
If you go East on US30 you have Irwin and North Huntingdon, about 18 miles from downtown. Irwin is established and harder to get a new home, North Huntingdon is #1 in new housing starts and for $300K you can find a good buy. Plus is that it is serviced by Westmoreland Transit authority with very good service to downtown Pittsburgh (I can attest that service to North Huntingdon is sometimes quicker then car coming back and going into the city). Good location for weekend trips as it is on Turnpike exit and US30 is great scenic route going east. Norwin is the school district, one of the top around Pittsburgh.
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