Relocating to Pittsburgh - with small children. (Lebanon, Upper St. Clair: fit in, transplants)
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I would love some help with our upcoming move. We currently live in Roanoke, VA and spent 10 years in Charlotte, NC. We're not familiar with the Pittsburgh area, but my husband is being promoted so we're going to move.
We are in our late 30's with two sons (ages 2 and 4). Our oldest has a phonological speech disorder and will need pre-k services- so we need the best school district possible. My husband is in medical sales and he'll have multiple hospitals- so we don't have to live in any particular area. I stay at home with our children but I would like to be close to shops and a nice gym (YMCA or family rec center). We will probably rent for the first year (simply to make sure we're staying in the area and bc our house in Roanoke hasn't sold yet). We don't want to spend more than $2000 and we would like a yard (for our children and dog). City or suburbs doesn't matter. Just not too far out (more than 30 minutes).
If anyone has any information that would be helpful- I would really appreciate it! You can only get so much information from the internet- I need real people's opinions!
First of all-I'd do whatever it takes to stay in the South! I hate Pittsburgh-mainly because of the winter weather and the peculiar obsession with Steelers football. But, as you are, we are here because of my husband's job.
I recommend the Sewickley/Wexford area or Robinson Township (also Coraopolis). Those cities are to the West of Pittsburgh. Sewickley is on the pricier end. Sewickley is town where you could walk to shops and places to eat. I currently live in Robinson Township and love the proximity to shopping! Within 10 minutes I can be at a rather large mall, Wal Mart, Target, grocery stores, ect.
If you are looking for something to the South, the good areas are Upper St. Clair and Chartiers Valley. Upper St. Clair would be on the more expensive end of the two. Upper St. Clair is rated number 9 in top schools. There is a mall in that area and a lot of shopping centers too.
There are many areas which would meet your needs--which is good, because rentals may be tough to find. Personally, I would think strongly about working with a local real estate agent who handles a lot of rentals, and if you found some possibility you could run them by us.
As far as community or rec centers. Upper St. Clair just built a palace. Mt. Lebanon has great municipal facilities. The Y is Sewickley is great. The Bairl Y in Wexford is also great. There is a JCC in Sq. Hill that is nice too. They are about to breack ground on a new community center in O'Hara on one that will serve the Fox Chapel Area School District.
I have heard that the State picks up the tab for pre-k speech services. So, realistically you could live anywhere. Hopefully, someone could be more specific.
Yes, if the services are through a public pre-k program, there isn't a cost. I just want to make sure we're in the best area for services. I've never been to Pittsburgh so I'm trying to figure out the best 'fit' for our family. I've been searching all morning because we're traveling for a visit this weekend.
What about areas like Cranberry? Oakmont? Aspinwall? Sharpsburg? Dormont? Those are just a few places I've read some positives about. I like the idea of renting a townhouse in Squirrel Hill (with a garage)- but then I've found some homes in Mt. Lebanon that are nice because they have a yard. I'm just so confused. Since we're renting, we're not 'locking in' to anything. But I'm not too excited about the move so I want to have the best experience from the get go. Thanks so much for the advice already- any other help would be greatly appreciated!!
If you're going to rent for a year, you should do it in Mt. Lebanon. It has everything you're looking for: a walkable street grid, houses with yards, a well-regarded school system, and available rental properties. I hate to tell you this - I live in the City and passionately dislike the suburbs - but it's true.
Squirrel Hill is great, but it's in the City of Pittsburgh school system. The city schools in Squirrel Hill are pretty good, but I don't know how the pre-K state-funded special needs services in those schools are. That's not something to take a risk with, so better to live in Mt. Lebanon for a year and then investigate what the city schools in Squirrel Hill are like for special needs kids.
Cranberry and Upper St. Clair are not walkable at all, and they don't have much of a rental market. Aspinwall is in a good school district (Fox Chapel) and is walkable - it's really a lot like Mt. Lebanon - but I think the rental market is tiny. Sharpsburg is also in the Fox Chapel district and also walkable, but it's downmarket - the houses are a lot smaller and don't have much in the way of greenery. Dormont is a bit like Sharpsburg, but the school district (Keystone Oaks) isn't as good.
If you are able to spend $2000/month on housing, then demographically you would probably fit in and like Mt. Lebanon, Aspinwall, and Squirrel Hill.
Thanks Joe! That's alot of great information! I guess we'll see what this weekend holds. I've only flown out of Pittsburgh so I'm walking in blind. Do you suggest anything that we particularily see or do? We're lucky enough to leave the kids with the grandparents, so that'll give us a chance to really look around. What's up with Cranberry? My husband keeps hearing alot about it. Is it the 'place to be'? I haven't found that to be the case online. I just want to make sure we cover all areas while we're there. I'm not giving up on Squirrel Hill yet. I need to research the school system and other programs at the university and/or Scottish-Rite. I just think it's a cute area (from what I've seen online). And I like the idea of living in the city while we can. Once the kids start school, I'm sure we'll move to the burbs. Thanks again for all your help!!
What's up with Cranberry? My husband keeps hearing alot about it. Is it the 'place to be'?
It's among the places to be if you want to buy a brand new (or closer to it) house. That is still something that many people want like to do. Because it is over the county line in Butler County, the property taxes are somewhat lower there. And the school district, while large, is pretty good. (There's also a neighboring smaller district that's good, with similar availability of new housing.)
Other than that it's a sprawling suburb that didn't have good planning going on until more recently. So it grew haphazardly with little thought to placement of things and is entirely car-dependent and in many cases walking-unfriendly (some of that has improved but only in a few spots). The shopping draws from a wide area and creates heavy traffic on weekends. And there is commuting into Cranberry as well as out of it so the rush hours create traffic. It puts you some 20 miles away from downtown Pittsburgh, which during rush hours can take about 45 minutes to drive. This doesn't seem to be a big factor to you, but I mention it for the sake of knowing how that would work. If you only drove between Cranberry and the city on a weekend, you would find no traffic and it would take about half that time. But if your husband then set out to a hospital in the city at 8am on a regular weekday, you could be in for a surprise at the section of stop and go traffic.
And as mentioned, it's not good for a rental market, at least for single-family homes. There are some but they are few and far between and because there is so little supply they command quite a premium and still rent quickly. For renting I definitely think you're better suited to look elsewhere. If you're going to buy later and that's the sort of thing you'd look to buy into, it might be worth a look I suppose. But there are other options as well when you are not tied to any specific job location.
If you think you will be in allegheny county, you should talk to alliance Developmental Delays | Early Intervention | The Alliance For Infants and Toddlers. They may be able to guide you on the availability of special needs pre-K that are state funded. Your services probably wouldnt be provided through them but they may be able to connect you with the proper offices.
I live near cranberry and there are a lot of transplants in the area. No it is not walkable but lots of families, close to I79, and lots of shopping. It is the burbs. yes, newer and growing but a suburb
On the other hand, there are also lots of great resources in the city proper. greater number of rentals, walkability, and things to do with little ones such as the zoo, my little outback My Little Outback, toy lending library â€”, and many other places. My girls are 4 so I am all about new places to play and explore
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