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Old 08-11-2009, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
2,134 posts, read 2,636,031 times
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I think that Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh both fall right around the middle of the pack nationwide in overall taxes and fees when you include everything. Pennsylvania has the second or third lowest income tax of states that levy a tax, we are not charged an annual fee of several hundred dollars for car registration like many other states, and we do not pay sales tax on clothes, groceries and other necessities. We don't have earthquakes, fires, or hurricanes, so property insurance is reasonable, and I believe car insurance is much cheaper than most east coast cities. For me, it all evens out. Plus you get a bigger house for the money, and Pittsburgh has a great quality of life.
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Old 08-11-2009, 01:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
The median home price in the Washington Metropolitan Area in 2008 was $343,400. In the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area it was $118,400. Those are actually likely to be fairly equivalent structures, but of course location is very difficult to compare in cities of such different sizes. You will likely see the greatest difference closer in, with the ratio dropping as you go farther out (particularly these days). Still, it wouldn't be a bad bet that you could get an equivalent house in a roughly comparable suburban neighborhood for somewhere in the low 100s.
Ignoring DC for a moment, that $118K figure covers too big and mixed an area of Pittsburgh to do much reasoning with. E.G. You are lumping in Squirrel Hill with Homewood.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:03 PM
 
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it's median, not average.

plus the dc metro area includes some pretty blighted areas as well. i think it's as fair a comparison as can be made without figuring out what equivalent neighborhoods are in both areas.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephanie P View Post
After researching homes there, I discovered the homes are more expensive, and the property taxes are much higher than I thought they would be, considering PA has a state income tax - which TX does not. The property taxes seem less than what we pay here, but still expensive.
Don't forget Texas also has slightly higher sales taxes.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robrobrob View Post
One thing to consider when looking at the Pittsburgh housing prices is that we generally have an older housing stock than a lot of cities. Some people like the charm of older houses and others don't. I am always amazed at how much cheaper McMansions are in other cities than they are in some of the "nice" suburbs of Pittsburgh. I am told this is because it costs more to build a new house here than in Texas for example.
Texas has cheap housing in general--they actually went through their own housing boom and bust in the 1970s and 1980s, initially started by high oil prices and then fueled by the deregulation that eventually led to the Savings & Loan crisis. They emerged with an oversupply of homes, high property taxes, and strict mortgage-lending laws, all of which have kept housing prices relatively low.

That said, it is true if you are talking about new-built homes far enough from the centers of the respective metropolitan areas, that is where you will find the least cost advantage in Pittsburgh as compared to national averages.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by groar View Post
it's median, not average.

plus the dc metro area includes some pretty blighted areas as well. i think it's as fair a comparison as can be made without figuring out what equivalent neighborhoods are in both areas.
That's my point: I think you've got to dig down to equivalent neighborhoods to get to something useful to compare. Fair or not, I don't find the $118K figure very helpful in thinking about these issues. Its too general.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrapp View Post
Ignoring DC for a moment, that $118K figure covers too big and mixed an area of Pittsburgh to do much reasoning with. E.G. You are lumping in Squirrel Hill with Homewood.
groar pretty much covered this. I'll just note it is absolutely true you can only squeeze so much information out of Metro Area-wide median prices, but I think it is a decent starting point for figuring out what general ratio of housing prices you might be looking at. After that, though, you are correct that you will have to dig down into specific neighborhoods, and there will never be perfect comparables in cities as fundamentally different as Pittsburgh and Washington.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:26 PM
 
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Thanks everyone for being so helpful. Well after figuring out the taxes and home prices it definitely is cheaper to move up there duh. Since the recession Waldorf is a reasonable area you can get a brand new house for about 300,000. However you can get a decent one for about 250,000 maybe about 1700 sq feet and more. My only complaint about Charles county is traffic and it's just too far. Waldorf is 23 miles outside of downtown D.C. While some people don't mind traveling 45 mins +, I do. So I wanted a city that was reasonably priced and one where I didn't spend all day on the road. So far so good. Now the hardest part a visit for confirmation and jobs. Is Pittsburgh a diverse city? If not then it's no big deal as long as people are nice regardless of color.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmorrisn View Post
While your mortgage ends up being about the same, I prefer areas with lower property taxes and higher home prices. I am paying more into my home each month and less to the government - and when I sell my home, I'll make a lot more money too.

At the same time, I concur with BrianTH - home prices are low here but are probably comparable to Charles County. How close to DC do you live? I'd guess a home for 260k within commuting distance to DC is a steal. You can get 2300 sq ft homes for under 200k but it depends on what neighborhoods you are looking in.
What neighborhood are you living in now (and/or what are some of the comparable neighborhoods near you) and I can try to give you the Pittsburgh equivalent.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:28 PM
 
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By the way, if you are trying to do this in abstract terms, you really should adjust those median home prices for median incomes. That would close the gap between Washington and Pittsburgh somewhat, although not all the way: I believe median household income in the Washington MSA (the second-highest in the country after San Francisco) is about 1.5 times the median household income in the Pittsburgh MSA, but obviously that isn't high enough to fully account for the nearly 3:1 ratio in median home prices.

Of course if you know what your income would be in each place, you can just use that.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:31 PM
 
357 posts, read 533,365 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
groar pretty much covered this. I'll just note it is absolutely true you can only squeeze so much information out of Metro Area-wide median prices, but I think it is a decent starting point for figuring out what general ratio of housing prices you might be looking at. After that, though, you are correct that you will have to dig down into specific neighborhoods, and there will never be perfect comparables in cities as fundamentally different as Pittsburgh and Washington.
I just don't think that general ratio is all that useful or helpful. You don't pay taxes based on a general ratio. You don't buy houses based on it either. What's the point? It just isn't going to get you that far. You've absolutely got to dig down farther than that. You can't even buy a house in my part of Squirrel Hill for the median $118K, so why even bother with discussing that number?
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