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Old 10-27-2009, 01:42 AM
 
Location: Shreveport/Bossier City
20 posts, read 34,146 times
Reputation: 11
Default Pittsburgh sounds like a dream come true...

I've been lurking the Pittsburgh forum for several weeks now and am astounded by how welcoming and helpful the majority of posters seem to be to people, like me, who are interested in relocating to Pittsburgh! Wow!

My husband and I are poised for change. We have both lived in the southern US, Texas and Louisiana to be exact, for our entire lives. We could easily settle in some non-descript place like every other town we have ever lived in...but honestly, that doesn't sound like much fun! I have been researching desirable cities in the US for young, professional families...and Pittsburgh is near the top of many lists. The cost of living, cost of real estate, school rankings, and natural beauty and historic culture makes Pittsburgh seem like a dream come true...especially in comparison to the God-forsaken swamp we live in now.

Most of my questions have been previously answered in previous threads, so I will try not to repeat the obvious. There are a few things that I am still curious or confused about so please feel free to enlighten me!

My husband and I have done it all; the big city of downtown Dallas, the suburbs of Arlington and Shreveport and the deep country of East Texas. Now that we have a small child, there is more to consider, but both of us lean towards a more urban vibe. I would love to live in Pittsburgh proper but would not discount a roomy suburban home. We are situated well financially with decent paying jobs, little debt and some savings; thus we plan to spend between 250-325 K for a home, depending on property, tax, of course. This seems to place us in any number of neighborhoods both inside and outside the city proper. Good schools, preferably public, are of utmost importance. This said, just about anything would be better than where we are now (Louisiana ranks 44th in the US in education and PA ranks much, much higher. In Shreveport, more students drop out of high school than graduate and there is no decent university system between Dallas and Baton Rouge. We do not want our daughter educated here). Low crime is also important...I would like a place where I can go walking safely with my daughter, can sit outside on my porch on a nice night and maybe going jogging at dawn. Maybe a nice park nearby. And of course, both my husband and I would have to find a job before hand, which I am hoping won't be too hard: I am a Registered Nurse and he is a high school teacher with his Master's. My husband isn't picky about where he would teach and isn't afraid of a little hard knocks...that is really all there is where we are now. I am an adrenaline junkie and want to work ER at a Trauma Center (as I do now)...UPMC I am guessing? Where do all the major car accidents, shootings, stabbings and violent crime victims go? That's where I want to work!

From what I've read, I imagine places like Ross Township, Point Breeze, Reagent Square, Squirrel Hill and maybe Shadyside would be fitting. Can you really walk out of your house, down the street a ways to retail and restaurants? Swoon! This said, what are those gorgeous, older homes really like? The real estate websites make them look very appealing! What are the schools like in these areas?

I have also seen some great homes listed in what I expect to be the suburbs of Pittsburgh...some places I haven't seen mention as frequently on the forum. I've gotten the general idea of places like Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon (which are appealing for their schools) but what are the other places like Monroeville, Shaler, North and South Fayette, Ohio Township, Moon/Crescent Township, Richland, Franklin Park, etc like? Are these nice towns with nice homes or crappy towns with nice homes? It seems like you can get a lot of house for your money in some of these areas which make me wonder if the town is as nice as the houses or if I am looking at a picture of a pretty house in a not so nice town.

Can someone explain what a township is? Is it a separate city or town in the Pittsburgh metro area or just a different neighborhood name? What is home rule? Can you count on nicer areas to be in a certain geographical area (think North, East, South, West). I get the idea that Pittsburgh is sort of like the Dallas Metro area with nice pockets in just about every direction patchworked with not so nice areas. Where do the rich people live? The middle class? The poor? Where is it hip and trendy? Where is it quiet/sedate? I've heard debates about the cleanliness of the city...is it clean or dirty? Shreveport is dirty, dirty, dirty whereas Dallas was relative clean. Large homeless population? Gang violence? Can you see the stars at night?

How's the weather, really? How cold is cold? What is fall and spring like? Is it beautiful? How hot are the summers and how long does it stay that way? Does everyone have central heat/air? What is the humidity like? I hate the hot and humid...Shreveport is my own personal hell! What is allergy season like? What are all the rivers like...here we have the fast moving and warm Red River full of gators and snapping turtles and dilapidated houseboats!

Okay, enough blabbering, I think you get the drift. Can't wait to hear from y'all!

Rochelle

P.S. Will Pittsburghers welcome us southerners? Do y'all talk funny? We do! Got any barbeque and Tex/Mex up there?
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:03 AM
 
117 posts, read 269,829 times
Reputation: 35
Just a quick hi to you and a good word for the Pittsburgh area from our family who just moved here from San Antonio, TX! We love it!
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:12 AM
 
20,274 posts, read 17,305,310 times
Reputation: 2803
I'm just going to address some of your questions, and hopefully other people will cover other questions:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ro_vaughan View Post
Can you really walk out of your house, down the street a ways to retail and restaurants?
In many neighborhoods, yes you can!

Quote:
This said, what are those gorgeous, older homes really like?
All over the map, really. Some have been extensively worked on and are move-in ready, some are in poor shape and may need a lot of work, and everything in between. Of the renovated ones, some have been preserved in close to their original style, some redone in a very contemporary way, some in what was contemporary in some prior period, and so on. You really have to see (and ultimately have a professional inspection of) each house.

Quote:
What are the schools like in these areas?
Again it really varies. Addressing just what I know best: the situation in the City is really complicated: it depends in part on your local feeder system, and there are also various magnet and charter schools. In Regent Square there are actually three different school districts of varying quality. Layered on all this is the possibility of private schools, including some relatively inexpensive Catholic schools.

Quote:
Can someone explain what a township is? Is it a separate city or town in the Pittsburgh metro area or just a different neighborhood name?
A township is basically just one of many different names an independent municipal unit might have in Pennsylvania.

Quote:
What is home rule?
To somewhat oversimplify, counties and municipalities can operate according to general provisions of state law, or they can adopt a home rule charter that within certain limits will determine how they are governed (think of it like a little constitution for that county or municipality).

Quote:
I get the idea that Pittsburgh is sort of like the Dallas Metro area with nice pockets in just about every direction patchworked with not so nice areas.
That is the right impression.

Quote:
Where do the rich people live?
The really rich (meaning not just professional-class people but holders of really large amounts of capital) can be found in lots of places, but the highest concentrations are in Sewickley and Fox Chapel, with some in the East End (e.g., Shadyside or Squirrel Hill) as well.

Professional-class people are widely dispersed, including in the aforementioned areas where the really rich are located, many more parts of the City, any number of suburbs near and far . . . again, think patchwork.

Quote:
The middle class?
Really all over. We have middle class neighborhoods almost everywhere.

Quote:
The poor?
Also in many places, but some of the most economically depressed areas are either certain neighborhoods in the City, or various former mill towns along the rivers.

Quote:
Where is it hip and trendy?
That depends on your notion of hip and trendy. For more upscale versions, you can look at the nicer parts of the East End, the Greater Downtown area, the South Side and a bit of the North Side, Mt. Lebanon, Sewickley, and so on. For a more bohemian sense of hip, you can look at Lawrenceville, the Penn Avenue Arts Corridor, other parts of the North Side, and so on.

Quote:
Where is it quiet/sedate?
All over. There are lots of quiet little pockets even in the City, and that description applies to most of the suburbs.

Quote:
I've heard debates about the cleanliness of the city...is it clean or dirty?
Decent chunks of the area have a well-worn appearance which some people process as dirty. Very little of the area looks completely new, which some people require in order to see something as clean. Personally, I'd say we are mostly doing pretty well on cleanliness, but could use a little less littering (as could most places).

Quote:
Large homeless population? Gang violence?
Not a lot of either for a city of this size, but that doesn't mean none whatsoever.

Quote:
Can you see the stars at night?
Depends on where you are, but in many places yes. It isn't hard to find spots without a lot of ambient light around, which is really all it takes.

Quote:
How's the weather, really?
This is a well-discussed topic here. I'll just say I personally think it adds up to a fairly moderate yearly cycle given that we do have four seasons. Our rain is fairly well-spread through the year, which some people don't like but it does wonders for gardens.

Quote:
Does everyone have central heat/air?
You need heat. Central air is optional, unless you are highly sensitive to temperature variances. We didn't even use our window units this summer (just some fans).

Quote:
What are all the rivers like
Big but fairly sedate, unless there has been crazy rain upstream. A decent amount and variety of fish, nothing likely to eat you.

Quote:
Will Pittsburghers welcome us southerners?
I think Pittsburghers can seem a little reserved at first, but they tend to respond well to friendly people, regardless of origin. Depending on the neighborhood, you might find people wondering why you choose to move here, and you might find it a little hard at first to break into social circles that were established back in grade school. Other areas are more used to newcomers.

Quote:
Do y'all talk funny?
There is a pretty unique dialect around here--for example, the natives might substitute "yinz" or "youns" for "y'all", which is based on a contraction of "you ones". People from other places sometimes process it as a bit Southern, but it is really its own thing.

Quote:
Got any barbeque and Tex/Mex up there?
A bit, but . . . please feel free to bring some up to share!
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:40 AM
Status: "Sky watchin" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Under Mount Doom
8,899 posts, read 5,312,802 times
Reputation: 4437
Well, I can say folks seem great and very welcoming, so long as you don't head over to Southside and crank up that Toby Keith album you love so much...!

THAT kind of diversity is not welcome...hehehe
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:26 PM
 
1,399 posts, read 1,293,709 times
Reputation: 890
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiddlehead View Post
Well, I can say folks seem great and very welcoming, so long as you don't head over to Southside and crank up that Toby Keith album you love so much...!

THAT kind of diversity is not welcome...hehehe
Actually, Country music is very popular here.

Brian makes a good point about old areas being seen as dirty. If you're not familiar with the northeast, or Great Lakes region, or a southern city like Louisville or New Orleans, you may be used to most construction being post WW2. Pittsburgh dates back before the revolution, and underwent it's greatest growth in the period between the end of the Civil War, and the beginning of WW1. As a result, substantial areas of the city, and it's inner suburbs, date from that era. These areas tend to be quite densely built up, as walking was the main mode of transportation then, requiring work, home, shopping and services to all be fairly close together. While these areas are frequently held in high regard by most urbanists, it can be a bit of culture shock for someone who is from a newer Sunbelt city.

I have some photos of the city, if you want to get an idea of the physical layout.

http://www.pbase.com/step2me/pittsburgh_pa
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Old 10-27-2009, 06:17 PM
 
Location: Central Minnesota
149 posts, read 420,475 times
Reputation: 59
Haven't been on here in a while! Spent the better of 2 months this past summer/fall (in 4 trips total) back in Oakdale, which is right between North and South Fayette. Both are more rural areas, with some fantastically large new homes scattered throughout more in building divisions. South Fayette feeds into South Fayette School District. Just drove past that last week---they've spent millions and millions on new buildings, additions, etc., and there are a lot of newer homes near there. North Fayette feeds into West Allegheny, which itself is still undergoing major building and renovations. The newer homes are actually gorgeous in these areas! Many of the older homes have been kept quite well, of course with a few that haven't that are scattered throughout. Not much for fast pace in either though. The entire area is pretty well laid back. Oakdale itself is definitely small town.

Just letting you know about the areas I know best!
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Old 11-01-2009, 06:41 AM
 
10 posts, read 16,082 times
Reputation: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ro_vaughan View Post
I've been lurking the Pittsburgh forum for several weeks now and am astounded by how welcoming and helpful the majority of posters seem to be to people, like me, who are interested in relocating to Pittsburgh! Wow!

My husband and I are poised for change. We have both lived in the southern US, Texas and Louisiana to be exact, for our entire lives. We could easily settle in some non-descript place like every other town we have ever lived in...but honestly, that doesn't sound like much fun! I have been researching desirable cities in the US for young, professional families...and Pittsburgh is near the top of many lists. The cost of living, cost of real estate, school rankings, and natural beauty and historic culture makes Pittsburgh seem like a dream come true...especially in comparison to the God-forsaken swamp we live in now.

Most of my questions have been previously answered in previous threads, so I will try not to repeat the obvious. There are a few things that I am still curious or confused about so please feel free to enlighten me!

My husband and I have done it all; the big city of downtown Dallas, the suburbs of Arlington and Shreveport and the deep country of East Texas. Now that we have a small child, there is more to consider, but both of us lean towards a more urban vibe. I would love to live in Pittsburgh proper but would not discount a roomy suburban home. We are situated well financially with decent paying jobs, little debt and some savings; thus we plan to spend between 250-325 K for a home, depending on property, tax, of course. This seems to place us in any number of neighborhoods both inside and outside the city proper. Good schools, preferably public, are of utmost importance. This said, just about anything would be better than where we are now (Louisiana ranks 44th in the US in education and PA ranks much, much higher. In Shreveport, more students drop out of high school than graduate and there is no decent university system between Dallas and Baton Rouge. We do not want our daughter educated here). Low crime is also important...I would like a place where I can go walking safely with my daughter, can sit outside on my porch on a nice night and maybe going jogging at dawn. Maybe a nice park nearby. And of course, both my husband and I would have to find a job before hand, which I am hoping won't be too hard: I am a Registered Nurse and he is a high school teacher with his Master's. My husband isn't picky about where he would teach and isn't afraid of a little hard knocks...that is really all there is where we are now. I am an adrenaline junkie and want to work ER at a Trauma Center (as I do now)...UPMC I am guessing? Where do all the major car accidents, shootings, stabbings and violent crime victims go? That's where I want to work!

From what I've read, I imagine places like Ross Township, Point Breeze, Reagent Square, Squirrel Hill and maybe Shadyside would be fitting. Can you really walk out of your house, down the street a ways to retail and restaurants? Swoon! This said, what are those gorgeous, older homes really like? The real estate websites make them look very appealing! What are the schools like in these areas?

I have also seen some great homes listed in what I expect to be the suburbs of Pittsburgh...some places I haven't seen mention as frequently on the forum. I've gotten the general idea of places like Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon (which are appealing for their schools) but what are the other places like Monroeville, Shaler, North and South Fayette, Ohio Township, Moon/Crescent Township, Richland, Franklin Park, etc like? Are these nice towns with nice homes or crappy towns with nice homes? It seems like you can get a lot of house for your money in some of these areas which make me wonder if the town is as nice as the houses or if I am looking at a picture of a pretty house in a not so nice town.

Can someone explain what a township is? Is it a separate city or town in the Pittsburgh metro area or just a different neighborhood name? What is home rule? Can you count on nicer areas to be in a certain geographical area (think North, East, South, West). I get the idea that Pittsburgh is sort of like the Dallas Metro area with nice pockets in just about every direction patchworked with not so nice areas. Where do the rich people live? The middle class? The poor? Where is it hip and trendy? Where is it quiet/sedate? I've heard debates about the cleanliness of the city...is it clean or dirty? Shreveport is dirty, dirty, dirty whereas Dallas was relative clean. Large homeless population? Gang violence? Can you see the stars at night?

How's the weather, really? How cold is cold? What is fall and spring like? Is it beautiful? How hot are the summers and how long does it stay that way? Does everyone have central heat/air? What is the humidity like? I hate the hot and humid...Shreveport is my own personal hell! What is allergy season like? What are all the rivers like...here we have the fast moving and warm Red River full of gators and snapping turtles and dilapidated houseboats!

Okay, enough blabbering, I think you get the drift. Can't wait to hear from y'all!

Rochelle

P.S. Will Pittsburghers welcome us southerners? Do y'all talk funny? We do! Got any barbeque and Tex/Mex up there?
Here's the basic you need to know:

1. Property taxes. Houses aren't as cheap as they appear. Taxes are very high and tend to vary a lot. Before thinking about an area, investigate the property taxes. This page is a big help. It links to property taxes in all areas.
Allegheny County Municipality Map

You still need to do research. For example, Mt. Lebanon is poised for a massive property tax increase in the next few years.

2. Weather. Like other areas just south of the Great Lakes, Pgh is very overcast. You don't see the sun much in winter. It is humid for the northeast, but nothing like south.

3. People. People are extraordinarily friendly.

4. Restaurants. If you are from a big city and use to lots of good restaurants, be prepared to eat at home a lot in Pgh. It has the worst restaurants of any big city. And don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. You get a lot of homer pollyanna opinions on this board. There's a lot of things to like about Pgh, but good restaurants isn't one of them. For example, ethnic restaurants are few and awful because there is little immigration, outside the university area in Oakland. The one bright spot, surprisingly, is seafood. Go figure.

5. You can't get there from here. Be prepared for the fact that getting around is very difficult. The hills and rivers limit the movement in the city. Commuting is a nightmare. If you have to cross a river, be prepared for the day that the bridge needs repair (or as they say in Pittsburgh, "repaired")and your commuting time triples. (It happened to me.) You live in the Burgh, you stay in your own little pocket. This is what gives the city its primary character - a rather provincial and neighborhood-oriented kind of antique charm.

6.Point Breeze, Regent Square, Shadyside. These are a little too close to Homewood and S'liberty for my liking. Especially Point Breeze.Even Squirrel Hill gets some crime fromthem.

7.
If you don't plan to become a diehard Steelers fan, don't bother moving to Pittsburgh. As others will tell you, this is no joke.
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Old 11-01-2009, 07:25 AM
Status: "Corn well over knee high!" (set 13 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
67,406 posts, read 55,083,343 times
Reputation: 18750
Any place that sounds like a "dream come true", any place at all, will be a disappointment to you if you actually move there and have to get into the "eat, work, sleep" routine.
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Old 11-01-2009, 08:19 AM
 
193 posts, read 311,765 times
Reputation: 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by llawrence View Post
Here's the basic you need to know:

1. Property taxes. Houses aren't as cheap as they appear. Taxes are very high and tend to vary a lot. Before thinking about an area, investigate the property taxes. This page is a big help. It links to property taxes in all areas.
Allegheny County Municipality Map

You still need to do research. For example, Mt. Lebanon is poised for a massive property tax increase in the next few years.

2. Weather. Like other areas just south of the Great Lakes, Pgh is very overcast. You don't see the sun much in winter. It is humid for the northeast, but nothing like south.

3. People. People are extraordinarily friendly.

4. Restaurants. If you are from a big city and use to lots of good restaurants, be prepared to eat at home a lot in Pgh. It has the worst restaurants of any big city. And don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. You get a lot of homer pollyanna opinions on this board. There's a lot of things to like about Pgh, but good restaurants isn't one of them. For example, ethnic restaurants are few and awful because there is little immigration, outside the university area in Oakland. The one bright spot, surprisingly, is seafood. Go figure.

5. You can't get there from here. Be prepared for the fact that getting around is very difficult. The hills and rivers limit the movement in the city. Commuting is a nightmare. If you have to cross a river, be prepared for the day that the bridge needs repair (or as they say in Pittsburgh, "repaired")and your commuting time triples. (It happened to me.) You live in the Burgh, you stay in your own little pocket. This is what gives the city its primary character - a rather provincial and neighborhood-oriented kind of antique charm.

6.Point Breeze, Regent Square, Shadyside. These are a little too close to Homewood and S'liberty for my liking. Especially Point Breeze.Even Squirrel Hill gets some crime fromthem.

7. If you don't plan to become a diehard Steelers fan, don't bother moving to Pittsburgh. As others will tell you, this is no joke.
I'm currently living in Atlanta planning on heading back to Pittsburgh (where I went to grad school) in a few months. My quick answer is that I am absolutely besotted by the place (to the constant amazement of my Atlanta friends) -- I think you will love it.

A more thoughtful reply, though, would be very close to the assessment of llawrence's:

Real estate taxes are high relative to other places I've lived.

I've never minded the weather, but a lot of locals complain about it incessantly. I only wish there was a little more snow and a little less drizzle.

People are great (though waitstaff are pretty mediocre)--very unpretentious. Having lived in Dallas and Atlanta I can't tell you how great that is.

The food scene, as llawrence notes, is not amazing. You can find decent restaurants, and the Strip District is a nice grocery center, but Pittsburgh really needs to pick up its game on this score. I've noted this in another forum and people jumped down my throat, but, sorry--love the city, not crazy about the food. Pittsburgh is very working class in it's outlook and I think it makes it hard for really innovative restaurants to make a go of it.

The topography can pose challenges, but it's also closely tied to the charm of the place, the distinct nature of neighborhoods, etc. I love it.

As others have mentioned, there is a HUGE variety of places to live in Pittsburgh. Personally, I plan on getting a condo in North Oakland to be near the parks, universities and cultural institutions, but there are lots of other places I think I would be happy in (Deutschtown on the North Side seems super-charming if not the safest part of town). Really, I think you have to visit places for yourself--there's just too much variety and no "obvious" place to be.

I thought BrianTH's comments were interesting too. I have found Pittsburgh to be quite clean compared to many other places; I kinda have the opposite problem--when I got here in Atlanta, it was easy to interpret the green profusion of trees, lawns, weeds as "decrepit" when in fact, one adjusts to it and can see past it in time. I think it's the same with the worn-ness of Pittsburgh. If you're used to shiny, Pittsburgh ain't shiny. That's exactly why I'm going back. (though to echo BrianTH, please bring up some good Tex-Mex)!
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:33 AM
 
740 posts, read 1,396,677 times
Reputation: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by llawrence View Post
Here's the basic you need to know:

6.Point Breeze, Regent Square, Shadyside. These are a little too close to Homewood and S'liberty for my liking. Especially Point Breeze.Even Squirrel Hill gets some crime fromthem.[i]
I agree with most of what you said except this. Squirrel Hill is pretty far from any of the seedier city neighborhoods, and insulated by parks on either side, and shadyside above and greenfield below.

Point Breeze is on the other side of the Busway from Homewood, yes, but there are only like 3 or 4 places to even cross over, and I don't really think many people bother to cross.


And Regent Square is nowhere near Homewood or East Liberty.

Last edited by gameguy56; 11-01-2009 at 10:23 AM..
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