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I don't want to turn this into a big treatise on cars and driving, but since I pay some attention to this, just a couple of things to add:
1. Pretty true about diesels. A big problem can be that many gas stations (as we would call them) don't actually have diesel. Those who buy diesel cars tend to be diehard aficionados, not your average car driver. And most of these diesel cars come from one manufacturer: VW.
2. I see Smarts just about every day now. Not as common as other cars, sure, but not rare. There's even someone way out here in the sticks that owns one. And it followed me onto the highway at commute time. Wow. (I can't imagine it's a good 70mph highway driving car; that's nearing its top speed.) But overall generally we are lacking some of the other small cars of the world, and some of the same models names are used here but for larger cars.
6. Chevy Malibu (and now departed Pontiac G6) is not really an Insignia. It is built on the same global platform developed by Opel, yes. It's not the same all around the way a Saturn Astra was simply an imported Astra from Europe with only minor tweaks. The 2011 Buick Regal will be more of an Insignia than the Malibu is.
8. This is changing about Fords, at least the smaller ones. Focus is to become worldwide same (i.e. no longer different in the US), and we are to get the Fiesta soon now (I forget when it is due to go on sale here).
9 & 10. Agreed. There are always anecdotes available either way. I know of a person who swore off Hondas because of a bad experience. That's fine. I couldn't bring myself to buy a Chrysler product at this stage. I'm softening my stance on Fords and maybe even softening on GM enough to consider it when buying new. So if/when Chrysler improves I will consider them. But I don't have much hope.
Room renting isn't a big thing in Pittsburgh since the cost of living is rather low. People who do rent out rooms or share houses want to find people who are interested in staying long-term, not just for a few months. I personally don't think it's a good way to socialize. The odds of having something in common with someone is limited compared to participating in activities you enjoy. The best way to meet like minded people is to join clubs and groups or take classes. You'll meet other people who are passionate about the same things.
Yes, the Brittish are invading! My boss is Brittish. Even after working with him for two years, I still can't understand half of what he says. I ask him to spell things because sometimes that's the only way I can figure out what he's saying. I've worked with other people from the UK who I could easily understand, but my boss has a heavy accent and talks way too fast. Be forewarned that you might have problems communicating if you have a heavy accent. Keep a positive attitude. If my boss had treated me like an idiot for asking him to spell a simple word I couldn't understand, I would have quit my job. Fortunately, he's very easy going and knows that we simply DO NOT UNDERSTAND HIM half the time.
You're right and the more I look into it, the more it seems it is really about student living, which I am not interested in. Oh well, it's always good to expore all options I guess!
My current boss (in WV) sometimes has trouble understanding me, but that's mostly due to the phrases I use rather than my accent. My accent is not all that strong, so as long as I don't slip into my Northern ways I'm sure I'll be fine.
As for places to live, I think Robinson could be fine but I was going to wait until we clarified where you were commuting to. It does no good to recommend that place if it turns out we have directions or routes confused and you're meant to be commuting somewhere far from it.
It also could be a little isolated out there. This seems to be a concern of yours so maybe it's not the ideal place to be. Living in the city would be somewhat less isolating perhaps. Although in any place it's going to be what you make of it.
I don't think there is any reason not to trust a real estate agent, but real estate agents have nothing to do with sublets/sharing/rooms/etc. They will be useful strictly for getting your own place.
Indeed, I think if you told someone you wanted to share a room by choice when you can afford your own place, most people would probably look at you like you have two heads. Room sharing is typically forced by circumstance (finances, university housing requirements, etc.) rather than chosen. And in the few instances that it is chosen, it is most likely chosen with people who are already friends.
I'm not at all convinced that there's a greater likelihood of making friends in a roommate situation; roommates can just as easily be sharing the house and not do anything together. Also, the roommate scenarios are less likely in the suburbs, and less likely among working professionals, although I did see maybe one or two potential listings in that section of craigslist. Looking at listings now, though, is likely of minimal use when you're moving perhaps 3 months from now.
I don't think the bus or really the T is going to be of any use at least for commuting. (Someone suggested being near the T as a way to get into the city for other stuff, but I'm not too sold on that.) I get the impression the work place is pretty far out, and the reason to live on the outskirts of Pittsburgh is to be near some kind of civilization. (BTW, yes we put a Z in there not an S. Another thing to get used to. )
20 to 30 min. south of PGH on I-79 will put you near Washington or therabouts, maybe Southpointe. You'll be fine over here. My company is global and we host plenty of workers from London and Darby for long stretches and they always love it when they come to visit. Just your accent will have you meeting people left and right.
I agree on the Dodge Caliber, it should not ever be on your consideration list. Smaller Suzukis are available as well as many other compact cars. I drive an older Corolla as my commuter car and it is great for that.
To save some coin, I'd buy certified used a couple years old with a warranty from a dealership and shop around for something that fits your style and rates well in Consumer Reports. You'll save a ton of money over new and if it was a lease vehicle, it will most likely have been maintained well.
I'd also try to get into a larger apt. complex and into a one bedroom on your own. You'll have more options than trying to rent a room yet, you'll still get to meet neighbors in the bldg. fairly easily.
Be wary of Craigslist. I'd say a full 25-33% of the ads on there are scammers. Do not give out personal information online, especially for credit checks. Make sure you do all that in person after you have viewed the apt. you are interested in. Search the local PGH newspapers for ads. They should be a little more trustworthy than the ads on Craigslist. (Post Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune Review)
I might have missed it but do you know the exact area you will be working in? That could help us point you in the right direction as far as a place to live.
As for my expectations, well I guess all cities have quite high crime, and this is why I wouldn't choose to live in a city centre. This is also why it's important for me to know about these neighbourhoods and know to avoid them. As the office is about 20-30 mins south of Pittsburgh on the I-79 I don't need to live in the centre, but I don't want to be too far away.
The people on this forum tend to be overly paranoid about crime. Yes, we have some crime and a few bad neighborhoods, but we don't have it nearly as bad as other American cities. If you don't intend on being involved in the illegal drug trade, then you shouldn't be concerned about being a potential crime victim. Also, there are many quiet, clean, and safe neighborhoods within the Pittsburgh city limits that are very nice to live in. I'd recommend them, but it would be a bit of a commute for you.
P.S. Since I saw Ford Focus mentioned in this thread, I just wanted to say that I LOVE driving my Focus around the city. It's small enough to easily navigate the narrow roads and fit into tight parking spaces, but doesn't feel like a deathtrap (I'm looking at you Smart Cars).
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