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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:05 PM
2 posts, read 11,346 times
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Hi everyone!

I have lived in Pittsburgh all my life, but after completing school at Pitt I recently accepted a job in Elizabethtown, PA. I am currently looking for somewhere to live in the area, and that was how I discovered this forum.

Being something of a city kid, and still relatively young, I have some qualms about moving out to what I (possibly naively) consider to be boring farm country. I was thinking about moving to Harrisburg, as that seems to be the closest urban area, but I had a couple questions.

1) Would the commute be too ridiculous on a daily basis? Mapquest says it's anywhere between 20-30 minutes depending on the exact location in Harrisburg, which I would be okay with, but I don't know anything about local traffic patterns. If it actually turned out to be an hour both ways, I wouldn't want to do that.

2) Where are the good places to live in Harrisburg if I decide to move there? I was hoping to find a studio/cheap 1 BR somewhere between 500-700 + util (or util included would be great!).

3) Other places that would be nice to live while working in Elizabethtown? I did also look for places in the town, but, truthfully, regardless of the concerns I expressed above, I was unable to really find anything. Again, I would be okay with a commute of between 20-30 mins, and I am hoping to find a place where I wouldn't have cabin fever in a week.

I realize these are pretty detailed questions, so a ton of thanks in advance to everyone who helps me out!!!!
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Old 07-10-2010, 08:33 PM
Location: Midwest transplant
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You might actually find something in E-town that would suit your needs. With the college there, there are quite a few places that cater to the "younger crowd" and since many people would be associated with the school, you'd fit in with the graduate students or younger staff members. There are back roads from Harrisburg (eastern side) that would get you to E-town in the 1/2 hour time frame.
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Old 07-12-2010, 06:22 AM
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Depending on your work site and schedule in E-town (would definitely work to Masonic Home, or a bit longer walk to the Mars plant, maybe too far for most people to the college) rail commuting might actually work from center city Harrisburg or Lancaster. Then you could buy a "fun" car and keep it parked most of the time.

Other alternatives might be Middletown or Mount Joy for relatively cheap and safe - you don't have to hit the bars *every* night, do you?
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:58 AM
Location: Downtown Harrisburg
1,434 posts, read 3,672,381 times
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Originally Posted by silkhandedwarhorse View Post
2) Where are the good places to live in Harrisburg if I decide to move there? I was hoping to find a studio/cheap 1 BR somewhere between 500-700 + util (or util included would be great!).
I'm not well-versed on the suburban apartment complexes, so all I can offer is advice on in-city living.

The Grayco, Executive House, Towne House, and River Plaza are the "major" in-city Harrisburg apartment complexes that offer studio apartments in that price range. Executive House and The Grayco are downtown, while Towne House and River Plaza are closer to midtown. Towne House and Executive House are more "modern" (1960s), The Grayco is retro-chic in a classy way (the building itself has a poor reputation prior to the early 2000s, but the current owners have done some amazing work), and River Plaza is in the middle (1950s). They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Executive House and The Grayco both include all utilities in your rent. All four offer reasonable access to the major traffic arteries, though be aware that Cameron Street can clog badly during rush hour. I personally live in Executive House, and if you can get past the rough-looking exterior (it is in dire need of a paintjob and/or refresh) and dated lobby / hallways, it's an outstanding value.

Old City Hall also offers studio apartments, but I think they may be just barely outside your price range. Simon Cameron School (in midtown) is worth a look if you're looking for unique loft floorplans, and I believe -- but am not certain -- they are in your price range.

Pennsylvania Place is the other major hirise in downtown Harrisburg. I was not impressed with their staff or property, but obviously people do live there and are apparently happy with their apartments. I can't tell you what the rates are because they don't give them out.

It might be worth taking a weekend trip and just walking the city streets in midtown / downtown. There are a lot of individual apartments tucked away on side streets and alleys that are worth consideration.

Book a hotel room downtown, and you can also get a feel for just how awesome our nightlife is. We have a massive concentration of dining, drinking, and clubbing options within a 5- or 6-block area of downtown. Walk along Second Street from around Market (the Hilton) to around South Street on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll see what I mean. Although we lack any superclubs like Webster Hall, our variety and quality more than makes up for such. Within the span of four blocks you can walk from an upscale martini lounge to an outdoor jazz cafe to an Irish Pub to an unbelievably awesome dive bar to two open-air bars-with-dancefloors to three multi-level nightclubs to two more martini lounges to a German bar to ... well, this thread will go on forever if I keep listing them all. Trust me when I say you won't be bored.

Last edited by DowntownHarrisburg; 07-12-2010 at 08:09 AM..
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Old 07-12-2010, 08:12 AM
Location: Philly
10,107 posts, read 15,364,136 times
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Elizabethtown pros:
1) no commute
2) can easily get to harrisburg or lancaster
3) closer to Philly for occasional big city fix via train
Cons (for someone not wanting to live in too small a town)
smaller than lancaster or Harrisburg (which are both much smaller than Pitt themselves)
Personally I like Harrisbrug's downtown area better than Lancaster, 19th v 18th c, and the river BUT, I understand the attraction of Lancaster
Lancaster pros:
1) no bankruptcy in immediate future
2) 65-75 min train ride from Philly
3) easy commute to e-town
4) improving downtown area
Harrisburg pros:
1)compact, walkable downtown with nice riverfront area
2)train station downtown (more or less)
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:05 PM
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
3,521 posts, read 8,643,439 times
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If you live in Harrisburg, you want to live in midtown Harrisburg north of Forster Street and south of Maclay Street, preferably west of about 3rd or 4th Street.

As was noted above, Elizabethtown is a college town, so you might find something there to your liking.
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:33 PM
2 posts, read 11,346 times
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Thanks a lot everyone!! Definitely a lot of good advice

ki0eh - No, obviously I do not need to/will be at a bar every night. I guess I just like the feel of living in an urban area.

So far I have really only been looking online for apartments, but I am planning on taking a trip to Harrisburg within a week to scope out possible sites, so special thanks to floor9 for possible apartment complexes! I will also be checking out the small towns in the area, like E-town, Middletown, Hummelsburg/Hershey, and the Lancaster area, too.

Thanks to everyone, again! Other thoughts are of course welcome, too. I will try to scan the PGH forum and help out potential movers by way of returning the favor!
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:02 AM
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Driving from Hummelstown or Hershey you would be going against traffic for the most part if you're working in E-town day shift (Derry Twp has a population of about 22,000 counting the MHS kids but collects about 33,000 annual occupational privilege taxes).

The Hummelstown postal address includes a few pricey apartment complexes south of the Borough proper (in Derry Twp) and north of Hershey along PA 39 (in South Hanover Twp). The south area will be much easier getting to E-town. Hummelstown Borough itself is older but minimal crime, the lead crime story in the weekly paper a couple of weeks ago was a report of someone deliberately running over a turtle, i.e. an amphibious animal, not a code word for something else!

Hershey tends to be more expensive and what locally owned shops etc. there were have moved over to downtown Hummelstown for the most part. The downtown of Hershey has been promised for at least ten years to be remade by the organizational mandarins that own it but for now there's little there to attract a potential resident. The older Briarcrest complex offers proximity to a couple of employment centers but since you're not working at those there's probably no need for you to look there.
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:44 AM
Location: Charleston, SC
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Elizabethtown is a college town, but it doesn't feel like one. I lived there for three years and it was very boring. Having previous lived in a college town (West Chester), I know what one should be like and trust me, when you're in E-town, you don't even realize there's a college there. There are no places to really go out. There are a few restaurants (T.J. Rockwell's, The Black Gryphon and Flavors), and about 50 pizza places, but if you're looking for variety and more "life," you'll need to go to Harrisburg or Lancaster.

E-town's population is largely families with kids, not college students (outside of the college) or young professionals and singles. I was 26 when I moved there and I was an old maid. Most people there get married when they're 21-23 and start families. Demographic (tapestry) research supports this. It's not what you'd expect at all from a college town. I was bored out of my mind when I lived there. It's not a bad town; it's just a sleepy town.

Lancaster is actually a much easier commute to E-town than Harrisburg. There's a lot more traffic up around the beltways in Harrisburg and getting in or out of the city during rush hour isn't so fun. Lancaster has virtually no traffic (I live in Lancaster now and commute to Middletown for work every day).

Speaking of Middletown- do not live there. Just don't. It's very run down. If you're looking for a small town, closer to E-town, I'd recommend Mount Joy. I never lived there, but I worked there for two years (I've worked in Middletown for three years). There are more restaurants and shops there and the town itself is much nicer. They also have a farmer's market every weekend during the spring, summer and fall, as well as other downtown events.
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:47 PM
Location: Lancaster County, PA
81 posts, read 162,011 times
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I agree with PiperGrace......noooooo Middletown. I live in Lancaster, and there is enough to do here as far as really good food, shopping, and things like the Fulton, American Music Theatre, Hershey Park, etc.
We are also from The Burg.......like a ton of other people here. We have taught a lot of the locals how great Pittsburgh people are! lol.....
Being serious...the commute from Lancaster if your on the Western side, is pretty quick to Etown. My brother lives there and it takes us about 20-25 minutes. I would go with Lancaster.
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