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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Oakland, California
102 posts, read 156,250 times
Reputation: 17

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As a recent retiree, I am considering relocation to Harrisburg, having heard and read about its superior quality of life. I would appreciate information regarding the most desirable (clean, safe, quiet), yet affordable neighborhoods for apartment rentals within the city limits or very close-in suburbs, far enough away from student-dominated areas. Having grown up in NYC, snow, cold and, yes even the rain, do not scare me, though it has been more than twenty years since I actually lived through a "real" winter. Criteria are proximity to shopping and other frequently-necessary services, near reliable public transit. Prefer older, well-maintained buildings (no high-rises). Price range: approx. $600-900/mo. for a studio or one-bedroom apt., though am somewhat flexible. I am very progressive, physically active (hiking, running, birding), follow a green, vegan and animal-friendly lifestyle. Please advise if locating such a place is feasible these days. Would Harrisburg be a good fit? Any additional information about living in the Harrisburg is also welcome.

Ron in Oakland, CA
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Old 01-13-2012, 12:56 PM
 
69 posts, read 146,452 times
Reputation: 104
Glad you're considering Harrisburg!

I moved here a few years ago, and although I grew up and have always lived in Pennsylvania, I enjoy this area the best. Harrisburg, if you look at the population, is actually a small city, but it's large metro-area and thriving downtown give it the feeling of a larger city. Judging by your post, I would take a look at the Midtown neighborhood. This is roughly from Forster to Maclay, between the Susquehanna River and 3rd Street. There's some really great and well-maintained colonial architecture with rentals in the 600-900 range for a 1 bedroom. It's definitely the city's most progressive area, with a few art museums scattered in the neighborhood, a new Susquehanna Art Museum about to break ground at 3rd & Calder Streets, a new vegetarian restaurant (Jayyid Harvest) at 2nd & Harris Streets, a few indie coffeeshops, a great indie bookstore (Midtown Scholar) and a well-known farmers market (Broad Street Market) where you can get some fresh local fruits & veggies direct from the farmers in the area. The neighborhood still experiences some crime, almost entirely at night, so be sure to keep your head on a swivel and walk with a group after dark if possible.

Transit is mostly bus, and most routes originate at Market Square, at 2nd & Market Streets. Midtown is served by the 3 and the 6 bus, but you can catch a bus to nearly anywhere from Market Square. Amtrak has one train to Pittsburgh daily, and I believe about a dozen to Philadelphia that continue on to NYC each day out of the station at 4th & Market Streets downtown.

As for being active, the City boasts a great trail system called the Capital Greenbelt that straddles the entire city boundary line for more than 20 miles. The most popular section is the riverfront park section downtown, you'll find bicyclists, walkers, families, tourists, dog walkers, and seemingly everyone in the city out and about on a nice summer Saturday. There are several festivals over the summer when they close down a few blocks of Front Street. Minor-league baseball (Harrisburg Senators) is across a pedestrian bridge on City Island, along with mini-golf, an arcade, a boat pier, and other activities. You're a 20 minute drive from the Appalachian Trail, kayaking on the Susquehanna, or camping in the mountains, and a 45 minute drive from Gettysburg. Also, Baltimore and Philadelphia are just over 90 minutes away, as are all the events that Penn State University has throughout the year.

The area surrounding Harrisburg tends to be more conservative, however I would also take a look at the communities of Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, Carlisle, and Hershey. These are some of the more well-kept historic towns within 20 miles of HBG where people tend to be more open to newcomers. I would suggest flying out for a long weekend, renting a car, and exploring the area a bit, Oakland is a very different place!

Hope this helps!
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:50 PM
 
Location: Oakland, California
102 posts, read 156,250 times
Reputation: 17
Thanks for all the info. Yes, it does help quite a bit. Sounds like Harrisburg is a pretty well-kept secret. How would you compare it to Pittsburgh?
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Old 01-13-2012, 03:54 PM
 
Location: Northern Appalachia
6,378 posts, read 7,247,487 times
Reputation: 7745
Quote:
Originally Posted by npauthor View Post
Thanks for all the info. Yes, it does help quite a bit. Sounds like Harrisburg is a pretty well-kept secret. How would you compare it to Pittsburgh?
Harrisburg is a great area as long as you don't live in Harrisburg.
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Old 01-14-2012, 07:10 PM
 
Location: Downtown Harrisburg
1,434 posts, read 3,560,290 times
Reputation: 1015
Quote:
Originally Posted by npauthor View Post
Criteria are proximity to shopping and other frequently-necessary services, near reliable public transit. Prefer older, well-maintained buildings (no high-rises). Price range: approx. $600-900/mo. for a studio or one-bedroom apt., though am somewhat flexible. I am very progressive, physically active (hiking, running, birding), follow a green, vegan and animal-friendly lifestyle. Please advise if locating such a place is feasible these days. Would Harrisburg be a good fit? Any additional information about living in the Harrisburg is also welcome.
1timbo1 is right -- Midtown would be a pretty good fit for you. It's our city's arts / culture district. 1timbo1 pretty much described it perfectly. Us locals generally regard "midtown" as roughly the area from Third & Reily to Front & Forster -- give or take. The actual borders will vary depending on who you ask and what time of day it is, but that's the gist of it.

Until you become more familiar with the city, I would avoid looking at homes north of Reily Street. It's not that that's a bad part of the city, but there are a handful of blocks that you might want to steer clear of at first. I would also recommend avoiding Allison Hill for now (or most of the areas east of Cameron Street), as that tends to be a problem area -- which is especially unfortunate because there's some beautiful architecture up there.

One thing to be aware of is that our local public transit is not exactly comprehensive. If you're able to be flexible with your needs and schedule, you can manage with our local bus system (CAT). Timetables are a little wiggly and the routes aren't terribly efficient, but it works.

CAT: Capital Area Transit

You should have no trouble finding a studio or one-bedroom in that price range, especially if you're happy with a townhouse.

As for general city information, we're currently in the middle of a severe financial crisis right now. Our city government is dysfunctional and a state takeover is pending. How this affects us is really anyone's guess, but us renters won't be hit as hard as owners (since, after all, we can always just leave). That being said, a significant amount of private development has kicked off in the past few months, all of which stands to make noticeable improvements to the city. It's entirely reasonable to believe that both midtown and uptown will see major improvements over the next decade due to some of these improvements, especially the Northern Gateway project (already underway along Seventh Street).

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I think Harrisburg delivers more bang for your buck than any other small city I've seen. We share very tight political, social, and economic ties with two nearby cities -- York and Lancaster -- which helps this area feel much larger and more metropolitan than it is. Although it's not NY, it's really impressive for a city of 50,000 surrounded by a few small boroughs. And when you need an escape from Harrisburg, Baltimore and Philly are both about 90 minutes away by car. NYC is about 3.5 hours by train (and there's an Amtrak station downtown), and Pittsburgh is about four.

Having lived here for the past 14 years, I can't help but think that the city is currently in the early stages of a full-blown renaissance. This feels like the era when future generations will look back upon and say "THIS is when everything started to change".
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Oakland, California
102 posts, read 156,250 times
Reputation: 17
Thanks, DowntownHarrisburg. Sounds very promising.
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