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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:09 AM
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I have gotten a job offer in Lewistown, PA. Most coworkers live in State College or Harrisburg.

Do you have any recommendations of State College vs. Harrisburg for a young professional?

Are there any nice areas to consider a little NW of Harrisburg, to shorten the commute to Lewistown for a young professional?
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Old 03-11-2012, 05:51 AM
Location: Midwest transplant
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Lewistown is in the middle of nowhere~beautiful area but not much happening. Maybe consider Boalsburg (outside of State College). The amenities (stores, restaurants, nightlife, events) would be more appealing in the State College area rather than Harrisburg. And hope that you don't have to use 322 on a football weekend, because it's the only major road to/from State College from the Harrisburg area.
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:37 PM
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State College has many virtues but a commute over Seven Mountains isn't one of them, plenty do it usually the other way. Better shopping than 5x larger Harrisburg metro is a new one on me, unless you need backpacking gear ( Life is Good T-Shirts | Life is Good Clothing | Appoutdoors.com no longer has an equivalent in the Hbg area ). Penns Valley has cute little towns (Centre Hall, Millheim) with some stuff going on of interest to relocatees but turning left from PA 144 into US 322 at Potters Mills is no fun and the Siglerville-Millheim Pike is seasonal.

Newport on US 22/322 a bit closer to Harrisburg than Lewistown is a little town with an espresso shop, natural foods store, and art gallery on its main square. Both a regular grocery and the schools are in-town walkable. Millerstown is a little closer to halfway, nice new park but little else in town. From these areas to Lewistown is now all 4-lane although the speed limit does inexplicably go down to 55 mph in the former "narrows" section between Mifflintown and Lewistown.
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Old 03-12-2012, 07:57 PM
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I moved from State College to Harrisburg just over a year ago, after I graduated from PSU, and I like it here much better. Towards the end of my time in State College, I got tired of the student scene there. Harrisburg has a much better "young professional" scene including a vibrant young professionals group Harrisburg Young Professionals that hosts volunteer events, happy hours, and sports leagues. The bar scene here is much more mature and less of a "college party" vibe (although that's here if you want it, check the Hardware Bar).

Towns in the northern reaches of the Harrisburg metro include Dauphin, Halifax, and Duncannon. Browsing craigslist and the classifieds, there aren't many apartment complexes here but you can rent a whole house or part of a house for 600-800 a month. If you'd like the apartment complex, look along Linglestown Road such as Timber Ridge Townhouses or others in that vicinity. You'll be a minute or two from US 322, which should be your main objective in commuting, being as close as possible to 322. You can meet up with carpools at park-and-ride lots by the Dauphin/Rt.225 exit, or the Halifax/Rt.147 exit. Best of luck in your search!
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:09 PM
Location: Downtown Harrisburg
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Originally Posted by teachbeach View Post
The amenities (stores, restaurants, nightlife, events) would be more appealing in the State College area rather than Harrisburg.
I haven't spent much quality time in State College for about five years, but you'll have a hard time topping Harrisburg's nightlife without going to a major metro like Philly or Baltimore. Second Street from Market to South streets is a non-stop parade of ultralounges, martini bars, nightclubs, piano bars, Irish pubs, sports bars, dive bars, restaurants, and outdoor entertainment. The crowd is mostly 20- and 30-something singles from all walks of life. On any given Friday or Saturday night, Second Street gets filled with pedestrian traffic, street vendors, and clubhoppers.

A typical night might have you catching half-off microbrews during happy hour at Anthonys (40 micros on tap, most about $2 - $3 for a pint during happy hour), dinner at McGrath's (Irish Pub), cheap drinks at Pep Grill (one-of-a-kind dive bar), classing up a little at Carley's (piano bar), meeting friends at Level 2 (ultralounge), catching Poison or whatever gimmick band is playing at Hardware Bar / Eclipse (nightclub), meeting more friends at Ceoltas (another Irish Pub), and topping the night off with martinis at Privado (ultralounge / martini bar).

You'd miss about three quarters of what downtown and midtown has to offer by doing that, but it's a start.

As for events, I'm not too sure on that one so I'll leave it a draw. State College has the Bryce Jordan center, but we have Hersheypark Arena, The Forum, and Whitaker Center. We've also got a very active music scene with at least a dozen GOOD (and even more mediocre) live music venues open any given weekend. Riverfront Park plays home to several annual festivals, and City Island offers numerous recreational activities including the Senators baseball team. To say nothing of our museums and galleries.

I don't think either region has particularly good shopping.

Opinions may vary on all of the above, and that's fine. They're opinions. But one HUGE advantage that the Harrisburg region has going for it is sheer size. The Harrisburg / York / Lancaster region (a triangle of cities within 30-40 minutes of each other) has just over two million residents. Harrisburg proper has just shy of 50,000, and the Harrisburg metro area itself has around 650,000.

So what's the benefit? When you need a change of pace, Lancaster offers a vibrant arts community just 40 minutes away. Philly is a 90-minute train ride, and that same train continues on to NYC. Baltimore is barely 90 minutes away. Harrisburg's airport (MDT, in Middletown) is slightly more expensive than Baltimore or Philly, but usually by no more than 5% - 10%.

If you want to shave a little off your commute, the areas around Marysville, Dauphin, and Enola will shave a solid 15 minutes off your drive. But for my money, I'd just as soon drive that extra 15 minutes just to live in the city. Right now I'm sitting on my penthouse balcony overlooking the Susquehanna River, I-81, and downtown, and we're about to walk up the street to grab dinner at our choice of about a half dozen outdoor restaurants. On our way back we'll probably stop by El Sol for the most amazing margaritas we've had north of the border. Again, this is entirely personal preference, but as a young professional, there's something to be said for living in the thick of it all.

Susquehanna Township (along Route 39 / Linglestown Road, east of 322) offers a good compromise. You're minutes away from the city, and still shaving a little bit off your commute.

The comment about 322 on football weekends is true. The highway becomes an unmitigated disaster on game day. Expect to spend several hours in bumper-to-bumper stop-and-crawl traffic.

I don't have anything bad to say about State College. It's a nice town. The one drawback I saw living there was that once you leave the area, you're an hour or more away from everything.
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Old 03-14-2012, 05:43 PM
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Purely on distance, State College is 31 miles away from Lewistown, while Harrisburg is 57 miles away. Newport, as mentioned, is 35 miles away, but I don't see why living in Newport would be preferable to living in Lewistown, except that it's much closer to Harrisburg for activities. Now, although Harrisburg is much further away than State College, the winter drive to State College involves driving over a mountain (Seven Mountains/Tussey), which isn't all that fun in the winter or in the rain. It's not all that big (about 1000 feet above the valley), but it's steep, and it is the only mountain on the drive from State College to Harrisburg that's big enough to make your ears pop from the elevation change. Lots of tractor trailers are the one of the biggest annoyances of dealing with that steep incline (and I'm sure those big rig drivers don't like us cars either). And then I despise the part coming down on the State College side where it goes from 4-lane to 2-lane and your all of a sudden face to face with oncoming traffic, and then once you get down to the base of the mountain you have to hang a sharp left, and then it's 2-lane all the way to State College with tailgaiters behind you and guys with their brights on coming at you. As far as winter drives go, it isn't all that bad, but I'd find having to do that every day to be very annoying. Doing it a couple times a winter isn't too bad. On the other hand, the drive from Lewistown to Harrisburg is longer, and more tedious, and it has some hills too, but not as bad as Seven Mountains.

Lewistown isn't all that small. The Census Bureau "Urban Cluster" had a population of 19,000 in 2000. In contrast, the Newport "Urban Cluster" had a population of only 2500. State College Urban Area, of course, is much bigger, with 71,000. And Harrisburg has over 350,000 in its Urban Area.

I haven't spent a lot of time in Lewistown, but it is less wealthy than State College and feels more like the rest of small town, mid-state Pennsylvania than State College, which is the most college dominated college town I've ever lived in. Depending on how young you are, I don't know whether that is the kind of place you want to live. Do you want to meet students or 20-somethings ? Personally, if I were working in Lewistown, I'd likely choose to live in Lewistown rather than in State College. To me, any advantages of State College would not be worth the daily commute over the mountain. At all. As a 30-something professional, I'm not in love with living in State College at all.

The differences between State College and Harrisburg are pretty big. Harrisburg is a city. State College is a big college town with a huge university. I'm less familiar with Harrisburg, but it seems to be much more of a happening place if you're not a college student. Of course, the crime in the Harrisburg area is worse, since State College has very little violent crime.

If you want to know my honest recommendation, I would recommend beginning by renting for a year in the Lewistown area, and then use that time to decide what you think about State College, Harrisburg, Newport & whatever else, and the idea of driving every day between those places and Lewistown.

I don't think Lewistown is all that bad of a place to live in for a year to find out what it's all about. You may end up loving it, and then won't you be glad you didn't assume you'd hate it and committed yourself to an annoying daily commute ? On the other hand, by spending a year in Lewistown, you have plenty of opportunity to explore the central PA region, and decide exactly which town suits you best. You won't be spending all your first year working and commuting.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:01 PM
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Lewistown, unfortunately, doesn't have much going for it. It was a much different place even 10-15 years or so ago. That's not to say that it still doesn't have some really nice residential areas, but many parts of it are sad. I would say it would be out. The same for the small towns around it (Belleville, Reedsville, etc.) they are beautiful and charming but extremely small.

State College is a wonderful town. However, I'm not sure if it would be perfect for you. If you had a family, I would say State College, no doubt. State College is great for students. It is great for families. It is great for retirees. However, the "young professional" part of it is tricky. I have heard that young professionals in State College feel stuck between the younger undergraduate and graduate students and the people with families. If you want nightlife were you can meet a lot of people your own age, then it's probably not for you. The commute over Seven Mountains isn't a fun one, either, but doable.

Therefore, I would say that Harrisburg would offer you the most.

Last edited by Lion11; 03-14-2012 at 10:12 PM..
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:14 AM
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Default Moving to Central PA

I'm moving from Chicago to central PA for a new job. I'm 27, single, and enjoy the an area with a good nightlife. What areas are good? State College, Harrisburg? Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by akessler85 View Post
I'm moving from Chicago to central PA for a new job. I'm 27, single, and enjoy the an area with a good nightlife. What areas are good? State College, Harrisburg? Thanks in advance.
State College might be a little bit juvenile for someone your age, unless you're into drunk 18 year olds (who isn't?)

Harrisburg is a good town, albeit a little dangerous. Coming from Chicago, I'm assuming you have the street smarts to not whip your wallet out on the street or talk around at night talking on a $500 cell phone, so you should be fine.

Harrisburg has good night life and more job opportunities, as well as better shopping. Night life in HBurg is pretty condensed, it spans about 5 blocks on one street, with a couple dozen bars in those 5 blocks. Of course, you're less than 2 hours by train to Philly and a 1.5 hour drive to Baltimore, so you can get to a large city with a more vibrant night life.
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:45 PM
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Read DowntownHarrisburg's overview of, well, Downtown Harrisburg. It's the best nightlife scene in the state between Philly and Pittsburgh, bar none, there's something for everybody. State College is probably second place, however it's mostly college kids. The crime in the city is bad, but it's mostly certain neighborhoods. Crime in the downtown area is mostly related to the drunken activity that goes on there at night, during the day it's probably the safest neighborhood within city limits.

Where would you be working? Definitely make a decision based on your commute, it's winter now and the 90 mile stretch between Harrisburg and State College can be a snow covered trek over and around large mountains. Not too fun.
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