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Thread summary:

Moving to Pittsburgh: traffic, taxes, housing, market, find a job.

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Old 05-29-2007, 08:54 AM
50 posts, read 310,295 times
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Quite simply, I was kind of overwhelmed by how beautiful it is there. Living up here in Staten Island, New York and never having a reason to visit before, I really had no idea. We went to a wedding in Oakland and walked around to see the museums and Cathedral of Learning. What a lovely neighborhood. And we met some nice couples from Regent Square who were raving about where they live. I can tell you that NO ONE where I live ever says, "This is such a nice place to raise a family."

My husband and I have been struggling for a couple of years now with where we'd like to relocate to with our two small children (ages five and two), and we had always been looking to New Jersey, because we like the safer neighborhoods and better public schools, and I do love the Jersey shore. It's kind of important to us, too, to have a real walking town. Anyway, Pittsburgh was never on our radar. Well, it is now! We'd never move anywhere without a job lined up. My husband's in manufacturing sales and when we were there he remembered he has a distributor there, so it's not impossible to think he *might* get a job there (I understand the economy is struggling); lucky for me, I now work from home and can work from anywhere. If some of you wouldn't mind indulging me, here's what we love/hate about where we live now:

* Abundance of restaurants (mostly Italian) and my walking neighborhood--we walk to the dry cleaner's, grocery store, bagel shop, bank, etc.
* Proximity to Manhattan. We love the vibrance of the city. Also relative proximity to the NJ beaches (with traffic these days it's now about an hour), and our pool club in the summer. (What do people there do for outdoor fun?? I hope that doesn't sound snotty--I just really don't know!)
* Nice neighbors for the most part--houses close together means we chat often in the warmer months.
* Relatively low property taxes ($2,200 per year, compared with $5,500 or more if we moved to NJ)
* NY's generous support of children with special needs, which I can't overstate: My son has had some mild speech and fine-motor issues and has benefitted tremedously from free early intervention, and will be in a public-school classroom with similar support as he goes into kindergarten.
* Housing market slower but still pretty strong.
* Proximity to family. I was grateful to be close when loved ones fell ill.

Don't love:
* Graffiti EVERYWHERE, including telephone poles outside $600,000 homes and the steel doors pulled down over shops every night.
* Traffic: traffic on and off our island is consistently heavy, not to mention any time we drive up or down, we hit traffic lights, which are already everywhere and popping up increasingly. My street is a very busy cut-through and I get honked at at least once a week while putting my child on the school bus. No one ever even slows down to let me and my children cross.
* Problem-plagued middle schools: violent and poor test scores and unsafe. Our island's primarily Catholic, and many parents send the kids to Catholic schools for this reason. However, these schools are crowded: Some have 40-plus kids per class.
* Kids on our block all go to different Catholic and public schools. I'd have liked for my son to have friends from school on our street, but of the five parents I know with same-age children, they're all going to different schools next year.
* Filth. I've watched folks toss cofee cups out of their car windows, I pick up burger wrappers and empty bottles on my front steps, and am bewildered as I watch kids toss trash, purposely, BESIDE corner garbage cans.
* Broken glass in local parks, broken playground equipment, and just the general consensus that some playgrounds aren't worth going to after 2 p.m., when the middle schools let out, what some people here refer to as the daily "prison break."
* Houses on top of each other also means living close to neighbor's problems, like noise or disrepair.
* Lots of kids who grow into thugs, driving around with baseball bats in their trunks (and not because they play baseball!). Nothing for teenagers to do--parents cart them and supervise them everywhere. When I was visiting Red Bank, NJ, one night, kids were in groups going from one coffee shop to the next and it seemed innocent enough. Here they really have no place to go except hiding out drinking in the park at night (like I used to!).
* Distance to the city. I work from home, for less money, in large part because I couldn't bear the 90 to 100-minute commute each way to my job in midtown Manhattan anymore with two small children at home. I left at 7:15 each morning to get there and got home at 7:30 at night when I was lucky, but many nights my husband put them to bed without me.
* It's expensive! Auto insurance, tolls every time we drive off the island (between four and nine dollars), the cost of commuting when I did work in NYC (ten dollars a day on the express bus) and how much we'd have to struggle if we have a third child and decide to move to a bigger house--not sure how we'd afford it.
* Proximity to family, sometimes. Seriously, we lived across the country once from them before, and while I'd miss my nieces and nephews terribly, absence in some ways makes the heart grow fonder with the big people!

We live in a three-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 1200-square foot house built in 1929, and while we like the charms of an older home there's a lot of expense in keeping it up (the house was maintained, but not updated and the most major repairs were put off). We were lucky to buy it from a relative for $300,000 two years ago; we should be able to sell it for $400,000 today.

Pittsburgh's about a seven-hour drive from where we live, and an easy enough flight to make once or twice a year to JFK airport, which is 20 minutes from my husband's brother's house in Long Island (on the beach!). So we could get our beach time every year, I'm thinking, anyway!

Given what I've said about the type of people we are and what we're looking for, are we crazy to consider Pittsburgh, or would we be crazy not to?

Last edited by NYmama; 05-29-2007 at 09:11 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-29-2007, 09:22 AM
Status: "Still alive and well" (set 23 days ago)
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NYmama. I am originally from Connecticut and cannot even afford to live in my own hometown let alone much of the state. New Jersey is also suffering from extremely high taxes and high housing costs. I too, like yourself, am searching for a cheaper place to live yet will still offer a quality of life that I desire.

Currently I live in Kansas City and about the best thing I can say about it is that it is a nice place to visit or reside on a temporary basis. BBQ and steak's in local restaurants are good but the rest of the fare is mediocre. They do have an ample amount of culture though and I give this region credit for making the most out of what little it has in natural resources. Sadly, the people have a real attitude espcially towards people from the Northeast and it makes adapting here even more difficult. They are very pretentious and shallow and paranoid of those that are just a little different. And, if you are single, this is an awful place to find a suitable and compatible mate of the opposite sex.

That being said I highly recommend the Pittsburgh area. I've visited enough over the years to say that it has far more positive things going for it than negative. Yes, the economy is a bit rough especially if you want a high paying job. And yes, taxes are rising in that region too just like it is in so many Northeast regions. Road construction seems to be chronic but the people drive with much more civility than the jerks in Kansas City and Missouri. A few tailgaters though. But aside from these few negatives the place is very appealing.

The area abounds in culture and ethnic flavor. High tech and health care fields are growing and creating jobs. Housing is cheap and even property taxes, by Connecticut and New York standards are reasonable. Pittsburgh city and metro crime rates are much lower than most metro areas of this size. Both Kansas City and St. Louis rank in the top ten as WORST cities for violent crime and non violent crime. A sad commentary on the kind of people that live here. People in western PA are cordial at worst and friendly at best. It combines the more laid back life style of the Midwest with some of the sophistication of the Northeast. Some people claim it is a Midwest city but I do liken it to a cross between Midwest and Northeast.
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Old 05-29-2007, 10:12 AM
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Hey, WLIW. (Funny, I used to intern at a WLIW TV station.) Thanks for your feedback and the insights. I'm excited about your statement "the area abounds in culture and ethnic flavor." I think I'd suffocate without that in my life. All good to hear about some fields growing jobs and low crime rate and friendliness of the people. I read some other posts on this board and someone compared Pittsburgh with Seattle, a city I visited only for a very short time but felt at home in immediately as well.

Thanks again and hope you find a place you can call home, too.
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:36 AM
Location: LA to Pittsburgh
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Hi NYmama,

We also were struck by how beautiful Pittsburgh is. We are relocating there this summer from Los Angeles for many of the reasons that you cited about NY. When we have visited I've been amazed everytime about how welcomed and relaxed I've felt. We stayed in corporate housing for a little under a month and shopped and cooked etc. so that it would feel less like a vacation, and I was still really relaxed and comfortable. Our new neighbors have reached out to us and the people at our children's new schools have also been very welcoming. It seems like it's going to be a great place to raise our kids. And after struggling here in LA where it's very very hard to raise kids (crazy expensive housing, horrible schools, expensive activities separated by hours of traffic etc.) I'm really looking forward to a change Good luck with your decision!
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Old 05-30-2007, 10:35 AM
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Cali, Yet another coincidence here: I, too, lived in Los Angeles, for four years, so I now exactly what you're talking about. We lived in Santa Monica, which was gorgeous and the most convenient walking neighborhood I might ever encounter, but the housing costs: beyond impossible for a professional couple with two respectable incomes like us. When I left three years ago, the townhomes next door started at a million dollars apiece. My friend in Venice sold her one-bedroom, teeny one-bathroom bungalow for a million dollars. In gang-ridden Venice!

It's really, really good to hear someone from LA is so impressed with Pittsburgh. When we moved back from California all we heard was, "How could you leave California?!" which got depressing! But you've reminded me of everything that was wrong there, too. We met some great people in Cali, but didn't feel as comfortable connecting with people there as we seem to on the East Coast. Are you worried at all about the weather or that you'll miss the ocean? I do worry about those things, but gosh, people who live in Pittsburgh seem so happy for the most part, don't they?

Where did you stay in corporate housing, by the way? And good luck and congrats!
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:04 PM
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This thread has been a real treat to read and I must say I am tickled pink over all the wonderful things said about Pittsburgh.

I just had friends visit from Detroit (a city only a few hours away) for the first time and they were absolutely floored regarding Pittsburgh. They said it was 100% more clean, beautiful, and interesting than Detroit and they just couldn't get over how green it is. These were YOUNG people, too, and after their short visit, Pittsburgh is WAY up on their "top places to live" list. They want out of Detroit badly.

The economy is "tight" right now but I would argue "struggling" isn't as accurate a word, at least, not anymore. In fact, Pittsburgh has been ranked by more than one agency as one of the very best cities in the WORLD for potential business growth and industries of the future. Our tech, robotic, health-care, bio and chemical engineering, and artificial intelligence industries are BOOMING and growing by leaps and bounds. Microsoft, Intel, and Google are all setting up research campuses etc here in the 'burgh. We are also nation leaders in academia and financing. So while the economy might not be at its best, it is FAR far from its worst.

One thing is for certain, it is undeniably one of the best places around to raise and support a family with a strong sense of community, friendly people, and a dedication to excellence. I say that last part because my boyfriend is in management and travels all over the country to help launch new stores, and he claims Pittsburgh folk are an extremely dedicated and determined people. We'd have to be after the steel collapse and it shows.
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:06 PM
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I know this might sound stupid NYmama, but you might even consider the beaches on the Erie coastline, less than a couple hour drive. It sounds silly, but you wouldn't even believe the beauty up there and the sunset is world reknown.
Niagra Falls isn't far, either
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:10 PM
Location: Saint Petersburg
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Originally Posted by boylocke View Post
I know this might sound stupid NYmama, but you might even consider the beaches on the Erie coastline, less than a couple hour drive. It sounds silly, but you wouldn't even believe the beauty up there and the sunset is world reknown.
Niagra Falls isn't far, either
You know, I've heard some bad things about those Erie beaches (pollution and so forth). But I also know someone who goes up there and swims every summer, and he's not dead yet, so who knows?

Niagara Falls is really neat. I was amazed the first time we went up there to see it - it's bigger than it looks in pictures, and the flow of the water is mesmerizing. I definitely recommend the trip to any new Pittsburgh resident. It's only 4 hours drive, and hotels are reasonably inexpensive up there. If you want to see the "good" falls, though, you need to cross over into Canada, so make sure you have your passport!
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:12 PM
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You know, I've heard some bad things about those Erie beaches
Trust me, they definitely exist! But yet again, I've been in hell-hole beaches on the NJ coast more than once, too!
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Old 05-30-2007, 06:37 PM
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Based on your posts, I think that Pittsburgh might be a great place for your family, provided that your husband could find suitable employment. You can easily avoid most of the things you don't like about Staten Island. Traffic, for example -- people in Pittsburgh might complain about it, but compared to the DC area (where I live now), or NYC, there is NO traffic in Pittsburgh.

The biggest drawbacks are that Pittsburgh is a LONG way from the beach (sorry, but I spent time at Lake Erie as a child and it isn't remotely like the Atlantic beaches) and the summer weather can be grey and cloudy. And the job market is just not as robust as in a major metro area.
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