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Old 03-07-2010, 12:28 PM
2 posts, read 22,970 times
Reputation: 12


We're relocating to Pittsburgh from the Chicago area in May. We have two school aged-children and have narrowed our home search to Mount Lebanon and Upper St. Clair. I would like to hear honest and intelligent local opinions regarding the differences between the two communities.

Here are my questions/thoughts:

Upper St. Clair schools rank higher than Mt. Lebanon state-wide, but I don't know if this is a significant enough difference to sway buying in that district. What is your experience with the schools, the teachers, the academics?

I already know about the need for a new Mt. Lebanon high school and the tax issues surrounding that. Not a deal-breaker for us.

I would like to know more about the IB program at USC. With a child entering 9th grade next fall, this is a plus in the USC column. I'm concerned that in the past, there has been strong community opposition towards this program and the reasoning strikes me as very close-minded (it was decried by some as un-American and a waste of money from what I read). Is there a chance that this will get voted out of the schools again? Ultimately, we're looking for an open-minded and diverse community and this issue was a bit of a red flag for us. My husband is European and our children have lived abroad and spent many summers abroad over the years.

Mount Lebanon parents, is it a big problem getting children to school in the mornings without buses? Depending on where you live, it looks like the high school can be quite a hike. Does our child eventually need his own car to get to school? Do children walk together to school in the mornings from the various neighborhoods? Is riding a bike an option?

Lastly, I've read far and wide that USC has a snob reputation and I've not heard anyone on these forums really refute this. Is this also present in Mount Lebanon? I would like to know if it's the same situation in both districts so I can cross this issue off my list - if it's the same in both places then it's not a deciding factor. But I am concerned that our children might not fit into a narrowly defined suburban mold: they speak three languages, they have non-American names, they don't really watch tv, they're active but not into team sports, they listen to a wide array of music, they have political opinions and follow world news.

Realtors paint uniformly glowing pictures and assure me there is no real difference between the two areas, but I would appreciate hearing from parents in these communities as I know that you are the ones who know the communities best. What do you love about where you live? What makes it great? What do you wish you could change?

I thank you very much for your help!
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:31 PM
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There's no real difference between the rankings of the two school districts.

Have you considered Peters Township? Everyone is fleeing USC and soon Mt. Lebo (due to the higher taxes for the school) to live in Peters because the taxes are lower.

Many people coming from other areas of the country have a difficult time comprehending just how high Allegheny County real estate taxes can be until it's too late.
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Old 03-08-2010, 05:26 AM
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thanks but we've narrowed it down to Mount Lebanon and Upper St. Clair - we are not considering Peters Township.
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Old 03-08-2010, 06:22 AM
43,011 posts, read 108,013,252 times
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Just a suggestion. Good luck.
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Old 03-08-2010, 02:40 PM
Location: Park Rapids
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Can't speak for St Clair's academics but I've read here that 98% of thier students go on to college.

As a former Mt Lebanon Sudent, I think we all got by alright w/o the use of School Busses. Yeah some have a longer walk but it does a body well. Anyone wanting or needing rides to school pooled together when necessary. As for an education, really there can't be much better a system than what Mt Lebanon has in place.

About the areas in general. Mt Lebanon has an actual business district or "main street" while St Clair really doesn't. Lebo really has a couple of them, and then some.

You can't go wrong if you find a place in Mt Lebanon that you like.
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:02 PM
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I have lived in USC for 23 years, and my best friends live in Mt. Lebanon. Apparently, USC has a snobby reputation among some, but, personally, I haven't seen it, even though my home is far from the more expensive variety.
Both school districts are excellent, albeit with, IMHO, excessive taxes and fiscally irresponsible school boards. Mt.Lebo is a much older community in terms of housing, and is much easier to walk around; USC has few sidewalks, and has a more hilly terrain. The business districts in Mt. L on Washington and Beverly roads have no comparable areas in USC. However, USC is easier to traverse, with less traffic and congestion. The commute downtown is of course quicker from Mt. Lebo.
If one is searching for a more traditional, older home, with sidewalks, your choice is Mt.Lebanon, If you like a more suburban, open environment, with newer homes, it's USC. Despite what some city folk may think, I believe both are great communties to live, and raise a family.
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Old 03-12-2011, 10:02 PM
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Default Go with your gut

What a difficult decision. After living in Mt. Lebanon for 7 years I just made the same decision myself....will get to that in a minute. I absolutely LOVE Mt. Lebanon. It's the type of town that you dream of and it's hard to believe that a place like this actually exists. If children weren’t involved and you were trying to make the decision between suburbs or more of urban living it would be an easy choice. I really love the urban feel of Mt. Lebanon and the fact that it is a walking town. We walk everywhere here. (to town, the library, the Trolley, schools, etc.) With that said, if you live in Mt Lebanon I highly recommend living in the Mission Hills area because of its walk ability to all of the schools and shops and it has a close knit feel. If you are accustomed to the suburbs and like newer homes for the most part and want to depend on school buses and hot lunch cafeterias, then Upper St. Clair would be a good choiceJ I always get confused as to why people think USC is so snobby. If you drive around, the majority of USC is cookie cutter Ryan built homes from the 70’s that have no character and cost between 200 -300k. I always refer to USC as sterile, while Mt. Lebanon has a more diverse demographic (monetarily speaking) and more of a sense of community. USC has a fair amount of Asians and Indian folks, but for the most part everyone seems to be in the same boat. My husband is from USC although he hasn’t lived there in years and he, his friends and family are not snobby at all.
We were/are looking to move because my husband has always wanted a large yard and a little more space, which is hard to find in Mt. Lebo. We found a place we liked in VA Manor (Mt. Lebo), but the neighborhood didn’t have the right feel to us. We live in Mission hills right now and feel it just doesn't get better than this.
Now with tears I must tell you that I just bought a home in USC. We were close to buying a home on Washington Rd. near town of Mt. Lebo, but decided to look at comparisons in USC just to see. (We knew that if we stayed in Mt. Lebo we wanted to stay in the same area to walk etc. If we moved to VA Manor or further away from town we felt it would be similar to USC in some regard depending on the neighborhood. Unfortunatley there are only a handful of homes with larger yards and more space and the chance of them hitting the market in the near future is slim.) We ended up falling in love with a house in USC and are taking the plunge. In the end we decided that it’s the family unit that is important and if we are all together and happy it really wouldn’t matter where we lived. We are excited to have a little more space, however, as an outsider myself I think it’s probably easier to make friends in Mt. Lebo, because the houses are closer together and it goes back to that sense of community. My neighbors are like family to me. Luckily my kids haven’t started school yet, so the transition should be easy for them. I know several teachers in the USC school system and they think it is the best thing since sliced bread and rave about it. They are convinced that they have the best schools in the country and LOVE it and take a lot of pride in it. I’m convinced that my kids would do fine in either district. It just goes back to the “feel” of the community, which honestly I think I will miss here. There are perks to living in the suburbs too, like not having to pack a lunch every day and being able to depend on a school bus once in a whileJ You would also probably have a little more control as to where your kids are, since they wouldn’t be walking everywhere like they do in Mt. Lebo, but at the same time they would be losing some independence, etc. You probably know the other perks of yard space, house space,closer to big box stores, etc. so I don't need to go on.
If your husband is going to work downtown Mt Lebo is a lot closer too. My husband works downtown, so we would not go past USC High School in terms of where to live. It’s important to me that he doesn’t spend too much time in the car and has more time with us.
I could go on and on and am probably no help. Have you found a house in either town that you like? I think your kids would do fine in either township. Unfortunately they may never be able to take advantage of the new high school in Mt. Lebo as that will take years to finish and Upper St. Clair’s was recently renovated and is nice. Go with your gut and what feels right to you when your drive around and check out different neighborhoods. I wish you lots of luck, b/c this was also one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life and I’m moving to USC after we said that Mt. Lebanon was it! Goes back to family unitJ
This honestly isn’t a sales pitch…My house will be for sale soon and we love it here, but wanted a bigger yard and a little more space. Great dead end street wonderful neighbors can walk to everything and close to downtown. My friend is also selling her house on Washington Road close to town. Not on the market, but if interested, let me know. Looks old, but was built 13 years ago. 5 bedrooms great condition. (We were going to buy this one until we jumped ship, plus witb two very small children I thought being in a neighborhood was more important and safer.)
Sorry for the long response. This has been on my brain a lot lately and I randomly found your post. Guess it's like therapy for me I have cried and cried, because I will miss Mt. Lebo with all of my heart, but when we found this house I really didn't question our decision and we have looked at tons of homes in both townships. My husband said that USC does have a sense of community too despite not have a little town. I'm sure he is right. I think my neighbors have cried more as they will miss us if that isn't a testament. Maybe I'm just lucky to live on a great street and perhaps the rest of Lebo isn't as tight.

If you have questions or want to bounce anything off of me let me know.
Good Luck!!!
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Old 03-12-2011, 11:17 PM
Location: The canyon (with my pistols and knife)
14,186 posts, read 22,730,784 times
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Mt. Lebanon positives

1. It's dense and well-built for a suburb.
2. It has a central business district.
3. It's convenient to Pittsburgh by car, bus and light rail.
4. It's not far from I-376.
5. It has an excellent school district.

Mt. Lebanon negatives

1. Its housing stock is older.
2. Its older road system has a limited traffic capacity.
3. The school district wants to build a new high school even though it might not need to.

Upper St. Clair positives

1. Its housing stock is newer.
2. Its newer road system has more traffic capacity.
3. It's convenient to South Hills Village, and to Pittsburgh by light rail.
4. It has an excellent school district.

Upper St. Clair negatives

1. It's not as convenient to Pittsburgh by car or bus.
2. It's not convenient to any Interstates.
3. It's primarily suburban sprawl, and has no central business district.
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:06 AM
674 posts, read 1,412,385 times
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Originally Posted by Gnutella View Post
Upper St. Clair negatives
2. It's not convenient to any Interstates.
A lot of Upper Saint Clair is pretty convenient to 79.
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Old 03-13-2011, 06:12 AM
439 posts, read 1,474,086 times
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It takes me under ten minutes to get to 79 at bridgeville during the morning rush and I live in the eastern side of the twp. There are parts of USC that are probably a mile or two from 79
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