We are moving to Pittsburgh this spring! We need local/been there recently help please. We are a young family looking to have 1 car and walk most places (including grocery, etc.). We would like a house/townhouse with a basement and parking for the car. Children’s activities, dining and staples within walking distance are necessary. Please don’t limit advice to my naive questions! I need ALL Sorts of help. Thanks in advance - I truly mean it.
Depending on your price range, the answers will vary. You should look primarily at Squirrel Hill, which is probably the most walkable family-friendly neighborhood. It definitely meets all of your criteria–lots of restaurants, shopping, and parks are nearby. You might run into trouble finding a place that has a garage as opposed to on-street parking, though. This can also be a bit of a pricey neighborhood, as well.
Shadyside is also a nice neighborhood, but you will have to be more careful about where you go in terms of easy access to grocery stores and such on foot. It is a very nice neighborhood and has prices to match.
Places that will be cheaper and probably meet your criteria include Morningside, Friendship, and parts of Highland Park/East Liberty. The Southside Flats are walkable and adjacent to lots of your criteria but are also very close to a huge bar street with all the associated noise and general disorder.
You could also try Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and the Strip District. The sad fact is there are few parks and sidewalks in this city. Sometime in the recent past a mother running in the Squirrel Hill area was run over by a negligent driver. The same thing happened in one of the toniest suburbs. Where are you going to be working and how old are your children? Most importantly how much are you willing to pay for rent? In spite of the fact that the housing stock is very old and apartments in the city are also very old, rents are not cheap in my way of thinking. If you plan to walk or bicycle to work, Pittsburgh is making great strides in that area but is still not bicycle friendly, when it comes to driver tolerance, and there are many, many hills. First choice, Shadyside.
This is not an easy question, as you will find in both the answers you receive here and when you go and look for a house with a realtor.
Based on your OP, I assume you want to live within the city limits. Pittsburgh does not have the greatest public transportation system in the world, and where most major cities have subways or light rail, Pittsburgh has a very small, truncated system. So if you want to live near a light rail station, make sure you tll your realtor that.
Pittsburgh is also very hilly, so walking or biking medium distances is also not very practical. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t live in a neighborhood and do what you are saying you want to do. You just need to keep your desires in perspecrive. Make a list of the most important things you want, and then look at housing prices. They may be out of your range, so keep that in mind.
You dont give a lot of information, so I’ll give you my feelings on it without really taking cost of housing into my factoring. Buying and renting are two very different markets, and you should be careful if you decide to buy in the city. Check the tax liability you will have as a Pittsburgh resident vs. someone who lives outside the city limits. The wage tax is quite high in the city.
I would say that Shadyside is a place you should look. It is relatively flat, you are close to both Pitt and CMU, and great hospitals. The down side is that owning in ashadyside can be a bit pricey, but renting can be reasonable.m this is because many places are rented by students. Parking is terrible on the weekends, but you CAN get off street parking if you are lucky. There are a number of great restaurants in Shadyside, and it is a pretty diverse area.
Squirrel Hill is a bit further out from city center than Shadyside, but it is also very nice. In Squirrel Hill, you will usually find the houses occupied by owners who maintain their property, not renters. Great restaurants, delis, dessert shops can be found in Squirrel Hill.
Be wary of the South Side. It used to be a great place to work, live, and socialize, but from what I understand things hae gone downhill lately because of the number of bars and drinking. The college crowd finds its way to the south side regularly, and things can get a bit rowdy. Oakland (which is where Pitt is) is another neighborhood I’d steer clear of becaus of the college scene.
I guess if I were you, I’d look at Shadyside first.
Congratulations and enjoy your new life in Pittsburgh! You will love it! The city is very friendly, and the people are by far the nicest I have ever met in my travels in a US city. I am originally from there, so I admit I am biased. But the population is not transient. People live their entire lives there often, and there isn’t a lot of coming and going. Odds are, you will know your neighbors for a long time.
You might try the website Walkscore.com. You plug in an address and it assigns a “walkability index” of 0 to 100 to the address, depending on how far various stores and services are.
I also believe Squirrel Hill best fits your criteria.
It has an actual grocery store.
You’d potentially be within walking distance of two largish nice parks.
There is a relatively large variety of stores/restaurants. These include on the order of a dozen restaurants, several ice cream shops, a used DVD/CD store, a toy store, a very large used record store, a bowling alley, and a movie theater (which tends to play less widely distributed films). Also a library.
Despite having several bars that get quite busy on weekends it’s a quiet neighborhood.
Squirrel Hill is good for that. Where we live, we can walk to a grocery store, a kids’ play area called My Little Outback, the JCC which has kids’ activities, and many restaurants. There are buses that go to the Pitt and CMU campuses and downtown.
We also looked at some townhouses near East Liberty when we were house hunting. East Liberty is a neighborhood that’s getting nicer- they have Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and a really nice new Target.
What you’re not going to find in these neighborhoods, though, is new houses with big yards. Most of the houses in Squirrel Hill were built between about 1890 and 1940. The houses are close together and yards are small.
I concur with the recommendation for Squirrel Hill. Very nice area, great for walking, but it is a little on the high end, price-wise. I would also say Bloomfield is very nice for your needs. I grew up there and never felt the need to get a driver’s license until I moved away. But the parking situation is one big PITA.
But one I haven’t seen mentioned is Brookline. The only problem would be there is not a walking distance big grocery store. There are, however, a few ethnic grocery stores that would be fine for getting milk, bread, etc. You don’t say how old your children are, but if they are school age Brookline is one of the best public schools in the city.
Although it is not part of the city proper, I would also suggest you look at Mt. Lebanon.
What would be most helpful is if you could provide a few more details about where you’ll be working and the like. If you’re working outside of the city proper, the answer will be different!
My in-laws and most of my wife’s family live in Squirrel Hill, so I’ll throw in my recommendation as well. It’s an overall nice place to be, even if it is full of Steeler fans.
There are parts of Pittsburgh that aren’t full of Steeler fans?
Is Squirrel Hill still predominately Jewish?
Not that this should make a difference, but if the folks moving to Pittsburgh are Jewish, they would enjoy the area that much more.
Anne Neville, you still live in Squirrel Hill… Are the neighborhoods adjacent to S.H. getting better. Or are they still a bit sketchy? I never felt unsafe in Squirrel Hill, but I cant say the same thing for neighboring areas. I think it is one of the reasons S.H. remains relatively expensive. It’s a nice place to live, the neighbors aren’t very transient, and it has a real sense of community. You don’t find that in every neighborhood. It’s good to hear you had a favorable impression of East Liberty (Sliberty to its residents ), because for a long time that was not the nicest place in the world.
One thing for the OP to consider as well, if ethnicity is important, you might want to ask folks that live there now about an area like Polish Hill… If it still exists. Also, I know when I was there, the Mexican War Street district was being revitalized, but I don’t think it was nice enough to raise a family yet. Most of the people living there were YUPPIES, no kids, and artist-types who were investing in a neighborhood that had a lot of potential. I have no idea if that investment continued or not. And I can’t think of a grocery store within walking distance, although there probably is one.
Oakland has all the things you are looking for, but it is rather hilly in areas. You will get a workout from walking or biking.
Also, if you own a car and it is a stick shift, and you are not used to starting and stoping on hills, prepare for a shock! Pittsburgh will put your stick shift/clutch driving skills to the test. I had a number of friends who burned out a clutch within the first year of moving to the city because of the hills.
OldnCrinkly also mentioned Mt. Lebanon. This is not in the city limits, but is very nice. If you open yourself up to being outside of the city limits, you will get a bunch of recommendations, like Mt. Lebo, Upper St. Clair, Sewickley, etc. I think if you could give us an idea where you are going to work, what kind of commute you would like to have, your budget for housing, you will get much more precise information. Right now, we are all fumbling a bit in the dark. Remember, the Rooneys, who own the Steelers, still live on the North Side the last I checked, so some people with money still live in the city. Of course, if you like a great view and have the money, get a place on Mt. Washington. You can take the incline up and down the mountain to get access to the rest of the city.
One place I have always liked (and I’m not sure if it is or isn’t inside the city limits… But it is close) is Forest Hills. It is on the other side of the tunnel from Squirrel Hill, so it is east of the city center, and about 3 miles further than S.H. (I’m guessing distances here, maybe Anne Neville can straighten me out.). Anyway, I did some house hunting in that area and almost bought one. It was a well kept, older neighborhood with nice homes. The downside was it was like an island surrounded by some sketchier neighborhoods. Forest Hills itself was very safe, and I liked it a great deal. So it might fit into your price range better than S.H. it doesn’t have the kinds of amenities that S.H. has, but things are very close and accessible via car.
I am very jealous that you are moving there (can you tell?). I would love to move back myself.
East End neighborhoods really are best for the walkers, bikers and bussers. Lots to do and close to Oakland (Universities and Museums) and Downtown (check out the East Busway for easy access to downtown and Oakland).
I work at the University, live in the East End and get around great. My family has one car, and frankly, it doesn’t get used a whole lot. We can walk to restaurants, shops…my son can walk to school.
Sq Hill, Shadyside and Point Breeze are higher end. Polish Hill, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, East Liberty, Edgewood, Greenfield and Swissville are other good areas with stuff to do and good transportation. Forest Hills is nice, but further out and not much for the walkers, bikers (and the busses are not as good). Living in Oakland is for the college crowd (mostly rentals).
PGH Bound, Have you visited the 'burgh yet?
Don’t know if it’s predominantly Jewish, but there certainly is a large Jewish presence here. Lots of synagogues, a kosher butcher, a Judaica shop, a JCC, stuff like that. We see lots of cars with menorahs on the roofs during Hanukkah.
The other thing you’ll find a lot of in Squirrel Hill is university faculty. Mr. Neville is a professor, and our neighbors on both sides are also professors. There are also houses around that are rented to students. We sometimes hear them at night, but it’s not too bad.
Oh, and liberals. I think Obama signs, bumper stickers, etc, outnumbered signs for the other candidate at least 10 to 1 both last year and in 2008.
Also Honda Civics and similar-sized cars. A lot of the garages around here are too small for a big car or an SUV. Ours is. If you have a big car or SUV, this may be something you want to check before buying a house. You might have trouble finding street parking sometimes if you have a huge car, and there are some small parking lots around here.
East Liberty is the only one I have that much experience of, and it is definitely getting better. I’m a little sorry we didn’t buy the townhouse near the Shadyside/East Liberty border that we looked at. OTOH, I’m not really the one to ask, since I’m not out much at night.
Not that I know of.
I lived in Greenfield right near Greenfield Ave and Murray Ave, which is next to Squirrel Hill. Giant Eagle (grocery store) was just down the street. The 61c takes you right downtown; not sure if the 56E still runs (a faster way to town, plus it went to the Waterfront). Overall I liked this area. The rent was fairly cheap, and it was quiet, though don’t quote me on the quiet part as I was in college at the time.
Everyone pretty much named all the areas that I know of, and I’m in the North Hills, in an area that isn’t really for walking, so I can’t be much help. When I was little I lived in Millvale, and we walked everywhere, but that was so long ago, things have probably changed a lot.
Finding an area where you can walk a lot is a good idea, because driving in Pittsburgh is a nightmare. “Under Construction” and orange cones are a part of our culture.
If there are, they probably keep quiet about it. IF they know what’s good for them.
(My friends and I like to joke that you’re more likely to be “sports-bashed” than gay-bashed in Pittsburgh. Wear a rainbow shirt into a bar? Meh, you might get some funny looks, but most people don’t care. Wear a Ravens, or Browns jersey? “Get the fuck out, you freak! We don’t serve your kind here – this is Steelers Country!” )
No. There are barely any parts of America that aren’t full of Steeler fans.
No, seriously, people here are VERY friendly, outgoing and always helpful. We’ve been voted “Most Livable City” a number of times, the area has a very low cost of living, we have tons of libraries, our museums are great, etc. Welcome to the 'Burgh!
Or, you’re driving along, and you realize you want to be on that roadway up the hill that runs parallel to the one you’re on, and you have no idea how to get over there. This happens, sooner or later, to everybody who drives in Pittsburgh.
And then there are the traffic nightmares known as the Fort Pitt and Squirrel Hill Tunnels.
I saw a guy walking through Oakland wearing a Ravens shirt. He was very brave, or else he lost a bet…
I meant to say this the other day, but since you have not commented back I guess it is too late to make a difference, but one of the biggest sources of fraud in this area is Craig’s list. Do not rent an apartment or other property from Craig’s list unless you can verify the existence of the property and the right to let. People have been paying deposits to persons sight unseen without verifying and the properties frequently do not exist.