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The Easy and Practical Newcomer's Guide to Pittsburgh

Here's everything you need to know about getting settled in the Steel City.

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Two years ago, after living in Colorado for almost a decade and then in Boston for two years, we moved to Pittsburgh. Settling in a new city is exciting — there are new neighborhoods to explore, restaurants and museums to visit and delightful local slang and accents to understand. Simultaneously, it’s also exhausting: Finding housing, navigating the DMV and learning bus routes all can be exercises in patience. Just managing the documents you need to acquire a neighborhood parking pass can require a notary-level management of paperwork.

Lucky for you, Pittsburgh newcomers and visitors, we’ve done all the hard work for you — and the steps we took are fresh in our minds. We present our guide to learning the ropes in the Steel City. A guide to neighborhoods you should think about choosing. Where to buy groceries (and beer). And how to register your car.

Welcome to Pittsburgh.

Where to Live if You're a …

Shadyside and Oakland get much of the love from students, but the smartest choose Bloomfield, the city’s historic Italian neighborhood. Filled with Italian markets, bakeries, restaurants and bars, the area is walkable and affordable on a grad-student stipend. Finally, you won’t need a car: Bloomfield is a short bus ride, or a 1.5-mile walk or bike ride, to Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and their neighbors in higher education.

Median Sales Price: $130,000
Average Days on Market: 59
Population: 8,442
Owner-occupied: 36.7%
Median Income: $33,604
Walk Score: 88
Honorable Mentions: Friendship, Shadyside


Central Lawrenceville
Nicknamed the “Brooklyn of Pittsburgh,” Lawrenceville is home to an eclectic mix of retail outlets (within a block on Butler Street: a tea shop, a bike shop, a guitar store, a florist and a zombie-themed store) and hordes of bars ranging from divey to upscale. The area has become popular rapidly (and highly sought by investors and house flippers), but rowhouses and single-family homes still can be had at reasonable prices.

Median Sales Price: $182,500
Average Days on Market: 63
Population: 4,482
Owner-occupied: 49.2%
Median Income: $34,679
Walk Score: 73
Honorable Mentions: Central Northside, Garfield


Highland Park
The quiet streets, friendly neighbors and leafy, 380-acre park here all attract young couples looking for a little more space. While the community mostly is residential, it also features one of the best coffee shops, Tazza d’Oro, and some of the best neighborhood restaurants, including Park Bruges, Teppanyaki Kyoto and Smiling Banana Leaf.

Median Sales Price: $244,900
Average Days on Market: 66
Population: 6,395
Owner-occupied: 53.6%
Median Income: $66,985
Walk Score: 59
Honorable Mentions: Regent Square, Dormont


Mt. Lebanon
Young families are laser-focused on top-notch educations for the kids, and it’s hard to beat the schools of Mt. Lebanon, which is home to some of the best in the region and country. Don’t mistake the community for a drab suburb, though — Mt. Lebanon boasts a popular main street, tree-lined sidewalks and a manageable (20- to 30-minute) commute to downtown.

Median Sales Price: $229,900
Average Days on Market: 60
Population: 33,137
Owner-occupied: 71.4%
Median Income: $76,953
Walk Score: 60
Honorable Mentions: Dormont, Fox Chapel


Strip District
After spending a couple of decades focused on soccer practices, dance classes and dioramas, empty nesters may want to get back to urban living once the kids move out. There are few better spots than the resurgent Strip District, where new lofts and condominiums are going up amidst restaurants and markets.

Median Sales Price: $286,820*
Average Days on Market: 93*
Population: 616
Owner-occupied: 37.0%
Median Income: $70,706
Walk Score: 70
Honorable Mentions: Downtown

*Housing sales data for Strip District and downtown combined


Squirrel Hill North
While far from the cheapest neighborhood in the region, Squirrel Hill boasts classic dining spots, ethnic restaurants and tons of retail shops on Murray and Forbes avenues. Retirees also flock to the adult-targeted Manor Theatre (which sells beer, wine and cocktails) for new movies — and not just for matinees.

Median Sales Price: $325,000
Average Days on Market: 75
Population: 11,363
Owner-occupied: 59.2%
Median Income: $91,409
Walk Score: 59
Honorable Mentions: Mount Washington, Forest Hills

Walk Scores are based on a 0-to-100 scale (the higher, the better) and calculated by measuring walking distances to nearby amenities.

Next: The Newbie's Guide to Pittsburgh

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