When contemplating a move to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, those unfamiliar with the area are likely unaware of the burgeoning food scene, independent shops, and all the things to do in the city. Depending on your budget, there are several great neighborhoods to do in the city.
Downtown Pittsburgh offers cultural and sporting activities in a live-where-you-work neighborhood. Many of the neighborhoods are perfect for families, like Highland Park. Other neighborhoods like Lawrenceville, Shadyside, and Mount Washington are all appealing neighborhoods for different stages of life.
Read on to learn more about some of Pittsburgh’s best neighborhoods to find the right fit for you.
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Why Move to Pittsburgh
The Steel City is more than just steel these days thanks to a burgeoning economy anchored by the technology and medical industries. Pittsburgh frequently finds its way on lists about up-and-coming cities, and while it is growing in popularity, Pittsburgh is not really growing in population.
The city seems to have worked its way into the hearts of millennials who are highlighting the coolness of Pittsburgh. It is true that Pittsburgh now has many of the marks of a trendy city, including lots of independent, chef-driven restaurants, unique shopping options, a strong calendar of community events, nightlife, and an emphasis on the environment and pedestrian use.
Driving and navigating Pittsburgh is a long-standing sticking point for newcomers. Pittsburgh is known as a city of bridges thanks to its proximity to three rivers, but those three rivers do not cooperate with the square-block layout you see in most American cities. This creates some tricky turns, and the many bridges put pressure points on traffic. When deciding on a Pittsburgh neighborhood, do pay special attention to your projected commute.
Thanks to its university presence, Pittsburgh has a wide variety of neighborhoods from which to choose. We take a look at some of the best neighborhoods in the city, and thanks to a median home price of only $204,000, there are many options for a variety of budgets.
6 Best Neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Downtown Pittsburgh is hopping with entertainment opportunities. This is the best neighborhood for young people.
Some downtowns shut down at 5 pm on Friday and practically become ghost towns until Monday morning. Pittsburgh is no such place. Pittsburgh has a cultural district in the downtown area, and that area has some performing arts centers, theaters, and concert halls.
If you like your entertainment with more fisticuffs than falsettos, Downtown also has the PPG Paints Arena, which is home to the Pittsburgh Penguins. If you are not yet a hockey fan, make it a priority to become one immediately so you can root for the local favorite Sidney Crosby.
Downtown offers plenty of dining and shopping and has a decent transit system. Highways can get pretty uncomfortable at rush hour, so plan your trips around this whenever possible.
This neighborhood actually makes up the tip of land where the three Pittsburgh rivers meet, and the area is called the Golden Triangle. The very tip is Point State Park where Pittsburgh holds many community events, like annual fireworks. It’s also a prime place to just hang out, sunbathe, and enjoy the outdoors.
The median home price in Downtown Pittsburgh is $248,000, which is actually down over the same time last year. Home prices in city centers can get a bit skewed if a significant portion of high-value luxury condos come on the market and sell at the same time.
- Walk Score: 94
- Bike Score: 77
- Transit Score: 98
This neighborhood is east of downtown and both Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh. Shadyside is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.
Shadyside is a neighborhood that is representative of many of the qualities that secure Pittsburgh a place on the top cities list. It is a very walkable neighborhood with plenty of upscale restaurants and shopping. It is not too far from the universities, though, so expect an active nightlife crowd. The proximity to the universities brings an academic undertone to the neighborhood thanks to the staff and professors.
Rather than high-rise, new-build apartments, old homes have been portioned into smaller apartments. Renting may be just the trick in this neighborhood as the median home price is $452,000.
Shadyside has three distinct business districts, which really improves the walkability regardless of which end of the neighborhood you settle in. Expect gorgeous, Victorian homes and an element of hip throughout the dining and retail establishments. Also expect that your dog will be welcome; Shadyside has over 50 dog-friendly businesses!
- Walk Score: 89
- Bike Score: 76
- Transit Score: 72
For another neighborhood with some high-end dining utilizing local ingredients, consider Lawrenceville. This neighborhood is a great option for young professionals.
Lawrenceville is a river-front neighborhood in Pittsburgh, and like much of the city, has an industrial past. Now, it is an up-and-coming neighborhood with local shopping options and an ever-increasing number of bars and breweries. It is far enough from the universities that you can step away from the college crowd but still enjoy some of the things that we all love about college.
About 10 percent of Pittsburg is employed by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and affiliates, and the UPMC Children’s Hospital is in Lawrenceville. The hospital only opened 10 years ago and is a major source behind the revitalization of the neighborhood. Now, it is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.
With all the changes, one of the things that Lawrenceville has best developed a reputation for is its foodie scene. Both in quantity and quality, the neighborhood really exceeds expectations. The neighborhood is home to two of the city’s best parks – Schenley Park and Frick Park. Both of these parks are the donated former estates of wealthy residents.
All of these great features do cause a median home price that is more expensive than Pittsburgh as a whole: $300,000.
- Walk Score: 76
- Bike Score: 49
- Transit Score: 45
4. Mount Washington
If you are looking for a home that is toward the edge of town or that is more on the quiet side, Mount Washington is worth a look. This is the best Pittsburgh neighborhood for views and for a quieter lifestyle.
Mount Washington and the same-named neighborhood south of the Monongahela River. This gives it a little separation from Downtown and the rest of the city. Mount Washington is most known for the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines, which are funiculars up the rather steep hill. At the top is the panoramic view of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
Being south of the river is far from being out in the rural countryside. Grandview Avenue is home to fine dining, but more modestly priced eating options are nestled through the neighborhood. The location of the neighborhood actually provides convenient access to Downtown Pittsburgh, so Mount Washington residents can still take convenient advantage of city living.
And, on the subject of location, Mount Washington may be perfectly situated to take advantage of the city as well as nature thanks to the new Grand View Scenic Byway Park. It is over 235 acres of trails and play space.
The median home price in this neighborhood is $225,000.
- Walk Score: 61
- Bike Score: 55
- Transit Score: 77
5. Highland Park
Someplace named Steel City does not seem overly inviting to families with children, but Pittsburgh is actually a great place to raise a child or two. Of course, some neighborhoods make it easier than others, and Highland Park is one of the best neighborhoods for families.
One of the best resources for surviving the toddler years is having someplace to take them where you won’t get the evil eye from people completely over children. Highland Park offers just that in the form of the Pittsburgh Zoo, the many local parks and playgrounds, the reservoir, and the aquarium.
Highland Park (the park) has sand volleyball courts, a swimming pool, and a bike track. Tons of family-friendly restaurants make it possible for parents to get a break from the kitchen with their kids. The neighborhood also has some upscale dining for those times you can wrangle a babysitter.
The median home price is $371,000.
- Walk Score: 60
- Bike Score: 72
- Transit Score: 49
6. Squirrel Hill
Pittsburgh is home to several institutions of higher learning, including Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham University, and Carnegie Mellon University. All of those students need some place to live, and Squirrel Hill is one of the best neighborhoods for students.
This neighborhood works best for Carnegie Mellon, Chatham, and the University of Pittsburgh. All of the students in the area make for a bustling, busy atmosphere, but there is more to the neighborhood than Jello shots and house parties.
Squirrel Hill has great ethnic food options, from the Ramen Bar to Everyday Noodles. You’ll find bakeries, coffee shops, and more. Carnegie Mellon has the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and you can explore the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Squirrel Hill is a tough neighborhood for anyone trying to work outside of Pittsburg due to the highway traffic, which one of the reasons it is a good neighborhood for students. The price tag on homes in the area varies drastically depending on whether you are looking at Squirrel Hill North or South.
The northern part of the neighborhood has a median home price of $737,000, which is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Alternatively, the southern part has a median home price of only $315,000.
While this is a great neighborhood for renters, home buyers are unlikely to be students.
- Walk Score: 71
- Bike Score: 65
- Transit Score: 952
Takeaways About Pittsburgh Neighborhoods
Pittsburgh offers much more than its nickname implies. The city is full of trendy areas filled with independent restaurants, bars, breweries, and shops. Some of the neighborhoods, like Squirrel Hill, are a little busier than others, like Washington Hill.
Finding a great neighborhood really just requires that you spend some time and effort analyzing your must-haves and must-avoids to find the best fit for you.