Is Pennsylvania a Good Place to Live? (19 Pros and Cons)

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Must Things To Know Before Moving To Pennsylvania

Is Pennsylvania a good place to live? To find out, I will address the question by exploring the pros and cons of living in Pennsylvania.

Let’s get moving.

Is Pennsylvania A Good Place To Live?

Affordable housing, fun things to do, great food, good schools, and excellent hospitals are just a few of the things that make Pennsylvania a good place to live. Residents also benefit from the favorable tax environment and enjoy the state’s proximity to significant East Coast attractions.

Local real estate professional Cory Benhardt echos these pros but warns potential new residents about the harsh winters, humid summers, strange liquor laws, and people’s unhealthy food choices in Pennsylvania. (source)

These comments are helpful. However, I recommend you examine all the pros and cons before moving to Pennsylvania.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Pennsylvania: Side-By-Side Comparison

Living in Pennsylvania ProsLiving in Pennsylvania Cons
1. History and Culture13. Harsh winter weather
2. Outdoor recreation14. Bad driving conditions
3. Four weather seasons15. Unusual taxes
4. Pro sports16. So-so job market
5. Excellence in Education17. Different dialects
6. Top notch health care18. Restrictive liquor laws
7. Unique regional foods19. Nuclear sirens
8. Affordable housing
9. Savings on sales tax
10. Low income tax rate
11. Tax breaks for seniors
12. Close to everything
Table 1: Pros and Cons of Living or Retiring in Pennsylvania

Next, please stick with me as I fill in the details about today’s pros and cons.

State seal of PennsylvaniaPin

Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Pros Of Living In Pennsylvania

1. Historical, Diverse, And Plenty Of Cultural Experiences To Enjoy

Pennsylvania is rich in history, diversity, and culture.

Pennsylvania is rich in American history.

First, the state is one of the original 13 colonies. Congress in Philadelphia signed the United States Declaration of Independence into law in 1776. Finally, the famous Liberty Bell was rung here.

Diversity and culture are alive in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is home to a large Amish population. The Amish are very distinct. Their culture is preserved here in the close-knit farming communities they manage.

Other cultures settled in Pennsylvania, including Dutch, Swedish, and British immigrants. Their diverse influences can be seen throughout the state to this day.

reasons not to live in PennsylvaniaPin
The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia

2. Pennsylvania’s Outdoor Recreation Options Are Second To None

Pennsylvania residents have many excellent outdoor recreational activities to choose from here.

Hikers can connect with the Appalachian Trail in the Cumberland Valley.

Stargazers love Cherry Springs State Park, an official dark sky designated area. Time your visit right, and seeing the Northern Lights here is possible.

Pennsylvania is a hunter’s dream and one of the top hunting states in the nation. Black bears and small game like rabbits, squirrels, and grouse are abundant. White-tailed deer and turkey are great for hunting here, too.

The Poconos Mountain region draws many people from around the region. The area is dotted with small towns and covered with lush forests.

Visit Pine Creek Gorge. The Gorge is known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. In case living in or visiting the actual Grand Canyon State is impossible for you.

3. Enjoy Four Weather Seasons Living In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania delivers plenty of weather variety. The climate is excellent during the spring through fall months. Residents benefit from all four weather seasons.

You will enjoy warm summer days and crisp fall temperatures that bring the turning leaves of autumn.

Celebrate Christmas with a fresh blanket of snow. Look forward to the spring thaw when the plants and forests come back to life.

4. Lots Of Professional Sports When Living In Pennsylvania

Pro baseball in "The Keystone State"Pin

Pennsylvania hosts numerous pro sports franchises. Only four states have more pro sports teams located within their boundaries.

The state’s teams include:

  • Philadelphia Phillies: Baseball
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: Baseball
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Basketball
  • Philadelphia Eagles: Football
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: Football
  • Philadelphia Flyers: Hockey
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: Hockey
  • Philadelphia Union: Soccer

Philadelphia and Pittsburg are two notable sports towns in an excellent state for pro sports. After moving to Pennsylvania, adopt a team and cheer them on.

5. Pennsylvania Offers Excellence In Education

Pennsylvania has a good school system and outstanding higher education options.

Yes, the K-12 school system is high quality. However, where the state shines is in higher education.

Most notable is the University of Pennsylvania, which is part of the elite Ivy League group of schools. It is located in Philadelphia. At the same time, Penn State University is a top-notch school in State College, PA.

The state has many institutions of higher learning, including Bucknell, Drexel, and Carnegie Mellon University.

6. Pennsylvania Residents Have Access To Top-Notch Health Care Institutions

Pennsylvania boasts big names for health care access, patient outcomes, and research.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is highly regarded. UPNC’s network has roughly 40 hospitals, including highly rated Presbyterian Shadyside in Pittsburg.

Other excellent hospitals located across the state of Pennsylvania include:

  • Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia
  • UPMC Pinnacle in Harrisburg
  • Hershey Medical Center serving central PA

7. Tempting Local Food Options Are Available Throughout The State

Pennsylvania is known for unique, regional foods. Let me highlight several of them for you.

Pennsylvania Pizza

Old Forge, PA, considers itself the pizza capital of the world. Thus, you can find good pizza in this state!

The town was settled by Italian immigrants who started the pizza-making tradition.

Convenience Foods In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is known for fresh foods and meals prepared and sold in gas stations and convenience stores. It’s pretty good grub, including burgers, appetizers, custom-made sandwiches, and more.

Check out the variety of fresh offerings at Wawa and Sheetz. These two convenience stores will surely surprise you with the quality of their food offerings.

Pennsylvania Dutch Smorgasbords

Visit a Pennsylvania Dutch smorgasbord buffet. They are an unbelievable food fest offering a variety of all-you-can-eat dishes. Be sure to try some of the regional Amish food they have available.

Philly Cheese Steaks

The cheesesteak sandwich has its roots in Philadelphia, where it was developed in the early 1900s. The city is the only place in the country to get an authentic, original Philly cheesesteak!

The hot sandwich combines thin slices of sauteed rib-eye steak topped with grilled onions and melted provolone cheese into a small loaf of bread.

Chocolate In Pennsylvania

Hershey, PA, is known as the sweetest place on earth. The town is home to the iconic chocolate and candy company that bears the town’s name.

8. Benefit From The Low Cost Of Homes In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers residents more affordable housing prices than other states in the country.

The median home value is approximately 35% less than the comparable national figure (Source: Redfin and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis).

At the same time, other living costs in Pennsylvania, such as utilities, transportation, and food, run at or slightly above the national average.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your money.

Pro money tip #1: Use the cash rebate app from Rakuten to save on all of your online purchases.

Pro money tip #2: Manage your expenses, budget, and investments in one convenient place using the free money app from Empower.

Next, I have some other ways you will save money living in Pennsylvania.

9. Pennsylvania Sales Taxes Are A Pretty Good Deal

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Pennsylvania has an average sales tax rate of about 6%. However, the state exempts many items from the tax, including:

  • Food (not ready-to-eat)
  • Candy and gum
  • Most clothing
  • Textbooks
  • Computer services
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Sales of items that will be resold
  • Residential heating fuels

So, you can save on most of your everyday purchases. The arrangement isn’t as attractive as a state with no sales tax, but these states are few and far between.

10. Pennsylvania Residents Aren’t Charged An Arm And A Leg For Income Taxes

Pennsylvania has a flat income tax system. That means your tax rate is the same, no matter how much money you make.

Fortunately, the state’s income tax rate is modest, just over 3%.

You won’t save as much here as living in a state that charges no income tax. However, Pennsylvania’s rate is relatively low compared to most other states.

11. Are You Considering Retirement Living In Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania offers excellent tax breaks for seniors.

For example, the state does not tax:

  • Social security income
  • Pension income
  • 401(k) and IRA withdrawals

As a result, moving to Pennsylvania in retirement is a great way to make your money go further.

Okay. Enough about money and taxes. Let’s continue with some of the other pros of living in Pennsylvania.

12. Proximity To Some Great States, Cities, And Regional Attractions

living in Pennsylvania pros and consPin

Pennsylvania provides excellent access to some great East Coast cities.

One of the reasons Pennsylvania is called “The Keystone State” is its convenient location for traveling around the region. Thus, live here and be close to everything.

For example, hop in the car and be in New York City in hours. Further north in New York state, visit the vast green spaces of the Adirondacks.

Going a different direction, head to Washington D.C. Tour the historic monuments, buildings, and museums in our nation’s capital.

Check out Boston, in the New England state of Massachusetts. Discover the area’s rich history. Or visit the countryside to view the beautiful turning leaves of fall.

Other places you can easily access from Pennsylvania include New Jersey, home to Atlantic City with its iconic boardwalk and casinos. Furthermore, the Kittatinny Mountains are located across the southeast Pennsylvania state border in North Jersey.

Next, Wilmington is nearby, located in the little state of Delaware.

And don’t forget about Baltimore. You can enjoy some excellent blue crab the state of Maryland is famous for.

Okay. That concludes my top reasons for moving to Pennsylvania. However, an article about the pros and cons of living in Pennsylvania is incomplete without a review of the reasons not to move to Pennsylvania in the first place.

Let’s cover these points now. It is vital to understand that each state has some good things and not-so-good reasons for living there.

Cons Of Living In Pennsylvania

13. Harsh Winter Weather

Pennsylvania has frigid cold winters and gets plenty of snow. Depending on where you live, expect 30-50 inches of that fluffy white stuff each year.

Be prepared and have a heavy parka and snow boots on hand. You will need these items to combat the cold and snow during the state’s winter season.

Furthermore, the Pennsylvania weather is known for its volatility. One day, it might be mild. At the same time, the next day brings cold temperatures and snow. And, of course, you get everything in between!

14. The State Is Known For Its Bad Driving Conditions

Pennsylvania road signPin

Driving in Pennslyvania is not the best since this state has lousy traffic.

Commuters And Road Rage

Commuters to and from New York City and the Washington DC area add to traffic congestion. Furthermore, Philadelphia drivers are known for “Philly Road Rage.”

Ramps And Signage

Pennsylvania’s highways and ramps are challenging to navigate.

Some ramps are long, while others are short. Some ramps have stop signals. Road signs are often unreliable and confusing. The different situations create dangerous high-speed traffic.

Potholes And Tolls

Pennsylvania is known to have some of the worst potholes in the country.

Furthermore, there are many toll roads in and around Pennsylvania. Do yourself a favor and get an automated prepaid toll pass.

15. Be Prepared For Some Additional Taxes After Moving To Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has some good tax breaks that I mentioned previously.

On the other hand, the state taps your pocketbook differently. Here is a quick rundown of what you can expect. Consult with a tax advisor if any of these taxes concern you.

Local Taxes

Many Pennsylvania towns, cities, and municipalities levy local taxes. They are sometimes called local earned income tax or local services tax. These taxes can range from nothing up to almost 4%.

Property Taxes

Pennsylvania real estate taxes are high. The state has one of the country’s top 15 highest average property tax rates.

Inheritance Taxes

The state has an inheritance tax, also called a death tax.

The tax rate applied to the deceased’s assets can vary widely depending on who you leave your money to. The rate can be as high as 15%.

Gasoline Taxes

Pennsylvania has an expensive gasoline tax. The tax will cost you nearly 60 cents per gallon. So, be prepared to pay up at the pump.

Combined with the cost of tolls, the gas tax will run up your driving costs in Pennsylvania.

16. The State’s Job Market Is A Mixed Bag

Pennsylvania’s big cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburg have robust economies and job markets. However, competition for the best jobs is pretty stiff.

On the other hand, in the smaller cities and rural areas, jobs and especially higher-paying professional employment opportunities are limited.

Finally, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is one of the highest rates in the country (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

So, if you are moving to Pennsylvania for employment, getting your job lined up in advance is a good idea.

17. Dialects And Accents Can Be Hard To Understand

benefits of living in PennsylvaniaPin
Amish farmers in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania natives speak a mix of Swedish, Dutch, and German languages. Spanish is spoken, too.

I attribute this to the ethnic diversity in Pennsylvania compared to other states in the country.

So, you will run across various languages and accents you may not be familiar with. In the worst case, some people may be hard for you to understand.

18. Restrictive Liquor Laws In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s liquor laws are a bit restrictive. It is similar to a state out west like Utah with religious underpinnings.

So, if you like to drink, familiarize yourself with when and where to buy beer, wine, and spirits.

19. Nuclear Sirens When Living In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has several nuclear power plants located in the state. Workers are required to test the alarm systems periodically.

So, know that the sirens can be loud and unnerving depending on your location.

Okay. That concludes the opportunities and obstacles of living in Pennsylvania. Please allow me to wrap up with some parting thoughts.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Pennsylvania – A Good Place To Live?

I hope this article has helped you consider some essential questions. For example:

  1. Is Pennsylvania a good state to live in?
  2. Should I move to Pennsylvania?
  3. What is living in Pennsylvania like?

Best of luck with your decision, no matter where you settle down.

More Reading About The Pros And Cons Of Pennsylvania And Far Beyond

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In Pennsylvania Explained