Did you know that Pittsburgh has something like 90 different neighborhoods?! It’s awesome when you think about all of the different cultures of each one that you can explore and enjoy, but it can make deciding on where you want to put down roots a little overwhelming with so many options to choose from. So, what exactly is the best way to go about finding out which neighborhoods you should start your home search in, especially if you’re unfamiliar with different parts of the city, or are relocating and don’t know much about the area in general?
Below are 4 steps to help you figure it out!
Step 1: Identify the style of neighborhood you want to live in
If you google neighborhood styles/types, you will find there are a lot of options, so I’ve narrowed it down to the more familiar ones here for you. All of these neighborhoods feature different perks, so it becomes a matter of what you are most drawn to and interested in when choosing where to start your home search!
- City/Urban is made up of your more downtown, city-living style. Housing in this area is made up of more condos and apartments than actual houses when you are directly in the city. In the nearby urban neighborhoods that are just outside of the downtown area, you can start to find more housing options such as townhomes, duplexes, and single-family residences. These areas tend to feature a lot of new restaurants, breweries, and nightlife options; however, these areas can also be a little noisier in general because of the hustle & bustle going on around you.
- Suburb neighborhoods move you a little farther away from the city. You’re still close enough to be able to get to the city quickly, but you start to have a little more space and housing options. Here you will find mostly single-family homes and townhomes . The suburbs usually feature a lot of housing plans, which helps to give you an opportunity to really get to know your neighbors because of how the proximity to other homes within your plan. These areas are also usually more known for having more parks and family-friendly features.
- Rural neighborhoods are those that are typically farthest from a large city and feature homes that have a little more land. If having a large yard is an important factor for you, it may require you to look into more rural areas for that feature. There tends to be more privacy in rural areas because your neighbor won’t be as close to you, but it can also mean that you end up being a little farther away from your typical amenities, such as malls, stores, hospitals, etc.
Step 2: Identify your most desired aspects/features in a neighborhood
Now that you’ve started to think about what type of neighborhood appeals to you, you’ll want to start making a list of particular factors that are most important to you. If you have children, maybe a good school district is the #1 thing you are looking into. If you’re a young professional, maybe being downtown and closer to happy hour or nightlife spots is more important at this point in your life. Adventurous? Perhaps you want to look into areas that have more local parks and recreational activities. You may also want to take into account job availability or maybe even the commute you would have. (As someone who previously had to go through the Fort Pitt Bridge to get to work every day and sat in ridiculous traffic, finding somewhere without a difficult commute was a major factor for me when we bought our house!) Regardless of your situation in life, identifying these factors is going to be very important to your home search, so my suggestion would be to start working on that list and ranking them in order of importance!
Step 3: Research, Research, Research!
I think the #1 way to help you find out great local information on particular neighborhoods is to go directly to the source – join local Facebook groups and ask for feedback! I’m in a few different groups that are specific to Pittsburgh and there are always people asking for recommendations for school districts, neighborhoods, etc. People who have lived in the area/city are going to be your best resource! They’ll have hyper-local information that will be helpful in your decision-making process, and if I’ve learned anything since moving to Pittsburgh, it’s that people are passionate about their city and neighborhoods!
Other things that are helpful to research if they are important to you would be local criminal statistics, school districts (check out Niche), closeness to your employment, access to public transportation, local amenities, and whatever else you can think of that you can easily research online. Otherwise – go straight to the people and use social media to your benefit. This can also be a great way to start finding some locals that you can connect with, too!
Step 4: Work with a local REALTOR® to set up your home search
Not only will a local agent have knowledge of available homes in the neighborhoods you’ve identified, but they’ll also be able to tell you the average sale price of homes in the area and how long homes are on the market. This info will be important to know so you can make sure that you can afford a home that will meet your needs in that neighborhood, and inform you of how quickly you might have to make an offer when a house is listed. They’ll also be able to help you with recommendations for local professionals, such as lenders, home inspectors, contractors, and anything else you might need along the way with your real estate transaction!
Now that we’ve reviewed the steps and you’ve narrowed down where you want to live, let me help you find your dream home in the perfect neighborhood!