Pittsburgh, huh? We like it. Moving to Pittsburgh could be a good move for you. But we also understand that while you're considering moving to Pittsburgh, you also have a lot of questions on your mind. If I move there, where should I live? What kind of job opportunities are available? What is there to do? What's the city known for? What the heck is a Steeler? Just typing all that has us stressed out.
Maybe you're a little stressed out. Maybe you're just excited and ready for a new chapter in your life. Whatever your situation, you've come to the right place. Here, at Bellhops, we'll introduce you to the Steel City and walk you through everything you need to know before moving there (we're movers in Pittsburgh, by the way). Also, if you're interested in Pennsylvania, but not sure if Pittsburgh is right for you, check out our guide on moving to Pennsylvania.
A city that started primarily with steel (hence the nickname), Pittsburgh now boasts an expanding economy, a hearty food scene, and a rising art community. So grab a coffee, sit back, relax, and enjoy. Let's get started.
First Things First: Basic 'Burgh Info
In his popular work The Romance of Steel, Herbert Casson famously wrote, "Pittsburgh is more than a city." For Casson, Pittsburgh was "an industrial cyclone," "the acme of activity," and a place of "sweat and gold." This was Pittsburgh at the turn of the twentieth century. A booming city, known both for its industry and the subsequent soot and filth that it produced. Today, Pittsburgh is a little different.
While steel still plays a large part in Pittsburgh's economy, the city is now home to a variety of industries. The economic focus has shifted to technology, healthcare, medicine, and education.
The technology sector is booming in Pittsburgh—Google, Apple, IBM, and Facebook all have offices in the city. Due to the strength of its tech sector, Pittsburgh wasn’t hit nearly as hard as other cities during the 2008 recession.
The city of bridges is also home to several fortune 500 companies, such as Kraft-Heinz, U.S. Steel, WESCO International, and PNC Financial. Approximately 10% of the workforce is employed by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and affiliates, making it the largest employer in the city.
If you're thinking of moving to Pittsburgh without a job, there are several great resources when job hunting in Pittsburgh. Our top recommendation is the searchable online guide at Next Pittsburgh. In addition to constant job opening updates, the site also provides city news and event information to keep you in the know.
Upon arriving in the city of steel, you might hear the term yinzer thrown around. Historically, the term referred to a Pittsburgh blue-collar resident with a thick regional accent. Within the last few decades, however, the term yinzer has taken on a more lighthearted tone. Now, it's often used to refer to a Pittsburgh lifer or to describe the actions of someone that seem "so Pittsburgh."
Where Should I Live? A Small Neighborhood Guide
Golden Triangle is considered the "heart" of downtown. Point state park creates the west part of the triangle, where the three rivers converge. The neighborhood extends east to just past I-579, which runs north/south. The neighborhood is very walkable with plenty of housing. But be warned—as with most downtowns, the lofts and apartments here can get a little pricey. Apartment hunting can be a little tough here, so check out either rent.com or apartmentguide.com. Both are excellent apartment aggregators with impressive databases.
The Uptown neighborhood is located east of Golden triangle, between the Monongahela River and 5th Avenue. Duquesne University takes up a large portion of the neighborhood and, as a result, many students live nearby.
One of the more interesting neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Uptown is a committed “Eco-Innovation District.” What does that mean? It's an area dedicated to sustainability, innovative development practices, and inclusive job growth. Uptown's goal is to create a new model for urban growth that is inclusive, innovative, and environmentally sound. If that sounds appealing to you, you can read more here.
Uptown is also home to StartupTown, a community-based co-working campus where individuals can lease workspaces that foster social and technological innovation. Between students, young professionals, and forward-thinking business owners, Uptown is a neighborhood focused on the community.
On the East Side, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill are two fairly wealthy neighborhoods that also offer plenty of shopping. Squirrel Hill is more residential, located 5-10 minutes outside of downtown. With plenty of green space, the district is family-focused. And, if you're looking for a unique night out, some of the best ethnic restaurants are found in Squirrel Hill.
Another popular east side neighborhood is Lawrenceville. Many young professionals, especially artists and designers, call Lawrenceville home. The neighborhood has recently undergone extensive revitalization and has become somewhat of a hotspot. The free Art All Night Festival in Lawrenceville is held annually on the last weekend of April. It promotes local artists and designers throughout the neighborhood.
Mount Washington, the 367-foot "mountain" within Pittsburgh, is the hallmark of the west end of the city offering spectacular views of the downtown skyline. Park at the bottom and take either the Monongahela or Duquesne Incline up to the top via cable cars. The surrounding neighborhood is flourishing, full of young professionals, young families, and retirees.
Mt. Washington also sports its own "restaurant row," full of upscale, fine dining establishments, many with stunning views of downtown. For those looking for a snack that won’t burn a hole in their wallet, Shiloh Street is full of cute ice cream shops and bakeries.
While Mount Washington is the flashy gem of the West End, the hilly Elliott neighborhood boasts charm and plenty of green space for exploring. Elliott is bordered by the Ohio River to the east, Highway 60 to the south, and Chartiers Ave/Corliss Ave to the northwest. If you’re looking for a fantastic view, venture to the West End Overlook to snap that Instagram-worthy picture.
After moving to Pittsburgh, you may realize you have more stuff than you have room for. It happens to the best of us. If you find yourself in this situation, check out SpareFoot. SpareFoot is the world's largest marketplace for storage, making it easy to find your stuff a home. Their website lets you compare the storage options nationwide and reserve the best solution for your needs, whether it is traditional self-storage or on-demand full-service storage. And lucky for you, they cover Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh International Airport
Pittsburgh International Airport is pretty sweet. Not only does it offers the convenience of several major airlines and international flights, it's also small enough to be relatively hassle-free. In fact, the airport was named one of Travel & Leisure’s Top 10 Domestic Airports in the US in 2017, due to ease of accessibility, dining options, and efficiency of layout. Several airlines fly non-stop to major US cities, such as Las Vegas and San Francisco, and the airport also offers non-stop seasonal service to Paris, Frankfurt, and the Caribbean.
Several interstates either run through or around Pittsburgh, offering easy access for travel. However, due to the three rivers, bridges, and interstates, there's a bit of a learning curve when it comes to getting around the city. You're gonna need a GPS your first few months in Pittsburgh (and maybe even after that).
However, going carless is definitely a viable option in Pittsburgh. With its compact downtown and readily available public transportation system, with a little planning, you should be able to get around no problem. Port Authority oversees the bus and rail system within Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, PA. Bus service between 4 a.m. and 7 p.m. is free within the Downtown area known as the Golden Triangle. Pittsburgh also has bicycling activist groups, like Bike PGH, which works to promote bike transportation accessibility and education throughout the city.
Pittsburgh Landmarks and Pittsburgh Culture
The arts are present in Pittsburgh and we dig it. Pittsburgh has both several art museums and a growing art scene. The Andy Warhol Museum, home to the world's largest collection of Andy Warhol's work, is located in Pittsburgh just a block north of the Allegheny River. The Carnegie Museum of Art offers rotating collections, film screenings, and programs for all ages. (Tip: Ticket prices are discounted after 3 pm on weekdays.) And, contrary to its rather industrial name, The Mattress Factory Museum hosts permanent and rotating collections of contemporary art and also functions as an event space.
The Carnegie family may have built their fortune on steel, but their legacy funds several educational opportunities in varying interests throughout the city. The Carnegie Science Center hosts exhibits that range from teaching about robotics to team building on ropes courses. The science center hosts speakers and events throughout the year. Annual memberships are available.
America’s only full-time brass band, the River City Brass band was started in the 1980’s to revive the brass band music and culture. The band puts on several concerts annually in Pittsburgh and tours throughout Pennsylvania. Every Christmas, the RCB puts on the "Christmas Brasstacular", offering a unique take on traditional carols.
Each year, Pittsburgh hosts several great film festivals. But perhaps the best known is the Three Rivers Film Festival. Founded in 1981, The Three Rivers Film Festival features a variety of independent films: foreign language films, short films, American independents, documentaries, and more. While the festival is much smaller than the popular Sundance film festivals, it's comparable in quality.
The Pittsburgh Food Scene
Brunch Time: Opportunities Abound
The Steel city holds nothing back when it comes to weekend feasting with plenty of options in every neighborhood. Here, we'll highlight a few of our Pittsburgh favorites.
A favorite in Lawrenceville is Coca Cafe. The menu changes weekly and there is often a wait.
The Strip District, known for its nightlife, also boasts several impressive brunch spots to refuel after a night out. Dianoia’s Eatery has something for everyone. With some fun twists, several of the brunch items are inspired by Italian influences, including the Nutella Panzerotti—delicious fried dough filled with Nutella.
Bar Marco, known for being a wine bar, offers savory dishes on the brunch menu. Pork and Beans, a barbeque restaurant, radiates a natural light atmosphere, mixing barbecue with brunch on weekends. If a vegetarian or vegan weekend meal is more your style, try Zenith, a restaurant that specializes in veggie-friendly dishes.
Pierogies are a Pittsburgh classic. The Eastern European traditional dish was brought over by immigrants who flocked to the Pittsburgh area in the 19th and 20th century while the steel industry was booming. What exactly is a pierogi? Most broadly, it's a filled dumpling. They're made by taking unleavened dough and then wrapping it around a sweet or savory filling. Sounds kind of simple, but, man, are they tasty.
If you’re looking to try them for the first time or if you're a seasoned pierogi expert, there are a plenty of opportunities in the city of three rivers. Pierogies Plus is a repurposed gas station turned Pierogi factory that supplies many local restaurants with the delicacy, sells directly to customers, and takes online orders. The producer tops the "best Pierogi in Pittsburgh" list frequently. Another great pierogi restaurant is S&D Polish Deli, a traditional Eastern European eatery that offers many flavors of the dumpling.
The Strip District
Pittsburgh nightlife is hot—it's home to the most bars per capita in the US. If you’re looking for clubbing or a big night out, the Strip District is where you’ll want to be. It's located between the Allegheny River and Bigelow Street. If you’re looking for a laid-back atmosphere, Lefty’s Bar has a divey feel and cheap drinks that locals rave about.
Pittsburgh has no shortage of breweries. The craft beer scene is booming and just about every neighborhood sports their own brewery, all with a little different flavor. Many of the breweries often pair up with local food trucks, offering a slam dunk for food and booze. Roundabout Brewery in Lawrenceville always offers several brews and rotates food trucks, and they always keep their site updated with a schedule of the food truck lineup. The growing north side of Pittsburgh is home to Allegheny City Brewing Company, offering a unique rustic interior and several taps. We recommend you try the graham cracker porter. It's legit.
Obviously, there are way more breweries in Pittsburgh, but these are a few of our favorites. For a much more thorough list, check out Beer Advocate where you'll find a thorough list of breweries, complete with ratings and breakdowns of all the individual beers that they offer.
Pittsburgh takes their sporting events very seriously. Which means that sometimes you can get tickets, and sometimes you just can't. If you can’t be in the stadium, why not enjoy the camaraderie and cheer just as loud with other fans, food, and booze?
This is where McFadden's comes in. McFadden's is a hometown favorite, centrally located between the football and baseball stadiums. Other favorites include Mario’s and Urban Tap, where locals love to catch the game, drink beers, and yell at TVs together.
Pittsburgh is home to three professional sports teams, all of which have been extremely successful.
For NFL Sundays, the Pittsburgh Steelers boast a loyal following and rich history of winning. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell lead the six-time Super Bowl champs and the thousands of terrible towel waving fans at Heinz Field.
If baseball is more your style, then the Pirates will be your team. The seven-time World Series champs play at PNC Park on the north side of town.
Lastly, if you prefer hockey, then you’re in luck. The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the brink of a dynasty. Prepare to pay a pretty penny for a ticket to see the back to back 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cup Champions.
There you have it. Our guide to moving to Pittsburgh. If you decide to take the plunge and make the move, don't hesitate to reach out to your friends at Bellhops. We coordinate local and long distance moving services in Pittsburgh and we would love to help.
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