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The Average Cost of Living In Pittsburgh: An In-Depth Guide

Pittsburgh has successfully reinvented itself as a tech hub and cultural center in the Rust Belt. It’s still affordable, but there are many factors that play into its cost of living.
Pittsburgh has successfully reinvented itself as a tech hub and cultural center in the Rust Belt. It’s still affordable, but there are many factors that play into its cost of living.

Like many cities in the Rust Belt, “Steel City” has experienced its share of ups and downs over the past few decades. Hard hit by the economic turbulence of the 70s and early 80s, the city faltered when the steel industry disappeared almost overnight.

It has since reinvented itself as a cultural center and tech hub. People move to Pittsburgh for its cheap housing, its thriving job market, and its amazing culture and infrastructure.

But like any rising city, affordability tends to decline as the city becomes a more desirable destination.

Let’s look at the average cost of living in Pittsburgh in 2019.

Typical Home Prices in Pittsburgh in 2019

Home prices are quite affordable in Pittsburgh; according to Zillow, the median home value there is $144,500. This is significantly lower than the national median home value of $226,800, and the good news doesn’t end there.

Home prices have risen in Pittsburgh by 0.9% in the past year, and are actually projected to decline by 4.3% over the next year. This creates a great time to buy a house in Pittsburgh, if you wait a little while.

There’s a wide spectrum of affordability within the city. In the Central Business District neighborhood, one of Pittsburgh’s priciest, the median home value is $213,900, which is still cheaper than the national average, though expensive for Pittsburgh. On the other end of the spectrum, homes in Allentown are unbelievably inexpensive, with a median of $135,500.

If you’re considering sitting out the market’s impending fluctuation, renting could be a good option for you. The average monthly rent in Pittsburgh is $1,126, which is quite a bit lower than the national average of $1,488.

How Much Are Pittsburgh Property Taxes?

Property taxes in Pittsburgh are calculated by multiplying a property’s assessed value by the local property tax rate, often referred to as the “mill rate.” A mill is equal to one-tenth of one cent, which comes out to one dollar for every $1,000 of assessed value.

In Allegheny County, the average property tax rate is 2.152%, which is quite high when compared to average rates across the country. Using Pittsburgh’s median home value of $144,500, that means the average Pittsburgh homeowner’s annual property tax bill will come to approximately $3,110.

The property tax rate is much higher than Pennsylvania’s statewide average tax rate of 1.506%, but this is typical; major metropolitan areas often have higher property tax rates than smaller towns or rural areas.

Average Homeowners Insurance in Pittsburgh

Homeowners insurance is absolutely vital for anyone who owns property not only because it protects you from losing your investment to a freak weather occurrence, but because knowing you’re protected from loss frees you up from stress and anxiety. Still, it can be a significant expense.

Companies that sell homeowners insurance set their rates by assessing each property’s vulnerability to damage. They look at a huge variety of factors, including a home’s age, condition, building materials, and location. This last factor is especially important. A flimsily-built home located in a low-lying coastal area is going to have much more expensive insurance rates than a sturdy brick home in a dry, landlocked state.

Pennsylvania in general is a relatively inexpensive state for homeowners insurance. The average annual bill statewide is only $801, which is 35% lower than the national average. Rates in Pittsburgh are slightly higher, coming in at $933, but this is still lower than the national average of $1,228.

Pittsburgh is a relatively safe environment; it doesn’t experience much flooding, earthquake activity, tornadoes, or other extreme weather, other than the occasional blizzard.

Common Home Maintenance and Repair Costs in Pittsburgh

A general rule to follow regarding home maintenance is that you’ll want to spend 1% of your home’s value on yearly upkeep and repairs. Depending on where you settle in Pittsburgh, you may have to spend even more than this.

According to the latest stats, most of the new construction in PIttsburgh is concentrated in only 10 of the city’s 90 neighborhoods. Much of the rest of the city’s housing stock is old and in less-than-ideal condition. Owning one of these homes would require a lot of repairs upfront, as well as significant regular upkeep.

Old homes are also notoriously energy-inefficient, which could translate to high utility bills in Pittsburgh’s cold winters. Homeowners might want to consider taking measures to make their older homes more energy-efficient, by investing in new windows and doors, sealing gaps and cracks, and installing modern, efficient appliances.

Other Costs of Living in Pittsburgh to Consider

Although housing is cheaper in Pittsburgh than the national average, there are some expenses that are much pricier in Pittsburgh than in the rest of the country. Utilities are higher, which can make a serious dent in a homeowners wallet when you couple that with old, inefficient housing stock, and cold winters.

Transportation is significantly more expensive in Pittsburgh than in the rest of the country. This is likely due to the city’s problem with sprawl. This could lead to some long drive times which, coupled with high fuel prices, adds a major recurring expense to a Pittsburgh resident’s budget.

Find a Top Pittsburgh Real Estate Agent

If you’re ready to move to Pennsylvania’s rising city, the best decision you can make is to partner with an experienced local real estate agent. A great agent will have a comprehensive knowledge of the local market and will be able to quickly and efficiently hone in on properties that fit your requirements. Once they’ve found your dream home, they can help you put in a competitive offer, negotiate the inevitable counteroffer, and guide you through the long process of closing.

Clever Partner Agents are top performers in their markets and can answer any questions you might have about the cost of living in Pittsburgh. Not only can they help you get the best possible price on your dream home they also offer a buyer rebate program that will put cash back in your pocket. If you’re ready to begin your home buying journey, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation!

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Jamie Ayers

Jamie is the Director of Content at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents and helps you save thousands on commission. In the past, Jamie has managed columns for clients in a variety of leading business publications, including Forbes, Inc., CEO World, Entrepreneur, and more. At Clever, Jamie's primary goal is to provide home sellers, buyers, and investors with the information they need to successfully navigate the ins and outs of the real estate industry.

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