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Welcome to the Keystone State: 14 Essential Things to Know Before Moving to Pennsylvania

things to know before moving to pennsylvania

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where the state motto might as well be “You’ve got options!” Whether you’re looking to cozy up in a historic town, explore bustling city streets, or just find the perfect spot to watch deer in your backyard, Pennsylvania has a little something for everyone.

Before you pack your bags and say goodbye to your current neighbors (who, let’s face it, probably won’t even realize you’re gone until the next neighborhood barbecue), here are some things you’ll want to know about your soon-to-be home state. From the serious weather mood swings to the passionate sports fans who bleed their team colors, moving to Pennsylvania is like joining a new, big, slightly dysfunctional family.

Get ready to swap your current favorite foods for pretzels and whoopie pies, and don’t forget to brush up on your “yinz” and “youse” if you want to blend in with the locals. Let’s dive into the Keystone State essentials!

14 Things to Know Before Moving to Pennsylvania

1. Geography and Climate: From City Streets to Mountain Peaks

In Pennsylvania, you can enjoy breakfast in a bustling city and have lunch atop a serene mountain—talk about a change of scenery! The state boasts 46,055 square miles of diverse landscapes, including the bustling streets of Philadelphia and the tranquil Pocono Mountains. Weather-wise, brace yourself for a rollercoaster. While Pittsburgh enjoys a modest 160 sunny days a year, the Allegheny Plateau can surprise you with sudden snow even in April. If variety is the spice of life, Pennsylvania’s geography and climate are the whole spice rack!

2. Cost of Living: Stretching Dollars in the Keystone State

Thinking about your wallet? In Pennsylvania, your dollar’s destiny largely depends on your zip code. Philadelphia might have you tightening your belt with living costs soaring 17% above the national average. Meanwhile, in more laid-back Lancaster, you can live large for less, with costs dipping 4% below the average. Whether you choose urban hustle or country calm, Pennsylvania offers a financial flavor for every taste. Just remember, a Philly cheesesteak always tastes better when it doesn’t break the bank!

3. Major Cities and Their Characteristics: Urban Vibes Across the State

Pennsylvania’s cities are as varied as a box of assorted chocolates. Philadelphia, with its rich history and 1.5 million people, is the cheesesteak capital of the world and home to the Liberty Bell. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, the city of 446 bridges, bleeds black and gold, whether it’s for the Steelers or Penguins. Then there’s Harrisburg, not just the state capital but a cozy city with a big heart and a population of nearly 50,000, where politics meets riverside relaxation. Each city offers its own unique flavor, making PA a state that’s hard to summarize in just one bite!

4. Employment Opportunities: Jobs Across the Keystone Spectrum

In Pennsylvania, job hunters can find a playground of opportunities. Philly’s buzzing with healthcare and education roles, supporting its reputation with a sturdy 24% of the workforce in these sectors. Over in Pittsburgh, tech is the new steel, with a 22% surge in tech employment over the last decade. Not your field? No worries—Hershey’s not just about chocolate; it’s also a sweet spot for manufacturing jobs. Whether you’re programming computers or perfecting chocolates, PA’s job market is as diverse as its landscape. Grab your resume, and maybe a pretzel, and dive in!

5. Education System: From Crayons to College Degrees

Pennsylvania takes its education seriously, but with enough crayon and ivy league charm to keep it interesting! Boasting over 500 school districts, the state offers a patchwork of educational opportunities. For those with a hankering for higher education, PA rolls out the red carpet with more than 260 colleges and universities, including prestigious spots like the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon. Whether your kids are doodling in kindergarten or diving into doctoral research, they’re set for success. PA schools: molding young minds and possibly the next Benjamin Franklin!

6. Healthcare Facilities: Where Well-being is Well Done

In Pennsylvania, healthcare is less of a service and more of a spectator sport, with residents rooting for their local hospitals like they do their favorite football teams. The state boasts over 250 hospitals, including the nationally ranked University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Whether you’re in need of a routine check-up or something more intricate, the Keystone State has you covered with both quantity and quality. So, if you find yourself sneezing or wheezing, remember: in PA, top-notch medical help is just a short ambulance ride away!

7. Transportation: Navigating the Keystone State

Navigating Pennsylvania is an adventure! With over 120,000 miles of roads and highways, you can literally go the extra mile. Prefer to ditch the car? The SEPTA system in Philly boasts enough buses, trains, and trolleys to make any car feel lonely. Pittsburgh’s 446 bridges ensure you’re never stuck with “water everywhere, not a way to cross.” And for the eco-conscious, bike lanes are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Whether you’re road-tripping or just commuting, in PA, every journey has a story (and maybe a traffic jam)!

8. Real Estate: From Rustic Retreats to Urban Digs

Hunting for a home in Pennsylvania? You’re in luck—whether you fancy a chic city loft in downtown Philly or a charming farmhouse in the Amish countryside. The state’s real estate market is as varied as its pies are filled (and we do love our shoofly pie!). Median home values hover around $198,377, but they swing wildly from the cobblestones of Old City to the rolling hills of the Poconos. Whether you’re signing a mortgage or a lease, Pennsylvania’s properties promise a place for every taste and budget. Get ready to unpack your dreams in the Keystone State!

9. Cultural Scene: A Melting Pot of Arts and Antiques

In Pennsylvania, culture isn’t just an option; it’s a lifestyle! Dive into Philly’s vibrant art scene, home to over 2,000 murals—the city’s like a giant open-air gallery. Not artsy enough? Catch a live show at one of Pittsburgh’s 50 theaters, or jam at Harrisburg’s annual jazz fest. And let’s not overlook the smaller towns, where local crafts, folk art, and antiques shops offer a peek into the past, one dusty treasure at a time. Whether you’re into highbrow ballet or lowbrow comedy, Pennsylvania’s cultural buffet is sure to satisfy your appetite!

10. Safety and Crime Rates: Keeping It Secure in the Keystone State

Moving to Pennsylvania and wondering about the neighborhood watch? Well, it’s less ‘watch out’ and more ‘watch over’. Most areas boast crime rates that would make a pickpocket think twice about changing careers. For instance, the city of Allentown has seen a significant 30% drop in crime rates over the past decade. Sure, no place is a utopia, and while Philly and Pittsburgh have their hot spots, community initiatives and active policing keep things mostly cozy. So, lock your doors if you must, but in PA, it’s more about opening doors to new friends and neighbors.

11. Local Laws and Regulations: Quirky Codes to Keep in Mind

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where the laws are as unique as the landscape! Did you know it’s illegal to sleep on top of a refrigerator outdoors in Pittsburgh? More practically, PA is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents, meaning your insurance covers you, regardless of who’s to blame. And for the anglers out there, get this: it’s perfectly legal to fish with a dynamite in the state, but why ruin the fun of the catch? Whether you’re navigating road rules or river rights, understanding local ordinances will keep your PA life penalty-free and peculiarly pleasant!

12. Community and Social Life: Where Everybody Knows Your Game

In Pennsylvania, the community vibe is strong—whether you’re cheering for the Eagles or bonding over bingo at the local fire hall. It’s a place where you can find over 300 community events yearly, from apple festivals in Adams County to zucchini festivals in Zelienople. New in town? Join a local sports league or a community garden and watch your neighborly network grow faster than your tomatoes. In PA, ‘social life’ is just another word for living locally, and before you know it, you’ll be part of the Pennsylvania patchwork—quilting circle optional!

13. Food and Cuisine: A Feast of Flavors

Pennsylvania’s menu is as diverse as its population. Start your day with scrapple in Philly—don’t ask what’s in it, just enjoy! For lunch, nothing beats a Pittsburgh pierogi or a Lancaster County whoopie pie. And let’s not forget the obligatory Philly cheesesteak showdown: Pat’s or Geno’s? This state serves up an eclectic mix, from hearty Dutch country classics to innovative farm-to-table dishes. With over 200 wineries and countless microbreweries, you can wash it all down with a local sip. Dining in PA is less about eating and more about experiencing. Bon appétit, or as we say here, dig in!

14. Outdoor Activities: Pennsylvania’s Playground

If the great outdoors is your gym, then Pennsylvania is your personal trainer, ready to whip you into shape with a smile. With over 2.2 million acres of state forest land, you can hike, bike, or camp to your heart’s content. Fancy water sports? The state boasts 85,000 miles of rivers and streams—perfect for kayaking with a side of fishing. Winter brings out the skis and snowboards at places like Camelback Mountain, which sees about 50 inches of snow each year. Whether it’s scaling the Alleghenies or biking the Pine Creek Gorge, outdoor adventures in PA are as limitless as your energy levels!

As we wrap up our whirlwind tour of Pennsylvania, it’s clear that moving here is about embracing a state that’s as rich in history as it is in diversity. From the hilly streets of Pittsburgh to the historic paths of Philadelphia, every corner of Pennsylvania offers something unique. Whether you’re indulging in the local cuisine, participating in community events, or simply enjoying the great outdoors, life in PA is never dull. So pack your bags (and maybe a hoagie for the road) and get ready to call the Keystone State home. Pennsylvania is not just a place to live; it’s a place to thrive and create lasting memories. Welcome to your new adventure!