25 Cheapest Places to Live in Pennsylvania


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Pennsylvania has open spaces, big cities, mountains, farmland, you name it. With such a diverse landscape to choose from, there’s something to suit almost everyone’s taste.

There’s also plenty to do in Pennsylvania year-round, including sports, hiking, water activities, dining, entertainment, and cultural places and events.

Here’s another perk: According to the MERIC Index, which ranks the cost of living by state, Pennsylvania is less expensive overall than any other Northeastern state.

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Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania

Wondering where you can get the most of what the Keystone State has to offer, but at an affordable cost? Whether you hope to settle in a big city, a suburb, a farm town, or a college town, you should be able to find something that fits your needs. Here are some of the best places to live in Pennsylvania.

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Best Affordable Places to Live in Pennsylvania

While the cost of living in Pennsylvania is about average compared to the entire U.S., housing costs are lower. On the whole, Pennsylvania has a lot to offer those who are thinking about moving there. Here are some of the best affordable places to live in Pennsylvania.

1. Harrisburg

The state capital, Harrisburg offers plenty to do no matter what you’re into. It’s a short drive to several popular tourist attractions, including Amish country, Gettysburg, and Hersheypark. Or you can stay in the city and enjoy local concerts, art exhibitions, restaurants, the theater, and more.

  • Population: 50,183
  • Median Household Income: $44,444
  • Cost of Living: 102.9% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,252
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.28
  • Average Property Tax: 1.54% of home value

Housing Affordability: Though the overall cost of living in Harrisburg is a little higher than the cost of living in the U.S., the city’s home and rent prices are relatively manageable. The home price-to-income ratio is high, however, so frugal house hunters may have to search a bit to find something in their target range.

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2. Lancaster

Not sure what type of home you’re looking for? In Lancaster you can shop for a place with some land, in the suburbs, or in the city. You can find something to do no matter the season, including hiking, fishing, snow sports, and monthly arts and music festivals. And the cost of living in Lancaster is lower than the national average.

  • Population: 57,543
  • Median Household Income: $54,145
  • Cost of Living: 91.3% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,450
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.08
  • Average Property Tax: 1.43% of home value

Housing Affordability: Home prices in Lancaster have risen sharply in recent years, although some neighborhoods are less expensive than others. And for newbie buyers, there are first-time homebuyer programs in Pennsylvania that may help with a down payment and/or closing costs. Rental prices remain reasonable, but prices are up year-over-year, and the current rental market is warm.

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3. York

If you like a place with history, including Colonial-era homes and buildings, you’ll definitely want to check out all that York has to offer. You’ll also find plenty of modern-day features, including trendy shops, modern apartments, and a thriving arts scene.

  • Population: 44,845
  • Median Household Income: $39,764
  • Cost of Living: 91.5 of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,150
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.19
  • Average Property Tax: $1.52% of home value

Housing Affordability: York home prices have gone up steadily in recent years, but prices are still lower here than in many other areas of the state. If you’re a renter, you may be in luck: The rental market in York is cooling, and year-over-year prices have dropped.

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4. Scranton

If you’re looking for a bigger city with a small-town feel, Scranton might be a good bet. There’s a sense of neighborhood here, along with a dynamic downtown. And the cost of living is lower than many other cities in the Northeast, so you may be able to get more house for your money.

  • Population: 75,848
  • Median Household Income: $44,161
  • Cost of Living: 92.9% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,200
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.56
  • Average Property Tax: 1.43% of home value

Housing Affordability: Though prices in Scranton are up and homes are moving quickly, bargain hunters should still be able to find an affordable home. Rental prices are down year-over-year, but the rental market is warm.

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5. Pittsburgh

If you’re a sports fan, you already know Pittsburgh has pro baseball, football, hockey, and soccer teams, plus college sports. But this energetic city also offers festivals, concerts, museums, and a dynamic dining scene. And there are plenty of green spaces and parks to be active.

  • Population: 302,898
  • Median Household Income: $54,306
  • Cost of Living: 100.4% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,416
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 8.36
  • Average Property Tax: 2.22% of home value

Housing Affordability: The price you pay for a home in Pittsburgh could vary significantly depending on what area of the city you choose. Home prices are down a bit year over year, but rental prices are up, and the rental market is warm.

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Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania for Families

Families will find a lot to like in the Keystone State, including family-friendly activities and affordable prices.

Here are some of the best places to live in Pennsylvania for families.

1. Chesterbrook

This small town has a lot of the features families are looking for, including good health care. Families here also appreciate the area’s good schools. If you’re on the hunt for a Philadelphia suburb, you might want to put this one on your shopping list.

  • Population: 5,610
  • Median Household Income: $126,687
  • Median Rent Price: $2,800
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.74
  • Average Property Tax: 1.25% of home value

Housing Affordability: Home values continue to rise in Chesterbrook, and it may be easier for frugal house hunters to shop carefully in order to qualify for a mortgage. Those hoping to rent may have to search a bit for a bargain, as the median rental price is $2,800.

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2. Bethlehem

Nicknamed Christmas City, Bethlehem takes holiday fun seriously, with a parade, Christmas market, and more. But the city keeps it family-friendly year-round, with Musikfest in the summer and Oktoberfest in the fall.

  • Population: 77,617
  • Median Household Income: $58,232
  • Median Rent Price: $1,819
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.36
  • Average Property Tax: 1.48% to 1.5% of home value

Housing Affordability: Home prices in Bethlehem are up year over year, and properties are moving quickly. As you house shop in Bethlehem (or anyplace!), the resources in a home loan help center could be helpful in your search. Though the city’s rental prices are down year over year, the rental market remains warm. Bethlehem even offers its own homebuyer assistance program.

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3. Ardmore

This suburb of Philadelphia has plenty of indoor and outdoor places for children to play, kid-friendly restaurants, and a festival for every season and reason, including the Zucchini 500, during which youngsters can build their own race cars from fruits and veggies. There’s a vintage market for Mom and Dad, too and the town is just a short commute to Philly.

  • Population: 13,566
  • Median Household Income: $107,087
  • Median Rent Price: $2,006
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.29
  • Average Property Tax: 1.29 to 1.67% of home value

Housing Affordability: Ardmore home prices continue to rise, but there are still affordable homes available. Renting could also be an option: Year-over-year prices are way down in a cooling rental market.

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4. West Chester

West Chester is another Philadelphia suburb to put on your list. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to keep the kids busy, and families here appreciate the town’s good schools.

  • Population: 19,531
  • Median Household Income: $65,027
  • Median Rent Price: $2,228
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 9.14
  • Average Property Tax: 1.25% of home value

Housing Affordability: West Chester is pricey, so keep that in mind as you shop for a home. The area is highly sought-after, and home and rental prices reflect its popularity. If you decide to buy in West Chester, you may want to look into jumbo mortgage loans.

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5. State College

Sometimes referred to as Happy Valley, State College is known for its walkability, its charming downtown, and, of course, as the home of Penn State University. Kids can enjoy activities that include an outdoor movie series and a children’s garden. Plus, the city is more affordable than many other family-friendly communities in the state.

  • Population: 40,745
  • Median Household Income: $43,015
  • Median Rent Price: $2,200
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.31
  • Average Property Tax: 1.25% of home value

Housing Affordability: State College is a place where you can expect to find a wide range of home prices, including affordable options, whether you’re looking to buy or rent.

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Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania for Young Adults

Young people have plenty of vibrant cities and towns to choose from across the Keystone State. Here are the best places to live in Pennsylvania for young adults.

1. Philadelphia

If you’re a history buff, you’ll likely be happy here. But there are also plenty of trendy, modern places for young adults to hang out, including acclaimed restaurants and fun bars. There’s also art, music, museums, and an active nightlife.

  • Population: 1,567,258
  • Median Household Income: $52,649
  • Median Rent Price: $1,600
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.03
  • Average Property Tax: 0.91% of home value

Housing Affordability: After years of steadily going up, home prices in Philadelphia are down year over year. And check out the low property tax rate, Renters also may be able to find a bargain, though the rental market remains warm.

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2. Reading

Reading is close to Philadelphia, and also to Amish country. It has great outdoor spaces, and also some good museums. And if you’re a sports fan, you can cheer for the Reading Fightin’ Phils (an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies) or the Reading Royals (an affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers). The pace is a little slower and more relaxed here.

  • Population: 94,858
  • Median Household Income: $38,738
  • Median Rent Price: $1,200
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.85
  • Average Property Tax: 1.77% of home value

Housing Affordability: Reading home and rental prices are up year over year, but both remain affordable. Going through the mortgage preapproval process could help give buyers a leg up if and when they decide to put an offer on a home.

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3. Allentown

With an eclectic mix of historic homes and old buildings converted into modern living spaces, Allentown has a little something for almost everyone. There’s a theater district, an ArtsWalk, and a bustling business district.

  • Population: 125,094
  • Median Household Income: $47,703
  • Median Rent Price: $1,500
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.61
  • Average Property Tax: 1.48% of home value

Housing Affordability: You can find homes and rentals in Allentown in a wide range of prices. Prospective buyers can look into different types of mortgage loans to see the various options they have.

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4. King of Prussia

King of Prussia is a suburb of Philadelphia with perks young adults may appreciate, including a giant mall, a new town center with restaurants and shops, a nearby casino, and a reasonable commute to work. The downside? It can be a little pricey. And that can be a challenge, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer.

  • Population: 24,695
  • Median Household Income: $98,517
  • Median Rent Price: $2,243
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.64
  • Average Property Tax: 1.29% of home value

Housing Affordability: You may have to look pretty hard for a starter home (or even a low-cost rental) in King of Prussia. But if you’re in the market for a forever home, it could be a good place to keep in mind.

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5. Altoona

Looking for an up-and-coming city? Altoona may be worth checking out for young adults searching for an affordable community where they could rent or buy. The city is home to a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate and has its own symphony orchestra and theater, so there are some fun things to do. There are also plenty of restaurants and some breweries.

  • Population: 43,071
  • Median Household Income: $46,010
  • Median Rent Price: $900
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 2.26
  • Average Property Tax: 1.05% of home value

Housing Affordability: While Altoona home and rental prices have been steadily increasing, they are still quite reasonable. Young adults might be able to find a bargain here.

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Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania for Retirees

For those looking for a place to spend their golden years, Pennsylvania can be a fine choice. Housing is affordable and there are towns with plenty of activities and opportunities to meet people. Here are some of the best places to live in Pennsylvania for retirees.

1. Penn Wynne

Those looking for a walkable suburb close to Philadelphia may find that Penn Wynne hits the mark. There are lots of restaurants and shops, plus there’s a big community of residents who are retirees.

  • Population: 6,493
  • Median Household Income: $143,520
  • Median Rent Price: $2,233
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.61
  • Average Property Tax: 1.29% of home value

Housing Affordability: Though the home price-to-income ratio is lower for Penn Wynne than many areas, rent and home prices can be quite high. Retirees looking for something more affordable might want to check out the options in nearby towns.

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2. Erie

If you dream of retiring somewhere with great scenery and a water view, and you don’t mind a few months of frigid temps, Erie could be worth considering. True to its name, the city sits on the south shore of Lake Erie, which means it’s beautiful, breezy, and in the winter, sometimes very, very cold.

  • Population: 93,511
  • Median Household Income: 40,201
  • Median Rent Price: $950
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 1.47
  • Average Property Tax: 1.83% of home value

Housing Affordability: Though both home and rental prices are up year over year in Erie, they’re still quite reasonable, especially for a city that has a lot to offer.

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3. Hershey

You may think of Hershey as strictly a tourist town, but there’s more to it than the smell of chocolate in the air. Hershey is known for good medical care and its carefully-planned (by Milton Hershey himself) small-town charm. Plus, with Hersheypark right there, you’ve got a built-in place to take the grandkids!

  • Population: 13,858
  • Median Household Income: $69,626
  • Median Rent Price: $1,783
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.20
  • Average Property Tax: 1.54% of home value

Housing Affordability: While home prices in Hershey continue to go up, the rental market is cooling. Affordable houses can still sometimes be found, but retirees on a budget may find it challenging to get a home at a lower price point.

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4. Media

Older adults who like to mingle should enjoy Media, where the main street is closed to traffic for a Dining Under the Stars event with live music every Wednesday from May through September. On the practical side, there are also plenty of doctors, good shopping, and several popular retirement communities.

  • Population: 5,846
  • Median Household Income: $77,750
  • Median Rent Price: $2,700
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 7.36
  • Average Property Tax: 1.67% of home value

Housing Affordability: Home and rent prices can be higher in Media than some other areas of Pennsylvania. But the rental market appears to be cooling, and some Media neighborhoods are less expensive than oth

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5. Bridgeville

This small Pittsburgh suburb has a range of activities to offer retirees, from golf and horseback riding to antiquing and hunting for flea market finds. There are also a number of retirement communities and senior living facilities to choose from in Bridgeville.

  • Population: 16,579
  • Median Household Income: $79,129
  • Median Rent Price: $1,300
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.19
  • Average Property Tax: 2.22% of home value

Housing Affordability: Bridgeville housing prices have moved up steadily, but they haven’t changed much over the past year. And year-over-year rental prices have dropped in what appears to be a cooling rental market.

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Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania Near the Water

Looking for a house by a lake or river? Check out these places in Pennsylvania to make a splash.

1. Jim Thorpe

Water lovers will find plenty to like in the tiny town of Jim Thorpe on the Lehigh River in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. You can go cycling, trail running, or white-water rafting. Or you can simply enjoy the breathtaking views.

  • Population: 4,546
  • Median Household Income: $54,633
  • Median Rent Price: $995
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.74
  • Average Property Tax: 1.56% of home value

Housing Affordability: Renters may find more bargains in Jim Thorpe than buyers right now, but home prices in the town are still manageable.

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2. Wellsboro

Scenic Wellsboro attracts both cyclists and white-water rafters to the 47-mile Pine Creek Gorge, known as the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.” You won’t have to venture far to find other activities to keep you busy, though: The town hosts the Endless Mountain Music Festival every year, and it’s home to a 1920s Art Deco style theater as well as other cultural centers.

  • Population: 3,440
  • Median Household Income: $51,099
  • Median Rent Price: $960
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.44
  • Average Property Tax: 1.52% of home value

Housing Affordability: Home prices are up year over year in Wellsboro, but the area is quite affordable overall for buyers and renters.

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3. Warren

Be sure to bring your bike, kayak, and hiking boots if you plan to move to Warren. You’ll want to take full advantage of its proximity to the Allegheny River and Allegheny National Forest and all it has to offer. Once you dry off, you can enjoy the local brewery, theater, and antique stores.

  • Population: 9,187
  • Median Household Income: $46,053
  • Median Rent Price: $1,050
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 3.25
  • Average Property Tax: 1.69% of home value

Housing Affordability: Rental prices in Warren tend to fluctuate, but the market is currently cooling. Housing here can be affordable, whether you’re renting or buying.

Image Credit: Althom/istockphoto.

4. Fairview

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Fairview is a lovely small town filled with charming shops. It’s a haven for sports fishermen and a popular vacation spot. You may be able to find a home on or near the lake where you can take in the glorious views. And there’s lots of hiking, biking, and watersports to enjoy, too.

  • Population: 11,187
  • Median Household Income: $94,009
  • Median Rent Price: N/A
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.4
  • Average Property Tax: 1.83% of home value

Housing Affordability: There are some higher home prices in Fairview, but don’t let that dissuade you. There are also bargains to be had in this lovely location.

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5. Oil City

Situated in the northwestern part of the state on the Allegheny River, Oil City offers picturesque water views and a variety of activities for residents. The thriving business district includes a farmers market and shops and galleries, and the city hosts concerts and festivals year-round.

Population: 9,459

Median Household Income: $44,272

Median Rent Price: $995

Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 1.75

Average Property Tax: 1.67% of home value

Housing Affordability: Home prices are up year over year in Oil City, but this town can be extremely affordable. There are housing and rental bargains to be had here.

Image Credit: wikipedia.

The Takeaway

If you like the idea of living in the Northeast, Pennsylvania could make a great home base for you. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly town, a vibrant big city, or a mid-sized community near the water, you’ll find that Pennsylvania has plenty of places to suit your lifestyle. Home prices can vary significantly, but there are many affordable towns to choose from.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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