Questyinz: Best Areas For Young Professionals To Live in Pittsburgh

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A great question came in from jljacobson, who asks:


“Best areas for young professionals to live in Pittsburgh?!  Moving to Pittsburgh for a new job and haven’t been in Pittsburgh since age 16. Not sure where to start…Help please!!!”


Today is your lucky day, jljacobson!

It used to be that there were very few out-of-state students who decided to stay on and make Pittsburgh their home after college. There were also very few graduates that would or could return to Pittsburgh after being away at school.  To be honest, there weren’t many entry-level job options for “young professionals” ten years ago.

A lot of that has changed for the better and many people are realizing Pittsburgh’s amazing opportunities and deciding to relocate.  It is with much thanks to the likes of American Eagle, Google, and other younger-skewing companies that there are more job opportunities here than ever.  Accordingly, across the last 5 – 10 years residential potential and availability for younger adults has improved significantly, especially in the markets closest to the city.

There are several things that may make an area “right” for you – some relate to personal preference and some are simply practical.  For instance, you might like a neighborhood with shops that are locally owned vs. neighborhoods with more national chain stores.  On the flip side, that street with the Trader Joe’s and the almost-finished Target is lookin’ pretty good… Of course, you might need to take a bus if you don’t have a car (or even if you do – parking at downtown jobs is limited).  There are any number of factors to be weighed.

Here is a snapshot of some of your options:

1)  Friendship – Close to Shadyside/East Liberty retail, not too expensive, bus lines to downtown and street parking, beer distributor, Dance Alloy, Yoga Hive, fan favorite Salt of the Earth restaurant, tons of apartments to rent, many of which are in cool converted old homes with tons of character.  Doesn’t have it’s own main drag, and borders on “transitional” so if you are the type who goes out a lot and needs to walk home, maybe not for you.  Maybe you should try…

2)  Lawrenceville – Close to downtown and the Strip District, tons of apartments and interesting independently-owned boutiques and restaurants, very good walkability, on bus lines, and comparatively reasonable rents where you can find them.  Must check out Round Corner Cantina, the New Amsterdam, Pavement and Sugar.  Honestly it would be a great investment to buy a starter home instead of rent.  It’s a good gamble.  FYI, Nearby Bloomfield borders Lawrenceville and has many similar conveniences, but it’s shopping district has an older demographic.

3)  Shadyside – Wins the award for the most name recognition.  Many upscale shops and restaurants. Walnut is more commercial (Apple Store, Victoria’s Secret) whereas Ellsworth Avenue is slightly more independently owned (Eons Vintage Clothing and Harris Grill, home of Tuesday Bacon night).  There are Yoga studios and spinning classes at Shadyside Spin.  There are places to rent in both buildings and in converted homes, bus lines, and it’s in a central location.  It’s great for those who work at a hospital in Oakland or are in grad school.  It is hard to find on-street parking after work hours.  Some consider it expensive, but if you’ve lived in almost any other city, it’s really not.

4)  Squirrel Hill – Although there are many large homes and tons of families, there are also many rentals in Squirrel Hill.  The Forbes and Murray shops and restaurants are a great place for young professionals.  Mineo’s, Forward Lanes bowling, Rita’s, and the Squirrel Cage are all good for a night out.  There’s convenient access to 376 (although a lot of traffic at rush hour), and easy bus lines to Oakland and downtown.  There is more on-street parking than some other neighborhoods.

5)  Regent Square is a bit more family oriented, although it has some great apartments.  There are a growing number of singles and bus lines directly to Oakland and downtown.  Also, there is access to 376 if you like sitting in traffic on your way downtown.  Frick Park, the city’s biggest park, is a huge draw and a great for jogs and picnics.  Square Cafe, Legume Bistro, and D’s Six Pax and Dogz are restaurants not to miss.

6)  South Side – Easy access to downtown, many shops and restaurants, new popular eateries Yo Rita and Dish.  It’s mainly small homes and apartments.  While the South Side is known for its youthful demographic, your definition of “young professional” may be “one that can afford to go out every night”.  If that’s the case,  let’s just say that the South Side’s night-life keeps many young people working hard into the evening.

Other quick mentions:

Dormont – Yes, Dormont!  It’s on the T, making getting to the South Side and downtown an easy commute.  Affordable first homes if you want to make that leap.

Mt. Washington has good rentals and the same easy commute.  A great view, and Hey!  Taking the incline to work puts the “FUN” in funicular!

Keep an eye on the North Side, Polish Hill and North Point Breeze as they all have a few young professionals living in them, but might be considered more “up and coming”.

Hope that helps.  Good Luck on your search and Welcome Home!

* Tools:  Use Craigslist or seriously just walk around the neighborhood of your choice and look for “For Rent” signs.  A little birdie told me that works too.

  • Andrea

    It always makes me sad when lists like this don’t include Oakland, where I live. It’s true that we have all the world’s undergraduates and a bunch of not-so-nice rental housing, but we also have several pockets of friendly neighbors and much-nicer rentals. We’ve got the universities, UPMC Presbyterian and Magee, Carnegie Library and Museums of Art & Natural History, and all kinds of access to Schenley Park — not to mention the most bus service of any neighborhood outside of Downtown, and handy access to the Parkway East, GAP trail, etc., etc. Worth considering?

    • rmcrandall

      Sorry that made you sad! Oakland would be the first place to recommend to a student for obvious reasons. I guess it would be easier to subdivide Oakland into North and South when trying to tell a person from out of town what the characteristics are of the area. We were thinking of neighborhoods coming out of transition where a young professional might have an option to buy or live amongst predominantly people their age or older. I’m glad you love Oakland, as there is no place in the city that rivals its academia, culture or energy. Or it’s hotdogs, of course. Maybe you can reply as to some of the some cross streets in the “pockets” that you mentioned so that people can zero in on where in Oakland they might find a place. Thanks for your comment!

  • Cynthia Helffrich

    And don’t rule out the Strip District. There are some really outstanding loft rentals and condos, great transportation, great walkability quotient and fun and funky atmosphere. In addition to being Pittsburgh’s historic market district, it’s also home to the opera (which offers free concerts), the ballet, two museums, a lot of professional businesses, not to mention some exciting restaurants. From the Strip you can walk/bike to downtown or the stadiums on the North Shore or take the river taxi to the stadiums for sporting events. Over the next several years the Strip will be seeing a lot of growth and refinement, and is a great place to someone moving out of the college years and into a slightly more sophisticated lifestyle.

  • Emilyspaint

    Yeah DORMONT!
    Not only is it affordable and close to the T….
    There are great small shops on Potomac, there is the HUGE outdoor swimming pool, hilarious dive bars and a close drive into the city.

    I love dormont!

  • BrianTH

    How about Downtown itself? You might have a walking commute, the much-maligned nighttime scene has been picking up lately with the development of the Cultural District and now Market Square area, and it is easy to get from there to all the other ‘Burgh hotspots, either by public transit or using Zipcar.