So you’re moving to Pennsylvania and want to know what to expect? There’s a lot to be excited about. The State of Independence has a rich history but is pretty far from it. Pennsylvania’s top industries are broadcasting, telecommunications, administrative, support services, health care, and construction.

It is well known that the state has been underrated as a retirement destination for decades. Good thing; it’s starting to pick up the pace. Big technology companies like Facebook and Google have also recognized that Pennsylvania is an up-and-coming state and has set up offices in Pittsburgh.

The fact remains that the main draws of Pennsylvania can be summed up to three things – a low cost of living, excellent health care, and plenty of outdoors. Of course, everything is not perfect – no state is, after all – but here are a few things you’ll want to know before your move to the State of Independence.

The Weather

Pennsylvania experiences all four seasons, so if you’re a family that loves going through the different phases of the year – it’s a blast to live in, especially with the gorgeous landscapes that transform throughout the year. However, a word of caution because the state can get pretty nippy in certain areas. The northern regions get a lot more snowfall per year, and no matter where you are, snowstorms are common. So if you’re not a fan of the white stuff, you might find wintertime to be challenging.

The good news is that it’s a pretty large state with varied weather patterns throughout the state, So as long as you avoid the areas at higher altitudes, you can still get a good wintertime experience without freezing your socks off.

On the flip side, summers are hot and humid. You’ll also expect a lot of rainfall in the summer days, with an average of 44 inches of rain per year. But where the real magic lies is in the spring and fall months. The whale state becomes a picturesque landscape of colorful views and delightfully crisp weather.

The Living Costs

As mentioned, the state has been famous as a retirement destination for years. And there are a couple of good reasons why. The main reason is probably due to retirement income being exempted from taxation. Seniors, widows, widowers, and adults with disabilities above 50 can also qualify for property tax rebates.

The second reason is that Pennsylvania has over 200 high-performing healthcare facilities across the state. Of course, most are concentrated around the larger cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Harrisburg, and Lancaster. On top of this, it also has very robust health insurance available for active adults – including commercial fully-insured or self-insured.

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that the State of Independence has an overall low cost of living. Pennsylvania boasts lower prices for goods and services than the median average across the United States. Owning a home is slightly less expensive than the national median, and the overall atmosphere is a lot less hectic than its coastal neighbors. However, you can still expect quite a lot of traffic in metropolitan areas – it can get pretty bad in the bigger cities.

The Activities

Pennsylvania doesn’t have access to the ocean, which may be a problem for some people. But what you do get in exchange is a lot of excellent outdoor areas. Whether you’re into hunting, fishing, hiking, or pretty much anything – there’s plenty to do across the state. The northern regions have some of the best hiking trails and gorgeous waterfalls.

Lake Erie has several miles of sandy beachfront at Presque Isle. Although it’s not the ocean, the weather can generate waves – at least you won’t have to worry about sharks. Being one of the famous Great Lakes, Erie has a host of water activities for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Of course, one of the significant highlights of Pennsylvania is its deep roots in the country’s history. Not many outsiders know that Philadelphia served as the nation’s capital for a decade – being where the constitution was drafted. The State of Independence boasts 169 National Historic Landmarks, with 67 in Philadelphia.

There’s little reason to be bored when you move to Pennsylvania with zoos, theme parks, botanical gardens, and even a wolf sanctuary. No matter where you decide to settle down, there are places to visit all over the state.

The Best Cities in PA

But what makes Pennsylvania are the dozens of unique communities. Whether you’re moving to the Western, Central, or Eastern region, you’ll quickly find a neighborhood to call home. Aside from the well-known Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, there are a couple of great places to start looking.


Perched right beside the Great Lake Erie, it’s the fourth-largest city in Pennsylvania. It’s also home to the famous Presque Isle State Park, attracting millions of visitors each year. Aside from that, there are tons of other recreational hotspots in and around the lake. Now having tourists around for most of the year may not be your cup of tea, but it’s good to know that the cost of living in a city with many family-friendly amenities is still below average.

City of Erie looking south across Presque Isle Bay. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


Scranton is a small city, especially compared to the glaring New York City that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Fortunately, it’s also one of the more affordable places to live, with median home values at just over $100,000. Scranton is incredibly proud that it was one of the first to adopt electricity on a citywide scale and home of the first electric trolley in Pennsylvania. Scranton has a deep history, and the historical buildings that dot the landscape stand proud of that heritage.

Electric City Mural. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


The state’s capital of Harrisburg isn’t as famous as Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, but it does have its fair share of accolades in terms of livability. The city is a frequent topper in national lists, especially for young professionals, new homebuyers, and fresh graduates. With an average home value of under $100,000, it’s no surprise why it’s filled with young families and individuals making a new start in life.

Harrisburg as viewed from across the Susquehanna River. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


Most people’s first introduction to Reading is on the Monopoly board game, Railroads. This is an homage to the city’s deep roots in the railroad industry. Today it’s better known as Pretzel City for the many local bakeries – Bachman, Dieffenbach, Tom Sturgis, and Unique Pretzel are among the most famous. And with over 125 miles of trails for hiking or biking, it won’t be difficult to burn all of those pretzel calories.

Reading downtown as seen from Penn and 2nd Streets. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


Allentown is most famous for where the Liberty Bell was hidden during the Revolutionary War. Aside from historical attractions, there are many other activities for the whole family. It’s the fastest-growing major city in Pennsylvania and continues to see growth in new development projects. Recent revitalization efforts have helped Allentown close the gap between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

A cafe on 19th Street. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


Known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Lancaster is the perfect blend of urban and suburban living. It’s not as crowded or hectic as the big three – Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown – but it has plenty of amenities for growing families. Lancaster is especially popular for its excellent school system, the biggest draw for families with children. And like the rest of the state, it also has its own unique history – Lancaster being heavily influenced by Amish culture.

North Duke Street. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Whether you’re moving due to a change of office or out of your own decision, Pennsylvania has a lot to offer. Of course, you’ll have to take in some of the bad with the good, but that’s pretty much no matter where you move to in the country – or the world for that matter. The State of Independence is growing and developing while still maintaining its heritage of culture and history. And that’s the best of both worlds.

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