Best Places To Live In Pennsylvania: Top 5 Communities Most Recommended By Expert Reviews

The Keystone State is the center of a lot of American History, dense cities, good food and more. It’s a great place to live in due to the bevy of things to do, history to take in, schools to attend and sports teams to support. Some of the best places to live in Pennsylvania offer a rich culture, wide open spaces, and friendly neighbors.

Whatever type of scenery you seek, PA probably has it.”From the bustling metropolis of Philadelphia to the scenic farmlands of Lancaster, it has something for everyone,” says Redfin. This is great news for more than just what you see out your window! A recent study by researchers from Washington State University report living closer to both green spaces (outdoor areas, parks, forests) and blue spaces (bodies of water) may reduce the risk of experiencing serious psychological distress among older adults. With Pennsylvania’s rolling hills and farmland, there is plenty of green to turn that frown upside down. 

Another interesting part of the state that you can hardly find anywhere else is the Amish community. Residents can visit the many museums to take a step into the shoes of Amish living nearby. Plus, aside from their efficiency in farming and infrastructure, they may be onto something in avoiding heart problems.  A recent study shows a rare gene variant, which appears much more often among members of the Amish community, may hold the key to preventing heart disease. Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine say having this gene appears to lower a person’s levels of heart-damaging LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and a blood-clotting protein called fibrinogen. Overall, fewer than one person in 10,000 has this particular gene — B4GALT1. However, about 12 percent of those living in the Lancaster county, Pennsylvania Amish community carry the variant.

In addition to the intriguing history of the Amish way of life found there, Pennsylvania has much more to offer in each and every town. If you’re looking to make the move, StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites to put together this list of the best places to live in Pennsylvania. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!

The List: Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania, According to Experts

1. Pittsburgh

This city is known for its affordable cost of living, thriving arts scene, and top-ranked universities. It has also been recognized for its eco-friendliness and low crime rates. “Pittsburgh is a convenient, affordable place to live and work—with a cost of living 7% lower than the national average, a reasonable median home price of $259,900, and median monthly rent of $1,427. The city also has a range of top-notch companies in the education, technology, healthcare, and steel industries,” says Extra Space

Duquesne Incline in front of Pittsburgh at dusk
Duquesne Incline in front of Pittsburgh at dusk (Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash)

You can easily find a place called “home” inside the city, as PODS says, “Pittsburgh locals also maintain a real sense of community throughout the city’s 90 different neighborhoods. After all, nothing brings people together like good times, good food, and sports — three things Pittsburgh has in droves. Tons of things to do, a variety of restaurants and food experiences at all different price points, and four major sports teams (the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, and Panthers) make it easy to love living in Pittsburgh.”

Livability discusses the professional reasons to move to Pitt: “Morrow is just one of the many young professionals, families, entrepreneurs and change-makers who love calling Pittsburgh home. And it’s easy to understand why. The city is on the cutting edge in fields like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, energy, life science and health, manufacturing and robotics. It’s full of innovators and makers, all working to solve some of the world’s toughest problems, and purpose-driven residents who are on a mission to make the world a better place.”

2. Philadelphia

The city that created an American food staple. The City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and is known for its rich history, cultural diversity, and thriving food scene. It is also home to many top-ranked universities and hospitals.

Early morning in downtown Philadelphia
Early morning in downtown Philadelphia (Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash)

Like art? This is the place for you. “Philadelphia’s museums and cultural institutions are among the world’s finest. The Barnes Foundation is home to an impressive collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist paintings. The Philadelphia Orchestra remains one of the premiere orchestras on the planet. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is itself a spectacular architectural work of art that houses an incredible collection of antiquities and pieces from all over the globe,” says Prevu Real Estate.

The Honest Local says, “Perhaps one of the more interesting things about living in Philadelphia is that it’s a large city that is able to retail a small town feel in many ways. Like many Northeastern cities, Philadelphia brings the best of both words to its residents. Philadelphia offers the amenities of a big city, like great restaurants, shopping, arts and culture and great public transportation.While still feeling manageable in size (I’m looking at you, New York City). Philadelphia’s tight-knit communities welcome newcomers with warmth.”

We must mention the food — so we picked what City Year says about the food scene: “Foodies will have to see for themselves what all the hype is about by trying the Philly cheesesteak—with its mouth-watering crusty role, sautéed rib eye beef, Cheez Whiz and the option for onions, it’s no wonder this local dish is world-famous.”

“Speaking of world famous, Reading Terminal Market, founded in the late 1800s, is a popular food hub with over 100 vendors and has every type of cuisine you could possibly imagine. If you’re craving some dessert after all that, get a scoop at Bassett’s famous ice cream, the oldest ice cream vendor in the country. Visit Shane Confectionary, America’s oldest candy producer, or try a Pumpple cake—a multi-layered cake with two pies inside—from Flying Monkey Bakery,” continues City Year.

3. State College

State College is a small college town that is home to Penn State University. It is known for its vibrant community, excellent schools, and beautiful outdoor scenery. Niche says this about State College, “living in State College offers residents an urban feel and most residents rent their homes. In State College there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many young professionals live in State College and residents tend to lean liberal. The public schools in State College are highly rated.”

Penn State campus building in State College
Penn State campus building in State College (Photo by Steve Wrzeszczynski on Unsplash)

If you’re looking out for your family, look no further, “With its low rate of crime, great schools, and community activities, State College is a wonderful place to raise a family. There’s always something fun for kids to do, whether it’s painting a mug at 2000 Degrees Pottery Studio, exploring the wonders of science at Discovery Space Museum or just hanging out at one of the parks or playgrounds,”adds Movoto.

Andy Rupert mentions how you may not need a car in the neighborhoods of State College, “One thing I really love about State College is that I can walk most anywhere if I have the time. It is a well-regarded bicycle friendly town as well. There has been some chipping away at this walkable and bicycle friendly city though in much of the construction on the outskirts of town with big box stores that are more car dependent to get to. All and all, if you live near downtown you can go weeks without driving and the CATA bus system is pretty good. “

4. Lancaster

Lancaster is a historic city with a thriving arts and culture scene. It is also known for its excellent healthcare facilities, highly ranked schools, and low cost of living. As a basis for what it’s like, look no further than US News‘ report of the city, “Lancaster, Pennsylvania, offers a balance between natural and commercial spaces that residents appreciate. Expansive farms rub elbows with manicured suburbs, which lead right into the bustling city. A short drive can take one through each of these environments. Each area boasts its own unique groups of inhabitants: farmers, families, college students and young professionals. From close-knit church communities to the indie coffee shop scene, Lancaster holds something for everyone.”

Downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Downtown Lancaster (Photo by Benjamin Rascoe on Unsplash)

You’re right next to some of the biggest cities in the country, as Garden Spot Village says, “If you love big cities but don’t love big city prices, living in Lancaster County gives you easy access to many of the major Northeast cities. This way, you don’t need to pick just one city you love — you get access to multiple at once. New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are all within a reasonable driving distance, and mass transit options, like Amtrak, make your visit even easier. And, when you live in Lancaster County, you aren’t far from the city of Lancaster, which has so much to offer.”

Looking for something to do? Long and Foster gives a few ideas: “While Lancaster, Pennsylvania, neighborhoods offer residents plenty of space for outdoor recreation and quiet Sundays, the community is also full of attractions and activities. Spend a morning on an historic Lancaster walking tour, then get lunch at a friendly neighborhood Irish pub or charming cafe. You can also take in a show at the Fulton Theatre or upgrade your wardrobe at the Rockvale Square Outlets. Meanwhile, balloon rides and visits to the Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park are good ways to get your fill of adventure in Lancaster.”

5. Harrisburg

Harrisburg is the capital city of Pennsylvania and is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and affordable cost of living. It is also home to many government jobs and is a hub for transportation and logistics. This is a place you can get in deep with nature, “If you like to get outside, Harrisburg is well-equipped to suit your needs. It sits on the bank of the Susquehanna River, and running trails, boating, fishing, yoga and biking are all popular activities in the area. Riverfront Park offers beautiful views of the river and surrounding area, and also plays host to many of the city’s annual festivals. Most of these are held during the summer months, when the city is steamy but the river offers a cool breeze, making it the perfect place for any outdoor activity. In addition to the regular exercise that can be found anywhere, the river offers a few extra options, including kayaking, canoeing and paddle-boarding. It also doesn’t hurt that the Appalachian Trail runs through the outskirts of the city,” says Triple Crown Corp.

The Pennsylvania State Capitol signage and building in Harrisburg
The Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg (Photo by Katherine McAdoo on Unsplash)

“Harrisburg, PA is the 5th friendliest small city in America according to the Real Estate Company Movoto. They utilized several measurable criteria to come to their conclusion: violent crime rate, percent of income given to charity, bars per capita, and social media, among others. They define a small city as having a population under 50,000 people, and Movoto noted that despite Harrisburg’s financial woes, it has maintained a reputation for friendliness and quality of life,” mentions The Life You Want.

City Statistics breaks down a lot about Harrisburg, but we thought their comment on “Livability” was important, “Harrisburg’s overall livability score is above average. This rating is the sum of the city’s data points and factors, and then a weighting of these variables is used to determine a good standard quality of life compared to other cities. The livability score considers education, crime, cost of living, and residents’ overall happiness calculated as a predictive index through our advanced statistical models.”

You might also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.


  1. Media, PA, DelCo county seat. Restaurants, serving on the street every Wednesday night of the summer.

    Ridley, affordable while having access to Swarthmore schools. River port restaurants and access.

  2. U need to up date because these cities are not safe went down the drain I live in pa

Comments are closed.