Site: Best Cities to Live in Pennsylvania
You prefer the East coast, and you like an area steep in history, but New England just doesn’t fit your style. It’s too cold in more ways than one. New York seems, well, too New York. You may be all about Pennsylvania, the site of some of the most significant moments in U.S. history, including the signing of the Declaration of Independence and a warmer client than its northern states. Not only that, you can find every slice of American life wherever you turn. It’s here that Hershey chocolate is made, the majority of Amish call their home, and where the characters of The Office went to work every day.
Also known as a major hub of commercial activity, Pennsylvania is a prime spot to settle down, with newcomers attracted to busy urban areas (including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which didn’t make our top 10 list) as well as smaller rural communities like Lancaster. For current residents, the lure of affordable housing, upper tier schools and a booming job market are all great reasons to relocate within the state. If you're planning a move to Pennsylvania for the first time or you're a native on the hunt for a new hometown, the CreditDonkey team has scouted out the best cities to live.
10 Best Cities to Live in Pennsylvania
To find the best of the best, we looked at each of the following factors:
- Crime Rate
- Commute Time
- Restaurants Per Capita
Safety is a priority and if you're planning a move, you want to make sure you're avoiding a high crime area. For our rankings, we looked at the odds of becoming a victim of violent crime to determine which cities are the safest.
Another factor we considered is the average commute time. If you're relocating for a job, you want to make sure the drive to work won't eat up too much of your day.
How happy you are in your career can be influenced by a number of factors, including the size of your paycheck. For this study, we considered the median income for each city to find those where wages were highest.
We also considered the level of educational attainment for each city's population, since this can directly impact wages. Specifically, we looked at the percentage of residents who had attended some college.
Finally, we evaluated each city based on the number of restaurants there were per capita. Even if you don't eat out every night, it's good to know that your new city has what you're looking for if you decide to hit the town.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 241
- Commute Time: 26.8 minutes
- Income: $40,076
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 19.3%
- Restaurants: 1 per 325 inhabitants
Located 17 miles east of Allentown, Easton sits in the heart of the Lehigh Valley near the juncture of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers. The city is divided into four main areas, including the historic district and College Hill, named after nearby Lafayette College. Nearly 20% of residents attended some college and the median income is above $40,000. Top local attractions include the National Canal Museum and the Lehigh Valley Zoo.
Did You Know: Easton was founded by Thomas Penn, son of William Penn, the founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 242
- Commute Time: 18.5 minutes
- Income: $30,777
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 19.6%
- Restaurants: 1 per 359 inhabitants
Wilkes-Barre sits in northeastern Pennsylvania, near the Lackawanna State Forest and the Bear Creek Camp Conservation Area. Originally a coal-mining town, Wilkes-Barre's economy is now largely driven by manufacturing. The city's population represents a relatively even mix of young families, professionals and seniors, and there are more than 100 restaurants to choose from, including local favorite Abe's Hot Dogs.
Did You Know: Wilkes-Barre is home to Pocono Downs, a "racino" which features blackjack, slot machines and poker as well as live harness racing.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 302
- Commute Time: 18.1 minutes
- Income: $37,099
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 16.4%
- Restaurants: 1 per 403 inhabitants
Scranton is the largest city in our rankings, with a population of just over 75,000 residents. Thanks to its diverse economy and lower home prices, Scranton is considered a great place for families. There's also a significant student population due to the presence of the University of Scranton. Residents earn a median income of more than $37,000, and the average commute time is fairly short at 18.1 minutes.
Did You Know: If you're interested in the region's mining history, you can take a trip 300 feet underground to tour the Lackawanna Coal Mine.
7. Oil City
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 405
- Commute Time: 21 minutes
- Income: $33,356
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 17.2%
- Restaurants: 1 per 305 inhabitants
With a population of slightly over 10,000, Oil City is the smallest spot on our list but it still packs a big punch. Located near the banks of the Allegheny River, Oil City is particularly popular among seniors, and was recently named one of the Ten Best Places to Retire in Pennsylvania by Movoto.
Did You Know: Oil City got its name after settlers begin drilling oil wells in the surrounding area during the late 1850s.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 267
- Commute Time: 16.8 minutes
- Income: $33,147
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 18.6%
- Restaurants: 1 per 393 inhabitants
In the late 1800s, Williamsport was known as the "Lumber Capital of the World," but today this city of nearly 30,000 is an important manufacturing center. One of the area's largest employers is Lycoming, a leading maker of aircraft engines. Williamsport boasts one of the shortest average commute times, at just under 17 minutes, and residents earn a median income of more than $33,000.
Did You Know: Williamsport is known as the home of Little League Baseball, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 285
- Commute Time: 16.8 minutes
- Income: $35,435
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 17.7%
- Restaurants: 1 per 416 inhabitants
Nestled in central Pennsylvania, Altoona is one of the largest cities in our rankings and in the state. Once a major railroad town, Altoona's economy is now centered around the healthcare, retail and service industries. The median income is a little over $35,000, and your commute will take less than 17 minutes on average. One of the most popular places to eat is Tom & Joe's, which has been dishing up breakfast, lunch and dinner for residents since 1933.
Did You Know: Altoona features a number of attractions that celebrate its railroad heritage, including the Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark and the Railroaders Memorial Museum.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 426
- Commute Time: 14.4 minutes
- Income: $30,305
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 16.3%
- Restaurants: 1 per 241 inhabitants
Meadville, tucked away in the northwest corner of Pennsylvania, is a quiet little hamlet of 13,000 residents. The city is home to Allegheny College and the tool-and-die industry is considered the heart of the local economy. Meadville residents enjoy the shortest average commute of any of the cities on our list at just 14.4 minutes, and violent crime rates are well below average.
Did You Know: Crawford County, where Meadville is located, hosts one of the largest agricultural expositions in the state.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 317
- Commute Time: 21.6 minutes
- Income: $46,052
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 19.8%
- Restaurants: 1 per 413 inhabitants
With a population of more than 75,000, Bethlehem is the second-largest city in the Lehigh Valley region. Situated between Allentown and Easton, Bethlehem got its start as a small Protestant settlement in the mid-1700s. The steel industry is big business here, as is the gaming industry. The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is a major attraction, for both residents and visitors alike. In terms of safety, crime is relatively low and the median income is a healthy $46,000.
Did You Know: IndyCar racing legend Mario Andretti makes his home in nearby Bushkill.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 573
- Commute Time: 23.3 minutes
- Income: $41,082
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 17.8%
- Restaurants: 1 per 268 inhabitants
If you're looking for a safe community with lots of small-town charm, Greensburg is your best bet. The city, known as a major cultural center in southwestern Pennsylvania, is home to both the Palace Theatre as well as the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. The economy is based around light industry, and some of the area's largest employers include Westinghouse Electric. Schools here are highly rated, making it an ideal choice for families, and it's an equally popular retirement spot.
Did You Know: James Finley designed the world's first suspension bridge, which was built in 1801 over nearby Jacob's Creek.
- Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 557
- Commute Time: 17.9 minutes
- Income: $50,351
- Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 19.3%
- Restaurants: 1 per 312 inhabitants
Just a 20-minute drive from Youngstown, OH, Hermitage earns our vote as the best city to live in Pennsylvania for several reasons. First, crime is extremely low, with the odds of becoming the victim of a violent act 1 in 577. The average commute time is under 18 minutes, and residents earn more than $50,000 a year on average. The city is highly educated, with nearly 20% of residents having attended some college, and local restaurants offer something for every palate. Add in affordable housing and a below average cost of living and you've got a recipe for a great place to call home.
Did You Know: Hermitage is the home of Philadelphia Candies, one of the oldest and largest chocolate makers in the state.
Pennsylvania is a major tourist destination, thanks to attractions like Hersheypark, Valley Forge, and the Dutch Country, but it's also an excellent place to raise a family, start a career or enjoy your retirement. Our rankings are meant to serve as a guide to help you find the city that offers the type of lifestyle you're looking for.
- U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates
- FBI, Uniform Crime Reports
- U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
- U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census
Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at email@example.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions.