The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania

Which metro areas in the Keystone State would best fit your needs?

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |July 3, 2019, at 11:44 a.m.

The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania

Slideshow

What part of PA do you want to call home?

Beautiful sunset scene from Schenley overlook in Pittsburgh.

(Getty Images)

If Pennsylvania is the state you want to call home, there’s no shortage of suitable options. Whether you need to be in a big-city setting, prefer a more suburban vibe or would rather embrace a rural hometown, Pennsylvania has it all, from the City of Brotherly Love to Amish country. Out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S., eight are in Pennsylvania. We’ve compiled information from the Best Places to Live rankings, which look at desirability, affordability, access to quality health care and more, to help you decide which major metro area in the Keystone State is right for you.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia

Independence Hall National Historic Park Philadelphia at twilight

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 102
Metro Population: 6,065,644
Median Home Value: $200,142
Median Annual Salary: $54,940

Philadelphia is the most populous metro area in Pennsylvania, and the first U.S. city to earn World Heritage City status from the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Of the factors contributing to the area's Best Places to Live ranking, Philadelphia receives its best score for its job market. While the metro area has a median annual salary of $54,940, $4,000 above the national average, its unemployment rate is above average at 4.2%.

Learn more about Philadelphia.

Scranton

Scranton

Scranton, Pennsylvania.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 98
Metro Population: 557,942
Median Home Value: $100,600
Median Annual Salary: $41,980

Located in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania, Scranton receives the seventh-highest score out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. for its proximity to quality health care, based on U.S. News Best Hospitals data. Scranton residents spend 22.67% of the median annual household income on housing costs. But the unemployment rate in Scranton is high at 5%, compared to the national average of 3.9%.

Learn more about Scranton.

Allentown

Allentown

Downtown main street of Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 93
Metro Population: 832,790
Median Home Value: $174,858
Median Annual Salary: $46,920

The U.S. Census Bureau considers parts of New Jersey to be within the Allentown metro area, a connection felt commonly by many residents who regularly travel between Pennsylvania, New Jersey and even New York. Allentown has the 10th-highest score out of the 125 metro areas in the Best Places to Live rankings for its proximity to quality health care.

Learn more about Allentown.

York

York

York, Pennsylvania during the day.

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 87
Metro Population: 442,216
Median Home Value: $164,258
Median Annual Salary: $44,740

Located close to Pennsylvania’s border with Maryland, York offers a more rural setting. The cost of living in York requires a smaller share of the median household income than Philadelphia, but it's still higher than other Pennsylvania metro areas at 23.08%. The unemployment rate in the area is just below the national average at 3.8%.

Learn more about York.

Reading

Reading

Reading, Pennsylvania

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 84
Metro Population: 415,500
Median Home Value: $151,900
Median Annual Salary: $46,100

The smallest Pennsylvania metro area on the list by population, Reading ties with Lancaster and York for first place out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. when it comes to having nearby access to top-notch health care. Additionally, low property crime and murder rates lead Reading to rank 22nd for crime out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. Reading residents spend 23.44% of the median annual household income on housing costs.

Learn more about Reading.

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is one of the best fall family vacations

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 50
Metro Population: 2,348,143
Median Home Value: $140,855
Median Annual Salary: $48,580

With a cost of living requiring just 20.51% of the median annual household income, Pittsburgh is the most affordable place to live out of the eight Pennsylvania metro areas on this list. However, the low cost of living hasn’t created an influx of new residents. Between 2013 and 2017, the Pittsburgh metro area’s population decreased by 0.28% due to net migration, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Learn more about Pittsburgh.

Lancaster

Lancaster

Scenic drive in Ohio

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Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 48
Metro Population: 536,494
Median Home Value: $196,025
Median Annual Salary: $43,760

If the slower, rural life in the heart of Amish country checks your boxes for a future hometown, look no further than Lancaster. The Lancaster metro area ranks second for quality of life on the overall Best Places to Live list, following Santa Barbara, California, for college readiness among high school students, access to quality health care, resident well-being based on the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, crime rates and average commute time.

Learn more about Lancaster.

Harrisburg

Harrisburg

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2019 Rank: 44
Metro Population: 565,008
Median Home Value: $162,967
Median Annual Salary: $48,270

The highest-ranked Pennsylvania metro area on the Best Places to Live list is also the state’s capital. Harrisburg's highest score is for its affordability, with residents spending just 21.98% of the median annual household income on housing. Additionally, Harrisburg ranks fourth overall – following York, Lancaster and Reading – for its proximity to quality health care options.

Learn more about Harrisburg.

The best places to live in Pennsylvania are:

The best places to live in Pennsylvania are:

Philadelphia

(Getty Images)

  • Harrisburg
  • Lancaster
  • Pittsburgh
  • Reading
  • York
  • Allentown
  • Scranton
  • Philadelphia

See rankings.

Read More

Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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