Ever heard the phrase, “your rent should not take up more than half your income?” Yeah, that seems to be an old wise tale for many younger Americans.
The cost of living in America can be very expensive and some people are spending nearly all of their paychecks on rent alone just to stay afloat. Not just in large cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Since living in large urban centers it the new “to do,” cities that used to be affordable 10 years ago are not putting significant strains on wallets that used to have little issues.
So what are you to do? If you just graduated college or are looking to change careers, have a lot of school debt, and don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck, what are your options?
The obvious method is to lower the cost of living while increasing your salary. Since high paying jobs outside of the tech field seem to be as rare as giraffes, the first step is moving to someplace more affordable.
And what could be more affordable than Pennsylvania? The state may not be the first that comes to mind when you think cheap, but hey, there are a few gems!
Pennsylvania is a state full of American history, baseball, and chocolate. Yes, you read that right: chocolate. The chocolate capital of the United States, Hershey, is located in Pennsylvania and you can probably imagine what is manufactured in millions there. Millions upon millions of kisses, chocolate Hershey’s kisses, to be exact.
Pennsylvania is also home to major metro areas like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Who can resist a Philly Cheese-Steak or a good Pirates game?
So if you’ve ever wondered if you could pay mere pennies to live in Pennsylvania, this article is perfect for you.
After taking several key factors into account, including home and rent prices compared to income, one city reigned cheapest over the rest: Turtle Creek, PA.
What is so great about Turtle Creek, other than its affordability? Turtle Creek not only stays affordable (it also ranked first last year) but also is a small suburb of Pittsburgh. So you can live it up in the big city, but not spend all your money to live there.
Other top cities include Schuylkill Haven, whose name makes you wonder what this city’s story is about. (If you are interested, the county, also Schuylkill, was first inhabited by Germans after “buying” the land from Native Americans in the 1740s).
Pottsville, a close neighbor of Schuylkill Haven, also ranks highly on our list and boasts the D.G. Yuengling and Son Brewing Complex. Does the name sound familiar? Yup, you can live for cheap in this town and get a great pint of Yuengling on draft.
Interested to see how we crunched the numbers? Read on to learn more about our methodology and why Pennsylvania is such a great state for affordable living.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Pennsylvania and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Pennsylvania For 2019
There’s more to Pennsylvania than Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; there’s our number one most affordable city in Pennsylvania for 2019: Turtle Creek.
Kudos to Turtle Creek, they have been the Keystone State’s most affordable city two years in a row.
The median income for Turtle Creek is close to $37,000. This allowed Turtle Creek to grab the 10th most affordable city in PA in terms of home price to income ratio title, too.
Do we think Turtle Creek has managed to keep their city so affordable because of their pop vocal group Vogue’s kickbacks? Maybe.
Either way, seems like they’re keeping their townies employed and their city affordable.
The median income in Turtle Creek comes in at $36,466 and the median home value is $59,200 for 2019.
Munhall thinks that their philly cheesesteak is the best, we just think they’re the best because they are our second most affordable city in Pennsylvania for 2019.
Munhall residents are all about “Honoring their past, celebrating the present, and welcoming the future.” We think they should also be celebrating the fact that they’re our 12th most affordable city in terms of home price to income ratio.
Once a steel manufacturing community, Munhall’s residents now find themselves working in healthcare, logistics, and engineering to offset their cost of living.
So do yourself and your wallet a favor, and get-a-movin’ to this affordable Allegheny County city.
The median income in Munhall comes in at $49,332 and the median home value is $85,400 for 2019.
I’d rather be known for Pennsylvania’s third most affordable city than a PA city name like Intercourse, Provocative, Virginville…or not? Either way, Schuylkill Haven is super affordable, and we think that’s just great.
This “Little Town That Could,” is eighth when it comes to home price to income ratio. We’re not surprised it’s so affordable. And we definitely think it’s because they have such a strong economy.
Schuylkill Haven scored a 7/10 for jobs on our snackability scale. And since money makes people happy, and obviously motivated, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to call the affordable Schuylkill Haven home.
The median income in Schuylkill Haven comes in at $51,835 and the median home value is $82,100 for 2019.
Pottsville isn’t going to ‘pot,’ it’s actually quite nice and quite affordable. More importantly, it’s our fourth most affordable city in the The Keystone State for 2019.
This city in Schuylkill County is the 11th most affordable city in terms of home to income ratio and 53rd cheapest for rent to income ratio. Up seven spots from last year, we’re pretty sure the residents in Pottsville know a good deal. And we think those numbers scream buy, don’t rent.
But who wouldn’t want to buy a home where coal, logistics, and Yuengling, are keeping the median income around $40,000?
Just think of all the beer you can buy with that cheddar! #Score
The median income in Pottsville comes in at $39,886 and the median home value is $68,800 for 2019.
With the economy doing so well, people are moving now more than ever. Might we suggest Pennsylvania’s fifth most affordable city for 2019: West Mifflin?
This city in Allegheny County, scored an eight on our snackability scale: one of the highest for any city in the top ten. According to our data, they should be Pennsylvania’s poster city for affordability, housing, and safety.
This Pitttsburgh-burb also made our Best Cities to Retire in Pennsylvania for 2019. West Mifflin’s residents ‘got it goin’ on’.
And you know what else West Mifflin’s residents know? Apparently a good deal when they see it, because they are the 23rd most affordable city for home price to income ratio.
The median income in West Mifflin comes in at $50,368 and the median home value is $93,800 for 2019.
Is it really super crazy green in Greenville? We’re not 100 percent sure, but one thing we’re sure about is that Greenville is our sixth most affordable city in Pennsylvania for 2019.
This little Hershey Kiss is 20th when it comes to home price to income ratio. We’re not surprised it’s so affordable. And we definitely think it’s because they have such a strong economy as a result of step ladders. Yes, step ladders. Greenville is home to the largest manufacturers of step ladders.
Now if step ladder manufacturing isn’t your shtick, but living in the oh so affordable Greenville is, we heard “‘The Jewel of the Shenango River” is alway looking for river guides.
The median income in Greenville comes in at $42,690 and the median home value is $77,000 for 2019.
You don’t have to live on ramen noodles and cereal to live in our seventh most affordable city in Pennsylvania for 2019: Oil City.
Yes, Oil City’s name says it all. Known for the start of the petroleum boom, this city is our second most affordable city in terms of home price to income ratio.
This city in Venango County, on the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, also scored an 8/10 for safety and an 8/10 for education.
So if you are looking for an affordable Pennsylvania city with safe, small town charm and smart people, hurry on over to Oil City.
The median income in Oil City comes in at $36,098 and the median home value is $48,800 for 2019.
Just southeast of Pittsburgh, is our eighth most affordable Pennsylvania city for 2019: Brentwood.
Brentwood, PA is nothing like Brentwood, CA. Brentwood, PA has great affordable neighborhoods, nice people, and it’s safe.
This hub of Eastern PA is home to the greatest percentage of young folks (25 to 44) concentrated into one city on our list. And if we’ve learned anything about Millenials, they know a good deal.
Brentwood has a lot of great amenities like the Brentwood Arboretum, the Brentwood Park, and lots of great biking trails. Brentwood is a staycation waiting to happen. #BrentwoodKeepingPennsylvaniaAffordable
The median income in Brentwood comes in at $55,192 and the median home value is $97,800 for 2019.
We think for a city to be truly hip, it needs to be affordable. So it goes for our ninth most affordable city in Pennsylvania for 2019: Vandergrift.
Located on the Kiskiminetas River in Westmoreland County, this city scored an 8.5/10 for affordability and an 6/10 for diversity. We think that makes Vandergrift pretty hip.
When Vandergrift’s residents aren’t busy preparing for their annual cool, super hip, Ethnic Days Festival, they can be found earning the dream with top employers like Pennsylvania State and the ACMH Hospital.
Kudos Vandergrift! You keep up the good work on preserving your past and working towards your future.
The median income in Vandergrift comes in at $38,456 and the median home value is $66,900 for 2019.
If your city has our Dollar Stores, you can bet you are living where it’s affordable; and we might add, convenient.
This is only ‘one’ of the reasons our tenth most affordable city in Pennsylvania, Bradford, made the list.
Bradford’s low cost of living runs deep. Local employers in Zippo lighter production, healthcare, and education help keep the residents in this McKean County city with cash in their pockets and an affordable roof over their head. Heck, they’re the 7th most affordable PA city in terms of home price to income ratio.
Bradford’s population is growing by leaps and bounds. So if affordable, Pennsylvania/New York border living is on your bucket list, don’t wait, cuz the word is out.
The median income in Bradford comes in at $37,567 and the median home value is $58,400 for 2019.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Keystone State For 2019
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2013-2017 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Pennsylvania to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 186 places in Pennsylvania that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Pennsylvania according to the data is Turtle Creek.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Pennsylvania Cheapskate
If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Pennsylvania, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in pennsylvania for 2019.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Pennsylvania according to the data:
- State College
- West Chester
For more Pennsylvania reading, check out: