Everything you Need to Know Before Your Move to Pennsylvania

by Rana WaxmanMay 10, 2018

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live in one of the original colonies, the great state of Pennsylvania has more than its rich history to offer. Nestled in the northeastern region of the nation, Pennsylvania has several neighbors. It’s between Delaware in the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie, Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

The state’s five most populous metro areas are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Reading, and Harrisburg – the capital of Pennsylvania. In and around the state are numerous suburbs and counties. Each, of course, boasts its own neighborhoods and communities.

An angle shot of buildings in Philadelphia and a giant "love" statue in the cities Love Park.

Primary housing styles in Pennsylvania

Today’s custom home builders often have their eye on sustainability and eco-friendly materials, especially in suburban regions like Chester and Lancaster County. City construction, notably in a major city like Philadelphia, usually aims to provide a clean canvas and contemporary features that vary based on price point. You will also find rebuilds and condos – urban renewal and all.

  • The Philadelphia Rowhouse: In terms of the primary housing style, one notable piece of data is that the row house was introduced to the U.S. via Philadelphia in the 17th century. Today, over 60% of the City of Brotherly Love’s residences are rowhomes, which is more than other metro areas.
  • Federal Style: Also known as the Adam Style, the federal style is more refined and has slightly more delicate architecture than the Georgian style. It’s also known for dramatic windows and is usually a brick two or three-story building.

Historical housing trends

As one would imagine, Pennsylvania has a diverse landscape of architectural styles that reflect regional and national settlement patterns and design influences. Some of the unique building types commonly seen in Pennsylvania include log buildings, post-medieval English inspired buildings, Pennsylvania German traditional buildings, meetinghouses, schools, and agricultural outbuildings.

Midtown Harrisburg Historical District (which is Harrisburg’s first urbanized neighborhood) is home to buildings that were erected between 1860 and 1910. These structures exhibit a blend of architectural styles, including federal, Italianate, and Romanesque. In Philadelphia’s Old City, there are Georgian style row homes – popular in the 1700’s.
A fancy tudor style home reminiscent of a gingerbread house with its steeply pitched roof and English inspired exterior.
Take a look at some of the trends and look for elements of these classic styles in some of the newer builds.

  • Log Cabins: In its early days, log buildings were quite the trend – one brought to southeastern Pennsylvania in the mid-17th century by the Swedes. There are a few still to see, such as Morton Homestead in Prospect Park, Delaware County and newer ones that fit nicely into Pocono Mountain living.
  • Georgian: The simple and traditional structures of the colonial period are seen in Pennsylvania most notably as the Georgian style. Typically, these are stone or brick two-story buildings that have a side-gabled roof and a symmetrical arrangement of windows and doors on the front façade. This style is often seen in some of the earlier row homes.
  • Greek Revival: Look for columns on public use, schools, churches, banks, and government offices.
  • Gothic Revival: Some country homes and houses in rural or small-town settings have that “gingerbread house” look and feel. Porches and decorative wood on the outside are some details to look for in a gothic revival home.
  • American Foursquare: Pennsylvania also has its share of these two-story, square houses with low-pitched, hipped roofs, wide overhangs and symmetrical façades with broad front porches with square columns.
  • Art Deco: With distinctive details and sleek and stylized features, the art deco style could be found in a variety of forms in Pennsylvania and apartment buildings are no exception. The Prospect Middle School in Pittsburgh, Hamburg Armory in Hamburg Borough, Berks County, and The State Liquor Control Board Building in Harrisburg are some examples of this style.

FUN FACT: The median home price in Pennsylvania is $166,000.

4 Iconic Homes in Pennsylvania

There are a number of iconic homes in Pennsylvania that showcase its history as a colony as well as its rich architectural heritage.

  • The Lower Swedish Cabin in Drexel Hill, built in 1640 is the state’s oldest building. It’s located on Creek Road in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Fallingwater, was built in 1936 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania and reflects the evolution of the architect’s work and the Modern Movement in architecture. Also, the Kentuck Knob in Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania is another historic landmark.
  • The Betsy Ross House in Old City, Philadelphia is the birthplace of the American Flag.
  • The Frank House, located in the historic Pittsburgh neighborhood called Shadyside, is an embodiment of the region’s rich tradition of technological innovation and modernism.

What’s Hot, Trendy, Healthy, and Hi-Tech in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania has some of everything from hi-tech areas to trout-filled streams. Look to its diverse cities to pair your personality with a perfect vacation or welcome home mat.

  • Hi-Tech: Per Business Insider, Philadelphia is ranked 8th in a list of 11 of the most hi-tech cities in the U.S., a spot held due to the high number of startups and venture capital firms.
  • What businesses are located in PA? Steel production, train manufacturing, banking, and agriculture drive the economy in Pennsylvania. Some of the companies you could find here include 84 Lumber, Acme Markets, Allegheny Technologies, American Eagle Outfitters, Crayola LLC, Cephalon, Cigna, Comcast, Dick’s, Hershey Foods, PNC, and Sunoco.
  • Hot and Hip: For more urban, trendy and entertainment-rich cities, head to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
  • Health Appeal: Smaller towns and dense forest areas appeal to the nature lover. In PA, you can find ski trails and hikes in the Pocono Mountains Region. That said, Philly ranks #5 on this list of most walkable cities in the U.S.

Angle shot of the "Rocky steps" at the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Ten Things to See and Do in PA

Do you prefer a restorative outdoor trip or a cultural excursion? Here are ten things to put on your PA bucket List.

  • Walk through Old City to see things like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
  • Feast on art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes, Rodin Museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
  • For history buffs, visit Gettysburg National Military Park.
  • Head to the capital of PA (Harrisburg) to take in the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, or take a romantic ride in a riverboat on the Susquehanna River.
  • Take a hike in the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” on Turkey Path Trail coming out of the Pine Creek Gorge, or check out Wolf Rocks Loop Trail, a 9.9-mile hike in the Forbes State Forest, a part of the Laurel Highlands Trail System.
  • Listen to running water in Bushkill Falls, Stroudsburg (Poconos).
  • Eat some cool fast food, like one of the famous pretzels at Snyder’s of Hanover, one of the oldest pretzel bakeries in the country. You would be remiss to not try a hoagie (that’s Philly-speak for sub or hero) or Philly cheesesteak. For a cooler treat, have an ice cream cone from the Franklin Fountain near Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. Got a taste for Eastern European cuisine? Get your pierogi on in Pittsburgh. There’s some fierce state pride for Tasty Cakes too – PA has all palettes covered!
  • Know that in Pennsylvania, you can dine-in too. Culinary and foodie pleasing restaurants dot the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and surrounding suburbs.
  • Game night! Whether its hockey, football, baseball, or basketball, there are lots of games to watch and great fan bases. Case in point – The Big Game champions (the Philadelphia Eagles) rocked the city with a record-breaking parade on the parkway.
  • Check out our listings for your next home in one of the ‘Quaker State‘ cities below!

A close up of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich.

List of Well-known Pennsylvania Cities

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About The Author
Rana Waxman
Rana Waxman parlays years of work experience in several fields into web content creation aligned with client needs. Rana's versatile voice is supported by a zest for research, a passion for photography, and desire to provide clients with a purposeful presence online. In her non-writing hours, Rana is a happy yogini, constant walker, avid reader, and sometimes swimmer.