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Pittsburgh Mamas!

807 Views 25 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  welldone
Hello! I'm moving to Pittsburgh sometime this fall/winter, and I'd love advice about where to buy a home, where to shop, Christian churches, fun family stuff to do, etc. My husband will be working at Carnegie Mellon University.

I found this quote at
Allegheny County: In 2001, this county ranked among the dirtiest/worst 10% of all counties in the U.S. in terms of water releases of recognized reproductive toxicants.

What do you guys think about the air/water quality in the city? I'm also concerned about lead, as most of the houses in the city are older. We just LOVED the city when we visited, but as an environmental activist, I can help but be concerned about air/water/house quality issues.

I'm a natural childbirth educator, so I'm also interested in learning about good midwifes/doctors/birth centers in the area.

Thanks for your comments!
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There's one freestanding birthcenter, located in the Strip District. There's a CNM practice at Mercy Jeannette Hospital in Jeannette. There are various CNM's scattered with different ob/gyn practices that work at various hospitals. There are some lay homebirth midwives in the area too. Some are good, some are better....

If you're looking to be ecological, pay attention to how far you have to drive to get to the places you need to get to every week--like the grocery store...

There's a Whole Foods in Shadyside, a Co-op in ...oh heck blanked on the neighborhood name, but it's near Wilkinsburg..., a natural food shop in Greensburg.

Stuff is so scattered around here, which I suppose is good. You have to drive for Some things but not all.
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Originally Posted by Meiri
There's a Whole Foods in Shadyside, a Co-op in ...oh heck blanked on the neighborhood name, but it's near Wilkinsburg...,

Ah, that would be the East End Food Co-Op in Point Breeze.
They just remodeled and it looks just like grocery store now. I am still getting used to it. Some of their offerings have expanded and the cafe has a wonderful hot/cold bar.

I know the statistics out there don't always cast a favorable light on our fair city, but we really think it is a wonderful place to raise a family. The Children's Museum is expanding, we have a science center, interesting musueums. and you can still see a Major League baseball game.

Sure, sometimes the city looks like it is going to tank and taxes aren't always the most reasonable, but if you were to make a list of all the positives, I think the positives outweigh the negatives. At least for us they do. Of course this coming from someone who thinks her husband might get a job in Armagh, Indiana County and will have to move to Westmoreland to split the distance between workplaces.
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It does seem like a city with many positives. We're excited for all the "city" things to do, like museums and sports and cultural events and such.

Wondering if it's possible to live in the country and commute? I hate the drive, but also long to live on at least 5 acres. (But not near a conventional farm!)

Then again, we stayed at a very old home in the city when we visited, and loved it.
Westmoreland County is a good place to live. Taxes are lower for one thing. Once you get past Murrysville: aka yuppyville, SUVille..., houses can be had for reasonable prices. You just have to look.

Bear in mind the roads if you're going to look farther out from the city though. Winters can be quite snowy, icy, etc. Pittsburgh is a surprisingly green city (as in trees are easily found), and there are some good parks. Schenley is one such, and it's very near CMU.
I'd live in Squirrel Hill in a heartbeat if we could afford it, but Dh doesn't share that sentiment, nor would his commute to Clairton be made any easier.
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We live in Castle Shannon and it is a very nice and safe little community. We are within walking distance of a trolley, Giant Eagle, library, little park and elementary school.
We live in Sewickley which is fairly snooty
but the northwest areas are nice too, and the commute into town is easy. Also if you just go over the county line to Beaver or Butler Counties taxes drop precipitously and there is lots of land. Try Economy Borough, New Sewickley Township. There are several routes to CMU then.
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Wow, thanks for all your suggestions. I have no idea where these places are
, but I'm saving all these posts to show to a realtor! It's looking like our move will be late winter/spring (hopefully after snow has melted!), which makes me more anxious to be there.

Can anyone comment on how long our commute into town would be from some of these areas you've suggested? I have no idea what Pittsburgh traffic is like - I'm only familiar with small towns/suburbs and big ones, like Chicago, which we drive through often.

Thanks again!
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Commute times to CMU (assuming at rush hour)...

Closest and most convenient would be Shadyside (very expensive & chi-chi), Oakland (right there at CMU, with all the university area problems), Squirrel Hill (nice safe community), Point Breeze, Regent Square. You of course won't get any land there but will have the benefits of being able to walk/bus/bike where you need to go and be near all the stuff like food co-op and whole foods, etc. But you pay more to be close to CMU.

Someone suggested Westmoreland County. This is just east of Allegheny County and you could definitely get more land, and all taxes outside Allegheny County are cheaper. Major problem: there is basically only one route into town/CMU from the east called the Parkway East and it is a nightmare as it goes to two lanes through a tunnel and so traffic slows to a stop. Very exhausting commute. Also, the east is the oldest/most developed area of Pittsburgh. From Murrysville I had a friend (no I am not Yoda though apparently I have adopted his speech patterns
) and it took him over an hour to get into town.

I suggested north or northwest. A rapidly developing suburb is Cranberry, north in Butler County. Again with the tax advantage. Very good commute, though; I-79 and I-279 are not terribly trafficky so you can just breeze into town, under 30 mins depending how far away you lived from the highways. Northwest you have Butler and part of Beaver Counties - you could definitely get more land and commute probably about 30-40 minutes.

West is the airport area and you would have to use the Parkway West, again with the two-lane tunnels but not nearly as bad as the first one I mentioned. This is Beaver County and there is lots of nice land to be had if you are willing to go a little further out. Probably 30-45 minutes.

All these times are rush hour. Also driving in Pittsburgh is sorta hard when you are new - everything is a back way through little roads so you will get lost a lot. Benefit - you can always take another way. There isn't one big highway with feeders.

I could go on and on so you could just PM me with questions if you need.

Also I used the Midwife Center that was previously mentioned. They have 4 women in practice who have privileges at Allegheny General Hospital. That's all I know of. They are right by downtown.

Feel free to PM me for more. HTH

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I'm not sure that I can add much, just to mention that Pittsburgh is a great place to have children, there is so much to do. I always say that it is a wonderful place to live.

Someone suggested Westmoreland County. This is just east of Allegheny County and you could definitely get more land, and all taxes outside Allegheny County are cheaper.
ITA. I sort of think that the east, south and southwest approaches are the most congested. I have heard that there is a lot of land in the Moon area, but that means the parkway west. Ug.

A rapidly developing suburb is Cranberry, north in Butler County. Again with the tax advantage. Very good commute, though; I-79 and I-279 are not terribly trafficky so you can just breeze into town, under 30 mins depending how far away you lived from the highways.
We life in a suburb in northern Allegheny County, and I don't think that it is a very crunchy area. I really just see house after house after house, with a lot of 1/2 acre plots. Very few larger. We are pretty far from the natural food stores, but thank goodness, we are close to an organic farming co-op. Along the 79 corridor, the highway part of the commute is great and quick, but around the exits, the communities are fairly crowded. I live a couple miles from the 79 exit in my area, but it can take 15 minutes to get on the highway.

IMO, Cranberry is well on its way to being like where I live. Developers have purchased some of the oldest farms, and they are reportedly having a lot of planning problems. Further north, like Portersville, Prospect, Evans City or Connoquenessing... you might find more land. 45-60 minutes into the city. I think that Southeastern Butler County and Northwestern Allegheny are really good options. There is plenty of farmland left. Beaver County would be another great option.

No matter what, you may want to use bus/train, because parking in the city is so expensive. All of my friends, living in the suburbs, take the bus. Even the ones that make a ton of money.
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One thing to remember if you do look eastward, there are busses. My best friend's husband drives about 15 minutes tops, parks the car by a firehall, gets on the bus and reads while someone else drives. Otherwise, yes, access to the city is somewhat limited from this direction, but there are lots of options for getting off the Parkway early, depending on which part of town you're going to.
About the water quality: According to the city's annual report that they send to homeowners, our drinking water is very good. The one big risk is if you have an older home, the water supply pipe may be made of LEAD which obviously contaminates your water when it gets to your house! The city water authority will do a free screening of your tap water for lead and other contaminants; they drop off bottles, you fill them according to instructions and leave them outside your door, they pick them up the next day, and then they call you with results. This was free when we did it 2 years ago, but there may be a charge now.

Of neighborhoods close to CMU, if you are commuting by bus for typical working hours they're all good, but if you may be coming home late then Point Breeze is not a good choice. The busses that go out that way run MUCH less frequently after 6pm.
I'm re-visiting this thread of mine as we get closer to moving. Now that we're having a baby in March, we're hoping to move in April/May.

I've appreciated all of your suggestions! I can't wait to put places to names when we go house shopping.

What do you all know about lead removal in homes? We'll probably end up buying an older home in the city, and want to have the lead paint/pipes removed before moving in. Will this cost us a million dollars, or are there grants/city programs for doing this?

My husband is going into a ministry career from engineering, so money will be tight. Is the East End Co-op the most affordable place to shop for organic foods?

Thanks to all!
My family just went through the Lead Grant program for Allegeny County. I t was wonderful!!! They made our home and outside lead safe. For us it involved siding our garage, removing some dirt from where our garden was, and also scraping some paint and repainting outside. The inside of our house was fine. Thousand's of dollars of work done for wonderful!

PM me if you want the Allegheny Lead Grant coordinator's phone number to get info, but I think you need to have lived here for at least a year...I could be wrong though.

Thanks for the tip, Tiffany. I'll be in touch.
which is close to downtown, there is a midwife center
hopes it helps
hospital -magee woman is best
I am not going to add too much, everyone has been rather thorough. There is an East End Food Co-op that borders Wilkinsburg (no-live) and Shadyside (very nice - close). It too has been newly remodeled and is very nice. If commuting, there is a Port Authority Bus Way on the East Side of Pgh and my dad used to travel into town in 20-25 minutes -and get off the bus one block from his office. Parking is the pits. If looking towards Westmoreland County you can find new housing and land, great taxes and I buy from an Organic farmer who does Crop-Sharing. My sister has a crop share with him and at certain times a year I also get my canning veggies. etc. There are many farmers markets all around the areas and several all organic farmers who participate.
There was also a previous post about Pittsburgh Boroughs and where to live. There I listed some of the statistics about the museums, zoos, airport, ball fields, conservatory, cultural district, education, etc.
Tons & Tons of churches old and new in Pgh.

Good luck in the move and the new baby!
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I typed a reply and lost it.
So here is a short version. Also Check out the Pittsburgh/borough thread for some other good info and I know I posted some statistics about the city there too.
There is a newly remodeled East End Co-op Bordering Wilkinsburg/Shadyside. I really like it. I love having so many wonderful places to take my children and also I can travel 1 hour to Seven Springs/Somerset to the State Parks/lakes Camping Skiing etc. Pgh has a great bike trail. If looking for new housing, land, low taxes, Westmoreland has much to offer and there is a Port Authority Bus Way that by-passes most of the traffic. My dad travel into Town 20-25 minutes from Monroeville and got off at his office. He loved it. Parking is crapy.
If looking at Westmoreland - I, at certain parts of the season purchase from an certified organic farmer in that Co. My sister actually has a Crop-Share annually with him and loves it. There are also many Farmers Markets all over with certified organic farmers. I travel about 4 miles to the one in Monroeville, seasonally.
Good Luck - Pgh people are generally some of the nicest around.
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Thank you, Mary Beth. Very helpful. I will be in touch re: the Crop-Share program. Sounds like something right up my alley!

As far as that like a big suburb, or is it more rural? If we're going to live on some land, we're hoping for 5 - 10 acres (if it's affordable).
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