13 Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania for Quality of Life

by Jem
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Pennsylvania is more than just a state; it’s a vibrant tapestry of experiences and communities. From the rolling hills of its countryside to the dynamic streets of its cities, the Keystone State offers a diverse array of lifestyles and landscapes. Yet, with its rich history and varied geography, selecting the ideal place to settle in Pennsylvania can seem overwhelming. To assist you in your decision, I’ve crafted this guide on the best places to live in Pennsylvania.

As a seasoned traveler through Pennsylvania’s rich tapestry of locales, I’ve been captivated by its diverse charm. Imagine the historical depth of Gettysburg’s battlefields, the dynamic urban pulse of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh’s innovative spirit, and the idyllic beauty of Lancaster County’s towns. Pennsylvania offers a unique blend, whether you’re drawn to colonial history, the energy of city life, or the tranquility of the countryside.

Wondering where to live in PA? Everyone’s ideal spot differs. You might look for cultural richness, educational excellence, or simply value for money.

Come along as we explore Pennsylvania’s finest cities and towns, tailored to your priorities. Drawing from extensive travels, research, and local insights, I’m excited to share a curated list of the best places to live in Pennsylvania, covering all tastes and budgets. Let’s dive in!

The top places to live in Pennsylvania right now

The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania      

Eager to explore the most picturesque places in Pennsylvania to call home? Nestled in the northeastern U.S., Pennsylvania offers a variety of options for everyone. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most desirable places to live on the East Coast. Continue reading to uncover the top living destinations in the Keystone State.

Searching for the ideal spot to settle in Pennsylvania? Whether it’s urban excitement or peaceful countryside you’re after, Pennsylvania has it all.

  • Best overall: Philadelphia
  • for affordable living: Allentown
  • Best for community and education: Ardmore
  • Best for suburban charm: Devon
  • Best for waterfront living: Erie
  • Best for city amenities and green spaces: Harrisburg
  • Best for history and culture: Lancaster
  • Best for quiet suburban life: Penn Wynne
  • Best for vibrant city life: Pittsburgh
  • Best for urban renewal: Reading
  • Best for outdoor activities: Scranton
  • Best for small-town feel: West Chester
  • Best for diversity and festivals: York

Here are the prime living spots in Pennsylvania that you need to check out: 

1. Allentown

Discover a city that effortlessly blends urban charm with natural beauty. Allentown, set in the heart of Pennsylvania, offers an eclectic mix of modern city life and lush green spaces. Known as one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania, it’s a hub for arts, culture, and education. There are lots of galleries, museums, and theaters downtown. It shows how much the city cares about the arts and how strong its community spirit is.

Venture a little outside the city center, and you’re greeted by parks and trails perfect for a weekend escape. This is because it has a strong sense of community and a lot of different cultures. History and new ideas come together in this place. Additionally, excellent schools and a thriving economy improve the quality of life.

In Allentown, every corner tells a story, from historic landmarks to trendy cafes. It stands out as the best city to live in Pennsylvania for its balance of dynamic urban environment and tranquil, scenic surroundings. Whether you’re seeking a lively cultural scene or a peaceful retreat into nature, Allentown offers the best of both worlds.

Allentown provides a unique blend of contemporary urban living and verdant greenery.
Allentown provides a unique blend of contemporary urban living and verdant greenery.

2. Ardmore

Ardmore strikes a perfect balance between suburban serenity and a lively urban vibe. This charming town is only a short distance from Philadelphia. It is known for its busy main street, cute shops, and wide range of restaurants that will please any taste. More than a mere stopover, Ardmore invites you to be part of its community. It  ranks it among the coolest places to live in Pennsylvania.

Stroll down its residential lanes, and you’re greeted by charming rental homes and a neighborhood known for its warmth and diversity. Even more than being family-friendly, Ardmore is a town that puts a high value on education, safety, and green spaces. This makes it a great place to settle down. Here, you’ll find the peace of a quiet town along with the perks of urban living.

The town buzzes with cultural activities — street festivals and live concerts are regular features, bringing a vibrant rhythm to life in Ardmore. It’s more than a suburb; it’s a small town pulsating with a big heart, capturing the very soul of Pennsylvania’s best cities to live. Ardmore’s unique allure and spirited community make it a gem in Pennsylvania’s crown.

Ardmore has the ideal mix of a bustling metropolitan atmosphere and residential tranquility.
Ardmore has the ideal mix of a bustling metropolitan atmosphere and residential tranquility.

3. Devon

Nestled in Pennsylvania’s greenery, Devon is uniquely charming and elegant. It’s renowned for the Devon Horse Show, the oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed horse competition in the U.S., blending historical allure with modern style. Known as a top living spot in Pennsylvania, Devon offers a peaceful, upscale setting with a tight-knit community vibe.

Wandering through Devon, you’ll find delightful local shops, high-end boutiques, and diverse restaurants. The town’s commitment to community and quality of life is evident in its well-kept public areas and the active involvement of locals in events and projects.

Living in Devon means enjoying suburban peace without losing touch with city excitement. It’s a nice city to live in Pennsylvania, offering a balance of tranquil life and convenient city access. With beautiful scenery, a friendly community, and a lively cultural scene, Devon is perfect for those wanting a serene yet culturally vibrant life.

Devon radiates a certain charm and grace, which makes it one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania.
Devon radiates a certain charm and grace, which makes it one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania.

4. Erie

Set by a beautiful lake, offering a stunning waterfront and a uniquely charming, relaxed lifestyle, Erie is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. With Presque Isle State Park’s sandy beaches, trails, and year-round activities, it’s known as one of Pennsylvania’s best places to live. This recognition comes from its gorgeous nature, affordability, and the warmth of its community.

The city’s culture is lively, featuring museums, theaters, and galleries. Erie’s historic downtown reflects its rich history but also buzzes with modern shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The community is diverse and welcoming, great for anyone new to the area.

Erie is notable for its lovely natural settings, rich culture, and warm community. Nature is always close by, and life’s slower rhythm here means you can truly enjoy every day. If you’re thinking about where to live in Pennsylvania, Erie is an attractive option, offering a life that’s both fulfilling and peaceful.

For those who enjoy being outside, Erie is ideal.
For those who enjoy being outside, Erie is ideal.

5. Harrisburg

Pennsylvania’s state capital is much more than its political stature. As a lively city at the crossroads of history, culture, and natural beauty, it lies along the scenic Susquehanna River. Harrisburg is hailed as one of the good places to live in Pennsylvania, combining urban conveniences with charming natural settings.

Home to a rich collection of historical sites, museums, and the iconic Capitol buildings, the city mirrors its deep historical roots. The growing arts scene, varied culinary delights, and energetic festivals bring a dynamic edge to life in Harrisburg. For those seeking a nature retreat, the Greenbelt and Riverfront Park provide a serene haven for biking, leisurely walks, or unwinding by the water.

The spirit of Harrisburg is reflected in its vibrant, diverse community, marked by a welcoming vibe and a strong sense of togetherness. Advancements in key sectors like healthcare, technology, and services underscore its reputation as one of the best Pennsylvania cities. Combining cultural vibrancy, outdoor activities, and a nurturing community, Harrisburg stands out as a perfect place to settle down.

Harrisburg blends modern comforts with picturesque outdoor environments.
Harrisburg blends modern comforts with picturesque outdoor environments.

6. Lancaster

Where old meets new, this city offers a unique living experience in Pennsylvania. Known for its Amish roots, beautiful farms, and historic architecture, Lancaster ranks among Pennsylvania’s best places to live. Here, the blend of old-fashioned values and modern life creates a harmonious community.

The city center of Lancaster buzzes with life. You’ll find art galleries, cool cafes, and a variety of stores. The Central Market, a traditional farmers’ market, sells fresh, local food and handmade items. This shows Lancaster’s love for its community and the environment. The city’s cultural life is active too, with lots of music, art, and street festivals that bring people together.

Around the city, the countryside offers a calm escape with lovely views and a quiet, country feel. Lancaster’s mix of community spirit, cultural richness, and natural beauty makes it a great place in Pennsylvania to live. Whether you like its historical appeal, lively city center, or peaceful outskirts, Lancaster has something for everyone.

One of the greatest places to reside in Pennsylvania is Lancaster.
One of the greatest places to reside in Pennsylvania is Lancaster.

7. Penn Wynne

A small yet charming suburb of Philadelphia, Penn Wynne offers a serene, family-friendly environment that’s highly sought after. Known for its top-rated schools, lush parks, and tight-knit community, it’s often cited as a great place to live in Pennsylvania. The neighborhood strikes a perfect balance between suburban tranquility and easy access to the amenities of a large city.

Tree-lined streets, spacious homes, and well-maintained public spaces define the landscape of Penn Wynne. The community is actively involved in local events and initiatives, fostering a strong sense of belonging and mutual support among residents. This suburb isn’t just about quiet living; it’s a place where community life is vibrant and engaging.

For those wondering where is the best place to live in Pennsylvania, Penn Wynne is a compelling answer. It’s ideal for families seeking a safe, nurturing environment or anyone who appreciates the charm of suburban life coupled with the convenience of urban proximity. In Penn Wynne, life moves at a comfortable pace, allowing residents to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Penn Wynne provides a highly sought-after, tranquil, family-friendly atmosphere.
Penn Wynne provides a highly sought-after, tranquil, family-friendly atmosphere.

8. Pittsburgh

Once at the core of America’s steel industry, Pittsburgh has evolved into a lively hub of culture and education. This city, known for its iconic skyline and historic neighborhoods, is often celebrated as one of best places in Pennsylvania to live. Its unique topography of rolling hills and rivers creates a stunning urban landscape, unlike any other city.

Pittsburgh is home to world-class universities, museums, and medical facilities, contributing to its reputation as a hub of innovation and learning. The city’s diverse neighborhoods, each with its own character and history, offer a variety of lifestyles and experiences. And the food scene? Pittsburg’s restaurants are truly top notch. From the bustling streets of Downtown to the quiet, leafy suburbs, Pittsburgh caters to all.

The city’s commitment to arts and culture is evident in its numerous theaters, galleries, and music venues. Its sports teams, from football to hockey, bring the city together in a shared passion. For those seeking a city that combines the vibrancy of urban life with the warmth of a close-knit community, Pittsburgh stands out as one of the most livable cities in Pennsylvania. Its resilience and spirit make it not just a place to live, but a place to thrive.

Pittsburgh has developed into a vibrant center for education and culture.
Pittsburgh has developed into a vibrant center for education and culture.

9. Reading

Reading is a place that has a lot of history and culture. It has a unique mix of city life and country charm. Reading is regarded as one of the best cities to live in Pennsylvania because of its famous pagoda and thriving arts scene. The city has a lively and friendly vibe thanks to its diverse population and active culture scene.

The downtown area of Reading is a center for arts and culture, with museums, theaters, and galleries that show off talent from around the world. People come from all over the area to the city’s annual festivals, like the Reading Fair and Jazz Fest, which show how active and friendly the city is.

Reading is close to some of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful natural areas, like the Schuylkill River and nearby mountains, which are great for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. Reading is a good answer for people who want to know what the best places to live in Pennsylvania are. History, culture, and natural beauty all come together in this city to make it a lively and fulfilling place to live.

Reading is a historically and culturally rich area, making it pne of the best places to live in Pennsylvania.
Reading is a historically and culturally rich area, making it pne of the best places to live in Pennsylvania.

10. Scranton

In the heart of northeastern Pennsylvania lies Scranton, affectionately called the Electric City. This unique town beautifully merges its industrial past with the splendor of nature. Once a hub for the coal and railroad sectors, Scranton has transformed into a vibrant, modern community. It ranks among the best Pennsylvania towns to live for its blend of urban and outdoor lifestyles.

The rejuvenation of Scranton’s downtown area is evident. Stunning architecture, inviting cafes, and diverse local shops mirror the city’s dynamic spirit. Cultural festivities, including the Scranton Fringe Festival and First Friday art walks, infuse the city with artistic flair and creativity.

Encased in scenic hills and idyllic landscapes, Scranton appeals to those who cherish the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, cycling, or enjoying the snowy slopes of the Pocono Mountains, there’s something for every nature enthusiast. Scranton is an ideal destination for those who seek a harmonious mix of historical charm, community connection, and natural beauty. It’s a place where historical roots intertwine with contemporary living, offering a fulfilling and balanced lifestyle in the Keystone State.

Located in the center of Pennsylvania's northeast region is Scranton, also known as the Electric City.
Located in the center of Pennsylvania’s northeast region is Scranton, also known as the Electric City.

11. West Chester

At the heart of Chester County, West Chester is a unique mix of old-school American charm and modern style. Its downtown area buzzes with activity, featuring brick sidewalks and historic buildings. Here, you’ll find cool shops, great food, and art. It’s one of the best towns to live in Pennsylvania. The town cleverly mixes keeping its history with a modern outlook. This makes it a very inviting place.

West Chester is full of life, known for its fun street festivals, bright parades, and lively music. These events show off the town’s spirited and artistic nature. Its location is ideal, close to the excitement of Philadelphia and the peace of the countryside.

People in West Chester are proud of their excellent schools, beautiful parks, and strong community ties. It’s more than a place to live; it’s where you can make real connections, grow, and enjoy life. If you’re thinking about moving to PA, West Chester is a great choice. It offers a top-notch lifestyle, friendly people, and lots of things to do.

West Chester is a distinctive blend of contemporary design and classic American charm.
West Chester is a distinctive blend of contemporary design and classic American charm.

12. York

Rich in history and culture, this standout city in Pennsylvania is known as the White Rose City. York masterfully blends old-world charm with modern touches, evident in its historic buildings and vibrant arts and food scenes.

Each neighborhood in York has its own unique feel, from the vibrant downtown to peaceful suburbs. The community is lively, often gathering for the York Fair, the oldest in America, and other cultural festivals.

Situated conveniently, York gives easy access to both rural areas and big cities. This mix of history, culture, and community makes York one of the top cities in Pennsylvania to live in. It’s a city that respects its past while looking forward to the future, making it a great place to live.

York expertly combines contemporary elements with old-world charm.
York expertly combines contemporary elements with old-world charm.

13. Philadelphia

Philly’s got a heartbeat that’s hard to ignore. It’s where history isn’t just in the textbooks; it’s on the streets where you walk. Think Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where America’s story took shape. But Philly’s more than its past. It’s a city that’s alive and kicking with a vibe all its own. This makes it a popular destination for teens, adults, and everyone in between.

You’ve got neighborhoods brimming with character, from the artsy streets of Fishtown to the historic charm of Old City. And the food? It’s a world where the iconic Philly cheesesteak meets a food scene that’s constantly reinventing itself. Unique Philadelphia restaurants are a dime a dozen!

Then there’s the green escape of Fairmount Park, a slice of nature in the urban buzz. And sports? In Philly, it’s more than a game; it’s a way of life. Add to that Philly’s epic nightlife scene, and you’ll see what makes it a desirable destination to so many.

This city wraps you in a sense of community that makes you feel right at home. That’s Philly for you – a beautiful place where every day is a new chapter in a rich, ongoing story.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania 

Interested in learning more about top living spots in Pennsylvania? Below are some frequently asked questions I often encounter regarding the finest places to reside in the Keystone State.

Where in Pennsylvania is the best place to live?

Deciding the best place to live in Pennsylvania depends on personal preferences and needs. Here are some top choices:

  • Pittsburgh: Ideal for those who love a bustling city atmosphere, rich in culture, education, and history.
  • Philadelphia: Offers a dynamic urban experience with a wealth of historical, cultural, and culinary attractions.
  • Ardmore and Penn Wynne: Perfect for families or individuals seeking a suburban feel with close proximity to city amenities.
  • Lancaster and York: Blend historic allure with modern living, suitable for those who appreciate both charm and convenience.

What is a nice part of Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is filled with many nice parts that cater to different tastes and lifestyles. Some notable areas include:

  • Devon: Known for its upscale living and historic charm, perfect for those seeking elegance and a strong community feel.
  • West Chester: Offers a blend of small-town charm and modern amenities, ideal for those who enjoy community events and a vibrant downtown.
  • Erie: Stands out for its beautiful waterfront and relaxed lifestyle, appealing to nature lovers and those who prefer a slower pace of life.

Is Pennsylvania a good place to live for families?

Pennsylvania is indeed a good place to live for families, offering a variety of environments and amenities that cater to family life:

  • Educational Opportunities: Many areas, like Ardmore and Penn Wynne, boast top-rated schools and family-friendly activities.
  • Community and Safety: Suburbs such as Devon and West Chester are known for their safe neighborhoods and strong community involvement.
  • Recreational Spaces: Cities like Pittsburgh and Harrisburg provide numerous parks, museums, and cultural events suitable for all ages.

How much is the average rent in Pennsylvania?

The average rent in Pennsylvania varies depending on the location and type of rental property. Generally, rental prices in urban areas like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are higher than in smaller cities and rural areas. Here’s a rough breakdown:

  1. Philadelphia: As the largest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia tends to have higher rental prices. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city can range from approximately $1,200 to $1,800 per month, though this can vary widely based on the neighborhood and the amenities offered.
  2. Pittsburgh: Rental prices in Pittsburgh are generally lower than in Philadelphia. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is typically around $1,000 to $1,400 per month, with variations depending on the location within the city.
  3. Smaller Cities and Towns: In smaller cities and towns across Pennsylvania, the average rent can be significantly lower. For a one-bedroom apartment, the average rent might range from $700 to $1,000 per month.
  4. Rural Areas: In rural areas of Pennsylvania, rent can be even more affordable, often falling below the averages seen in urban and suburban areas.
Many attractions, cultural events, scenic views, and historical significance may be found in Pennsylvania.
Many attractions, cultural events, scenic views, and historical significance may be found in Pennsylvania.

What is the most expensive area to live in PA?

The most expensive area to live in Pennsylvania often varies based on market trends, but traditionally, some of the pricier areas include:

  • Main Line: A region near Philadelphia, including affluent areas like Ardmore and Devon, known for its luxury homes, excellent schools, and exclusive communities.
  • Center City, Philadelphia: Offers a high-end urban living experience with luxury apartments and condos, vibrant nightlife, and cultural amenities.
  • Pittsburgh’s Shadyside and Squirrel Hill: These neighborhoods are sought after for their historic homes, proximity to top-rated schools, and vibrant local communities.

Is Pennsylvania affordable to live in?

Pennsylvania’s affordability can vary greatly depending on the region:

  • Cost of Living: In general, Pennsylvania offers a reasonable cost of living compared to many other states in the U.S. Cities like Erie and Reading are known for their affordability.
  • Housing: Housing costs in Pennsylvania range from very affordable in smaller towns and rural areas to more expensive in affluent suburbs and major cities like Philadelphia.
  • Taxes and Expenses: Pennsylvania has a flat state income tax rate, and property taxes vary by location. The state is known for its no sales tax on clothing and shoes, which can also be a financial relief.

Is Pennsylvania expensive to live in?

The cost of living in Pennsylvania varies depending on the specific area, but overall, it is generally considered to be moderate compared to the national average in the United States. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Housing Costs: Housing costs in Pennsylvania can vary significantly. Cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have higher housing costs, but they are still generally more affordable compared to major cities like New York City or San Francisco. Rural areas and smaller towns in Pennsylvania typically have much lower housing costs.
  2. Taxes: Pennsylvania has a flat state income tax rate, which is relatively low compared to other states. However, property taxes can be high in certain areas, and there are local wage taxes in some cities, like Philadelphia.
  3. Utilities and Services: The cost of utilities such as electricity, gas, and water is generally in line with the national average, though it can vary based on the region and usage.
  4. Transportation: Costs for transportation, including public transit and car ownership, can vary. In cities with public transportation systems, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, it’s possible to rely less on a car, which can save money.
  5. Groceries and Everyday Expenses: The cost of groceries and everyday items is typically close to the national average but can vary based on the specific location and shopping habits.
  6. Healthcare: Healthcare costs in Pennsylvania are comparable to the national average, though this can depend on personal health needs and insurance coverage.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania

In our journey through Pennsylvania, we’ve seen many unique places. From the busy cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to the quiet suburbs like Devon and Penn Wynne, Pennsylvania has something for everyone.

What makes Pennsylvania special is its variety. You might love the historic beauty of Lancaster and York, the cultural richness of Reading and Erie, or the friendly, family feel of Ardmore and West Chester. Pennsylvania has a perfect spot for everyone, blending history, culture, and nature into a great place to live.

If you’re thinking of moving, Pennsylvania is more than a new address. It’s a new chapter in your life. Each city and town here has its own story, ready to become part of yours. Remember, the best place to live isn’t just about pretty views or things to do. It’s about finding where you feel happy and can make lasting memories. Pennsylvania, rich in history and looking forward to the future, invites you to find your special place.

We hope this guide helps you explore places to move in Pennsylvania and find your new home. Happy house hunting and exploring!

The top places to live in Pennsylvania for all
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