Newcomers looking for accommodation in Pittsburgh will discover that the city has something to suit everyone. Whether new arrivals are searching for a family-friendly home in the suburbs or a studio apartment in the city centre, they're bound to find something that fits their budget and needs.
Most new arrivals rent property at first to get to know the city and its neighbourhoods.
Types of accommodation in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is a fast-growing city, and an eclectic mix of housing styles are available here. Plenty of new developments are popping up, including luxury condos and apartments. Most of these are in the city centre. Further out, housing is usually more spacious and not as modern.
Apartment living tends to be the most common close to the downtown area. Apartments are a fantastic choice for young people who want to live close to the action in the city centre. Generally, apartment complexes in Pittsburgh are in excellent condition.
Condos are similar to apartments but with a wider range of communal facilities such as gardens, swimming pools, fitness centres and laundry facilities. Condo living is a great option for new arrivals, as these complexes have a noticeable sense of community, which is conducive to making friends.
Duplexes and fourplexes consist of either two or four living units attached to each other in some manner. These are often found in neighbourhoods located close to the central areas.
New arrivals will be spoilt for choice when it comes to houses in Pittsburgh. One will need to move further away from the city centre for the best picks, but houses in Pittsburgh are generally spacious and offer good value for money. These mainly consist of ranch, American foursquare and row houses.
Finding accommodation in Pittsburgh
The internet is a great place to start when looking for accommodation in Pittsburgh. Online property portals such as Zillow and Trulia can give newcomers a good idea of what's available at different price points in each area, along with information on what types of property dominate each neighbourhood. Most newcomers to the city will rent a property via a local real estate firm. Real estate agents often have intimate knowledge of the local property market and will frequently have access to listings before they're published, so newcomers stand a good chance of finding their dream rental this way.
Newcomers can also rely on local neighbourhood social media groups to assist them in their house hunt. This approach often yields the best result, as local people are usually familiar with their city's best areas and suburbs.
Renting accommodation in Pittsburgh
Once new arrivals have narrowed down their preferences in terms of the type of housing and suitable suburbs, finding a property shouldn’t prove too difficult.
Making an application
When prospective tenants have found a property they’d like to rent, they’ll need to start by filing an application. Depending on the situation, they can either do this directly through the landlord or via the agent overseeing the property. As long as all the relevant checks and references are verified, a lease can be signed. Foreign nationals moving to Pittsburgh will benefit from having their US bank account and social security number set up, as this will speed up the whole rental process.
A standard rental contract in Pittsburgh is usually valid for a year, with the option to renew at the end of the initial term. Depending on where in the city one hopes to live, it may also be possible for tenants to negotiate a shorter lease.
According to the state of Pennsylvania's laws, tenants will need to give landlords at least 15 days' notice should they wish to terminate a 12-month or six-month lease. At least 30 days' notice is required for rental agreements that run for more than a year. Newcomers should be sure to read the contract carefully and raise any concerns they may have with the landlord or agent before signing on the dotted line.
Short lets in Pittsburgh are usually fully furnished with high-quality appliances and furniture that make for a comfortable stay as new arrivals acquaint themselves with their new city. Rental prices for short lets are typically higher than those for long-term rentals, but they usually include cleaning and utility fees.
According to the Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of two months' rent as a security deposit for the first year of renting and the equivalent of one month's rent during all subsequent years of renting.
Some landlords may also require tenants to take out renter's insurance.
Renters need to carefully check the terms of their lease to determine which utilities are included and what additional expenses they’d be liable to pay for. In most instances, the landlord covers standard utilities such as gas, electricity and water, while tenants will be expected to pay for telephone services, internet and cable.
Nonetheless, new arrivals will need to set up the utilities with a provider of their choice if the landlord or real-estate agent is yet to do this. Most utility providers allow tenants to do this online or telephonically, they will simply need to verify their identity by providing their social security or driving licence number, new address, move-in date and payment information.
Utility bills will usually arrive monthly or every other month, depending on a newcomer’s selected package. Additionally, new arrivals are encouraged to take meter readings upon moving in to avoid incurring the previous tenant’s bills.
Bins and recycling
The City of Pittsburgh provides single-stream recycling to single-family homes, duplexes and small apartment blocks, which allows all recyclable materials to be placed in one bin. Pittsburgh also does regular curbside rubbish collection, with different days for residential rubbish and recyclable materials, new arrivals can visit the City of Pittsburgh's environmental services' website to find the schedules for the different areas and suburbs.
Are you an expat living in Pittsburgh?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Pittsburgh. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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