The cost of living in Pittsburgh is slightly higher than the national average, but still well below some of the country's major cities. In Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey, Pittsburgh was ranked 65th out of 227 cities surveyed. This puts it well below other major cities in the US, and ranks it far lower than the likes of New York City (6th), Los Angeles (11th) and San Francisco (14th).
Cost of accommodation in Pittsburgh
Though accommodation costs are rising in Pittsburgh, it is still a relatively inexpensive place to rent or buy property. Newcomers are likely to find housing perfectly suited to their needs and budget. Those who are looking to keep their expenses minimal are advised to find a home in the areas and suburbs on the outskirts of the city.
Young professionals and single new arrivals seeking convenience and proximity to all of Pittsburgh's vibrant spots should look no further than the city centre or the trendy Strip District. New arrivals should be prepared to pay steep rental fees in these neighbourhoods though.
Additionally, utilities are fairly steep in Pittsburgh and can add quite a bit to monthly expenses, especially during the cold winters, so new arrivals should budget carefully.
Cost of transport in Pittsburgh
Most areas are connected to well-priced public transport, and those who live a few miles from the downtown area have the option of cycling or walking.
Many expats find that it's not necessary to own a car in Pittsburgh, but those with children or who live far out from the central area might need to invest in one. This can be pricey, especially as gas (petrol) is more expensive in Pittsburgh than in many other US cities.
Cost of groceries in Pittsburgh
The grocery scene in Pittsburgh can be likened to a smorgasbord of options. While some items are relatively pricier than in other parts of the US, there are enough stores offering a range of prices to suit every pocket, from big chains to local markets.
Fresh produce, meat and dairy can be quite reasonable if one shops at local farmers' markets or frequents sales at supermarkets. Imported goods or speciality items might pinch the pocket a bit more. Shopping smart and being open to exploring local alternatives can help newcomers keep their grocery bills under control.
Residents often sing the praises of the Strip District, where they can get a medley of fresh and affordable produce, meats and other staples. The presence of multiple ethnic grocery stores here also allows expats to find familiar foods from home.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Pittsburgh
The City of Bridges has something to entertain new arrivals from all walks of life. The cost of entertainment and eating out will largely depend on newcomers' personal preferences and budget, as Pittsburgh hosts a diverse range of nightlife and restaurant options. The art and culture scene in the city is also well-established, the most popular museums will charge a fee while small independent galleries are typically free of charge.
Pittsburgh also has a range of wallet-friendly outdoor activities for nature-loving new arrivals to enjoy. The Steel City is home to three nationally recognised sports teams. However, sports fans will have to budget to enjoy these games as ticket prices are quite steep.
Cost of education in Pittsburgh
There are plenty of excellent public schools in Pittsburgh, which can be attended free of charge. This includes charter and magnet schools. Private schools, on the other hand, charge school fees and can be expensive.
There are several scholarship and financial aid opportunities available for eligible students. It's advisable for families and students to research and tap into these resources to alleviate the financial burden of private education in the city.
Cost of healthcare in Pittsburgh
Healthcare in Pittsburgh is of a high standard, with several top-notch hospitals and medical facilities. Like in much of the US, the cost of healthcare can be a major concern for many, especially those without comprehensive health insurance. Routine medical visits and prescription medicines are on par with the national average. That said, the cost for medical procedures and emergency care can be significantly higher.
It is essential for newcomers to invest in a robust health insurance plan. Those who are employed will often have part or all of their health insurance covered by their employer, but those self-employed or without employer-sponsored plans should shop around for the best deals. Research and foresight can prevent unexpected healthcare costs from making too deep a dent in one's pocket.
Cost of living in Pittsburgh chart
Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Pittsburgh in September 2023.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)|
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre||USD 2,900|
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre||USD 1,840|
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre||USD 1,720|
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre||USD 1,060|
|Food and drink|
|Dozen eggs||USD 4.54|
|Milk (1 litre)||USD 1.11|
|Rice (1kg)||USD 4.71|
|Loaf of white bread||USD 3.26|
|Chicken breasts (1kg)||USD 5.23|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||USD 9|
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||USD 60|
|Big Mac Meal||USD 9|
|Coca-Cola (330ml)||USD 2.38|
|Bottle of beer (local)||USD 3.15|
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)||USD 0.10|
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)||USD 66|
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)||USD 250|
|Taxi rate/km||USD 1.69|
|City-centre public transport fare||USD 2.75|
|Gasoline (per litre)||USD 1.15|
►For more on financial matters, see Banking, Money and Taxes in the USA
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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