We have to pick where we’re going to live in Pittsburgh over the next few months. We’re at least trying to decide what part of the city we want to be looking in so that when our house does sell, we’ll be ready to seriously look for something.
We were originally looking at the North Hills (North Allegheny school district), but after commuting for the last week and a half, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t live closer to my job – in Squirrel Hill (my job is in Oakland). I’ve been driving to a park and ride and then riding the bus in (the 61C), and it’s taking me about an hour each way. I leave before Daughter Person gets up in the morning, and I’m home in time to spend about 2 hours with her before she goes to bed. I’m used to getting up at 7:30, to be at work by 8-8:30 and then picking her up by 4-4:30pm. This long commute stuff may be for the birds. I have been taking the bus primarily because at my mom’s the bus takes the exact same route I would drive, it only takes about 5 minutes longer, and it’s free. Living in the North hills, I’d be driving every day, paying $87/mth for parking, and theoretically driving 30 minutes each way (I’m going to assume my co-workers are being generous and stretch that to 40-45 minutes each way). That kind of commute was fine – when I was single, and when I wasn’t a parent. Now, I want to get home to spend time with Daughter Person in the evenings – not sit on the bus or in the car all day.
We’ve talked about possibly buying in Squirrel Hill – the neighborhood just outside of Oakland where I work. I could walk it (about 20-30 minutes – biking is not an option because I’m very hill averse), or take any of 5 buses home – all of which seem to come more often than the bus I ride now. Tonight, the one bus I need to get home drove right past CMU without stopping because it was full – so I waited *another* 30 minutes for the next bus – something I’d rather not continue to do.
There are some advantages besides the shorter commute: a smaller home is easier to find, we’d be walking distance to a lot of great stuff – a grocery, a jewish community center, lots of restaurants, etc. But there are some serious downsides: the schools are crappy from what I’ve heard (especially compared to North Allegheny), and it’s in the city, with smaller yards and property. We’d pay 3% local tax instead of 1% local tax (comes out to about $4000/year). *But*, we’d likely get rid of one vehicle (and be able to get a 1 car garage instead of 2), and not paying gas or insurance on it – but that doesn’t quite match up to $4000/year difference (maybe $3000/year). We’d still have a car payment because we’d be keeping the car with the payment, but we wouldn’t be saving for a replacement car for a while.
The housing prices are within our price range, and in decent parts of town (except maybe the schools). The commute can’t be beat – and if we ever worked outside the city, we’d be right downtown and could get most places pretty easily. We know this isn’t likely to be our “forever” house, so there are some compromises we’re willing to make.
Are we missing something major to consider? Does anyone have kids in the Pittsburgh Public Schools (Colfax K-8 and Alderdice High school) that would be willing to talk about them?