Are you feeling stuck at your job? Like your career is just a hamster wheel, you keep working and go nowhere? You want out, but there’s nothing even close to the horizon, much less within in your grasp. There’s nothing left to do. You’ve resigned yourself to a life of hamstery solitude. But then the recruiter calls! He asks if you’re interested in a position where you’ll be loved. Respected! Venerated even!! (Ok, venerated might be a stretch. But definitely loved and respected.)
But then the bomb drops: You’ll have to relocate to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh?? Who the hell wants to live in Pittsburgh? Didn’t that city die with the steel industry? It can’t compare to your beloved [INSERT CITY HERE].
As someone who has recently relocated to Pittsburgh, I can certainly understand the sentiment. I was from a sunny coastal village in the South, and in my mind, Pittsburgh was as grey as the steel it used to make: grey skies, grey buildings and grey food. It was in the North, a place no less barren and cold, and worst of all, snowy than George R.R. Martin described. And why would I give up the beautiful waters of my island home for three rivers you can’t drown in, only suffocate? Madness, surely.
The fact is, Pittsburgh is none of the things I thought it was. And probably none of the things you think it is either. Well, except snowy. They definitely get some snow, but their road response crews are extremely on point. I rarely have had to drive in snow. No, Pittsburgh isn’t a dead grey city; it’s a city transforming. It’s a wonderful place to live, and in my travels, I’ve never found another place quite like it. So let’s talk about some of the things that make Pittsburgh great.
1) Cultural Activities
Let’s get this one out of the way quick. I have seen some world class museums.I have been to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural history in D.C. and the British Natural History Museum in London. Everytime I go to a new city, the first place I head to is the museum. And I will say this definitively and without pause: The Carnegie museum of Natural History has a better dinosaur exhibit than any of them. It’s awesome and is the major reason that a membership to the museum is completely worth it. The fact that the rest of the museum is awesome is just gravy on the roast. Oh, and there are at least another dozen museums about, a zoo, an arboretum and an aviary. Pittsburgh doesn’t lack for culture.
2) The Food
Pittsburgh has all the ethnic restaurants, including ones most cities don’t even bother with. German, Polish, Italian, Hungarian, Jewish, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Brazilian, Korean, Thai and more; if you like ethnic food, Pittsburgh has you covered. I have had food here I never knew existed. And it’s not just ethnic food. They have things like city pigeon (which I’m assured isn’t pigeon), amazing gyros and hamburgers with French fries on the hamburger. Come to think of it, most places have at least one salad with french fries on it too. There are multiple different delicious reasons to move to Pittsburgh.
3) The People
I’m from the South. People in the South are nice. People in the North are words I would have to censor. I knew this the way you know grass is green and the sky is blue. Then I came to Pittsburgh. Where I was expecting blank stares and icy demeanors, I instead received warm smiles and even warmer welcomes. People here are nice. Like really nice. Sure, there’s the occasional [CENSORED], but you’ll have that anywhere. I’ve found that random people will gladly strike up a conversation with you while you’re waiting in line or riding the bus or just standing on the corner. It really surprised me, but it was a pleasant surprise.
4) It’s a Small Big City
New York City literally has something like 25 million people, and I am using literally properly here. Pittsburgh is nowhere near that big. It’s maybe a million? I have no idea. But not that many millions. And while it is smaller than a mega city, or even a medium city, it still has many of the big city conveniences. It has great restaurants, bakeries and markets. Shopping here is pretty good. The nightlife is hopping, and it’s big enough to get some great concerts and shows through.
5) It’s Booming.
The steel in Pittsburgh might be dead, but technology is booming. Thanks to some major research centers in the fields of computing, robotics and medicine, Pittsburgh is home to some equally major companies. Google has an office here. So does Apple. GNC and Dick’s Sporting Goods are both based in Pittsburgh. And there are plenty of manufacturers located in the greater Pittsburgh area (Thank God; it’s kind of our bread and butter around here).
6) Variety in Location
Whether you want urban, suburban or rural living, you can get it and still work in Pittsburgh. There are plenty of each within no more than 45 minutes of the city. From the downtown access of Heinz Lofts, to the beware-of-cows ruralness of Butler county or the suburban sprawl of Moon, you’ll find somewhere you’re comfortable.
If you have kids, the city of Pittsburgh is really big on education. They have some of the top ranking schools in the state here, from grade school on up. If your kids do well enough in school, they can get a ride through college on the city’s dime. And the colleges around here are no joke either. Carnegie-Mellon has one of the best robotics departments in the nation, and the University of Pittsburgh is reknown for their medical school, plus running all of the hospitals around the city. Speaking of which..
You’ll also get some of the best medical care in the country in a Pittsburgh hospital. As of 2013, UPMC is ranked 10th nationally among the best hospitals (and second in Pennsylvania) by US News & World Report and ranked in 15 of 16 specialty areas, including eight specialties for which UPMC placed in the top 10. This does not include Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC which ranked in the top 10 of pediatric centers in a separate US News ranking. They’re not only cutting edge, they’re at the forefront in developing new technologies to save your life.
You can’t talk about how great Pittsburgh is without mentioning the sports scene. The Steelers are a fantastic franchise even in their off years, and the Penguins are pretty good too. I can’t speak to baseball, but apparently the Pirates aren’t terrible either. But that’s not to say you have to be a Pittsburgh fan either. At least with three major sports teams, you’ll at least be able to go to games, and occasionally your team may come to town too. Better than you’d get in Any City, Wyoming.
Pittsburgh is a city, and like every city, there are drawbacks too. Public transportation is only good when you don’t have to be anywhere. The Department of Transportation could be faster, unless they are also the ones who plow and salt the roads, in which case, God bless them. But seriously, the shortest distance between two points in the city is always under construction, making traffic really suck sometimes. And surprisingly, just because you can see a place doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get to.
But these are all minor quibbles in the face of the positives I mentioned above. I’m not sorry in the least I relocated to Pittsburgh. I’ve met some great people, eaten some great food, and when the inevitable heart attack happens because of said food, I know I’ll be in great hands.