Pennsylvania earned its nickname as the Keystone State for a good reason: it’s an economic, political and social powerhouse that is key to the growth of America. In other words, it has all the elements of a family-friendly state.
For one, Pennsylvania has the sixth-largest state economy by GDP, driven by 21 of the Fortune 500 companies and booming natural-resource industries for which the state also received its other popular names — the Coal State, Oil State and Steel State. Its unemployment rate of 4.7 percent — not too far from the nation’s 4.1 percent, as of December — should also pair well with the state’s strong housing market.
But if your children’s education is your top priority, you’ll be pleased to know they’ll be taught well. Pennsylvania students scored higher than the national average in both math and reading standardized tests, according to the latest figures from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Besides its economic strength and quality schools, Pennsylvania offers plenty more for everyone: beautiful scenery, a rich history, all four seasons, and several major urban centers. Oh, and did we mention that Pennsylvania is the chocolate capital of America?
To find the best spots in the Keystone State for families to settle down, WalletHub compared more than 80 cities in the state across 21 key indicators of ideal family conditions. Our data set ranges from the share of families with young children to median family income to housing affordability. Read on for the results, additional insight from a panel of experts and a detailed description of our methodology.
Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania
‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank
‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank
|1||Franklin Park, PA||76.55||29||3||1||1|
|2||Upper St. Clair, PA||68.84||60||14||2||5|
|5||Bethel Park, PA||64.94||85||7||8||9|
|6||Jefferson Hills, PA||64.94||82||4||4||6|
|8||St. Marys, PA||64.50||58||32||13||16|
|9||Mountain Top, PA||61.92||63||11||23||8|
|15||Allison Park, PA||60.51||71||54||6||17|
|17||South Park Township, PA||59.40||80||50||5||10|
|21||Lower Burrell, PA||58.76||78||33||17||14|
|23||State College, PA||58.59||12||5||71||35|
|32||West Mifflin, PA||55.38||84||34||10||45|
|36||Oil City, PA||55.08||37||13||27||61|
|37||King of Prussia, PA||54.31||49||59||41||12|
|39||Colonial Park, PA||53.60||15||55||61||28|
|43||West Chester, PA||52.13||28||44||50||43|
|51||Willow Grove, PA||49.87||61||53||46||34|
|56||New Castle, PA||49.22||38||40||42||71|
|59||Drexel Hill, PA||47.98||54||80||37||39|
|70||New Kensington, PA||44.46||86||83||19||51|
|73||East Stroudsburg, PA||42.21||74||17||79||59|
Ask the Experts
Families share a number of common priorities when choosing a new place to call home. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight on the process of evaluating Pennsylvania cities as potential hometowns. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in Pennsylvania?
- How can local officials in Pennsylvania make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Pennsylvania, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city in which they live?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the most family-friendly cities in Pennsylvania, WalletHub compared 87 cities across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socioeconomic Environment. In all cases, “city” means city proper and excludes the surrounding metro areas.
First, we compiled 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was given a value between 0 and 100, with a score of 100 representing the best for families.
We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions (e.g., zoos, museums, theaters): Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Share of Families with Children Under 18: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- WalletHub “Weather” Ranking: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Violent-Crime Rate: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the median annual family income by housing costs, which account for both rental and sale prices.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric is calculated from the median family annual income divided by the cost of living index.
Socio-economics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Below Poverty Line: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Areavibes, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor and WalletHub research.