Moving (back) to the Burgh
April 15, 2015 5:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking into making a move (very quickly!) back to Pittsburgh. I'm a native, but haven't lived there for 10+ years. Snowflakes inside.

My dad had a stroke in January and currently requires quite a bit of care and supervision. My sister moved back in with my parents to take care of him, but she has a full time job and is the only driver in the family, so she's drowning in responsibilities. I've been thinking of moving back home for years now, and now seems like a good time to do it.

Because my dad's most urgent need for care is right now, I'd like to move as quickly as possible. The only time I've ever moved from one city to another is from Pittsburgh to Chicago (where I live now) for college, so this whole moving several hundred miles as an adult thing is foreign to me.

Here's what I've considered so far:

1) Getting a subletter for my apartment - my lease is not up until November. I checked my lease and this is allowed. I need to check with the management company about logistics.

2) Getting a license and a car - I know public transit is a lot less plentiful in Pittsburgh than it is in Chicago. I never got my license, so I'm working on getting a permit and driving lessons now. From what I've read, it will be much more cost-effective/easier to get a car in PA than to buy one in IL and drive it back with me, so that's my current plan.

3) Renting an apartment - I grew up in the suburbs (Baldwin/Whitehall area) and never lived in the city, so I have no clue where to look. I'd prefer to be in or very close to the city and would like to pay $800 or less a month for a 1 or 2 bedroom. So far I'm thinking Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, or Shadyside. I live in Edgewater in Chicago, and I'd love a similar neighborhood - local businesses, walkable restaurants and coffee shops, and proximity to parks. It also should be fairly easy to get to the South Hills from where I live, since that's where dad is.

4) Job - This is the big one. Right now, I work for a tech company in Chicago and manage a department of three people. I am allowed to work from home a few days a month and worked from Pittsburgh for 3 weeks in the immediate aftermath of my dad's stroke with no major issues. I would like to propose working virtually. They've never had anyone do this before - the company is 10 years old and we have about two dozen employees - but other employees have mentioned it to the higher-ups and it hasn't been roundly dismissed. And with the cost of living being so much lower in Pittsburgh, I would be able to fly back to Chicago fairly often to check in. Any suggestions on how to broach this with my bosses? My two year review is next week, so that seems like a good time.

5) Moving - Don't even know where to start with this. Any recommendations for cross-country moving companies? I also have two cats that would need to go with me.

Any general tips appreciated!
posted by anotheraccount to Travel & Transportation around Pittsburgh, PA (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'll just speak to the neighborhoods issue. This former chicagoan and pittsburgher thinks that Lawrenceville is probably the neighborhood you'll like the most, but Bloomfield will be the cheapest, and if you live on the western edge of it, near the bridge, it's a not a bad walk down the hill and past the children's hospital to get to all the cool stuff in Lawrenceville.

Don't neglect Squirrel Hill though. It's a bit cut off from everything else by the hills but it's a great neighborhood with everything you'd need. But in any case, Bloomfield will be the cheapest of the 4.
posted by dis_integration at 5:27 AM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lawrenceville is super-hip at the moment and generally more expensive than it's worth; you can get more/better apartment elsewhere for less. Bloomfield sounds like your best bet of your proposed neighborhoods to me, but I agree that all other things being equal, Squirrel HiIl is the most self-contained neighborhood with everything you need in walking distance. Squirrel Hill (and Shadyside) both have really good bus service compared to most of the city, so you would probably find your immediate car needs not so great if you lived in either of those neighborhoods, except perhaps initially to stock up your new place with a giant Ikea run or something, and maybe you could just rent a car for that.
posted by Stacey at 5:36 AM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Explain the situation to your landlord and see if they'll let you just break the lease altogether. Landlords can be decent sometimes and your reasons for moving out are pretty easy to sympathize with.
posted by Jess the Mess at 6:12 AM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Squirrel Hill and Shadyside have good bus service, and have stores you can walk to.

It's not a bad time to be looking for rental housing near Pitt, because spring term at Pitt ends on the 25th. That means that landlords will be looking for tenants to replace students who will be moving out soon. Oakland and Squirrel Hill are near Pitt.
posted by Anne Neville at 6:53 AM on April 15, 2015

Explain the situation to your landlord and see if they'll let you just break the lease altogether. Landlords can be decent sometimes and your reasons for moving out are pretty easy to sympathize with.

Seconding this, and even if they don't want to let you out of the lease entirely, they'll probably let you help them find a new tenant to sign a whole new lease, rather than a subletter with all of those attendant complications. All I had to do in a similar situation was put up a CL ad with pictures and try to be home when people wanted to see the place--a lot less stress than credit-checking and vetting whoever ended up taking it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:05 AM on April 15, 2015

3) Check out Padmapper for an easy way to look at what apartments are available. Consider looking at East Liberty because it has a lot of amenities in walking distance such as Target, Trader Joe's, and Aldi for shopping, a large farmer's market in the summer, a few coffee shops, great restaurants, and a lot of yoga studios. Highland Park is close enough to walk to, and it has an East Busway station so it your car situation isn't ironed out when you move here, it will be easier for you to get around. It is also very affordable. I am a young woman and I walk everywhere, but I have never felt unsafe.

I have lived in Squirrel Hill and the bus service is only great at getting you to Oakland and Downtown, not to other parts of the city. I would not recommend living in Oakland, which is notorious for having a lot of slum lords and which is probably all rented out for the upcoming year anyways (leases are usually signed in Jan/Feb for Oakland apartments).

If you have specific questions about landlords, neighborhoods, public transportation, etc., feel free to PM me.

4) I can't speak to how to broach this with your boss, but the good news is that tech is a 'big thing' in Pittsburgh now. Here is a bi-weekly curated list of Tech jobs and a Pittsburgh specific job search engine if you decide to start searching.
posted by pumpkinlatte at 7:10 AM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bloomfield, Squirrel Hill, and to a slightly lesser extent Highland Park are walkable, neighborly neighborhoods with decent rents, public transport, and a good amount of free onstreet parking. You might also check out Dormont and Greenfield. Lawrenceville is fine and a fun place to visit but beyond glutted with hipsters and their cousins to the point that I do anything I can not to have to ride a bus there during commuting hours. I live in Squirrel and enjoy not having to have a car, but unless your parents' house is right on the bus or train line, you're right that you'll want one to get out there easily-- though if you want to pm a cross street, I could check on other options. Feel free to ask any other rental/neighborhood/getting around-type questions, too, if you want!
posted by notquitemaryann at 9:49 AM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

You are on the right path location wise as others have confirmed - sorry those circumstances are bringing you back.

I just wanted to chime in to say that there are tech jobs in this city, and that you can get away without having a car, depending on where work is for you. Especially with those locations.

Good luck! Ask us any other specific questions as things pop up.
posted by glaucon at 12:56 PM on April 15, 2015

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