Most Pennsylvanians would agree: The Keystone State is one of the best places to call home in America.
However, most Pennsylvania residents haven't been to the far nooks and crannies of the state. There are, undoubtedly, some really awesome spots that remain tucked away, and until a data crunching website uncovers their merits, remain relatively unknown.
Using science and data, we've come up with the absolute best small towns to live in PA. Odds are, you haven't even heard of most of these places until now.
After analyzing 346 of Pennsylvania's smallest cities under 1,000 people, we came up with this list as the 10 best small towns in Pennsylvania:
- Mount Gretna
- Patterson Heights
- Rosslyn Farms
- Ben Avon Heights
- Deer Lake
- Glen Osborne
Of course, since they are some of Pennsylvania's smallest towns, they might not seem so appealing to most city slickers. As most residents of these places will tell you, they're just fine with you staying right where you are, thank you very much.
How to decide if a place is awesome or not?
In order to rank the most amazing small towns to live in Pennsylvania, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn't a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.
Using AreaVibes and U.S. Census data, we measured each city on the following criteria:
- Population density (The higher the better)
- Lowest unemployment rates
- High housing costs (Meaning there's lots of demand)
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Education (Lowest number of high school dropouts)
- Low crime
We looked at cities with populations between 100 and 1,000 people, of which, there 346 to be exact.
Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.
- 1. Mount Gretna
Median income: $110,625
Median home price: $280,700
We begin our tour of the best small towns in Pennsylvania with Mount Gretna, a tiny place along I-76, about 40 minutes east of Harrisburg.
What makes this such an amazing place? First off, folks here are loaded, and everyone who wants a job has a job. Only 1% of the population is out of work, and that's most likely by choice.
But we're not just saying affluence is what makes a place great. Crime is in the bottom 3%, and nearby schools are just about the best out of all small towns we looked at.
This is just about as close to heaven as you can get in PA.
- 2. Patterson Heights
Median income: $70,625
Median home price: $137,100
If you took I-376 north out of Pittsburgh, you'd come to the teeny little borough of Patterson Heights. Like Mount Gretna, you'll find an unemployment rate that will make most cities jealous (1.7%), and a population density that's the highest of any city in the top ten. That means lots of hard-working people live here, which is always appealing.
Other factors that stand out: Patterson Heights is affordable, too, as homes cost 'only' $137,000 on average. So not only is it a great place to live, it's cheap, too. That's hard to find.
- 3. Thornburg
Median income: $106,250
Median home price: $272,000
We've been number crunchers for a while now, and a population with a high school graduation rate of 99.4% is by far the highest we've ever seen. No wonder Pittsburgh has been ranked as one of the smartest cities in America - the people in this suburb and the next city on this list are both real brainiacs.
Besides an educated population, crime is the lowest of any other city on this list, where you'd only have a 1 in 130 chance of being the victim of a crime each year. That's like 3 people a year.
- 4. Rosslyn Farms
Median income: $111,250
Median home price: $283,300
This Pittsburgh 'burn resembles Thornburg in many ways, which makes sense, since they're right next door to one another.
The only real difference is crime in Rosslyn Farms has a slightly higher (but still abnormally low) crime rate, and an unheard of 1% unemployment rate.
- 5. Ben Avon Heights
Median income: $136,250
Median home price: $340,700
Welcome to the wealthiest, cutest little place in the state. Little Ben Avon Heights is another awesome Pittsburgh where you would want to live if you could somehow afford it.
You'd get what you paid for - 99% of the population finished high school, but a 4.2% unemployment rate is the highest rate on this list, which is this small town's only setback.
- 6. Goldsboro
Median income: $70,813
Median home price: $161,300
Right down the Susquehanna from Harrisburg is little Goldsboro. A whopping 87% of people in Goldsboro are home owners, and the cost of living here is slightly lower than the rest of the state.
If there's a knock on Goldsboro, it's that 10% of the population never finished high school. That's by far the highest number on this list.
- 7. Deer Lake
Median income: $71,389
Median home price: $174,300
Tucked way back in the hills north of Harrisburg is Deer Lake, one of the only small towns to make this list that isn't very close to a major metro area .
An unemployment rate below 4% and relatively low crime are equally impressive for such a tiny place that's out in the sticks. Another perk - the population density is far above average, meaning you have lots of people with which to socialize with here.
- 8. Dauphin
Median income: $54,083
Median home price: $159,100
Another small borough along the Susquehanna near Harrisburg, Dauphin is a very affordable and picturesque little place.
Only 3% of people in this little community have trouble finding work each year, and crime is far below average.
- 9. Glen Osborne
Median income: $99,000
Median home price: $401,100
Little Glen Osborne is along the Ohio, north of Pittsburgh. It's a relatively affluent community with very low crime and great schools.
- 10. Rutledge
Median income: $85,078
Median home price: $283,600
We round out the list of the best small towns in Pennsylvania with teeny Rutledge, which is a small borough that's wedged in among the sprawling area of greater Philadelphia.
Obviously, being so close to Philly means a ton of amenities. This little nook has schools that are far above average and crime that seems to be confirmed into areas outside of Rutledge borough limits.
There You Have It - The Best Small Towns In Pennsylvania
If you're analyzing teeny places in the Keystone State with the worst economic situations, where there's high crime and there's not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.