Cost of Living in Pittsburgh, PA: Essential Insights for 2024

Cost of Living in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and scenic beauty. Understanding the cost of living in this lively city is crucial for those considering a move to Pittsburgh. In recent years, Pittsburgh has grown in various industries, making it an attractive destination for families and professionals.

The cost of living in Pittsburgh is generally lower than the national average, attracting new residents with its more affordable lifestyle, diverse neighborhoods, and job opportunities. Of course, it's essential to factor in individual preferences, daily necessities, and local market trends when evaluating the cost of living in any city. By examining the various elements, one can make an educated choice when considering whether Pittsburgh is the right place to call home.

Key Takeaways

  • Pittsburgh's cost of living is lower than the national average, making it an attractive option for families and professionals.
  • Housing affordability, diverse neighborhoods, and growing job opportunities contribute to the city's appeal.
  • When considering a move to Pittsburgh, evaluate daily necessities, utilities, transportation, and lifestyle factors.

Overview of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is the county seat of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is often called the "Steel City" due to its historical significance in the steel industry. As of 2018, the population of Pittsburgh was 308,144, making it the 63rd-largest city in the US.

The city boasts a rich and diverse culture, from art to technology and education. It is home to several esteemed universities, including Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Among the city's neighborhoods, Squirrel Hill and Shadyside have gained attention for their historic charm and vibrant social scenes.

Overall, Pittsburgh offers a balance of diverse culture, quality education, and an affordable cost of living, making it an attractive location for families and individuals.

Cost of Living Index

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has a cost of living index of 91.8, making it relatively affordable. The cost of living in Pittsburgh is 8.2% lower than the US average and 3.0% higher than the average for Pennsylvania. The index values for various categories indicate where living expenses stand compared to other cities and states.

Here's a summary of some of the main categories considered while calculating the cost of living:

  • Housing: Pittsburgh offers affordable housing options for both renters and homeowners. The city's housing cost is 31% lower than the national average, contributing significantly to its lower cost of living index.
  • Utilities: Unlike the housing expenses, utilities in Pittsburgh are relatively higher. They are around 20.4% higher than the average cost in other cities. This cost might affect the monthly budget for residents in this category, but the overall cost of living remains appealing.
  • Transportation, groceries, and healthcare: These categories are crucial in determining the cost of living index. Pittsburgh fares well in these areas, 24.1% less expensive than New York City, excluding rent. The expenses in these essential life categories contribute to the overall affordability of living in Pittsburgh.

Housing and Property

Rent vs Buying

The cost of living in Pittsburgh, PA, is generally lower than in other cities. When considering housing options, it's essential to consider both renting and buying. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh is around $1,280 monthly, considerably lower than the national average of $1,430. This pricing opens up various options for different lifestyles and family sizes.

Home Prices

On average, homes in Pittsburgh sell in about 53 days. Last month, the median sale price of a home in the city was $240,000 in October 2023, a 0.9% increase from the previous year of 0.9%.

When analyzing home prices, it is vital to consider the price per square foot as well, which stood at $168 in Pittsburgh, showing an increase of 7.0% since the previous year.

Property Taxes

An important aspect of homeownership is property taxes, which play a role in the overall affordability of a home. In Pittsburgh, property taxes typically amount to around $3,492 per year, and to comfortably afford a home with children, an annual income of $78,769 is advised.

To sum it up, Pittsburgh offers reasonable housing costs for both renters and buyers, with relatively affordable home prices and property taxes. These aspects make it an attractive destination for those looking to live in a city with a lower cost of living.

Daily Necessities and Groceries

In Pittsburgh, PA, daily necessities and groceries are relatively affordable compared to other major cities in the United States. One can find a variety of fresh produce and other essential items at local markets and supermarkets.

The price of everyday grocery items in Pittsburgh includes the following:

  • Rice: A 1 kg bag of white rice costs around $3.74.
  • Milk: A liter of whole milk is about $0.99.
  • Eggs: A dozen eggs cost approximately $2.37.
  • Local cheese: A 500g pack of local cheese is around $6.67.
  • Apples: 1 kg of apples tends to cost about $4.50.
  • Tomatoes: 1 kg of tomatoes costs around $3.64.
  • Potatoes: A 1 kg bag of potatoes costs approximately $2.15.
  • Bread: A 500g loaf of fresh white bread costs approximately $2.50.

These prices can vary depending on the specific market or store that one chooses to purchase from, as well as the season.

Considering all of this information, residents and potential newcomers to Pittsburgh can expect a reasonable cost of living with available options for groceries and daily necessities.


In Pittsburgh, PA, the cost of essential utilities, such as electricity, gas, heating, water, and garbage, can vary depending on your apartment or house size. According to a 2019 report, the average cost of utilities for a 915-square-foot apartment was around $171.52. This charge was almost $20 more expensive than the national average, about $152.11.

Electricity and gas prices in Pittsburgh can fluctuate based on the service provider, usage, and the time of year. Peak months tend to see higher costs for both services, whereas prices may be lower during non-peak months. Residents must know their energy consumption and determine whether energy-saving measures could help reduce these costs. Peak electricity months are typically in the summer due to air conditioning use. Peak gas months are in the winter due to heat use.

Heating expenses are another essential aspect of utility costs in Pittsburgh. The cost can vary significantly depending on the heating source: gas, electric, or oil. The city's cold winters make heating necessary, so residents must ensure their homes are well-insulated and adequately maintained to keep heating costs manageable.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) regulates water and sewage rates in Pittsburgh. The cost depends on consumption, and residents are charged based on the amount of water used and the location of their property. Some households may install water-saving devices, such as low-flow faucets and showerheads, to reduce water consumption and lower utility bills.

In addition, the cost of internet service in Pittsburgh can vary depending on the provider, speed, and type of plan. Average internet prices in the area range from $30 to $100 per month. High-speed internet is necessary for work, education, and entertainment, so residents should research available providers and choose a plan that suits their needs and budget.

Thetsburgh's utility costs are slightly higher than the national average. However, residents can effectively manage and potentially reduce their utility expenses by monitoring their consumption patterns and implementing energy-saving measures.


Pittsburgh offers a variety of transportation options for residents and visitors, including public and private systems. The Port Authority of Allegheny County manages the city's public transportation, including buses, light rail, and inclines. Private transportation options include personal vehicles, taxis, and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.

Public vs Private Transport

Public Transport

Pittsburgh's public transportation system consists primarily of buses and the light rail system known as the "T," which operates downtown and extends south. The "T" is an excellent option for commuting from the South Hills. Some people in the North Hills also use the North Shore "T" station to park outside the city while working downtown. Transportation costs in Pittsburgh are slightly higher than the national average.

Here's a quick overview of the fares for public transportation:

  • Monthly Pass: A monthly pass for unlimited travel on buses and light rail costs $97.50 for adults.
  • Single Ride: The base fare for a bus or light rail ride is $2.75.

Public transportation, if it is an option, is more cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and helps avoid parking and traffic issues in the city.

Private Transport

Driving a personal vehicle is an option for those who prefer private transportation. Gasoline prices in Pittsburgh are lower than in other major Northeast cities but higher than the national average (currently around $3.60 per gallon). However, it would help to consider the costs associated with owning and maintaining a vehicle, such as insurance, maintenance, and the yearly Pennsylvania safety and emissions inspections.

Taxi services are available in Pittsburgh, although they may not be as widely used as rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. There are several taxi companies to choose from, but an average taxi ride in Pittsburgh can cost around $3.25 per mile plus a base fare of $2.50.

Overall, private transportation options can be more convenient and comfortable. Still, they may not be as cost-effective as public transportation, especially when considering the cost of gasoline, parking, and vehicle maintenance.


In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, residents are subject to various types of taxes, including state income tax, sales tax, and property tax. These taxes play a significant role in the overall cost of living in the city.

Pennsylvania's state income tax is a flat rate of 3.07% for all residents, regardless of income level. This rate is relatively low compared to other states, making Pittsburgh a more attractive option for people considering relocating. Local income taxes may also apply, with the city of Pittsburgh levying a 1% wage tax on residents.

Sales tax in Pittsburgh consists of both the Pennsylvania state sales tax, which is 6%, and the Allegheny County tax, which adds 1%, making the total sales tax rate 7%. This rate is comparable to other cities in the United States. Some goods and services like clothing, food, and prescription medications may be exempt or have a lower rate.

Here is a brief overview of the tax rates in Pittsburgh:

  • State Income Tax: 3.07%
  • Local Income Tax: 1% (for Pittsburgh residents)
  • Sales Tax: 7% (6% state + 1% Allegheny County)

In addition to income and sales taxes, property taxes are an essential factor to consider when evaluating the cost of living in Pittsburgh. Property taxes vary depending on the location, with rates determined at the county, municipal, and school district levels. The average property tax rate in Pittsburgh is 2.15%. This rate will affect homeowners' annual tax bills and overall living expenses.

Salaries and Employment

As of May 2022, the average hourly wage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is $ 27.90. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is 6% below the US national average of $29.76.

The city offers employment opportunities in various industries, such as health care, education, and technology. As with any city, salaries vary depending on the job sector and the level of experience an individual has in their field.

Pittsburgh's cost of living is 6.28% lower than the US national average. This is worth considering when evaluating potential salaries in the area, as lower living costs can offset the difference in wage levels.

A few examples of occupations and their corresponding median salaries in Pittsburgh are:

  • Software Engineer: $80,146
  • Registered Nurse: $63,076
  • Administrative Assistant: $37,638

Please note that these are general figures based on available data, and individual salaries can vary depending on various factors.

In summary, Pittsburgh offers a range of employment opportunities across different sectors. While its average hourly wage is below the national average, its lower cost of living can make it an attractive city for job seekers and professionals.

Food and Entertainment

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers residents and visitors a variety of food options and entertainment venues. The city boasts restaurants, from casual eateries to more upscale establishments. A typical mid-range restaurant offers meals at affordable prices, with an average cost of around $15 to $30 per person.

Pittsburgh is also home to a diverse selection of cuisines. For those seeking international flavors, options range from Italian to Thai and Mexican to Ethiopian. Pittsburgh also has a robust local food culture featuring a unique twist on classic American dishes, including the iconic Primanti Bros. sandwich.

For beverages, a standard domestic beer costs around $4, a cappuccino costs approximately $3.50, and a combo meal at a fast-food restaurant costs about $8.

Pittsburgh's entertainment scene offers something for everyone. Numerous theaters showcase plays, musicals, and other live performances. Although theater tickets vary greatly, attendees can typically find options within their budget.

Sports enthusiasts will find plenty to cheer for, as Pittsburgh has several professional sports teams. The Pittsburgh Pirates, the city's Major League Baseball team, play at the picturesque PNC Park. Ticket prices for the games are affordable, allowing fans to enjoy a day at the ballpark without breaking the bank.

In conclusion, Pittsburgh, PA's cost of living related to food and entertainment is quite reasonable. With a wide variety of culinary and leisure choices, residents and visitors alike can enjoy a high quality of life without overspending.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average rent in Pittsburgh?

Renting a two-bedroom unit in Pittsburgh costs around $1,280 per month. This amount is 10.5% cheaper than the national average of $1,430 and 5.5% more than the state average of $1,210.

How does Pittsburgh's cost of living compare to other major cities?

Pittsburgh's cost of living is 6.28% lower than the national average and 7.5% lower than the state average. Housing costs are incredibly affordable, 38% lower than the national average and 13.1% lower than the state average.

What is the typical salary needed to live comfortably in Pittsburgh?

To live comfortably in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a recommended minimum annual income of $39,240 for a family and $42,400 for a single person is needed. The median after-tax salary in the city is $4,410 per month, which is enough to cover living expenses for 2.2 months.

Are utilities and expenses higher in Pittsburgh compared to other cities?

While housing costs in Pittsburgh are lower than the national and state averages, utility costs and other expenses may vary. However, Pittsburgh's overall cost of living remains lower than the national average, making the city an affordable option for residents.

How affordable is living in Pittsburgh for students?

Pittsburgh can be affordable for students living off-campus due to lower housing costs. However, affordability depends on financial aid, personal expenses, and lifestyle choices. Students must budget and explore housing options that best meet their needs.

Is the cost of living in Pittsburgh increasing or decreasing over time?

As with most cities, Pittsburgh's cost of living may fluctuate over time. It is essential to stay updated on local economic trends and future cost changes to make informed decisions about living in the city.

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