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City ranks high for the good life

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City ranks high for the good life

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

BY MEGAN WALDE

Of The Patriot-News

The job possibilities came in from big cities across the country.

San Jose, Calif. Atlanta. Chicago.

But Susan Signore-Smith and her husband, William, an electrical engineering patent attorney, weren't turned on by life in any of those places.

Too expensive, too far from family, too hot or too cold.

They were waiting for "the right place" to come along.

Then, an employment headhunter called with an opening at a Harrisburg law firm. William called Susan and asked if she'd consider the move.

Absolutely, she told him.

She noted the green openness of the area, the picturesque Susquehanna River, the proximity to other metropolitan areas. Even more, Signore-Smith said, she liked the low cost of living.

Apparently, so do national analysts.

According to a survey released by Salary.com, a compensation research company, Harrisburg is among the best U.S. cities in which to work and live. The survey ranks cities based on salaries, cost of living and unemployment/job-growth figures. Harrisburg ranked No. 4.

The rankings represent the first time Salary.com has run a combined study of cities based on the three employment categories, said Dan Malachowski, director of public relations for Salary.com.

In the article highlighting its findings, Salary.com gives Harrisburg especially high marks for low rent and cheap food and drinks.

"To go from 20 years ago being the second-most economically distressed city in the country to becoming one of the top five places for employees to work is truly astonishing," said David LaTorre, president of Harrisburg Young Professionals.

LaTorre said he isn't surprised by the city's rating.

New companies, job growth and downtown revitalization add to a high quality of life, but they haven't pushed the cost of living into the realm of a Philadelphia or Washington, D.C., he said.

"From here, we can travel and visit and have a great time without having to spend the amount of money it costs to live there," he said.

That's a major plus for those looking to relocate, even in retirement.

Area natives James and Kathy Manfred recently retired and moved back home from Reno, Nev. They'd lived in Chicago before that and expressed surprise when they learned they could build the same house here for a lot less than they would have spent in Reno.

Re/Max Realty Association Realtor Gary Muccio said property values in the Harrisburg area have escalated recently.

"We're starting to see higher appreciation, so we're becoming a little more competitive with the Philadelphia markets," Muccio said. "But we're still seeing a much better value than the D.C. area."

Signore-Smith of Pittsburgh, who has lived in many big cities, including Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., said she feels she is living in a dream world. She calls Harrisburg "the center of the universe."

Harrisburg weather seems milder than Pittsburgh weather. The area's mix of river, farmland and woodland is beautiful, she said.

Everything is closer than it would be from most other big cities: the beach, her family in Pittsburgh, the cultural centers of New York and Washington that she wants to share with her elementary-age daughters.

For her, the move-in date at the end of June can't come quickly enough.

"I'm looking forward to being a homeowner," she said.

MEGAN WALDE: 255-8454 or [email protected]

CITIES WHERE PAY GOES FURTHEST

1. New London, Conn.

2. Huntsville, Ala.

3. Baltimore

4. HARRISBURG

5. Tulsa, Okla.

CITIES WHERE PAY STRETCHES THE LEAST

1. New York

2. San Francisco

3. Stamford, Conn.

4. San Jose, Calif.

5. San Diego

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Great news for Hburg, thanks for sharing.

Although I personally tend to weed out the smaller metros and only look at the largest 30 I do realize a lot of the leading publications out there include the medium sized metros for a reason. Glad to see the state can boast on that. I always did like Harrisburg.

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Just a note about quoting the entire article recent events have some of the mods concerned about copyright law, an agreed solution is to quote the first 3-4 paragraphs (for context) and then give a link ;).

Thanks again for sharing that great news!

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