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TheGerbil

Affordability

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This editorial in the PG caught my attention: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06357/748355-109.stm

It was written by a 20-something who asserts that Pittsburgh is actually less affordable than more expensive cities because the salaries are lower. The writer uses his own situation as an example.

But I am having some trouble swallowing this. I have heard of numerous people moving here from places like San Fransisco because they could afford to buy a home here, even on a lower salary than they had been earning.

I know the average salary here is not exactly high, and I am sure some people can live better elsewhere. But I also believe that Pittsburgh is the more affordable option for many people. Obviously it varies from one situation to the next, depending on people's situations, what field they work in, etc. This editorial bugs me because this one person points to his own situation and seems to think it applies to everyone.

My other problem with the editorial is that it perpetuates the myth of "brain drain." This guy is trying to disprove what he thinks is a myth (the cost of living) but uses another myth to back it up! I have seen many statistics showing that young people are *not* leaving Pittsburgh faster than other cities. In fact this city is better than most at keeping people. The population goes down because there aren't enough immigrants to make up for normal population loss.

I wish this idea that young people are fleeing the city would finally go away. It simply isn't so. Of course some leave, just as they leave any city. People move - that's life. But they don't leave here in larger numbers than elsewhere.

Thoughts? Comments? Sorry I rambled a bit :)

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You are exactly right, TheGerbil. I was disappointed to see this in the P-G, but I suppose they wanted some "balance" to the well-written and well-researched pieces on this topic by UPitt urban economist Chris Briem.

It's basically a bunch of cliches, myths and anecdotal evidence without any real numbers to back up his claims. Sure, perhaps the author has a situation where it is more affordable for him to live elsewhere... and maybe he has friends that say the same thing... but this is not the reality for most people.

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Good find Gerbil. That editorial is a complete turd!

I don't know what that guy is smoking, but an extra $20,000 a year in Washington DC will not do squat to help you conquer DC property values. He even admits he lived at home with his parents and doesn't actually any experience with affordable living in Pittsburgh.

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Enough talk. Lets see an editorial responce...

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As far as housing goes Pittsburgh is one of the most affordable markets in the country, with it taking only 15% of the areas median income to own a median priced house. There are only a couple markets in the country that are cheaper. Dallas is close in affordability as is Buffalo. Pittsburgh is a bargin and this doesn't get played up as an advantage as much as it should. Markets like San Francisco, and San Diego take 50% of the median income to afford a median priced house. Pittsburgh is about average in cost for taxes, food, entertainment, etc..., but for housing it's very affordable.

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Mr. Dillon confuses the Mayor's critique of affordable living in the CBD of Pittsburgh with that of living anywhere in the region. The analysis is sloppy at best.

That statistic usually offered is % of income dedicated to housing.

If Mr. Dillon wants to tell me about his two bedroom townhome in Georgetown that leaves him with so much disposable income, I'm all ears.

Mr. Dillon took a low salary job in Pittsburgh because his family assistance afforded him that opportunity. In general, DC business does not have such an option.

Taking less to stay in Pittsburgh is bad for the economy.

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Metro Pittsburgh

Income Housing Expenditure

/Year /Month

Median Household Income $37,467 $11,240 $937

(Low Income)30% of MHI $11,240 $3,372 $281

(Low Income)50% of MHI $18,734 $5,620 $468

(Work Force)60% of MHI $22,480 $6,744 $562

(Work Force)120% of MHI $44,960 $13,488 $1,124

True, you can't get a a downtown condo or apartment and spend $562/ Month on it. But you can get a 4 bedroom house in Lawrenceville for that. What neighborhood in Pittsburgh would be comparable to Georgetown? Shadyside? You can def. get a 2 bedroom unit in Shadyside for $937/month

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