Monday, May 21, 2007

Relocation Pittsburgh

Among other things, Pittsburgh's inexpensive housing stock makes the region a great place for family relocation. At least, so says the mobility services industry:

The ease with which a family can relocate to a new city is impacted by a variety of measurable factors. Traditional variables such as an area’s cost of living, crime rates, education and climate are combined with more abstract factors such as a city’s arts and culture scene, focus on diversity, and number of physicians per capita.

Conducted each spring, this is the third year Primacy and Worldwide ERC have partnered on the list. This year’s city size categories of large, medium and small were adjusted to reflect the larger population areas to which families are most likely to relocate, to 1.25 million and above, 575,000 – 1.25 million, and 350,000 – 575,000, respectively. Additionally, the 2007 study placed a special emphasis on the housing market, which has significantly impacted the relocation industry and an employer’s ability to transfer employees. The variables which weigh heavily in this category include home price, home affordability index, appreciation rates, and property tax.

“Without a doubt, the state of the housing market is having a huge impact on relocation decisions of both employers and the families who are being transferred,” said Michelle Vallejo, SCRP, GMS, President of Primacy, The Americas. “The cities on this list represent some of the stronger real estate markets and places that are most conducive to a successful family relocation.”

Several new categories were added to this year’s rankings, including recreation and leisure, arts and culture, air quality, watershed quality, sales tax, unemployment rate, job growth, high school and higher education index, school expenditures per student, students in public school, SAT/ACT percentile, and population growth. These new categories allow for a more robust range of variables which impact not only a family’s decision of where to move, but their ability to get settled once they arrive.

Pittsburgh ranked 6th in the Large Market category. The same group surveys the best relocation cities for singles in the fall. The criteria are different and Pittsburgh doesn't rate as highly, 63rd among the top 100 metros (in terms of size). Like Vermont, Pittsburgh is more attractive to an older demographic.

Pittsburgh should focus its efforts on leveraging regional strengths. While young adults comprise the most coveted age group, there is value in other demographics. If the City of Pittsburgh would like to benefit from the migration of families to the area, it should lower property taxes. Not that Pittsburgh can afford another shortcoming of revenue, but short-term pain should result in substantial long-term gains. The mobile class shouldn't have too many dependents in tow and they will do much to improve their neighborhoods of residence. Otherwise, the suburbs will continue to steal all the talent and wealth with young-hip Pittsburgh nowhere on the horizon.

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