OFB 50 States Project: Pennsylvania

OFB 50 States Project: Pennsylvania

In The OFB 50 States Project, you the readers spill the beans about your state: the good, the bad, and the delicious. And thus provide “forever place” seekers (like yours truly) a useful resource in their search. We’d love to hear about your state! To be a part of this project, click here to fill out the form!

The Facts

Low State Taxes Ranking:  41

Low Cost of Living Ranking:  32

State Economy Ranking:  26

Average Temperatures (Harrisburg):

  • Winter:  37°
  • Spring:  62°
  • Summer:  85°
  • Fall:  64°

The Nickname

The Keystone State

The Short of It

The state of Pennsylvania is brought to you by the following awesome OFB readers:
1) Joanna K.   //   2) Jentine B.   //   3) Anna M.   //   4) Carla   //   5) Jess R.

What food best represents Pennsylvania?

  • Philly Cheesesteak 1, 3
  • Chicken Pot Pie 2, 5
  • Primanti’s sandwiches 4

What song best represents Pennsylvania?

  • Allentown – Billy Joel 1
  • Amish Paradise – Weird Al Yankovic 5

How does PA refer to a carbonated beverage drink?

  • Soda 1, 2, 3, 5
  • Pop 4

If you could take a friend to one place in PA, where would it be?

  • Valley Forge Park 1
  • Knobel’s Grove 2
  • Philadelphia 3
  • The mountains 4
  • Hersheypark, the sweetest place on earth 5

Valley Forge ParkValley Forge Park (photo by Rdsmith4)

The Long of It

Biggest misconception about PA?

  • That the state is pretty much the same the whole way across….nope, it’s more like Philly and Pittsburgh with Alabama sandwiched in the middle. 1
  • Everyone is a redneck backwoods crazed sports fan. 2
  • That the only real cities are Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. There is a lot in between! 3
  • Everyone likes football. We don’t. Also, the east and west of the state are very different places. Southwest PA is old steel towns and beautiful mountains. 4
  • Here in central PA, tourists seem to assume everyone is some degree of Amish. 5

Best aspect about living in PA?

  • All of the historical places! Washington’s encampment at Valley Forge, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, you get the picture. 1
  • There is a bit of everything. No matter where you live, you’re close to the forest and close to the cities. 2
  • I feel like Pennsylvania is fairly centrally located — close to cities like Philadelphia and New York. But other than that, I’m not sure there is much else. 3
  • Tons of mountains and hilly openness, but close to Pittsburgh. 4
  • We have all four glorious seasons and have a great rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sports fans. It’s also very conveniently located; from where I live, I can be in NYC, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, or Baltimore within three hours. 5

Worst aspect about living in PA?

  • Land developers rule and are devouring a lot of the beautiful farmland to replace it with suburban sprawl. 1
  • In my area, the jobs aren’t very high paying – but there are some! 2
  • The area I grew up in was built up in the height of the coal mining era. But then Big Coal left the area and now it’s just generally pretty economically depressed. 3
  • Football. 4
  • Worst roads in the nation and liquor laws. FYI: Liquor and wine can only be purchased from PA State Wine & Spirits stores, which are staffed by state employees and hold state hours. Beer can be purchased ONLY by the case at beer distributors and must also hold state hours. Six-packs can be acquired at your local watering hole/six-pack shop, but you can only carry out 192 oz. at a time (equivalent to 12 beers). This makes it seem like I’m a lush, but it’s a real problem here in PA. 5

Summarize your feelings about Pennsylvania in five words.

  • Ben Franklin and George Washington. 1
  • Always good to come home. 2
  • Get me out of here. 3
  • Proud to call Pennsylvania home. 5

Our Freaking Take

When Joanna and I lived in NYC, we visited some family in the Pocanos. And while I was slightly disappointed to discover that the region name had no relation to everyone’s favorite Disney Native American character, it was pretty place. While we were there, we visited Hershey and drove through Amish country. I left really really wanting to find an Amish family or camp that would offer to take me in for a month. It seemed like a good NYC-detox at the time. I still like the idea, actually. Anyway, I’m not totally sold on the state, BUT Pennsylvania has two major things going for it: sports and birch beer. I love a state with two sports towns, and PA’s definitely got ’em. As far as birch beer… few things are holier in our home than this sweet, savory beverage. After moving from NYC and no longer having a local supplier, I started ordering 2-liter bottles of Pennsylvania Dutch brand by the box. Weird? Maybe. Addicted? Definitely.

How did these answers line up with your perception of Pennsylvania? Have your thoughts on the state changed after reading this? Could you see it fitting your forever-place bill? 

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  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies July 26, 2013 at 7:57 am

    We’ve lived in PA, and it’s not bad but I just can’t imagine it being a forever place for me. The weather is too icky a lot of the time and too much of my happiness depends on being outside in the sun. =)

    • Reply Joanna July 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      You and me both, Mrs. PoP! I love me some sunshine!

  • Reply Carla July 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Wow… You can tell I was the only westerner to do the survey! I didn’t realize they said soda out east. PA really is two (or three) separate states all mushed into one.

    • Reply Joanna July 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Isn’t that interesting? It’s crazy how you can live in the same state as someone and have such a different experience. I’ve only ever visited eastern PA, so I loved reading your perspective, Carla!

    • Reply Richard July 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm


      Nice to see someone representing the West!! I always knew Philly had problems, but Soda! Really!! Inexcusable. Haha.

      I also love the central location of Pittsburgh. We’re less than a 6 hr drive to Chicago/Detroit as well as NYC/Phila/Baltimore!

      You really don’t like football? I agree Steeler fans are over the top, but Yinzer Nation must stand strong!

  • Reply Tara July 26, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I can’t agree more with the Central PA, coal mining thing. My fiancee is from Schuylkill County in Central PA and there are NO jobs except for people who have to commute an hour to Harrisburg to work (which is what both of his parents do). A benefit to this is you can buy a house for $30,000. But then you have to drive everywhere for shopping/eating/working as there isn’t much nearby.

    The Amish thing is so true too! lol.

    • Reply Joanna July 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Wow, that’s crazy. I don’t think I even realized that there were areas like that in our country. It’s great to hear everyone’s perspectives!

  • Reply Tracie July 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I lived near Pittsburgh after growing up in Kansas and Missouri, and I have to say it KILLED me to move back to Missouri! We lived in PA for 3 glorious years, and I loved every minute of it. If we didn’t start having babies we’d still be there for sure. I loved how much there is to do in Pittsburgh, we could be in Canada in just a few hours, and the people there are so nice. The only thing I didn’t like is that everyone is “Steeler Nation!!” everywhere. But I suppose it’s to be expected. 🙂 We did come to love hockey while we lived there, and hope to catch the Penguins in St. Louis this year.

    • Reply Joanna July 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      Great to hear your take, Tracie! Pennsylvania is super beautiful. I really wish we’d been able to visit Pittsburgh while we lived in NYC. It’s still one of my top cities I want to visit soon.

      While we lived in the Northeast, Johnny got to where he was a fan of hockey, too! It grows on you after a while!

  • Reply Heidi July 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I will definitely agree about the roads being bad! I’m from NY so we have to drive through PA to get basically anywhere are they are the WORST! Pennsylvania is such a big state too it takes forever to drive through.

  • Reply femmefrugality July 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Ahhhh! Can I retroactively participate? Pittsburgh is my home.

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