Top 50 US Cities for FIRE - PITTSBURGH
Updated: Oct 13
The rundown on the Steel City for FIRE chasers.
Preliminary Rank Estimate: Top 10
The final rankings will be published after all city reviews are posted.
Home of the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, solid food, cheap beer, and reasonably priced living.
It should come as no surprise that Pittsburgh has a preliminary top 10 ranking for those that have been to the Steel City.
Plus, our team at Froogal attend UPitt - so we're biased as hell.
When it comes to FIRE cities, we are looking for a few specific things:
- A low-t0-mid-cost of living.
- A good entertainment scene (sports, bars, parks, etc).
- Solid Universities and/or employers (in case you want to better yourself or pick up a -
- Good/great food.
- A decent airport.
- A reasonable climate.
Scoring is based on a 1 to 5 scale (1 - terrible, 5 - great).
Quick Summary Scores:
Cost of living: 4
Cost of living
The average rent for a 1 bed/1 bath apartment in Pittsburgh is approximately $1,200 with 69% of all units being priced between $700-$1,500.
Pittsburgh suburbs offer even better pricing but include a commute.
The median home price is $143,000.
The cost of living score, provided by Bestplaces.net, sits at 87.5.
The primary driver of the score is the housing cost.
Sports & bars dominate the Steel City.
Between the 3 major professional teams and the numerous collegiate teams around the city, something is pretty much always going on.
Tickets are cheap (especially when the teams are having a down year) and, generally speaking, the fan base in the city is friendly.
Bars are in high quantity in the various pockets around the city and it is very common to find $5 pitchers and $2 beers at most places.
Not much of a brewery scene yet but the city holds an annual "Beerfest" for those inclined to drink a ton.
The city also sports a casino and a pleasant downtown park.
For hiking/outdoor activities, you will need to hop in a car and get a bit outside of the city. That being said, there are plenty of solid options.
Although Pittsburgh isn't the biggest music scene - a decent number of big-name concerts roll through every year and there are a number of local concert venues for upcoming bands.
There is an absurd number of Universities within and around Pittsburgh, with the biggest names being: Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne, Carlow, and Robert Morris.
Although avoiding student debt is a key FIRE strategy, the presence of these quality schools gives you the ability to continue your education and/or have an ample recruiting base for your side-hustle business.
Quality schools also come with quality libraries - another win for the FIRE folks.
Whether you intend to work during your RE years or not, it's never a bad thing to have great employment opportunities available within your city.
Pittsburgh has been up-and-coming for some time now and has been able to attract the likes of Uber & Google. It looks like more innovation is on the way - a good sign for cool jobs during RE but also a potential warning for increased housing prices.
Other major employers in the city are the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), PNC Bank, US Steel, and BNY Mellon.
Easily one of the most subjective categories - Pittsburgh is actually home to a quality food scene.
The city is most famous/notorious for slapping french friends on sandwiches & salads, but also has a top-notch tex-mex, sandwich, polish-style, wings, and brunch spots.
Prices are almost always reasonable ($10 or less) and plenty of premium restaurants are available for date nights.
Go-to spots in the city are Pirmantis Brothers, Mad Mex, Marios, The Yard, Meat & Potatoes, and Hemingways.
"Average" is pretty much the only way to describe Pittsburgh's airport.
As published by Transtats, Pittsburgh's average flight cost was essentially equal to the national average.
Florida and Texas are the current typical low-cost destinations out of Pittsburgh.
A bus runs from downtown out to the airport for those on a budget (all of us) but the better play is to simply go ride-share (Uber/Lyft).
So long story short, Pittsburgh summers are amazing and Pittsburgh winters are the worst.
July high is 83 degrees and December low is 25 degrees.
Snow is common from October to late March.
Getting around via car can be difficult due to the old streets and steep hills (braking & parking can be impossible).
Obviously, I am anti-winter/snow so if you are one of the few that enjoy the cold, then you could easily adjust the climate score to 4 (the hills/driving is still a major issue).
Pittsburgh summers, as mentioned above, is hard to beat. Beautiful weather without the humidity evident down south.
If Pittsburgh ever figures out how to build a dome over the city to eliminate winters, it could easily find itself as a top 3 FIRE destination.