State College, Pennsylvania

Uncanny Happy Valley



Sunny Days: 178
53100 Affordability
100100 Schools
40100 Diversity
93100 Safety

From the outside looking in, you can't begin to understand it. From the inside looking out, you can't begin to explain it. We Are. Penn State! -Michele Roda

The Best Thing About State College?

Nature Calls

A rural Appalachian paradise, the natural landscape of the area surrounding State College is some of the most beautiful in the region. With skiing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking, and some of the best fly fishing in the country, those who enjoy outdoor activities will find much to do. In addition, the university provides ample opportunities to enjoy college sports, particularly their legendary football team, as well as their art museum and the touring musicians who come through. And while the city itself can be somewhat expensive for homeowners, buying or renting in any of the surrounding towns is considered pleasantly affordable.

Here's a local on the outdoor experience here:
Basically the middle-west part of Pennsylvania where State College is located is the northern tip of the Appalachians. So it's a mountainous area (although if you're anywhere near the Rockies you may laugh at that description) that is largely surrounded by rural farming communities. State college is nicknamed Happy Valley because the city sits in between the mountains to the northwest and the mountains to the southeast. I really do think it's beautiful, and if you like outdoorsy stuff like hunting and fishing you will have plenty of opportunities.

For more reviews of what living in State College is like from locals check out: The Buzz

The Worst Thing About State College?

Animal House

In many ways, State College is the quintessential college town, in that the local culture revolves heavily around the university, as well their sports teams and Greek Life; this means that, during the school year, and particularly during football season, much of the city is dominated by partying college students. Many apartments will rent primarily to undergraduate students, so if you choose to live in one, expect high levels of noise and frequent foot traffic from drunken young people. Additionally, for the more politically inclined, please be aware that State College itself is considered a highly liberal town surrounded by heavily conservative rural communities.

Note from a local about the school scene:
Town can be a bit hectic during school but it’s not terrible. When the kids are out of school the town is much more laid back. Lots of stuff to do in the area if you are the outdoors type. Night life is fun for a little bit but it gets old after while as it’s the same old thing. Campus is very nice place to hang out when the weather is nice

Lifestyle of State College

If you are a student or simply enjoy the house party and bar hopping scene, you will find State College accommodating to your social desires. Additionally, if you are a sports fan or an outdoorsman, the area will provide a plethora of activities. Furthermore, young families generally consider the local schools to be top-notch, though if you are a young professional without children, or are simply introverted, you may find the area somewhat isolating or even boring.

If you want to see what people get up to in State College check out the calendar of events:

Worklife of State College

The local economy revolves heavily around the university. If you are an academic, or if you want to be a coach for college level athletics, you will find opportunities. If you want to work administrative or staff jobs at the university, you will also find opportunities. However, the main careers available outside of the university are generally limited to service jobs in town or farming jobs in the surrounding area, or possibly work from home options.

Why You Should Move Here Now?

football + clean air

If you crave clean Appalachian air, the thrills of Division One gridiron football, four full northeastern seasons of weather, a chance to test your mettle as an outdoorsman, or an opportunity to work at a renowned educational institution, you should move here now.

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Living in State College

What is living in State College like? Thinking about moving there.

I loved living in town. You can walk everywhere. That was a big adjustment when I moved back to the suburbs. I really missed that. The town has plenty of places to eat, drink, and hang-out with friends. I can't even explain football weekend insanity or Arts Fest so fun. Areas in town could do with a revitalization plan, but overall I am so excited I can visit more often now that my daughter is in college there. The campus is beautiful and has continued to improve since I graduated. If you prefer outdoorsy type stuff, there is a ton to do. Biking, hiking, spelunking…However, I will tell you honestly, that the school is definitely an island unto it self. Some of the small towns and rural communities you will pass through to get to U Park can feel very remote and disconnected from the spirit of diversity and community in State College. More than one alumni of color mentioned their concerns about Phillipsburg in particular. But, it doesn't seem to stop the school from growing or diminish the energy of the residents/students.

Neighborhoods in State College

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Young Professionals/Students

Downtown is a good place to start a search for Young Pros looking in State College. It’s small, only houses about 4k people, but it is the cultural and commercial center of the city (technically a borough) so you can’t go wrong here if you want to live a short walk to bars, restaurants, the events centers, work, and the campus of Penn State. Downtown has a number of high-rises for professionals looking to rent in spots with tons of amenities.

Right next door is the Highlands neighborhood. Home to around 10k people the neighborhood is an interesting mix of beautiful old historic homes and a very active downtown social scene where tourists, locals and students mix to give the city its energy. Lots of students live in Highlands so be ready to mix with the kiddos if you choose to live here.

  • Downtown
  • Highlands
  • West End/Urban Village
  • Orchard Park

College Heights


College Heights is a historic district just north of campus that is filled with families, both Penn State faculty and local professionals. The neighborhood is filled with some of the most beautiful homes in the entire city but they come at a price. You get huge homes, elegantly manicured lawns, quiet streets but a short walk to campus so a pretty perfect way to experience a college town if you can find an available home.

Although we listed the Highlands in the young professionals/students section we also want to note how great a spot it is for families as well. Once you fan out a bit from the blocks connecting to downtown you hit big historic homes, large yards, sidewalk-lined streets, parks/playgrounds and great public schools. It also has a strong Civic Association that fosters community activities and manages the relationship with the university.

  • College Heights
  • Highlands
  • Holmes-Foster