|University of Pittsburgh||Student Affairs||School of Medicine|
Neighborhoods & Information
This information is provided by Medical Students and updated yearly.
Although moving is never a pleasurable experience, finding housing around Pitt is generally easy. There is an abundance of apartments and houses to choose from covering a wide range of prices, styles and neighborhoods.
Most medical students live in North Oakland, Squirrel Hill, and Shadyside, a smaller number live in Bloomfield, South Oakland, and Highland Park, and a few live in East Liberty.
Oakland is home to the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and a lot of hospitals. Oakland is geared towards students: plenty of apartment buildings, laundromats, bars, and restaurants. Forbes Avenue divides Oakland into two: South Oakland has cheap housing and a lot of undergrads. Scaife Hall (your new home) is within 15 minutes by foot. North Oakland also has many apartments, including Ruskin Hall (many medical students choose to live here). The University rents out Ruskin units to only graduate and professional students. The building is secure, near Scaife, and full of medical students.
Shadyside is a charming community east of campus. Much of the housing is in beautiful older homes on tree-lined streets. Walnut Street is featured in the section on shopping. Expect a walk of 30-45 minutes to Scaife or a short PAT bus ride (free for Pitt students).
Squirrel Hill is east of CMU and south of Shadyside. Forbes and Murray Avenues intersect to form a commercial and geographic focus while Schenley Park creates a pastoral western edge. Squirrel Hill is mostly residential and family-oriented, yet has a sizable student population. Ethnicities abound -- Jewish, Asian, Russian, and more. It's a long walk to Scaife, so a car, bicycle, or PAT bus ride (also free) is necessary.
Bloomfield is north of Shadyside and Oakland, with parts that are not too far from Scaife. The major ethnicity is Italian, and the atmosphere is very congenial.
Highland Park is a nice, quiet neighborhood north of East Liberty and probably too far to walk to Scaife. It is home to the Pittsburgh Zoo, as well as playgrounds, picnic areas, and pools. This neighborhood has less useful commerce than Shadyside or Squirrel Hill, so a car is advisable.
East Liberty is north of Shadyside, a 30 or so minute walk to Scaife, and has good bus service. Rents are low. Look carefully before you rent.
Rents in each of these areas range between $200 and $500 per month depending on the neighborhood, size and condition of the unit and number of roommates. As a general rule of thumb, for place of your own $300 or $325 is a good deal, you definitely should be able to find something for $350, for $400 you should have some choices, and for $450 you should have lots of choices. For a room with roommates $200 is about the bottom of the market, you should be able to find something for $250, for $300 you should have some choices, and for $350 you should have lots of choices. Utilities may or may not be completely or partially included and will vary depending on the place so be sure to factor this into the cost. Also, if you have a car keep in mind that it is very difficult to find parking on Oakland and it costs about $120/month to park in a public garage or about half that to park in a lot belonging to a building if your building does not have one. In Shadyside and Squirrel Hill parking is usually available on the street, so factor this in as well.
Once you have decided where you want to live and about how much you want to pay it is helpful to decide whether you want to have roommates and if so to try to find some before you find a place, however even if you find a place and don't have roommates there will be enough people looking that you can probably find however many you need.
So you've decided where you want to live, about how much you want to pay, whether you want roommate(s) and if so either found roommate(s) or decided to first look for a place and find roommates later. How do you go about finding a place?
A good way to start would be to go to the Housing Page or Property Management. If you are in town you can also check kiosks around campus or just walk around the neighborhood you want to live in and look for signs. If you are in town or have access to out of town newspapers you can look in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and/or Tribune Review, but many of the listings you will find are not in the area and/or will be expensive. Finally, some people decide to go through leasing agents. This can save work but leasing agents seem to be unlikely to show you the most affordable places.
Although many students live in large apartment buildings, there are also many charming old houses which have been converted into one or two bedroom apartments. These apartments may be considered preferable to larger buildings because the apartments have more character and the landlords tend to be more flexible in terms of allowing pets or letting you make modifications to the apartment.
Don't rush to find a place, especially if you are feeling anxious due to time constraints. Rank your choices and take the time to compare and consider what you have seen. It is helpful to have a checklist which lists the absolute important necessities such as running water (and water pressure), a stove (that works) and windows that open, parking availability or access to public transportation and those necessities which satisfy your own personal needs and esthetics, like lots of windows, wall to wall carpets and built in cabinetry. If possible, ask tenants about the landlord and his/her management of the property.
When you decide on a place, be sure to read the lease carefully. Be clear about inclusions, exclusions and restrictions that are imposed and be ready to make a deposit equal to your first month rent (also be sure what this deposit is to be used for and how you will be refunded for it when your lease expires).
Finally, make sure that you like the place enough that you can live there for at least one year if not more. You may decide to find an apartment and consider it temporary; that is once you get to know the area better you plan on searching for a permanent place for the next year. Many students will move after the first year once they come to know Pittsburgh and its neighborhoods, perhaps purchase a car or make friends within the class with whom they might room. There is always housing available in Pittsburgh year round, especially around the university where the student population changes from semester to semester and there is always flux in the apartment market. Be assured that you will find the place that is just right for you.