How cost of living stacks up in Happy Valley


By Chara Fitch

Forbes named State College one of the best small places for business and careers, Livability called it one of the top 100 places to live, and promoted it as one of the best places for entrepreneurs to live and launch–but when it's time to start a career, young talent like new Penn State graduates often head to jobs in big cities.

For a previous article about attracting talent, Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ Director of Human Resources and Training Kate Alward suggested that when they’re job hunting, new grads might not weigh cost of living differences between locations, or consider that their dollars could go further in Happy Valley. National inflation is driving up the price of just about everything, and while Happy Valley can’t escape inflation, prices are still well below the national average in most categories. According to, the cost of living in State College is 7.6% below the national average, 84.6% lower than New York City, and a whopping 94% lower than San Francisco. Home prices are 43.6% below the national median in the U.S.

Remote workers are certainly getting the message.As the cost of living has increased and people grow disenchanted with expensive city living, remote workers are also finding that places like Happy Valley make an appealing home-base.

A manageable price point and growing career opportunities, combined with amenities like ample outdoor recreation and the entertainment resources available at Penn State and other local venues, make Happy Valley a smart option for making the most of your income.


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  1. This article is absurd on multiple levels, state college is anything but affordable and the comparisons are so cherry picked it can't even be taken seriously. Companies and professionals have left or never started in state college, purely due to it's high costs. These charts compare home costs in state college to the most expensive areas in the country. Are you trying to convince people that State College is competing with America's largest cities for talent? And if so, conveniently, I don't see starting professional salaries being compared, nor do I see any mention of how much more there is to do and see in those locations compared to state college. There is not a lot of surfing in state college, not many professional sports teams playing year round, not HQs of the largest companies in the world, not tens of thousands of other young professionals to meet. It's non sensical to even compared them... There is nothing affordable about a tiny town in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania where it costs $368k to buy a house. Compare state college's 39k population to similar sized cities in Pennsylvania like Williamsport ($189k median home), Wilkes Barre ($137k), Scranton ($155k), Erie ($168k) and it's clear how wildly inflated State College's housing market has been.

    And to top that off, if you did want to compare to larger cities, you could easily find ones that are more affordable. Look at two of the largest cities in the US: Chicago ($287k median) and Houston ($264k median), both of which offer a far more diverse population and plethora of activities compared to state college. Even staying within Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh (median $228k) and Philadelphia ($220k) are more affordable than state college!!

    State College's complete lack of competition in the building and developer market absolutely precludes it from being a contender in the industrial and startup space relative to what it could be. Literally every major metropolitan area within a 300 mile radius can provide newer and more affordable workspace, labspace, and warehouse space compared to state college.

  2. Thanks for your comment. You make many solid points! We have an agenda, obviously.:)

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