It’s not clear why we like to peek inside other people’s homes, but we clearly do. In Pittsburgh, we should feel no shame about this. We're nebby and we know it.
While many of the houses here in the Steel City are pretty old, that means you can probably afford to buy here, if you’re willing to look around and make some concessions.
Renting is another story entirely, of course. According to a recent news release from apartment search website RentCafe, Pittsburgh is the country’s 20th-hottest rental market in the country. “Hottest” in this case means competitive — with an average of seven people vying for each vacant rental. That’s … not great, though it’s down from 13 people chasing every house in 2022. That’s mostly due to a lack of supply, which only increased by 0.24%.
We’ll try to pick out some decent rentals that seem fairly priced. (You, of course, still have to battle the other six people looking for a place to rent).
So, even though the algorithm may be serving you “Rustic Ridge Hideaway, ONLY $995,000” — we mostly want to look at charming, weird little Pittsburgh houses like those featured here.
For sale: 4209 Haldane St., $240,000
As I was sliding down an icy hill in Greenfield one December morning, I found myself pondering two things. The first was, “Do I hit the house at the bottom, or go over the cliff?” Neither was appealing. The second was, “Oh, THIS is why some people fear living on steep hills. I get it now.” As I swerved and hopped a curb to arrest my descent, it occurred to me that Greenfield has its drawbacks.
And yet, other than that, Greenfield is actually pretty great. It’s one of the last of a vanishing species of stable, affordable working-class neighborhoods that once proliferated everywhere in post-war Pittsburgh. These solid, well-kept houses, marred only slightly by age (and that weird ‘60s trend of aluminum awnings), were once someone’s dream home. They still can be. Situated ideally between Mr. Rogers’ actual neighborhood, Squirrel Hill, and the amenity-packed big-box blob across the river in Homestead, Greenfield is perhaps the most underrated neighborhood in Pittsburgh. This house has some sleek updates but somehow manages to remain charming. Just check to see if the snowplow has arrived before you head out down the hill, OK?
For rent: 4312 Lydia St., $1,395-1,595/month
You like brick, right? If the other option is aluminum siding (or like, asbestos) — as is often the case around here — brick seems pretty great. There are two separate rentals in this brick house on a quiet street in Greenfield (though everything off Beechwood Blvd. and Greenfield Ave. is quiet, really). Bonus feature: close walking/stumbling proximity to the soon-to-open Midnight Whistler, an outpost of Necromancer Brewing that’s in the old Hough’s space. The beer is great, the food looks great, and they’ve even got a new collaboration beer with Alternate Histories (whose gallery is a few doors down) called Greenfield Ghoul.
For sale: 538 Avery St., $399,950
Remember the “tiny house” thing? You know, the brief craze for small, ultra-minimalist living space wasn’t really designed to survive years of stay-at-home pandemic isolation, and it didn’t. That’s not to say the idea is without merit. This tiny 1,616-square-foot brick rowhouse, built in 1900, steps back from the unified street wall of its taller neighbors, but throws in a tiny front garden in compensation. Yes, your car might be happier in a toasty warm garage somewhere than here on the street, but it’s a big piece of metal and you’re a person. Go ahead, put yourself first.
There are two places to rent here, with the blinding-white interior signature of something remodeled and updated quite recently. In Deutschtown, part of the appeal is that you can walk to several hundred thousand jobs, an emerging restaurant row on East Ohio Street, and even Steelers games, and this location puts all of the amenities of the North Shore, North Side, Downtown and the Strip District pretty much at your doorstep.
For sale: 130 Logan St., $147,000
Every year, it seems like a little bit more of Lawrenceville floats across the Allegheny into Millvale, and the once impossibly low home prices started acting pretty much like you’d expect when fun cocktail bars and nice restaurants proliferate. Still, there’s a long way to go before it becomes Lawrenceville North, and you can occasionally still find gems like this wood-frame 1913 bungalow. Yes, it’s a comparatively microscopic 783 square feet (!), but it comes with a lot of front-and-back porch space and incredible views in all directions. It’s also a bit removed from the main business district (vertically, not distance-wise), up in the hills behind St. Nicholas Croatian Church and its world-famous Maxo Vanka murals.
For rent: 410 Sample St. $1,295/month
For such a small place, Millvale is incredibly distinctive and packed with surprises, from an old-timey diner/candy shop (Yetter’s Candy), to a great music venue in converted church complex (Mr. Small’s), to one of the world’s best record stores (The Attic). This navy-blue Sample Street rowhouse is pretty close to everything, and comes with a way bigger, modern kitchen than you’d expect from the outside.