Six real reasons to move to Pittsburgh

Every week or so someone shares another Pittsburgh article: “reasons to move to Pittsburgh,” “reasons to live in Pittsburgh,” “reasons to visit Pittsburgh,” “reasons to love Pittsburgh”, “reasons to Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh.” All these articles tend to start the same way: Pittsburgh’s not a dirty steel town anymore! Renaissance city! Then they move onto things that aren’t actually unique to Pittsburgh: Great views! Nice people! Technology! Then they throw in some quirkier aspects: French fries on sandwiches! Lots of bridges! Zombie movies were filmed (at a suburban mall near) there! Banjo night? But as someone who lived in Pittsburgh for 14 years, none of that is what I miss.

Here are six real reasons to move to Pittsburgh according to a proud expat. (One for each Super Bowl ring.)

1. French fries on salads

Articles about Pittsburgh love to talk about Primanti Brothers, known for putting fries and coleslaw on top of their sandwiches. (Chicagoans can get a reasonable facsimile at Lucky’s in Wrigleyville.) But here’s the thing: Primanti Brothers aren’t very good. There. I said it. Most people don’t enjoy Primanti Brothers sandwiches unless they are really drunk, and they probably are not a good idea then either.

Pittsburgh salad fries on top
Photo credit: gpiper / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The Pittsburgh cuisine that deserves nationwide recognition is putting french fries on salads. Salads, people! The Pittsburgh salad is available throughout the city with minor variations, but it is typically iceberg lettuce, a few slices of cucumber, a few limp slices of onion, a lot of shredded cheese, chicken (grilled or fried), french fries and ranch dressing. Nutritionists may disagree, but this is a salad I could eat everyday.

2. Color-coordinated sports teams

Pittsburgh Sports Black and Gold
Photo credit: mrdestructicity / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

To be a fan for all seasons in Chicago you need orange & navy, red & black and either blue & red or black & white. What a mess! If you are a Pittsburgh sports fan all you need is black & gold.

Steelers: black & gold.

Penguins: black & gold.

Pirates: black & gold.

Even the Pittsburgh Power wears black & gold.

(Get it together, Riverhounds. This is why Americans hate soccer.)

3. The confluence

Pittsburgh your confluence is showing tshirt
Sadly this tshirt is no longer available from Wear Pittsburgh

I love excuses to use great words. Confluence is a great word. Pittsburgh has the most annual references to the word “confluence” of any city in the world. (Disclosure: I have absolutely no data to back this up.)

Pay attention during prime time Steelers games this year. The announcers almost always say “confluence” at least once. And not just smarty pants Chris Berman.

Thinking of the Steelers, I’m guessing Pittsburgh ranks pretty high for use of the word “hypocycloid” too.

4. Every Steelers game is televised

steelers game at sports bar
Me watching the Steelers at a sports bar while pregnant and holding a sleeping toddler.

On many given Sundays this is the number one thing I miss about living in Pittsburgh. Since the home games are always sold out every Steelers game gets televised in Pittsburgh. I never realized what a luxury that was until I moved and only got to see a handful of games on TV each season.

I’ve been to Steelers bars in Chicago, Washington, DC, and even Billings, Montana. The cost of being at the bar for 4 hours or so can add up, and it’s a much less viable option now that I have kids.

When does the NFL Sunday Ticket exclusive contract with DirectTV run out?

5. No sales tax on clothes or groceries

Sure Pittsburgh has great housing prices, but once you are locked into a monthly housing expense you rarely think about it. Shopping, however, is forever. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a sales tax on “essential items” like clothes and groceries. After living in a city where sales tax was 10.25% a few years ago (and is now a bargain at 9.25%!) to see a shirt on sale for $19.99, hand over a $20 bill, and get change seems like magic.

6. Smiley Cookies

smiley cookies
From Yes, there is such a thing.

I miss Eat ‘n Park Smiley Cookies. They are actually rather dry and bland sugar cookies, but they have big goofy grins that make it hard not to smile back. I do not, however, approve of the special occasion Smiley Cookies in shapes like shamrocks, apples and hearts.

I am an unashamed round-headed Smiley Cookie supremacist.


Bonus reason to move to Pittsburgh: My friends

I mentioned at the start of this post that Pittsburgh doesn’t have a monopoly on nice people. Still, after more than a decade in Pittsburgh I did get to know a lot of great people. There are people I met when I first moved to Pittsburgh. There are people who I sadly didn’t meet until I was getting ready to leave. There are even people I’ve met online since I’ve been gone. One of the biggest draws of Pittsburgh for me would be spending more time with all wonderful Pittsburghers I know.

Still, no city is perfect. Before anyone starts planning my Chicago going away party note that on Thursday I will be posting reasons not to move to Pittsburgh.

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