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Cost to Buy vs Rent in 10 Pennsylvania Cities

Pittsburgh PA cost to buy vs rent

Buying a home in The Keystone State is a great value compared to renting. In fact, it’s cheaper to own a single-family house than to rent one in two of the ten cities analyzed and only marginally more expensive in most others.

This is assuming a realistic 5% down and includes estimated costs of private mortgage insurance (PMI), property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. See the full methodology at the end of this article.

If owning a home is on your goals list this year, it could be time to seriously look at Pennsylvania.

Monthly Cost to Buy vs Rent

1. Philadelphia -$337
2. Pittsburgh +$281
3. Reading +$179
4. Erie +$201
5. York +$594
6. Allentown +$390
7. Harrisburg +$162
8. Scranton -$37
9. State College +$1,051
10. Lebanon +$422

1. Philadelphia

Home Price

$207,947

Full Payment

$1,726

Rent

$2,063

Cost Difference to Buy

-$337

Pennsylvania’s biggest city doesn’t come with its largest price tag. In fact, buying a home in Philly will cost about $300 less per month than renting.

2. Pittsburgh

Home Price

$219,266

Full Payment

$1,819

Rent

$1,538

Cost Difference to Buy

+$281

If you’re not into bidding wars, Pittsburgh could be the town for you. Redfin gives it a 37 out of 100 for competitiveness and 15% of homes currently feature price drops.

3. Reading

Home Price

$227,801

Full Payment

$1,777

Rent

$1,598

Cost Difference to Buy

+$179

Known worldwide mainly because of Monopoly, Reading is a community on the rise after over $300 million has gone into revitalizing the downtown core.

4. Erie

Home Price

$163,842

Full Payment

$1,436

Rent

$1,234

Cost Difference to Buy

-$201

In between Cleveland to the southwest and Buffalo, New York to the northeast, Erie provides homeownership near the famous lake at affordable prices. Home values are among the lowest in Pennsylvania and it costs about $200 less to own a home than rent.

5. York

Home Price

$245,626

Full Payment

$2,076

Rent

$1,482

Cost Difference to Buy

+$594

York real estate has a little something for everyone – from budget homes to luxury mansions. But to buy here, you’ll spend about $600 more per month compared to renting.

6. Allentown

Home Price

$268,770

Full Payment

$2,379

Rent

$1,990

Cost Difference to Buy

+$390

Allentown prices have gone up over 7% in the past year, says Zillow. For Pennsylvania, this market is competitive, with 53% of homes selling over asking price and homes sitting on the market just nine days before going under contract.

7. Harrisburg

Home Price

$230,768

Full Payment

$1,920

Rent

$1,758

Cost Difference to Buy

+$162

Buying a home comes with about the same monthly cost as renting according to our study. A bonus about this town, whether you buy or rent, is that it’s 20 minutes away from the world-famous Hersheypark, featuring roller coasters, a water park, a zoo, and all the chocolate you can eat.

8. Scranton

Home Price

$156,907

Full Payment

$1,396

Rent

$1,433

Cost Difference to Buy

-$37

Living in the town made famous by mega-hit TV show "The Office" won’t set you back financially. Homes are in the mid-100s on average and buying a house is slightly less expensive than renting.

9. State College

Home Price

$376,007

Full Payment

$2,922

Rent

$1,870

Cost Difference to Buy

+$1,051

The most expensive city on our list is still just 90% of the U.S. median. While affordable by national terms, buying in State College will run you about $1,000 more per month than renting.

10. Lebanon

Home Price

$242,383

Full Payment

$2,007

Rent

$1,585

Cost Difference to Buy

+$422

Another hot PA market is Lebanon with home prices rising nearly 7% since a year ago. In the past five years, homes have increased about $90,000 says Zillow.

Get Pre-Approved for Your Pennylvania Home

Homes in Pennylvania offer prices affordable to just about any budget. See how much home you qualify for by requesting your pre-approval from a lender.

Methodology

To compare the costs of buying versus renting a single-family home in 10 Pennylvania cities, we started with typical home prices as reported on the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) Single-Family Home Time Series for November 2023. We assumed a 5% down payment, the typical requirement for first-time buyers. We then calculated the monthly payment on a 30-year fixed mortgage at 6.845%, the average rate at the time of data collection as published on Optimal Blue Mortgage Market Indices for a buyer with less than 20% down and a 700 FICO score. We added PMI costs from mortgage insurance provider MGIC. Then we added annual homeowner’s insurance premiums as reported by Policygenius and property tax data from Roofstock and the U.S. Census Bureau. We assumed zero HOA dues. We compared this total housing payment with rent data from the Zillow Observed Rent Index (ZORI) Smoothed Single Family Residence Time Series except when no data was available, in which case we searched for current rent statistics on Zillow’s site. City selection was based on the highest population except where it made sense to bypass a suburb of a major city to highlight a city in a different area.


About The Author:

Tim Lucas spent 11 years in the mortgage industry and now leverages that real-world knowledge to give consumers reliable, actionable advice. Tim has been featured in national publications such as Time, U.S. News, MSN, The Mortgage Reports, My Mortgage Insider, and more.

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