The Real Cost of Living in Pennsylvania

March 14th, 2023

The Real Cost of Living in Pennsylvania

Cost of Living in Pennsylvania 

Want to know what the real cost of living in Pennsylvania is? Find out the cost of living, income, utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, and taxes. 

Pennsylvania is a great place to live with its rich American history, sprawling landscapes of mountains, lakes, and rivers, and vibrant cities and neighborhoods ranging from large urban cities to suburban places full of charm. 

Boasting beautiful homes with historical architecture as well as new contemporary designs, there is many different housing styles, sizes, and locations to choose from. Located in the northeast part of the country with a population of almost 13 million people, Pennsylvania is the fifth most populated state in the nation and a popular location for those relocating from some of the biggest cities in the country, like New York

Ariel photo of Pittsburgh showcasing downtown, point park, and the river

If you are moving to Pennsylvania, you should know what to expect cost-wise while living there. Many of the best places to live in Pennsylvania have a variance in the cost of living as well, but the overall cost of the state is always a good place to start and budget correctly. Let's take a look at some expected and possibly unexpected expenses that might come into effect when moving to Pennsylvania. 

Check out the cost of living in Pennsylvania! 

Cost of Living 

According to RentCafe, the cost of living in Pennsylvania is 1% lower than the national average, with housing being 9% lower, utilities 8% higher, food 5% higher, healthcare 3% lower, and goods and services 1% higher. 

This means that the cost of housing is actually much lower here, but other expenses are slightly higher, making the overall cost of living here close to the national average. The average cost of living in Pennsylvania per year is around $44,650 annually, depending upon your lifestyle and spending habits. 

Pennsylvania is considered an affordable state to live in, especially when compared to many other northeastern states. Before moving to Pennsylvania, let's take a look at what you can expect to pay per month on things like housing, utilities, transportation, and more compared to the national average. 

Cost of Living Item Pennsylvania  National Average
Annual Income $67,587* $67,521*
Rent $1,500 $1,169
Home Value $44.6k* $38.3k*
Natural Gas (Therm) $1.32  $1.67
Electricity (kWh) $0.197 $0.168
Public Transportation $96 a month $102 a month
Gas $3.63 $3.55

*denotes median instead of average 

*data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), AAA, United States Census Bureau


The average median income for a Pennsylvania resident is $67,587, just slightly above the national median of $67,521. The largest industries here are manufacturing, technology, and education/health services. But, the state itself is known for a higher rate of people being employed, making it a draw to those possibly looking for a new career path. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the current unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 4.3%. This is .8% higher than the national average of 3.5%, meaning more people are unemployed here than in some other states. This could be due to some of the more populated cities facing large layoffs as well as the country still suffering from the pandemics' job shortage and businesses falling under.

Due to the unemployment rate being higher than the national average, it comes as no surprise that the poverty rate in Pennsylvania is also slightly above the national average. According to the Census Bureau, the poverty rate in Pennsylvania is 12.1% compared to the national average of 11.6%. This means that 12.1% of the population in Pennsylvania is currently living under the poverty line, even if they might be employed. 

Philadelphia row houses lining the street with downtown buildings in the background


The average cost of utilities per month in Pennsylvania is $353 on top of the cost of rent or mortgage. When purchasing a home or signing a lease, many individuals look past what the actual total cost of moving to their new home will be due to forgetting the cost of all the utilities or amenities such as water, electricity, gas, WiFi, laundry, etc. 

In Pennslyvania, an average energy bill costs around $210 a month, with water and sewage costing around $80 per month and heating costing about $100 a month. These are just the basic utility charges that most properties have, but it depends on what style of living and the location you are moving to know precisely what your monthly utility bill will look like. A benefit to renting a property is that in Pennsylvania, you don't have to pay for water and sewage; that is your landlord's responsibility, so you are only responsible for electricity and gas at a minimum. 

Some apartments and homes in PA are in complexes that host amenities and services such as laundry rooms, a gymnasium, a pool, trash pick up, and recreational rooms. These amenities and services typically cost more on top of your rent or monthly mortgage to utilize, so before getting excited about having your own personal pool, check how much living in these communities will cost you. 


Food costs have risen at least 8% across the country in the past year. But, according to a 2020 survey done by the U.S Census Bureau, a family of four in Pennsylvania can expect to spend an average of $9,903 annually on just food alone. 

But, overall, the cost of food in Pennsylvania is only 5% more than the national average, and it is known for its availability of fresh produce across the state. Many local farmers' markets and stands sell fresh produce at lower costs, making fresh ingredients much more available than in other parts of the country. 

Photo of a Philly cheesesteak from above on a wooden cutting board

Home to one of the biggest cities in the nation, Philadelphia is known for its iconic Philly cheesesteaks, Philly soft pretzels, and some amazing restaurants ranging from high-scale to trendy and casual. The average cost of a meal in Philly is around $70 for two people when eating out, while the rest of the state is much more suburban, and meals typically cost around $25 without drinks. 

Overall, the cost of food in Pennsylvania is similar to the rest of the country. But, if you live in some of the more urban areas where nice restaurants and upscale grocery stores are more prominent, you should expect to pay more for food both at home and outside of the home. 


Public transportation is available in all counties across the state of Pennsylvania, but most residents choose to own their own vehicles, especially in the more suburban areas. The average cost of public transportation per month is around $96 compared to the national average of $102, making it an affordable option, especially when living in the most congested cities. 

If you are moving to Philadelphia, one of the larger cities in Pennsylvania, public transportation is going to be your cheapest and most reliable source of getting around. In fact, the SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) is one of the most comprehensive bus/subway/commuter-rail systems in the United States. Each weekday, over 1.3 million riders take roughly 819,000 trips on the SEPTA, making it one of the top transportation systems. 

Traffic of cars driving into Philadelphia

The average gas price in Pennsylvania currently is around $3.63. But, if traveling on major roads in the state, such as the PA Turnpike, there is also additional tolls that will be added to your total trip expenses. The state of Pennsylvania is known as a linking state to some of the biggest cities in the northeast, such as New York and Washington D.C, causing the roads to get constant wear and tear from millions of vehicles utilizing its roads, including large trucks and semis. 

Due to so many vehicles using its roads and weather conditions fluctuating throughout the year, Pennsylvania roads are known to be dangerous and crowded. Many residents that utilize these roads every day complain about the constant pot-holes and traffic conditions, making their everyday commute sometimes frustrating as well as expensive. 

The last expense to consider when moving to Pennsylvania with your own vehicle is parking. If living in cities such as Philadelphia, parking can cost a lot on top of your monthly expenses. The average cost of parking in Philadephia is around $275 a month or $9 a day on top of your other monthly expenses. If living downtown, the parking options are limited and often expensive. But, if living in some of the more suburban areas outside of the city, parking is sometimes included in your housing costs. Just make sure to see what parking is going to cost you before bringing your car to your new Pennsylvania home. 


When moving to a different state, you should research what your health insurance will cover if you already have a plan and, if not, how much it will cost you. In Pennsylvania, the average cost of health insurance is around $473, depending on your plan. Although many jobs will come with health insurance plans and coverage for their employees, some independent contractors or other jobs won't provide their employees with any health insurance causing them to have to purchase their own. 

Let's take a look at what a visit to the doctor would look like cost-wise in Pennsylvania with no insurance. 

  • Primary Care-$130-$200
  • Dentist-$75-$200
  • Dermatologist-$150-$200
  • Vision-$115
  • Physical Therapy-$75-$150
  • Emergency Care-$2,200


The current average national sales tax is between 4-7%, with Pennsylvania's current sales tax at 6%. This means that Pennsylvania is in the top percent for the tax they place on top of goods and services. But sales taxes are not the only taxes you have to worry about when moving to a new state. Let's take a look at some of the tax facts in Pennsylvania. 

If you are making a move: 

  • The average property tax in Pennsylvania is 1.36%.
  • The tax rate for the Pennsylvania inheritance tax is 4.5% for direct descendants, 12% for transfers to siblings, and 15% for non-heirs. 
  • Pennsylvania makes no provision for capital gains
  • There is no estate tax in Pennsylvania 


Is Pennsylvania a good state to move to?

Pennsylvania is a great state to move to for multiple reasons. Being the central location to many major cities as well as having great cities and neighborhoods itself, this state is full of art & culture, rich history, and stunning landscapes. 

Is Pennsylvania expensive? 

The cost of living in Pennsylvania is only 1% above the national average and much lower than many other northeastern states. With many housing styles and designs to choose from in unique cities at lower costs, the housing market here is known for getting more for your money. 

What salary do I need to live in Pennsylvania? 

The minimum wage in Pennsylvania is much lower than in surrounding states at $7.25 an hour, but the average salary here is around $67,587. Depending on what living comfortably looks like to you, before moving to Pennsylvania, make sure you will be able to afford the housing, transportation, food, utility costs, and more explained above to figure out what salary would be ideal for you. 

Cost of Living in Pennsylvania- Final Thoughts 

Pennsylvania is a great place to live for individuals looking for a lower cost of living with a diverse selection of home styles, types, and locations, from large urban cities to more suburban areas with vastly stunning landscapes. 

With great school districts and safe neighborhoods as well as countless things to do and see, this is a fantastic place for a family, college student, or young professional. If you or anyone you know is moving to Pennsylvania, make sure to contact us here so that we can connect you with one of our Realty Specialists. No matter your budget, location, housing preferences, and style, we will work tirelessly to help find you the perfect home. 

Check out some of our other local guides: 

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.