Are you thinking about moving to Reading? My husband lived in Reading for almost two decades and wanted to provide a list of the honest pros and cons of living in Reading.
Known for its deep roots in the railroad industry, Reading has been a noticeable part of Pennsylvania since its foundation in 1748.
The town was a thriving hub for commerce and culture with its booming job market and harboring many museums and art galleries.
But is Reading a good place to live in 2024?
While attractions like the Pagoda and its railroad route make Reading an interesting city, many factors remain to consider when deciding to move there. So, let’s check the pros and cons of living in Reading, PA.
Check out: 8 Best Places to Retire in Pennsylvania
- Is Reading, PA a good place to live?
- Pro: Affordability
- Pro: Natural Beauty and Recreation
- Pro: Diverse Population
- Pro: Location
- Pro: Education
- Pro: Low Crime Rates
- Con: Struggling Job Market
- Con: Air and Water Quality
- Con: Limited Nightlife and Entertainment
- Con: Public Services
- Con: Infrastructure
- Con: Transportation Issues
Is Reading, PA a good place to live?
Absolutely, especially if you have the flexibility of a remote job.
In that case, you’ll find that the benefits of living in Reading far outweigh the drawbacks.
The affordability here is a standout feature, allowing you to snag a three or four-bedroom home for less than the cost of a new pickup truck.
The job market may be a bit tight, but if you’re working remotely, that’s not a concern for you.
Diversity is another big plus, enriching the community in so many ways.
If you’re into fishing, you’ve got some pretty decent spots within walking distance—just don’t plan on having a fish fry with your catch. For families, the educational scene is bolstered by two excellent Catholic elementary schools.
Culture and history are woven into the fabric of the city, from the civic center to the Rajah, not to mention the rich architectural heritage.
Foodies won’t be disappointed either, with restaurants like Judy’s, Doubletree, and Casa de Chimi offering diverse dining options. And let’s not forget Marvel Ranch!
When it comes to outdoor activities, Reading doesn’t disappoint.
The Schuylkill River trail, Neversink Mountain trails, and Mount Penn offer hiking and an incredibly challenging mountain biking trail for the adventurous. In terms of safety, the city has robust fire departments and decent police coverage.
So if you’re someone who can bring your job with you and are looking for a place that offers a high quality of life without the high price tag, Reading might just be the perfect fit for you.
While the economic conditions are worsening countrywide, life in Reading remains considerably affordable! According to Numbeo, the living costs in Reading are significantly lower than the national average.
The lesser living costs of the town allow you to get the most bang for your buck and live a comfortable life at considerably lower prices!
Apart from the lower living costs, the median housing costs in Reading fall significantly behind the national average. While the national average for median costs is around $231K, the median housing costs in Reading are approximately $78K.
The lower median housing costs ensure the availability of housing options. So, moving to Reading can be your chance to enjoy a comfy life and still buy properties at reasonable prices.
Pro: Natural Beauty and Recreation
With its location in the heart of Berks County, Reading has its unique touch of beautiful scenery and many outdoor activities.
The town is home to various natural areas and parks, including the French Creek State Park. With so many natural parks in proximity, residents are always partaking in activities like camping, boating, hiking, and fishing.
Reading is also close to The Schuylkill River, renowned worldwide for its beautiful views. Living in Reading presents you with an opportunity to explore nature and enjoy the many recreational activities present in the area.
According to Uncovering PA, the best recreational spots in Reading include:
- The Pagoda
- Nolde Forest
- Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Pro: Diverse Population
The low living costs and the friendly atmosphere of Reading give many people a reason to relocate, resulting in a diverse community throughout the town.
Various aspects of the city point towards the cultural diversity of the city, including the local food scene.
Reading is home to various restaurants offering different cuisines from around the world.
Reading pushes foodies to their limit, opening them to new experiences and delicacies.
The city’s diverse culture also results in many events occurring throughout the year.
There are many opportunities to keep the fun going, whether enjoying the Puerto Rican Festival or the Greek Bazar.
In short, moving to Reading will allow you to experience friendly faces across the town and live a joyous life.
Although Reading is a comparatively small town, its location at the heart of Berks County puts it close to various metropolitan cities.
New York is located only an hour’s drive away from the town, whereas Baltimore is located at the distance of a few hour’s drive.
Moving to Read allows you to enjoy the peace of a small town while attaining all the amenities of a metropolitan city.
As a Reading local, living here will open doors to many activities of other cities like New York, ensuring that there is always something for you to do.
So, if you grow tired of Reading’s nightlife, you can always make the drive and enjoy the activities and visit places in the world-renowned New York.
With many prestigious institutes nationwide located in Reading, the town gets a good reputation for its education.
The town harbors many renowned educational institutes, including Penn State Berks, Albright College, and Reading Area Community.
The abundant educational institutes make Reading a good option for families looking to continue their children’s education or for individuals wishful to continue their education.
Studying from top-notch institutes in Reading is a great opportunity to kickstart your professional career and learn skills that may prove useful in progressing your career.
According to Yelp, some of the best institutes in Reading, PA, include:
- Penn State Berks
- Albright College
- Reading School District
Pro: Low Crime Rates
According to the information provided by the Reading Police Department, there has been a steady drop in crime over the last few years.
Reading used to have a bad reputation in the past decade as one of the most dangerous cities in the US, but that’s not the case anymore. What happened? I don’t know, maybe the troublemakers moved out since people here are poor and there’s nothing to steal from them.
Con: Struggling Job Market
Since Reading is a considerably smaller town, there are not many employment opportunities in the city. Although you will find a job in the town, likely, the job won’t suit your preference.
While the healthcare and manufacturing sectors in Reading are pretty active and have many opportunities available, the other domains are lagging significantly.
The lack of jobs in the town affects the poverty rates. Although the job market in Reading is improving with every passing day, finding jobs here won’t come easy.
Similarly, the jobs available in Reading don’t pay as well as those in cities close to the town.
Since you may not find a job suited to your preference and caliber, you might need to travel to nearby cities to find work opportunities and advance your career.
So, expect to make long journeys to commute as you find work opportunities in cities like New York.
Con: Air and Water Quality
While you can enjoy the outdoors in Reading, there are some concerns about air and water quality that you’ll want to keep in mind.
Sure, there are some pretty decent fishing spots within easy walking distance. Sounds great, right?
Well, hold your horses—most locals will tell you not to eat the fish. Why?
Because there are questions about the cleanliness of the water. It’s not just about the water where you might catch a fish; it can extend to local rivers and streams, too.
As for the air, it’s not something you’d notice day-to-day, but Reading has had its struggles with air pollution.
It’s not at the crisis level, but if you have respiratory issues or small kids, it’s something to consider.
You may find that you need to stay indoors on days when the air quality index isn’t looking so hot.
Con: Limited Nightlife and Entertainment
There are some decent spots to grab a bite or catch some live music, but if you’re someone who thrives on a bustling, diverse nightlife scene, Reading might leave you wanting more.
You’ve got your standard bars and a couple of theaters, like the Santander Arena & Performing Arts Center, which bring in some big-name acts now and then.
But compared to bigger cities, the options here are a bit limited.
So, if you’re the kind of person who likes to hop from a swanky cocktail lounge to a late-night dance club to an underground indie music venue—all in one night—you might find the options a bit narrow.
Con: Public Services
If you’re expecting the kind of seamless, state-of-the-art services you might find in a larger city, you could be in for a bit of a reality check.
Take public transportation, for example. It’s there, but it’s not exactly the most efficient or expansive system.
Buses run, but maybe not as frequently as you’d like, and they might not take you everywhere you need to go.
If you’re used to the convenience of well-planned public transit, you might find yourself leaning on your car more than you’d prefer.
Then there’s the issue of public utilities and maintenance.
Power outages aren’t uncommon, and let’s just say the snow removal situation in winter leaves something to be desired.
You might find yourself shoveling your path more often than not.
While progress has been made in revitalizing Reading, the city requires ongoing attention and investments.
The past investments and initiatives, such as the Our City Reading project and the involvement of organizations like Centro Hispano, have laid a foundation for improvement. However, the city still faces issues related to economic growth, housing, and community engagement that require ongoing and enhanced efforts.
The transformation of multi-unit properties into single-family homes and the rise in property values have been positive steps, but the need for more affordable housing remains.
Con: Transportation Issues
Getting around can be a bit of a headache. If you don’t have a car, you’ll quickly notice the public transportation options are pretty limited. You will realize that things like getting to work or running errands are more complicated than they should be.
And if you do drive, watch out for the roads. They’re not always in the best shape, and the last thing you want is a surprise trip to the mechanic because of a pothole.
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Hi, I’m Ashley a freelance writer who’s passionate about personal finance. Ever since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by the power of money and how it can shape our lives. I’ve spent years learning everything I can about budgeting, saving, investing and retirement planning. So if you are looking for tips, advice, or just a little bit of inspiration to help you on your financial journey, you have come to the right place. I am always here to help, and I am excited to share my passion for personal finance with you.