View From Lodi, CA Pittsburgh, PA: Ex-Steel City Feels More Like Home Everyday!

Even though I

to Pittsburgh, PA nine months ago, I`m still
torn between the East and West coast worlds.

I follow California`s mounting bad news daily. And I cross my fingers
that all my friends and former

Lodi Unified School District
colleagues will

keep their jobs
even though the state`s budget
crisis makes that unlikely.

But as I approach my

one-year anniversary
in Pittsburgh, the town feels
more like home. And California, where I was born and
raised, is

fading into a memory

One thing that makes

my transition
easier is my sense that California is
unmanageable and its

final, total collapse
is inevitable.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has proven recession-proof. As long as
that economic pattern continues, I pride myself on
having made the right decision to get out of California
while the getting was good.

In October 2008,

Business Week
named the U.S. cities where
residents have the best chance to comfortably survive
the recession. Pittsburgh

ranked seventh

What Business Week discovered is that

such as California, Florida, and Nevada that are buried
under a growing mass of foreclosures will be the most
devastated by the prolonged financial crisis. Cities

New York

that had large numbers of now vanished
financial sector jobs, as well as manufacturing towns

that suffer from weak sales of cars and
other durable goods, will feel the most pain.

Notice that neither


fits into any of those categories.

Once a steel town, Pittsburgh, now employs people in varied fields such
as biomedical, health, and education. None of those
suffered serious downturns. Two of Pittsburgh`s major
employers are the

University of Pittsburgh
and the

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Another similar study, this one by MSN Money, also recommended
Pittsburgh as one of the seven most recession-proof
cities for retirees.

Following the flock of snowbirds to warmer climes may
seem like the best way to spend one`s golden years. But
it may not be the smartest, especially during a weak

Warren R. Bland, the author of Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada

warns that "A retiree always needs to be
careful about where he chooses to spend retirement, but
with economic conditions changing so quickly it`s even
more important to make a good choice."

Accordingly, Bland observes that not all places are
created equal when it comes to weathering economic woes
like the

current real-estate slump
, credit crunch and
shrinking job market. Retirees who move to the wrong
city could suffer serious consequences.

Without a strong local economy, there`s less money for
social services, police patrols and infrastructure
repair. Witness, for example,

recent municipal budget strains. [With
a Shrinking Budget, Lodi Animal Shelter Struggles During
Peak Hours,
by Maggie Creamer, Lodi
, March 10, 2008]

Although the weather may not be as good as California`s,
states like Pennsylvania with a track record of slow,
steady economic growth and

home price appreciation
are ones that offer the
safest haven. These same places are also likely to
rebound more quickly when nationwide economic conditions

Pittsburgh`s cost of living is 5 percent lower than
lower than the national average. And although the median
sales price of existing homes fell in the northeast, the
drop was

significantly less precipitous
than it was on the
west coast.

What it all adds up to is that in the eyes of
professionals who study metropolitan areas, Pittsburgh
ranks as one of the nation`s best places to live.

In fact, in 2007 David Savageau, who has been compiling
the Places Rated Almanac
1981, named Pittsburgh “America`s Most Livable City”.
Rated `Most Livable` Once Again,
by Dan Majors,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 26, 2007]

Using the guidelines established by

(which previously authored the study)
Savageau applies the same formula to rate the 379
metropolitan areas he surveys. He analyzes nine
categories: housing affordability (cost of living),
transportation, jobs, education, climate, crime, health

, and ambience (museums, performing arts,
restaurants and historical districts).

Pittsburgh is the only city to finish in the top twenty
in each of the seven previous editors of the "Places
Rated Almanac".

To fully understand how a grand a city Pittsburgh is,
consider that it overcame its horrible 135th
place weather ranking to finish on the top of Savageau`s

Pittsburgh`s climate
is awful. But everything else
about it is great.

As I remind doubters, weather is only one determinate in

life`s quality

Joe Guzzardi


is a California native who recently fled the state
because of over-immigration, over-population and a
rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to
Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth
rate stable.

A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School,
Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It
currently appears in the

Lodi News-Sentinel