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Renters’ Guide to Bethlehem
Otherwise known as the “Christmas City”, historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a large city with a small town feel that’s tucked away on the far eastern side of the state. Surrounded by beautiful pine-scented woods and divided evenly by the Lehigh River, Bethlehem, PA is one of three cities comprising the Lehigh Valley (the other two being Allentown and Easton), and it’s where students, professionals, artists, couples and families all co-mingle and prosper. At the same time, Money Magazine recently declared Bethlehem, PA No. 1 on its “Best Place to Retire” list, making this area a great place to stay even after you’re done earning a living.
Bethlehem, PA is the largest city in Lehigh Valley, just barely larger than Allentown, but 3 times smaller than Pittsburgh, and 7 times smaller than Philadelphia. Living in Bethlehem means you’ll enjoy a close proximity to both rural and urban destinations. Bethlehem, PA is 76 miles northeast of Lancaster (otherwise known as “Amish Country”), but yet also 69 miles north of Philadelphia, and 81 miles east of New York City. Thus, you can easily spend an exciting day in the city and be back home the same day.
The weather in Bethlehem can be somewhat sporadic and unpredictable, and Bethlehem weather averages can vary widely from year to year. Spring has a fair amount of rain, averaging 55°F. Things tend to dry up in the summer, which is usually hot and humid, averaging 72°F. Rain resumes in the fall, averaging 55°F. Winters average 32°F and typically receive a good amount of snow.
Bethlehem, PA Demographics
- Total Population59,414
Female 28,684Male 30,730
- Median Age37.6
Cost of Living in Bethlehem, PA
The cost of living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is comparatively lower than most other places in the United States. Although a meal in an inexpensive restaurant in Bethlehem costs $15.00 ($2.00 more than the national average), and a dozen eggs cost $2.89 (which is over $0.25 more than national average), at the same time, a pound of beef costs $5.00 in Bethlehem (which is almost $0.25 less than elsewhere). Most telling of all, however, is the cost of monthly utilities for a 915-square foot apartment, which is only $130 on average in Bethlehem—a full $18.00 cheaper than the national average.
LANTA runs a total of 6 local bus routes that will take you everywhere from downtown Bethlehem to nearby Allentown and Easton. The average cost of a bus ticket in Bethlehem is $2.00, with day passes going for $4.00 and annual passes costing $660. Children up to 5 years-old and seniors 65 years and older ride free, while students and the disabled can ride for $1.00. The average commute time is 22 minutes (3 minutes faster than the national average), and most locals here drive to work.
Living in Bethlehem, PA
Aside from being beautiful and clean, affordability is a large reason why you should move to Bethlehem. A higher-than-normal property tax is offset by low sales- and income taxes. However, even though Bethlehem is well-populated, true thrill-seekers may see its relaxed atmosphere as one of the negatives of living in Bethlehem, PA.
Things to do in Bethlehem
Bethlehem is surrounded by fun cities to visit, but it’s not without its own worthwhile attractions & points of interest. Couples’ attractions include the Bethlehem movie theater as well as great restaurants in Bethlehem such as Fegley’s Bethlehem Brew Works (with legendary happy hour specials), Frank’s Pizza, the Apollo Grill, and nightlife at the Corked Bar and the Sands Casino Resort. Or you simply might just want to tee off by yourself at the Bethlehem Golf Club (voted “Best in Lehigh Valley” for multiple years). Shopping opportunities include local businesses as well as chain store classics such as Home Depot, Petsmart, and Lowe’s.
For family-friendly attractions (and free things to do in Bethlehem), the Bethlehem Baptist Church and Bethlehem library are great places to take your children, while the Bethlehem Township Community Center has an indoor pool and plenty of recreational activities to keep neighborhood families engaged and involved. The annual Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA) runs the full musical gamut with everything from polka and country, to oldies and funk rock, and the Blueberry Festival offers everything from pies to ice creams.
Employment and Economy
Bethlehem, PA enjoys a multitude of prosperous industries, including manufacturing, educational and social assistance services (as well as healthcare). Bethlehem Steel originated here, but now the city produces everything from silk to spices, and even snack foods; national giants such as Hot Tamales, Peanut Chews, and Mike and Ike are all proudly headquartered in Bethlehem. Meanwhile, OraSure Technologies produces HIV and drug tests, among other medical applications, and St. Luke’s Hospital further boosts the strong employment opportunities.
Bethlehem, PA Households
- Total Number of Households23,698
Family 13,967Non-family 9,730
Children 6,444No Children 17,253
- Average People Per Household2.37
- Median Household Income$48,536
- Median Housing Costs Per Month$1,004
Education in Bethlehem
The Bethlehem Central School District serves thousands of students in Bethlehem and nearby New Scotland. Liberty High School (Bethlehem, PA) is the larger of the two schools in the Bethlehem Area School District, the smaller one being Freedom High School. In addition to offering a strong standard education, Freedom High School students can choose to go to the Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School to learn technical trades. The Bethlehem Catholic High School and Bethlehem Christian Academy provides strong alternative faith-beach teachings.
Bethlehem, PA Education Statistics
- No High School4%
- Some High School39%
- Some College25%
- Associate Degree7%
- Bachelor Degree16%
- Graduate Degree10%
Tips for Renting in Bethlehem
If you are renting in Bethlehem, then know that your landlord must provide you with a 32-gallon trash container. They must also provide you with an additional 32-gallon trash container for every additional person you share the rental unit with.
If you are moving to Bethlehem, PA from NYC, be prepared for a slower pace and a lower cost of living. Also, try not to be too surprised when you finally start getting to work on time, or even a bit early!
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