Life in Centre County

Centre County, PA, is known for big city amenities nestled in a relaxed country atmosphere. The county is dotted with warm and welcoming communities, from historic small towns like Bellefonte and Lemont, to the larger metropolitan hub of State College. Residents enjoy a wide variety of recreational and cultural activities that make Centre County a unique yet familiar place to call home.

The fabric of our county consists of rural comforts like scenic nature, safe neighborhoods and a laid-back environment. Home to six Pennsylvania state parks, the area is ideal for hiking, biking, hunting and fishing. With The Pennsylvania State University's main campus here, you can also enjoy Big Ten football and basketball, as well as national touring musical and theater groups at the Bryce Jordan Center. And the State College metro area is ranked the second safest small town in which to live in the United States.

Combine this with excellent public schools, timeless architecture and a lively community of artists and you have one terrific place to live and raise a family! We invite you to explore the following sections to get a better feel for why Centre County offers a slice of life for everybody.

"What's it like to live in Centre County?"

Year after year, Centre County ranks highly in quality of life. Some highlights include:

  • The area is characterized by a moderate cost of living, an affordable housing market and one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
  • The county boasts the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania, as well as higher-than-average employment security.
  • Psychology Today ranked State College, the county's largest city, as the lowest stress city in the U.S.
  • Though Centre County is a great place to start or grow a family, it's a great place for singles, too! In 2007, Money Magazine also rated State College as the city with the highest percentage of singles in the country.
  • The weather is pleasant and seasonably varied, and the risk of natural disasters is low. Plus, the great outdoors are right out your front door, with activities that include camping, fishing, golfing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding.
  • Residents enjoy a vibrant cultural scene featuring a variety of events and activities, including:

"Tell me more about the Centre County area."

Centre County residents enjoy a high quality of life, low stress and a tightly knit community. Here are some general statistics about living in Centre County: 

  • Median home value: $167,200*
  • Homeownership rate: 60.6 percent***
    • Housing stock in Centre County varies greatly, ranging from low maintenance condos to new subdivisions to picturesque historic homes.
  • Population: 153,990*
  • Average household income: $47,966**

*According to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau statistics
**According to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau statistics
***According to 2005-2009 U.S. Census Bureau Statistics 


"What kinds of recreational opportunities are available nearby?"

No matter where your interests may lie, the Centre County region provides a host of choice activities for your own or your family's enjoyment: 

"Tell me about the region's school systems."

As home to a major research university, the Centre County region can't help but focus on education. This is a great area for students of all ages. 
  • Average student/teacher ratio: 17:1
  • Five well-respected school districts 
    • Bald Eagle
      • Bald Eagle Area School District was recognized by McGraw-Hill for its K-6 math program
    • Bellefonte
    • Penns Valley
      • Penns Valley Area School District ranks among the top 25 percent of PA school districts
    • Philipsburg Osceola
    • State College
      • Expansion Magazine ranked State College Area School District as first among 2,800 secondary districts nationwide
      • U.S. News & World Report ranked State College Area High School as 24th in Pennsylvania 
  • Quality charter and private schools 
  • Dual MBA and MD programs available at The Pennsylvania State University 

"What other employment opportunities are available in the area?

Centre County is home to a variety of employers and employees, including medical experts, business executives, teachers, professors, attorneys, artists, entrepreneurs, students, farmers and more. The top five employers are: The Pennsylvania State UniversityMount Nittany Health, the Commonwealth of PennsylvaniaState College Area School District and Wal-Mart/Sam's Club.

Centre County was named ninth in Forbes Magazine's 2004 list of "Best Smaller Metros for Business," and because Centre County is located within 500 miles of 40 percent of the U.S. population, the region is home to an expanding retail sector and business environment. Centre County is also developing a reputation as an incubator area for high-tech companies.

"Can you point me toward some other helpful online resources about Centre County, State College and the surrounding area?"