10 Reasons Not to Move to Erie, Pennsylvania

The walkway leading to the Erie Harbor North Pier Light, at the inlet in Presque Isle State Park Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie, Pennsylvania is home to one of the Great Lakes. However, this might be the only “great” thing about this city. Should you move to Erie, Pennsylvania? Here are a few reasons why you should reconsider doing so.

1. Snow

Erie has been recorded as one of the snowiest cities in America, and for good reason. Pennsylvania itself has always been a snowy state, it gets incredibly cold in the winter and the state itself is constantly humid. On top of the usual thick coat of snow that the rest of the state gets, Erie also deals with a winter attack from another front: Lake Erie.

Lake Erie is one of the great lakes, and for the most part, it is one of the best parts of Erie. It’s a vast, beautiful body of water complete with beaches, fishing, and boating. But in the winter, that beautiful lake becomes a curse. The lake is so deep that it doesn’t cool off entirely or freeze over during the winter. When freezing cold air passes over the warmer waters of Lake Erie, it picks up moisture. Once it’s over the lake, it drops that moisture in the form of snow, causing massive overnight snowstorms.

This is called Lake Effect SnowOpens in a new tab., and it has led to snow falling by the foot overnight in Erie, canceling plans and preventing citywide travel. Living next to Lake Erie means that any winter morning might cause you to wake up to snow up to your neck outside, so you will need to purchase a good shovel or splurge on a snow blower. Erie weather doesn’t improve this later in the year, as it remains dark and cloudy during every season.

2. Drug Problem

No city is untouched by drug peddling and addiction, but it seems to have hit Erie harder than most. Not only are there frequent complaints from residents over the smell of marijuana being smoked publicly, but a harder drug has taken the streets.

Opioids are some of the most addictive and harmful drugs around, and they’ve caused an epidemic in Erie. Opioids are one of the most common drugs to overdose on, resulting in many preventable deaths from drug addiction in Erie. In 2021, 100Opens in a new tab. people died because of rugs, and 80% of those deaths were the result of a fentanyl overdose. It’s possible those numbers should be higher, as those with drug problems often hide their addiction from others.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic did nothing to quell those numbers, and led more people suffering from the fear and depression of isolation to turn to drugs. Even if drug users don’t overdose, addiction can cause severe bodily harm over time and ruin people’s futures.

Urban areas like Erie tend to have a bigger drug problem than the country naturally. Other factors, like rising poverty and even the cloudy, cold weather could be contributing to the rising drug epidemic in Erie. Whatever the reason, it’s best to give Erie a wide berth because of the drug trafficting.

3. Poverty

Poverty has been rising in Erie for some time. The median income in this city is only $37,894Opens in a new tab., which is drastically lower than the nationwide average of $65,712. The rate of people under what is considered the poverty line for Erie is 26.2%, more than twice the national rate of 12.3%.

Several factors contribute to high poverty in Erie, including a poor job market, low wages, and high cost of living. There’s also the fact that Erie isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis. There aren’t a lot of things about Erie that draw people in, so the economy just isn’t growing the way it should. It’s as if the city itself is stagnant.

Poverty in a city affects more than just the people under the poverty line. It can lead to higher drug use, a lower budgets for city expenses like parks and schools, and increase crime rates. It puts a lot of strain on the population as a whole and is very unfortunate. It’s not clear whether Erie’s other issues cause higher poverty rates or the high poverty rates lead to those issues. Both, however, are in a dangerous cycle that is sucking the life out of Erie.

4. Crime

crime scene tape in building with blurred forensic team background

Crime in Erie follows seasonal patterns, with crimes spiking in the summer months and decreasing in the winter. I suppose it’s hard to commit a crime when there is four feet of snow on the ground and you can’t drive because of the ice. However, drug-related crimes have been rising in recent yearsOpens in a new tab..

Property crimes, or crimes dealing with theft or damage to a person’s belongings, have actually been declining a bit. Violent crimes, however, make up for that decrease.

Rates of aggravated assault in Erie are drastically higher than any other form of violent crime. High rates of crime, especially violent crime, are making Erie residents feel uncomfortable walking around town alone, especially after dark. Many don’t feel safe even in broad daylight and use self-defense methods like pepper spray to feel more confident when going anywhere.

If you are ever in Erie, don’t spend your free time hanging out in dark parking lots or alleys. In fact, you might not want to hang out in any well-lit ones either. Avoid traveling alone and let friends or family know when you are going places at night.

5. Behind the Times

Many citizens of Erie complain that the city just isn’t moving forward or growing. There isn’t a lot of expansion in Erie, and there aren’t a lot of new ideas taking root. Legislation in Erie seems content to let it run the way it always has, even if that means ignoring modern problems like the rising drug use and poverty rates. Most of the businesses in Erie are older ones that were established decades ago or chain stores like Walmart and Target.

This lack of growth is a blow to the Erie economy, which requires new ideas and new businesses to remain alive. The lack of growth can make it hard for Erie residents to have a successful upward career and progress the way they should. Many young people in Erie feel stuck in a town that just isn’t adapting as fast as the world around it.

This lack of growth can also lead to less of a tourism trade, and since Erie depends largely on tourism to stimulate its economy, that could potentially cripple this old city. If Erie doesn’t catch up soon, it may just be left behind by a population that wants something more than yesterday’s news.

6. Unemployment and Other Eemployment Issues

As of May 2022, the unemployment rate of Erie was at 4.6%Opens in a new tab., which is actually lower than it had been in previous months. While unemployment in Erie is bad and has had severe spikes in recent years (going up as high as 16.8% in 2020) the biggest issue seems to be the wide wage gap in Erie. It’s just not possible to get ahead.

While there is a population of Erie residents with higher paying jobs, the majority of the Erie residents are working for minimum wage, which in Erie is about $8. Citizens of Erie will get entry-level jobs paying minimum wage, but then aren’t able to expand on their career and progress to a higher paying position, so the majority of citizens are just stuck working crappy paying jobs their whole career.

There have also been issues with companies demanding high credentials, like a bachelor’s degree and years of experience, for jobs that don’t pay any more than $30 an hour. This disparaging economy is probably what is contributing to the high levels of poverty among residents and is caused by the lack of progression in Erie. The economy just seems to be living about twenty years in the past and doesn’t offer residents real opportunities.

7. Cost of Housing

Paying for housing in Erie isn’t easy, not so much because the houses are overly expensive, but because the housing prices don’t reflect the current Erie economy. The house ownership rate is at 50.9%Opens in a new tab., which is lower than the national average of 64.1% by more than 10%! Since housing costs are actually below the national average, this is a bad sign. Erie seems to have a lot of surface-level success that doesn’t match what is actually happening in the city.

As mentioned previously, it’s hard to get ahead in the Erie economy, so paying for your own house can quickly become a distant dream rather than a reality. Since housing is pretty high on most people’s priority list, that lack of good, affordable places to live makes Erie an unpopular city to move to.

Housing-related taxes are also high in Erie, adding to the high cost of living that just doesn’t reflect the low wages paid to Erie residents. This is also adding to the stagnation of Erie, as people can’t move into new residences and can’t have successful careers. Don’t let yourself get stuck in Erie, or you might be there forever.

8. Low Funding for Education

The lack of funding for schools isn’t limited to just Erie, unfortunately. According to one study, 86%Opens in a new tab. of public schools in Pennsylvania don’t receive adequate funding. That means more than every 3 out of 4 schools don’t have the money to provide the best education for you or your child.

Most states in America don’t properly fund more than half of their schools, but the number in Pennsylvania is still higher than 45 out of 50 states. Inadequate funding can result in schools not being maintained as much as they should be, a lack of school supplies, lower salaries for teachers, and can even result in teachers being let go.

Education is the future of society and is a huge part of a growing child’s life, so the fact that Pennsylvania legislation can’t scrape together enough funding for 86% of their schools shows poor leadership and budgeting. This lack of education may also be part of what’s contributing to Erie’s lack of progress. Prioritize learning and don’t move to Erie.

9. Humidity

The lake causes massive dumps of snow on Erie’s residents, but it also contributes to the high humidity in Erie. Humidity is caused by a high amount of water in the air, and it makes everything a pain, especially during the summer. Humidity is uncomfortable and can make you feel like you’re in a sauna when you’re just in your backyard, and though Erie summers aren’t overly hot, they feel more suffocating than they really are. The heat just clings to you more in humid weather than it does in dry weather.

Humidity is also the enemy of food everywhere. It makes it harder to keep food good and makes everything that isn’t vacuum sealed go bad in minutes. Humidity can also cause increased amounts of mold and mildew, so you have to make sure you air out your dishwasher when it’s finished, the bathroom after you shower, and any other sources of steam that could cause mold or mildew growth in your home.

10. Low Population Growth

Is it any wonder that nobody wants to live in Erie? With the lack of opportunities and various issues, the population in Erie is steadily declining. This only contributes to the stagnation problem in the city. Between 2018 and 2019, Erie saw a population decline of .91%Opens in a new tab., as the people who could leave the city have been leaving in droves.

Erie is one of those cities that used to be urban and full of life, and saw a lot of growth, economically and population-wise. But in recent years, it’s just started to fall apart. While some do like the smaller population and see it as Erie starting to resemble a small town more than it used to, to me it’s a red flag.

Large cities like Erie are old states like Pennsylvania should be growing and moving forward, but Erie isn’t. This city just remains stagnant, and nobody seems to really care that it is It’s only a matter of time before Erie fades away completely. Don’t move here unless you want to watch a cold, dark city slowly fall apart.

Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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