Bethlehem is being named one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in America.
Livability.com, a website ranking the nation’s most livable small and mid-sized cities, included Bethlehem after considering such factors as economic stability, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, and health care. Livability examined more than 2,300 cities (with a population under 500,000) based on more than 50 data points before grouping them into categories for its data-driven analysis.
“If you’re a young person looking for a fresh start, sick of living paycheck to paycheck due to insane rent prices and want to find a community that will welcome you with open arms, this list is for you,” Livability states in the report’s introduction released on July 19.
Bethlehem came in at No. 82 on the list; the No. 1 spot went to Madison, Wisconsin. Other Pennsylvania cities to make the list were Pittsburgh, coming in at No. 9; and State College, coming in at No. 85. Visit here to see the full list as well as Bethlehem’s entry. All the methodology used for the rankings can be found here.
Bethlehem’s reputation as the “Christmas City” was highlighted, as were its top industries and sectors, restaurants and entertainment venues, and high-quality educational institutions, such as Lehigh University and Moravian University, and Northampton Community College’s Fowler Family Southside Center.
“This former steel city has gone through a recent renaissance, and the Lehigh Valley is now a place that churns out patents for new products and is home to companies like OraSure Technologies and Crayola. Community traditions (there’s a Peeps drop on New Year’s Eve!), good schools, and impressive arts and culture complement the innovation,” the report states.
Bethlehem additionally was noted for its strong economy anchored by manufacturing and related industries. The city is home to such diverse employers as Lehigh Heavy Forge, a legacy of Bethlehem Steel; and Bowery Farming, which broke ground in December 2020 on its most technologically advanced project yet.
Livability recognized the Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network, noting the healthcare sector being a major employer for those living in the city and beyond. The report stated more than 5% of Pennsylvanians work from home with one of the largest economies in the country on top of a low cost of living in Bethlehem.
“Bethlehem is full of cafes, bars and co-working spaces for those looking to get out of a home office and plenty of parks for off-hours,” the report states. “All households in the city of Bethlehem have access to high-speed internet of up to 1,000 Mbps.”
The list highlighted such businesses as the Moravian Book Shop and amenities like Bethlehem Skateplaza; organizations like ArtsQuest; and restaurants like Tapas on Main. It also identified other nearby places to visit, such as hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail or kayaking along the Lehigh River.
The report mentions, as real estate sales hit historic highs and inflation began to uptick, more than 42% of the U.S. population has either moved or considered moving since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“… It is more important than ever that we create homes in places that are both affordable and functional for a diverse and growing population,” the report states. “Affordability is a core value for Livability, so we look for places that are growing wages and home values while maintaining an affordable cost of living.”
In addition to Livability’s list, Bethlehem’s 18018 ZIP code last year was ranked by Realtor.com as the 12th hottest ZIP code in America.
Average Commute: 23.1 miles
Median Home Value: $301,006
Median Household Income: $56,034
Total Population: 75,571
Median Property Tax: $3,798
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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at [email protected].