Living in Happy Valley

You’ll love it here.

Routinely ranked among the best places to live in the country, State College and the surrounding areas provide a safe environment and public school system for your family, outdoor recreation in a breathtaking landscape, collegiate athletics and world-class entertainment venues, and a vibrant social scene for all ages. This ultimate college town offers it all, with the short commutes and the work-life balance that will let you take advantage of its opportunities and share them with your family and friends. Our community reflects both the diversity of a global Research 1 university and the warmth and small-town feel of a region where people get to know their neighbors and put down roots for generations.

We know that making a transition to a new home is hard—we appreciate the energy it takes to find housing, research schools and religious facilities, get a new favorite pizza place, and settle into a new routine. Our staff, a lot of whom are transplants themselves, are always available to share resources and chat about what helped them acclimate. We know you’ll learn to love Happy Valley, and we can’t wait to welcome you to the neighborhood.

Whether you’re a Penn State alum or not, working at the University and living in Centre County will feel like coming home.

The home life you’ve always dreamed of having.

Ask any State College resident what the best part of living here is and the first answer you’ll hear is the lack of traffic. For many people coming from larger, congested cities, a 15-minute commute and no endless stream of brake lights bookending the workday is a real sanity-saver. And with all of that extra time, you’ll be able to enjoy the amenities and activities that Happy Valley has to offer.

State College is also a safe community, the kind of place where neighbors help each other out and kids play outside in the summer until the street lights come on. The school districts provide a great public education, and there are numerous charter, private, and faith-based school options. The real estate marketing is thriving, too. Median home prices in State College proper hover around $240,000, which decreases the further away from the center of town you go. For healthcare, Mount Nittany hospital is right next to campus, and there are medical facilities for nearly every major specialty in the area.

Public School and District Information

State College Area School District
~6,900 students
9 elementary schools (grades K-5)
2 middle schools (grades 6-8)
1 high school (grades 9-12)
Delta Program (an alternative, democratic school for grades 5-12)

Area Private Schools
Center Learning Community Charter School (State College, grades 5-8)
Centre County Christian Academy (Bellefonte, grades K-12)
Grace Prep High School (State College, grades 9-12)
Nittany Christian School (State College, grades K-8)
Nittany Valley Charter School (State Colleges, grades K-8)
Our Lady of Victory (State College, grades K-8)
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy (State College, grades 9-12)
State College Friends School (State College, grades K-8)
Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania (State College, grades K-8)

There are also many options for kindergarten, pre-school, and early childhood care.


Bellefonte Area School District
~2,700 students
4 elementary schools (grades K-5)
1 middle school (grades 6-8)
1 high school (grades 9-12)
eLearning Academy (online learning option for district students)

Get outside and play.

For recreation seekers, State College is full of parks, green spaces, and trails and boasts a handful of golf courses, multiple community pools, and even a ski resort. Seated in Nittany Valley within the Appalachian Mountains, the community is surrounded by many national and state forests, lakes and rivers, state parks, and game lands perfect for hiking, biking, camping, climbing, fishing, and hunting. No matter where you are in town, you can see the stately Mount Nittany and its neighbors, Tussey, Bald Eagle, and Shiner mountains. To really consider yourself a local, you need to make the mile-long trek up to Mount Nittany’s peak and take in the majestic views of what is lovingly called Happy Valley.

So much to do and time to do it.

College towns aren’t just for college students—nestled in among mountains, campus buildings, and late-night bars is a vibrant, bustling community with something for everyone. The locals like to say that State College has one of everything and two of most things, from farm-to-table restaurants, microbreweries, and wineries, to big box stores, local boutiques, and everything in between. While full of life, the town is small enough that getting involved is relatively easy: residents have the time—remember those short commutes?—everything is local, and a lot of it is free.

The University draws big name entertainment acts to the Bryce Jordan Center, and the State Theatre downtown is a great place to catch a concert or film in an intimate setting. Residents can take advantage of the on-campus cultural events, such as touring Broadway plays, world-class musicians, and exhibits at the art museum. And sports enthusiasts are in luck—Penn State competes in nearly every sport imaginable, and State College has a Class A baseball team and modern stadium that’s fun for the whole family.

The summers are bucolic and quiet, perfect for dining al fresco downtown or lounging away a lazy Sunday at the Arboretum. But come September, the town buzzes with fans, alumni, and townies all decked out in their best blue and white, shouting “We Are!” as they pass. The atmosphere on a home football weekend in the fall is electric and unique, full of pride and excitement. No matter the time of year, there is always something going on, something to celebrate, and something to be part of.

Google Map

What’s it like to live in Happy Valley? Just ask us.

Your future colleagues have tagged their favorite places on a map so you can get an insider’s take on living in Happy Valley. From the best place to get wings to the most challenging hiking trails or favorite photo spots on campus, you’ll find lots of tips from those who live it every day.