Five Reasons to Move to Happy Valley

By  Travis Johnson 

Considering a move to Happy Valley? You’re not alone. Statistics from 2010-2014 from the Pennsylvania State Data Center show that Centre County is the second fastest growing county in the Commonwealth. It’s no wonder. State College continues to rank on national “best” lists, including placement on CNN’s 100 Best Places to Live and Launch a Business, and the #1 spot on Movoto’s Happiest Small Place in America. 

It’s not unusual for Penn State alumni of all ages find their way back to Happy Valley, but it’s also become a destination for business owners, young professionals, families and retirees. Some people might ask, why? Why move to the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania?  

Because it’s actually the center of everything.  

In Happy Valley, we have a lot of what you want and very little of what you don’t.  The secret’s out: Happy Valley has mastered having it all.  

College Towns Are Great for Business

A highly educated talent pool and access to resources like research and technology make Penn State’s Innovation Park ideal for start-ups or business relocation. In fact, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, all over Happy Valley from the start-up boot camp and a business incubator to various networking groups and co-working space. Check out Innovation Park at Penn State (www.innovationpark.psu.edu),  Centre Region Entrepreneur Network (http://www.meetup.com/Centre-Region-Entrepreneur-Network/), and New Leaf Initiative (http://newleafinitiative.org/).  

We’re Healthy & Happy

For a town that has plenty of cow pastures on its outskirts, State College also is home to plenty of bell cows – trend-setters if you will – when it comes to health and fitness. It’s not an uncommon sight to pass handfuls of locals jogging or riding bikes during your morning commute or evening ride home from work.

And State College residents have seen results. According to statistics released by countyhealthrankings.org, Centre County ranks second out of 67 Keystone State counties when it comes to healthy outcomes and factors. 

Numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation and fitness exist while Mt. Nittany Medical Center and Geisinger Medical Group provide plenty of health options for residents. 

It’s not hard to find a gym, either, as there are at least 12 workout facilities downtown. Those options present themselves to all body types and fitness levels, too. For those who lack desire to run on treadmills or ride stationary bikes, there are other outlets for physical activity. 

Tussey Mountain offers winter sports during the cold season and also is one of many golf options in the spring, summer and fall. Penn State offers two courses while Skytop Mountain and Belles Springs Golf Course and Philipsburg Country Club are short drives away.

State College also comes in at No. 45 on Sperling’s Best Places list of the country’s top green cities, so you won’t be jogging or exercising through smog clouds anytime soon. 

Roadtrip Central

Central PA is the perfect staging point for a nearly every major city in the Northeast East. Ask a local and they’ll tell you, “it’s four hours to anywhere.”

Clocking in at just two and a half hours, thanks to the addition of I-99 from Tyrone to State College, Pittsburgh is close to make a day trip for a Pirate game. Philadelphia to the east is little farther at just over three hours.  Be in Baltimore in under three hours or in New York City in four. 

If you prefer flying, University Park Airport connects to Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington/Dulles, Chicago and has weekly Saturday non-stop flights to Atlanta (March 7 through August 29). Check schedules at universityparkairport.com. 

A Safe Place

State College has been consistently ranked among the safest, most secure places to live in the United States.  Sperling’s Best Places – which uses U.S. Census data in its reports – ranked State College the safest small metropolitan area to live in the country out of 117 towns.

Meanwhile, Farmers Insurance Group of Companies ranked State College No.2 behind Ithaca, N.Y. in its list of Top 20 most secure small towns (fewer than 150,000 residents) in America. 

This aspect of life in Happy Valley appeals especially to families, young professionals and retirees looking for a place to live where they get out and about enjoying recreation, events and attractions.   

A sports fan’s dream

Happy Valley is home to the second-largest American football venue – and fourth-largest on the planet – in Beaver Stadium. 

The 55-year-old, 107,282-seat complex that sits on the corner of Porter Road and Park Avenue is the centerpiece of a town that has almost countless venues and sporting options for the casual fan to the diehards (www.gopsusports.com/facilities/beaver-stadium.html).

Penn State boasts 31 sports and many of them draw national headlines including the football, basketball, wrestling and women’s volleyball programs. Wrestling and volleyball have turned in long streaks of dominance on the national stage the last few seasons and call Rec Hall home. The men’s and women’s basketball teams play in the Bryce Jordan Center that also doubles as a concert venue.

Penn State’s baseball team plays at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, also home to the State College Spikes, a Single-A, short-season minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinal (www.statecollegespikes.com). The Spikes won their division in 2014, but even non-diehard fans love the community appeal of a minor league team.  Promotions, giveaways, kids’ activities and more make Spikes game a major draw all summer long.  

Hockey fans now have a state-of-the-art facility to enjoy Division I hockey inside the Pegula Ice Arena. The arena will enter its third year of use next season. The Pegula Ice Arena also features a public sheet of ice that is open normally for public skating sessions (www.gopsusports.com/pegula-ice-arena/).

Football is, of course, the main draw – and the tailgate parties that come with each college football Saturday – is the main draw. The spectacle alone is worth a visit regardless of your fan affiliation. 

Discover for yourself

For the creative and curious there are seemingly infinite ways to spend your time in Happy Valley. Not every amenity, facility, activity or opportunity is listed here but this guide should suffice to get new visitors started.

If you’re making a permanent move or just visiting for a few days, it won’t take much time to find a way to occupy your free time. Newcomers will quickly find out – State College has a bustling night life, a vaunted arts scene and plenty of wide open space that are just waiting to be explored.

Back to Top