By Randi Petrello
For western Pennsylvanians traveling outside of the region for the Thanksgiving holiday, chances are you’re heading to Orlando, which is the fourth most popular destination for the holiday, according to a survey by Fly.com.
First on the list is New York City, followed by Honolulu, Las Vegas, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Cancun, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas.
From Pittsburgh, Orlando provides the logical holiday getaway with the kids since AirTran and Southwest airlines both offer easy two-hour non-stop flights – something central Pennsylvanians are a bit peeved about since both airlines decided to discontinue their non-stop service from Harrisburg to Orlando earlier this year.
"What happens is, a lot of people around here are forced to drive to Philadelphia or Baltimore, which isn't an easy drive," Scott Miller, a spokesman for Harrisburg International told the Orlando Sentinel. While the airport will still have connecting flights to Orlando via other carriers, "when you're traveling with a couple of young kids, you want to fly nonstop."
Florida's sunshine and laid-back vibe provides the perfect medicine for Pittsburghers who face the impending gray months ahead, but before you develop an itch to relocate to warm-weather environ like Orlando, be aware that finding a home there is becoming challenging. Home values in Orlando are on the up and up, seeing an increase of 8.7 percent over last September, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Also, coupled with a shrinking inventory, the prospects of finding a moderately priced home is difficult for homebuyers. A recent report from Zillow showed a 26.2 percent decline in inventory during the past year. The number of mid-priced homes declined the most, down 32.5 percent, followed by lower-priced homes at 23.3 percent.
“First-time homebuyers are being squeezed out of the market by falling inventory and the rapid influx of investors looking to buy basic homes to rent out to the growing population of people who have recently been foreclosed upon,” said Stan Humphries, Zillow chief economist, in a news release. “Investors are paying in cash and can close sooner, which is more favorable to banks and homeowners looking to sell.”
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's median home values have risen 7.5 percent year-over-year where the median home value is currently $87,000, according to Zillow. And, Pittsburgh is also facing a challenging housing market where inventory is down 18 percent since last year. This could be due to a silver lining - job growth, which brings an influx of buyers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates are lower in Pittsburgh than the rest of the country (6.6 percent vs. 7.9 percent).