What do you do when a Penguins-loving city girl falls in love with a suburbanite Capitals fan? You find common ground and move to a community that offers a mix of city life with a suburban feel: Mt. Lebanon.
Both Brian, my now husband, and I grew up north of the Allegheny River. We always thought that’s where we’d end up. It was close to family, and the North Hills life was what we knew and loved. I mean, you had to cross bridges and go through tunnels to get to the South Hills. That wasn’t happening!
I ventured out during my single years and moved to the East End. I’d become a city girl through and through. There is something quaint about a walking community with tons of independent shops. And running, it was so easy to run. Brian was working in Mt. Pleasant at the time and owned a town home in Cecil Township. It made logical sense for me to move into his home at the end of my lease. But there was no way.
We fought for months trying to pick our new home. I work in Robinson so the North Hills was going to be far away for both of us. Me being me, the only place across the river I agreed to was Mt. Lebanon. I called it the city away from the city. It had a main street with restaurants and coffee shops that I could frequent. Everything was walkable. It was the perfect common ground that we were looking for.
But I had to convince Brian that was the case.
As a last-ditch effort we drove out to Mt. Lebanon to scope out the neighborhood. Of course Totopo (now one of our favorites) was on the agenda, as was a detour to L.J. Marks. Spoiler alert: That’s where Brian found my engagement ring.
But it took time for us both to realize where we really belonged.
Brian ended up changing jobs and sold his home; we squished into my tiny basement studio apartment and got engaged.
Our search for our new home started in December 2019. Accepting a long commute, I grudgingly agreed to move to the North Hills. We spent months house hunting in Shaler, Ross, West View … COVID struck and it felt hopeless.
For a while we couldn’t view houses, yet we were watching them fly off the market. We put offers in and just hoped for the best.
Finally, we had an offer accepted on a split entry in Ross Township. It was sight unseen, but the family was nice enough to let us in to see what we were about to purchase. I cried as soon as we pulled up. The plan was directly off the main road, and there were so many glaring issues. The doors were held together with 80 pounds of caulking, the floor was separating from the wall, the siding was green and so, so much more. Out of frustration, we did the inspection. It got worse. They told us the entire house needed rewired. We ran.
So we began to look in Mt. Lebanon.
The community drew us in. We’d make day trips to Uptown and get lunch at Totopo and Jade Grille, scoped out all the ice cream places and watched the sunset from the high school. Everyone was willing to stop and chat. It was love.
Frequent visits finally convinced us both that this was the place we needed to live.
We found a house on the Lebo/Castle Shannon border, on Vermont Avenue, that we absolutely loved. It checked all the boxes. As it turned out, there were no compromises.
So here we are: Two North Hills natives living our best life in the South Hills.
Lebo became our city away from the city with an amazing school district and wonderful people. This town has everything we’ve ever wanted for our future family and there’s still so much more to experience.