Staying in my college town

Lizzie Diller stands on the University of Pittsburgh campus in a black gown with gold cords next to her grandmother, who is wearing a light blue skirt suit.
Lizzie Diller stands for a photo after her Pitt graduation ceremony, alongside her grandmother.

I grew up in a small town in southwestern Virginia. Anyone ever heard of Blacksburg? No? Ok, so anyone ever heard of Virginia Tech? Yeah, that’s what usually gets people nodding. Anyway, as I was growing up we would take trips to visit my grandparents in Pittsburgh. They lived in a stone house on Seneca Drive in Mt. Lebanon for decades. That house is where they raised my mom and my uncle.

My brothers and I had so much fun hanging out in Pittsburgh. We would take the trolley downtown to eat at McDonalds, ride the incline to the top of Mt. Washington and spend long afternoons at the Carnegie Science Center. We were very close with my grandparents and loved this city.

When it came time to pick a college, applying to a school in Pittsburgh was an easy decision. I still remember the feeling of getting the acceptance letter from the University of Pittsburgh and how excited I was! I even called my cousin and read the letter to him.

Then came a fantastic four year adventure. I thrived at Pitt and especially enjoyed being right in the middle of the city. Football games, opera, ballet, Phipps Conservatory and late nights at Hemingway’s for drinks and appetizers. It was all right here.

But I didn’t plan to stay. Living in the city, I noticed how difficult some things were, driving in particular. I didn’t have a car in college and always told myself “I will never have a car here.” So, it seemed logical that I wouldn’t live in Pittsburgh post-graduation.

Life has a way of surprising you, though.

After graduating from college, I found myself in law school at Duquesne University. Then, after graduating law school, I found myself living in Pittsburgh. It was just the logical choice. I had found a community here during the years I spent in school. I eventually married my husband—a true Pittsburgher—who grew up in the northern suburbs.

Now, I am planning on staying here long term. We have family here and want to raise our kids with all the amenities the area has to offer. Plus, seeing the Cathedral as I go through Oakland gives me a wonderful feeling. I get to relive the memories of being a student there, and I am reminded that the university is still a part of what makes this area so special.

When it came time to make a decision about my first home purchase, I knew exactly where I wanted to look. I am a proud third generation resident of Mt. Lebanon. First, in a condo. Then, a home in the wonderful Lincoln area, and finally in our (hopefully) forever home in Mission Hills.

Even though it wasn’t what I was expecting, there is truly nowhere I would rather live than right here in my college town. I am sure many other Pittsburghers and Mt. Lebanon residents feel the same.