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Bethlehem for Irish expat

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northern ireland
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Bethlehem for Irish expat

Hi,

I'm considering a lecturing job at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. I'm Irish and presently live in Ireland. Obviously if I get offered the job I'll want to visit Bethlehem before accepting. I wanted to ask, however, what Bethlehem would be like to relocate to? Anyone have any tips on cost of living, accommodation, food, restaurants, cultural scene etc? any advice gratefully received. thanks!

Center Valley...
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1. Re: Bethlehem for Irish expat

Hi, Less!

Welcome to the forum!

I've lived in the Bethlehem area for a little over three years...before that, I lived in two different major metro areas in the Midwest for five years...and before that I lived in small town Midwest. So I've seen a range of COL areas.

Bethlehem isn't cheap, but it's not NYC expensive either...rental on a 1 bedroom apartment in Bethlehem will range anywhere between $600 (small apartment over a restaurant or office) to $1200 (larger apartment in a nice complex). Smaller, single family homes will run anywhere from the $190k-$225k, depending on the neighborhood...at about $250k you can get into a nicer neighborhood or a larger home...really nice homes start at about $300k and then go up from there. While the prices are nowhere near NYC, so they are extremely expensive compared to the midwest, where small town homes are very inexpensive (sub $100k in many markets). Aside from housing, most of the other costs are pretty similar to other American cities...gas has been running $2.25-$3/gallon all summer...and my husband & I eat fairly well for $100/wk in groceries (and we eat a lot of organics/farmers market items).

The Lehigh Valley (the area in which Bethlehem is located) is a mecca for food, in my opinion. There are dozens of locally owned restaurants that are phenomenal. Everything from classic American cooking to Asian food...you can find it here. People have said that the new Emeril restaurant has put Bethlehem on the food map...but the rest of Bethlehem's food far outshines that new restaurant. Plus we have several large farmers markets and a great grocery chain with 3 locations (Wegmans - they have great produce, meats & prepared foods)...you won't go hungry!

Bethlehem has a little bit of everything to offer. There's Musikfest each summer...one of the largest music festivals in the US, with every kind of music you can imagine. We just had Celtic festival a few weekends ago. There are little festivals all the time...two weekends ago was Greek festival and last weekend was the harvest festival. Most of the small towns have a few parades a year and a festival or two on their own. Plus you are within 75 minutes of both NYC and Philadelphia, so if you are craving big town experiences without the hassles of big city living, they are close by.

We ended up here by accident (my husband got a job here out of college, so this is where we came). While the Valley is growing, sometimes I miss the large variety of things to do that I did when I lived in larger cities...and often by the time I get done with work at 6 pm on a Friday, the last thing I want to do is drive into NYC to see friends. But it's a fairly affordable place to live and there really is a lot to do. I think we'll like it better once we buy a home and get a bit more settled.

Definitely come and visit...and make it an extended visit, I'd suggest. We only came out for about 4 days to find an apartment before we committed to moving, and while our apartment was fine, I think a longer visit would have given us a better feel for the area and we wouldn't have picked the far away apartment that we rented. Now we live on the Hellertown/Bethlehem border and really like it...within 15 minutes of everything we like.

northern ireland
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2. Re: Bethlehem for Irish expat

Thanks so much for this!

3. Re: Bethlehem for Irish expat

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