State College proper is a home rule municipality located in Centre County, Pennsylvania, formally identified as the Borough of State College. In general, however, State College is the name applied to the Borough of State College plus the five municipalities immediately surrounding the Penn State University Park Campus: the townships of College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton. These municipalities make up a cooperative political entity known as the Centre Region (under the guidance of the Centre Region Council of Governments, or COG). Then comes the idea of “Happy Valley,” but that’s a different story.
Whatever you call it, this is an easy area to call home. The weather is not prone to extremes. The schools are excellent. The economy is stable and healthy. The people are welcoming, and the community is vibrant and engaging, providing high-quality lifestyle amenities for every stage of life!
In the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of the Borough of State College was 42,034, with about 105,000 people living in the entire Centre Region. The Borough of State College has a total area of about four-and-a-half square miles.
State College is situated in the Nittany Valley at an elevation of approximately 1,200 feet above sea level. Two stratigraphic ridges primarily define the Nittany Valley: Tussey Ridge to the south and east of State College, and Bald Eagle Ridge to the north and west. Both ridges are referred to by a variety of local names.
Tussey Ridge extends southward below the Mason-Dixon line to near Flintstone, Maryland and northward several miles to the area known as Seven Mountains. Bald Eagle Ridge is part of a chain of ridges that extends southward to Tennessee and northward to near Williamsport, which makes it popular with glider pilots and soaring birds.
The centerpiece of the Nittany Valley is the picturesque Mount Nittany, which rises 2,077 feet above sea level to the east-northeast of State College. The quaint village of Lemont is nestled at the foot of Mount Nittany.
State College and the surrounding areas are considered safe places to live. In 2013, the CQ Press ranked State College as the third-safest metropolitan area in the United States, and year after year, the FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics routinely support the view that State College and the rest of Centre County are safe places to live.
The State College area has a relatively moderate climate with occasional high and low extremes. Temperatures average 26.5 °F in January and 71.7 °F in July. Annual precipitation averages 38.4 inches, with an average of 45.7 inches of annual snowfall. The lowest temperature recorded was -20 °F on February 10, 1899 and the highest was 102 °F (39 °C) on July 17, 1988 and July 9, 1936.
The area is prone to cloudiness, however, with only an average of about 180 sunny days each year, compared to the national average of about 205 sunny days.
And while the area is not particularly active seismically speaking, the “Great Centre Hall Earthquake” provides us with a bit of local lore. Occurring shortly after 3:00 a.m. on August 15, 1991, the minor temblor measured slightly less than 3.0 on the Richter scale and is credited to the slipping of a shallow, small fault, which was estimated to be about the length of a football field. No damage. No injuries. Lots of stories.
The economy of the State College area has long been healthy and stable with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. As a result, the real estate market is typically sheltered from extreme swings that can be found in other areas of Pennsylvania and the nation. While some years will be higher and some years will be lower, over the long-haul, my experience indicates it is reasonable to expect a home purchase in the State College area to appreciate in value by about 3% per year.