The North Hills is Pittsburgh’s bedroom. For years, it’s been one of the region’s hottest places for people working in Pittsburgh to build a new home. Seemingly overnight, an old golf course becomes a housing development, a patch of trees transforms into a subdivision and a farm turns into a neighborhood.

Even as the recession ravaged new home construction nationwide, builders kept hammering away in the North Hills. In 2009, at the height of the housing crisis, the North Hills remained a bright spot and one of the busiest for homebuilders in the entire region.

The Draw

What attracts developers and homebuyers to the North Hills? One big reason is the quality of schools. Districts like Hampton Township and North Allegheny School District consistently rank among the region’s best. Beyond their boundaries, several other North Hills school districts are regularly recognized for outstanding quality. This abundance of high-quality educational options continues to draw parents north. Even homebuyers without children recognize that strong schools translate into a strong resale value for their new home.

New homebuyers are also drawn to the many, diverse and ever-growing shopping options in the area. From the luxury labels at Ross Park Mall, to all the value-based staples like, well, Staples, plus Target, Lowes, Home Depot – and just about every big box imaginable. Now, with the opening of the service-oriented

McCandless Shopping Center and the imminent resurrection of Northway Mall, residents rarely have to go far to find what they need.

Another lure for new homebuyers is the relatively easy commute to the city. Drivers from the north typically have easier drives to and from work than their counterparts south, east and west of the city. Why? Well, residents from the north dodge two major obstacles: aging roads and tunnel monsters. The completion of I-279 in 1989 paved the way for the unobstructed growth of North Hills into a cluster of bedroom communities.

The North Hills has enjoyed rapid growth in part because the name is somewhat of a misnomer. In a region known for its widespread hills and valleys, the suburbs north of the city are notably flat. The steep hillsides that may limit development elsewhere are far tamer in the North (so-called) Hills. For developers, these gentler slopes mean less time and money spent preparing sites for construction.