Have you heard of The Boomerang Effect in Pittsburgh? The Boomerang Effect is when someone who is originally from Pittsburgh moves away for some time and then moves back to the ‘Burgh again.
I set out to talk to several Pittsburgh “Boomerangers” to hear more about their experiences and the motivations, surprises, and new perspectives that accompanied them.
This series is divided into Part 1 and Part 2. Six different individuals are featured here and more will follow in Part 2.
Beth Mormer is a Speech Pathologist at UPMC who lives in Lawrenceville. She grew up in the city and went to Penn State for college. Afterward, she moved to Korea to teach English for a year and then did her graduate studies in Madison, Wisconsin. Beth found that moving away exposed her to different ways of living and gave her a new perspective on Pittsburgh when she returned. She is enjoying the art and social activities here, plus reconnecting with other friends who are starting to move back too.
“I think that the neighborhoods make Pittsburgh unique. There’s such an individual character to each neighborhood. And there’s a cranky warmth about Pittsburgh that you don’t find in other places. People aren’t always the warmest when you first meet them, but then once you get in with them, they’ll do anything for you. People here are very genuine.” -Beth
Dwayne Waite Jr.
Dwayne lives in Dormont and is a Marketing Associate at Schell Games. He left Pittsburgh to attend college at Elon University and work in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dwayne wanted to explore other big up-and-coming cities, but he felt like Pittsburgh never left him. He returned because he wanted to start a family and own a home here. Some of the things he loves about the city: Pirates games, the craft beer scene, the increasing diversity (in most areas), and the rise of the tech industry.
“I never realized how much Pittsburgh cared about its city, history, and roots until I explored other cities. Pittsburgh makes intentional moves to preserve its identity.” – Dwayne
Anson Reppermund grew up just outside of Sharpsburg. He’s a Field Robotic Specialist who spent one year living in the Chicago suburbs working for Montrose Environmental. He moved back to Pittsburgh because his brother-in-law started working at Gecko Robotics and thought that Anson would excel there. Anson currently lives in Morningside and likes attending family events, his network of Ultimate Frisbee friends, and the culture and amenities that Pittsburgh offers at an affordable price.
“I don’t have a degree so I resolved that I would have to move for work early in my career (I’m 26) to work my way up the ladder. I had also been thinking for the last year or so that a startup might be a good way to show my potential, and if there was any city I was going move back to, it was going to be Pittsburgh.” – Anson
Adam owns a contracting business. Due to a job promotion, he and his wife spent time living in Dallas, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina before returning to Pittsburgh to raise their son around family. While they loved the other cities that they lived in, they also realized that Pittsburgh has a lot to offer. Adam appreciates that Pittsburgh is not too big or too small and that it’s close to the mountains, lakes, and outdoor activities. He also sees a lot of growth opportunities in business here now.
“With a younger and overly ambitious mindset, we felt like we had outgrown Pittsburgh in terms of business opportunities. And more importantly at the time, we did not want to live through another winter! However, my wife and I learned that climbing the corporate ladder and making more and more money can only provide so much happiness.” –Adam
Kathy is from Squirrel Hill and has since moved back there. She lived in Washington, D.C. and New York City for eight years total. Now she attends the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. She credits her time in fast-paced New York City with influencing how she conducts her life now—she’s become accustomed to jam-packed days! Kathy loves the sense of community in Pittsburgh and pride for the city.
“I came to a point in my job where I realized that if I wanted to do graduate school, now was the time. Pittsburgh made the most sense for me in terms of family and finances, and I knew that I would likely eventually want to end up here.” – Kathy
Robin currently works in the restaurant industry, but she is seeking career opportunities in Ecology. She moved from Pittsburgh to work in California for the US Forest Service studying carnivore populations in the Sierra Nevada mountains. She also pursued an MS degree in Wildlife Ecology in South Carolina. Living other places helped her see that cultures can be very different, but that there are good people everywhere. She moved back because Western PA is the ecosystem that she knows and loves the best.
“Pittsburgh has gotten a lot more ‘hip’ over the years, which is cool, but was also kind of shocking. I love the restaurants, music, and the huge variety of things to do, but I never want this city to lose its down-to-earth grit or forget its blue-collar roots.” – Robin