Living in the Highlands as Young Professionals

by Kim and James Tierney

Late 2018 we told our real estate agent we were interested in buying a house closer to downtown. In fact, we gave the instructions of “find us something within a one-mile radius of Local Whiskey.”

Local Whiskey is one of our favorite downtown bars, and with James joining the board of 3 Dots Downtown, we figured a walkable life was right for us.

Kim and James in front of their home in the Highlands

We were lucky to find a house that is perfect for us. We have very little (read: absolutely no) construction skillsand the house we purchased was previously self-renovated by two engineers. It was move-in ready! It also had a fenced-in backyard for our two children… yes… we are that couple who calls their dogs children!

Penny and Dakota are both rescue dogs from PAWS, and they love the beautiful backyard. Mainly because it has a lot of squirrels and rabbits! The Highlands neighborhood also provides safe and beautiful walks to take the pups on. I think they’ve seen, smelled, and barked at every street in the Highlands.

The State College community is important to both of us. We are part owners of the newly opened Blue Brick Theatre located at 209 W Calder Way, home of Happy Valley Improv. As previously mentioned, James is a board member for 3 Dots Downtown and a frequent open mic performer at their Tuesdays on the Terrace event. The ability to be invested in State College as homeowners in the Highlands is important to both of us.

James performing standup in front of 3 Dots Downtown

Our entrepreneurial journey started in downtown State College when we participated in the Fast Track Accelerator program at the LaunchBox on Allen Street. We developed a mobile app to take pictures of all the pets in your ‘network’ and catalog them by species, breed, location, you name it! The amount of knowledge we received from the LaunchBox has been invaluable in starting the Blue Brick Theatre and helping to shape 3 Dots Downtown.

Kim doing touch-ups at Blue Brick Theater, 209 W Calder Way

We recognize the immense privilege we have being able to afford to live where we do and have access to our current lifestyle. We would love to see more access to affordable housing in the Highlands so more young professionals can have these same experiences. We applaud the State College Community Land Trust in their efforts to make this a reality and those on the Borough Council who believe in affordable housing initiatives.

James grew up in upstate New York where cows outnumber people. Always inspired by educators, James decided to attend graduate school for economics in hopes of inspiring future generations to study the discipline. The job-market journey led him to State College PA, where he taught large-lecture macroeconomic courses at Penn State for seven and half years before resigning to take on personal endeavors in December 2021. James currently owns Happy Valley Improv, is the treasurer of 3 Dots Downtown, and sits on the Transportation Commission. When not being busy, he enjoys golfing, spending time with Kim & the pups, and attending Penn State Men’s Basketball games.

Kim is a Southern California native who loves not having to plan her daily life around traffic (except a few weekends a year). She is a school psychologist in Mifflin County where she works with the K-5 population identifying strengths and needs and helping students, staff, and parents meet their goals. In her free time, she likes watching Happy Valley Improv shows, running, reading, working out at F45, and playing with her two dogs, Penny and Dakota. She can’t wait to grow old on Waring Ave.