New Residents’ Guide to Pennsylvania

A move to Pennsylvania can be confusing because of the variety of location identifiers. Use this guide to help you determine the taxing authorities and the school district of your new home.

Taxes are collected and services are provided at the municipal, school district, county, and state levels. Boroughs and townships are examples of

A home’s municipality, not its county or its zip code, determines its school district. Thornbury Township is part of both Chester County and Delaware
County but its residents all belong to one school district—the West Chester school district. Residents of Exton all share the 19341 zip code but its students attend schools in three districts— Downingtown, Great Valley, and West Chester—based on what township they live in.

School district names may correspond with a borough, city, or township name. They may reflect the original name of the area’s high school. They may be a permutation of regional names —Avondale, London Grove, and West Grove are all part of the Avon Grove school district.

Service and utility providers may not agree on the name of the place you live but they will find you for billing purposes. When in doubt, ask your Realtor®.

Here are other definitions that may help you:

Borough or City

The name assigned to one or more zip codes in the same geographical area and the name that may appear on a Pennsylvania map or in your GPS


One of 67 large geographical locations in the state containing boroughs, cities, municipalities, place names, post offices, school districts, townships, and/or villages


Boroughs and townships are municipalities

Place name

A name known to historians and locals but not your GPS or map program, often corresponding to the general area where two main roads intersect
or where a post office building used to be located

Post office

See Zip code and Place name

School district

One or more townships and/or boroughs banded together to provide education for the taxpayers’ children or neighbors.


How the locals determine who is new to Pennsylvania, especially telling if one lives in a township with an unpronounceable name like Uwchlan or Upper


Added to place names for historical reasons, often indicating a place existed before traffic was a problem

Zip code

How the United States Postal Service (the post office) knows where to find you