Moving to Philadelphia, PA: Relocation Guide & Tips
Are you looking to move to Philadelphia soon? There are many factors to consider, such as what neighborhood you’re going to live in and if you’re going to buy your home or rent. Let’s take a look at some of these components to help you make your decisions.
1. Cost of Living in Philadelphia
Housing is generally where most of your monthly expenses will be allotted, and you have the choice to rent or to purchase a home when you live in Philadelphia. According to the RealtyHop data on homes for sale in Philadelphia, the median home cost in Philadelphia is $220,000, which is more than the median for the entire state of Pennsylvania, at $171,000.
Where in the city you live will play a role in this, with housing in the city center often being smaller and more expensive than housing on the outskirts of the city. For instance, the price per square foot for an apartment in the city center is approximately $304, while outside of the city center it falls to $106.
Many people rent when they come to Philadelphia, and you’ll have lots of options to choose from in a variety of neighborhoods from Germantown to Fishtown. According to RentHop, Philadelphia is one of the pricier cities in the United States. One bedroom rental units tend to run approximately $1,375, while two bedrooms cost roughly $1,485.
Living closer to the city center tends to be more expensive than living away from the city center of Philadelphia. A one-bedroom rental near Center City can cost about $1,900, while apartments can be had closer to $1,000 in neighborhoods further out from downtown.
Food and Utilities:
The website SmartAsset put together averages for monthly utilities and food depending on where you live. In Philadelphia, the average utility bill is $150.06, including water, garbage services, heating, and electricity. Cable TV or internet is an additional cost, with a month of internet costing roughly $57.31 in Philadelphia.
Food prices tend to be higher than average in this city, with an estimated cost of $378.22 for one person for a month’s groceries. That doesn’t include eating out, specialty groceries, or eating organic, which runs the total up higher. In fact, eating out will cost you an estimated $12 per meal for an inexpensive lunch for one, while two people eating at a nice restaurant will cost upwards of $55.
The sales tax across the state of Pennsylvania is 6%, but Philadelphia adds to that, for a total of 8%. It also has a flat income tax rate that runs at 6%, which Philadelphia adds to as well, tacking on an additional 3.924%. Property taxes are lower here than in other parts of the state, with a taxed rate of 0.925%.
2. Tips on Moving to Philadelphia
When you’re thinking about moving to Philadelphia, you’ll want to have some idea of how much you can afford to spend, as well as where you might want to live. There are a few things you’ll want to either think about ahead of time or have prepared for when you move.
Documents for Moving: When you are looking at renting an apartment or house, the necessary documents may vary, but you’ll likely need several key things. First, you’ll need proof of employment and income verification. You may need to present a credit report or authorize the landlord run one. You’ll also likely need references from previous landlords. You’ll need some of these same documents for a mortgage, including a credit report and proof of income and employment.
Must-Haves: When you’re planning for a move, you need to determine what aspects you have to have. Do you need to be able to walk to your new job, or will you have a car? If you’re a sports fan, does being closer to the stadium matter more to you than how big your apartment is? Decide on amenities you might be able to do without, as well as places you might want to live. The ability to compromise is key here.
When Will You Get There: You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to find a place to live if you can, but sometimes you have to move in a hurry. Most places need at least a couple of weeks to get you moved in, while giving yourself one or two months to plan can help reveal all of your options.
Living Alone or Not?: Are you going to be living by yourself or with roommates? If you’re moving to Philadelphia to attend school or start a new job, these places might be able to help you make connections. Living with someone else definitely presents a significant cost savings and may allow you to afford a nicer or larger place to live.
Vehicles: Are you going to be bringing a vehicle with you when you move? That can impact where you live by giving you more options and flexibility for travel. It may cost you more, however, as you can have parking fees and even added trouble finding a place to park.
Finding a Place to Live: You can find a place to rent or own in a myriad of different ways. The most common ways would be with an apartment finder or realtor. With so much available on the internet, you can begin your search before you ever leave your current home.
Some useful links for your housing search:
Trek Around the Neighborhood: When you’re looking for places to live, you can scope the area out by hitting the streets. Walking around the neighborhoods that you’re interested in has a few benefits. First, you get to decide if you actually like the area, more than just reading about it on a computer screen allows. You can also find signs offering places for sale or rent by owner that might be even better than what you find listed. Some areas will also have community boards, where you might find your next roommate.
Philadelphia has more than forty ZIP Codes dividing the city. There are many divisions in the city, each further divided into neighborhoods, such as General Hospital and East Germantown. Here are some of the most popular for you to check out:
Chestnut Hill is conveniently located close to the City Center, but it’s not so close that you pay the price for it. It’s considered a safe place to live and has plenty to do. This neighborhood has more museums, parks and theaters than any other in Philadelphia, so you’d be hard pressed to get bored with so much to experience.
In the heart of Philadelphia, you’ll find University City, which is home to several major – you guessed it – universities. The area has a thrilling nightlife to support the students, with plenty of clubs, culture, and good food. You don’t have to be college-aged to enjoy this area either.
East Falls provide the best of suburban living while firmly located within the city. It runs alongside the Schuylkill River and contains parks and gardens. It is very family-oriented with lots of outdoors activities to take part in, but you don’t have to have children to enjoy the atmosphere. Bring your pooch and sit in the park, soaking up some sun.
First of all, how fun is a name like Fishtown? You’ll find this area to be a haven for hipsters. It has undergone extensive gentrification, with many of its warehouses having been converted into storefronts or restaurants. You’ll enjoy the vibe here.
This is the heart of Philadelphia. It is more expensive than other areas, but it’s close to just about everything you might want or need. You could walk to work and enjoy the nightlife that comes with such a bustling atmosphere.
This neighborhood is up-and-coming and is going to likely follow Fishtown as the next gentrified major neighborhood in Philadelphia. The rent is cheaper here, with some places so affordable it’s a steal with how close it is to Center City, providing you an affordable place to live combined with the convenience of living in the city.
You’ll find history to be a major part of Old City, so if you’re a history buff, you’re sure to love it here. It features many of the same things as Center City, including easy transportation to get around, but it has less of a concrete jungle feel to it.
Graduate Hospital is considered one of the best kept secrets in Philadelphia. Like East Falls, it is very family friendly. It is filled with great places to stop and get a bite or to shop. You’ll find it easy to navigate, and your home might even come with a yard, prime real estate in this city.
This neighborhood is Philadelphia’s own Little Italy. In addition to being home to some wonderful restaurants, it is home to an Italian market. There’s room to stretch out here, as it’s located outside of downtown.
The neighborhood Washington Square West is home to some of the most diversity in Philadelphia. It is the center of the LGBTQ community. You’ll find park space to enjoy, as well as many small businesses to frequent.
When you’re in Philadelphia, you’ll find that the public transportation system is one of the best in the country. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, also known as SEPTA, is in charge of a vast system of buses, commuter rails, and subways. You’ll also find the PATCO line, which connects Philadelphia to Southern New Jersey and transfers thousands of people every day to destinations like their work.
You’ll find lots of options for taking the commuter transportation, including the SEPTA Key. This fare program allows you to pick the fare system that works best for you, from the monthly TransPass to funds to use similar to the old token system. You can also pick up an Independence Pass, which allows unlimited travel for a set period of time. You can figure out what option will work best for you and buy it, with lost card protection for some plans such as the SEPTA Key.
Check out the SEPTA Transit Map below.
Source: Visit Philadelphia
Bringing a Car?
You may need to decide if you’re going to bring a car when you move to Philadelphia. In some neighborhoods, it would be very helpful, especially if things are too spread out to walk comfortably. In other areas like Center City, you can easily walk from place to place.
If you do bring a car, one of the most important things to consider is where to park it. You’ll find plenty of parking garages throughout the city where you can stash your car for an hour or a week. There are also thousands of metered spots that you can park at around the city. Don’t get towed – park in an appropriate location and learn the rules of the road to abide by in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is one of the more expensive cities in the United States to own a car. The average cost, according to CNN, is $10,672 per year for car ownership. Gas prices are also high compared to the rest of the country, with the average cost in according to numbeo.com being $2.99 per gallon.
Whether you bring a car or not, you might find yourself in need of a ridesharing service, such as Uber or Lyft. While these services tend to be safe, you also have the option of traditional taxi cabs. You can find these cars all over the city, especially in major transportation hubs, including the Philadelphia International Airport and 30th Street Station. You might even have use for a car-sharing service; these include Maven and Enterprise Car Share.