Should I Move to Philadelphia? Yes, But Read This First

Posted on Nov 17, 2021

Welcome to the city of brotherly love: thousands of people move to Philadelphia every year from around the country for job opportunities, a fresh start, or simply out of a deep love for the city’s iconic cheesesteaks.

If you’re moving to Philadelphia this year, there are a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot. Here are some of the major things you should take care of.

Moving to Philadelphia: Where to Live

Neighborhoods in Philadelphia can be quite distinct and each street can have a unique flavor. Figuring out which neighborhood best suits your lifestyle will help ease your transition to Philadelphia. 

Neighborhood Guides:

How can you figure out which neighborhood is the best fit? Here are factors you should consider for any Philadelphia neighborhood:

  • Commute time
  • Parking
  • Rent/home prices
  • Safety (view safety map via Neighborhood Scout)
  • Walkability 
  • Restaurants/bars within walking distance
  • Home appreciation (view via Redfin)
  • Dog parks/outdoor areas
  • School catchment

If you’re planning on buying a home here, contact our Philadelphia-area team and set up a one-on-one meeting with an agent to discuss your needs and which neighborhoods could be a good match.

Life in Philadelphia: Navigating Public Transportation 

Though Philadelphia is one of America’s largest cities by population, it’s relatively compact. Many residents are able to get around by walking and using public transportation (though it’s more normal to have a car here than in NYC). 

Philadelphia’s public transport system (known as SEPTA) is now using key cards.

  • A monthly TransPass costs $96 and has a 240 ride limit. You can also pay ride to ride.
  • Add money to your account balance at a kiosk or via the SEPTA Philly website, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. 
  • The keycard can be purchased at any Fare Kiosk or SEPTA Sales or Ticket Office.

How reliable is Philly’s public transportation system? The subway system is reliable but does not extend to all locations in the city. Buses cover more ground, but arrival doesn’t always line up with the advertised time schedule. TransitView can be used to track the real-time location of buses around the city.

It’s worth noting that the city is highly walkable, and many popular neighborhoods are within a half hour’s walking distance of Center City.

Parking in Philadelphia

Because Philadelphia is compact, parking can sometimes be a problem. If you’re planning to use a car to get to work, you may want to invest in either a parking space or a home with a garage. Street parking is possible for most neighborhoods, though if you get home after 8pm in South Philadelphia, for example, you may find yourself circling for a spot for half an hour. 

According to the city’s DMV page, “All new residents are required to apply  for a Pennsylvania title and registration of their vehicle(s) within 20 days of establishing residency in Pennsylvania.” Once you’ve registered your car, it’s a good idea to apply for your residential parking permit as soon as possible. This will exempt you from the meter parking limitations in your neighborhood.

Tip: We recommend avoiding the Arch Street DMV in Center City unless you plan to show up a full hour early to queue - the line often stretches around the next block by opening time and takes hours to get through.

Making Friends in Philadelphia

One of the hardest parts of moving to a city - especially as an adult - is making new friends. For some people, this has become an even more difficult task now that work from home has limited their daily interactions with colleagues. Luckily, Philadelphia is full of both locals and other transplants eager to meet connections. Here's a few groups and places worth checking out:

  • Philadelphia 20 and 30s something social: this is a well-attended meetup group that frequently has 30+ attendees, with various in-person and online events scheduled throughout the week.
  • Ladies of Philly: this Facebook group is all about woman-to-woman networking. There’s plenty of meet-up opportunities here, and users swap tips on the best yoga locations, local financial advisors, and more.
  • Hiking Around Philly: Sometimes the best way to meet people is to get active! This hiking group finds trails near the city ripe for exploration.
  • Thrive: for the even more active, Thrive at City Fitness can serve as a great way to meet other gym-going folks. Any gym class, yoga class, etc. in the city can be a great place to start forming local connections.
  • SPIN Philadelphia: if you’ve never been to a ping pong social club, now’s your chance. Have a drink, take a paddle, and play a game.
  • Heyday Athletic: whether you're a competitive soccer player or just want to participate in a low-key dodgeball game, this is a great way to meet other locals.

Moving to Philadelphia: How to Get Your Stuff Here

Because your moving truck is going to need to take up some space, you’ll want to apply beforehand for a temporary no parking permit ($25 for most neighborhoods, $50 for Center City/University City) - you need to apply for this at least four days in advance, and the signs need to go up at least 24 hours beforehand. Keep in mind that some residents leave their cars for days at a time and might not see your sign - if you need a car towed, you’ll need to call the police first so that they can ticket the car. 

Don’t Forget the TAXES Part of Living in Philadelphia

Taxes can make a big difference when it comes to budgeting in a big city, and people are often surprised by the city’s wage tax. For employees who have jobs outside the city, it’s often worth it to live slightly outside of Philadelphia in order to avoid the 3.8712% tax on income.

  • Homeowners will be taxed 1.3998% of the assessed property value (this is a combination of city tax and school district tax)
  • Employees who live and work in Philadelphia must pay a city wage tax of 3.8712% on their income (3.5019% for non-residents)

While per capita taxing is fairly high in Philadelphia compared to other cities, the cost of living is often lower, ensuring that it is still a very affordable place to live.

Living in Philly: Local Places to See

You know the Rocky Steps, the Liberty Bell, and other well-known tourist locations in Philly. But where are the in-the-know places for locals? Here are a few spots worth checking out.

  • Graffiti Park: if you’re looking for a place to hang out during the day and take some amazing photos, check out the Graffiti Park. Officially known as Pier 18, the jetty was originally constructed as a terminal for Reading Railroad. Old tracks that reach into the sky are now covered completely with colorful graffiti illustrations: it’s an outdoor art gallery celebrating the city’s underground art scene.
  • Hop-Sing Laundromat: this “speakeasy” located in Chinatown is beloved for its secretive airs and amazingly delicious cocktails. It’s not really a secret anymore, but it’ll still impress your out-of-town guests. Just make sure you leave the flip-flops at home, keep your cell phone closed, tip fairly, and behave: 4,857 people have been banned from this bar so far for these types of infractions! 
  • Cira Green: Cira Green is an outdoor park located on the 12th floor of a U Penn building in University Park (West Philly). Philadelphia’s “park in the sky” has food, cocktails, and fun games available to play like cornhole and Jenga. 

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