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Travel Forums North America Philadelphia

1. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi everyone,

Looking for information on what it's like to live in Philadelphia. I haven't been there yet, although I'm going down from NYC to do a bit of recon next week.

Hoping that any of you might be able to give some insight on:

- Social life/theatre or music scene
- Cultural activities
- Apartment renting/monthly rents/best areas to live in
- General vibe of the city

Or for any of you that know Princeton, do you think it's a preferable place to live than Phillie?

Thanks for your help!

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5159 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I've only been to Philly for two days and change, but that was at Halloween with a local for company, so I got to see probably more of the city than you'd expect for such a short time.

In short, I adored the place. The museum district is wonderfully roomy (and the one museum which I visited (the Rodin Museum) was great), while the old city (and further south) is really vibrant. They've got the best live music lineup evar! at the Tin Angel (if you happen to like singer-songwriters), some wonderful used bookstores, great theaters (the local worked at one, so that might be a biased impression) :D, and I felt people were generally really friendly. (I remember coming up from the airport train (?) with my heavy backpack and things, and people holding up doors for me and stuff.)
Of course, it's an American city, too; lots of poverty and dirt and grime. The inner city probably felt nicer than Chicago or San Francisco (hard to say since I know those places so much better, and so know all the good areas to go to; but probably fair when comparing just the city centers), but it's still no comparison to cities in Europe or Oceania.

I'll see if I can get said local to comment on rent/areas to live.

[ Edit: Edited on Nov 10, 2008, at 2:39 PM by Sander ]

3. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Sander! Well, that's a pretty good recommendation right there :)

Looks like I'm moving down there in the New Year, so trying to decide between living there or in nearby Princeton. Did you visit there while you were in that part of the world?

I'm going to miss New York!! :( But life's not dull anyway which is always good!

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5159 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Oh, and I nearly forgot the absolute very best thing about Philly: Wawa!
It's a great chain of convenience stores, where they make delicious sandwiches exactly to order (ordering via a touchscreen, which back in 2003 was quite impressive.)

Never been to Princeton, alas, so I can't compare. Maybe the local can though; he should speak up any minute now. :)

5. Posted by mightymu (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Philadelphia! I lived there for six years, just moved away a week ago. Here's my input:

Basics - As a city, it's a mix of dense downtown and urban sprawl. The 'Center City' area, located between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers and between Spring Garden street on the north and South Street on the south, is where a majority of attractions are located, including arts and entertainment, restaurants, and bars. The rest of the city falls into the following categories: South Philly (south of South St.), West Philly (west of the Schuylkill river), North Philly (north of Spring Garden St.), and Northeast Philadelphia, which is the weird little arm of the city that follows the Delaware River north and east away from Center City.

Transportation: SEPTA, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, is usually adequate. They operate city busses, regional commuter rail, and the subway lines. Busses are your typical urban bus service - inconvenient schedules, often crowded, and not exactly sparkling clean. However, they usually get you where you're going. Their coverage of the city is pretty good. The subway lines are similar, except for coverage. There are only two lines - the Broad Street line runs north-south along Broad St, and the Market-Frankford line runs mostly east-west along Market St., with a turn to the north at the river. The Regional Rail lines offer service out to the suburbs, from three stations in Center City and West Philly. I never owned a car while I lived there, so I can't really comment on driving. Parking lots abound, though, and there's on-street metered parking in most of the city. There are also neighborhood parking permits, which allow you to park on the street in your neighborhood. I guess without a permit, you get ticketed.

As far as cost of living goes, a good guideline is that the closer to center city, the more expensive. The (IMO) nicest neighborhoods to live are the Rittenhouse Square area and Queen Village/Bella Vista. Both are very beautiful, very safe, and very expensive. The 'up-and-coming' residential area is a neighborhood called Fishtown, in North Philly, about a 10-minute drive to Center City. It's undergoing a large gentrification at the moment, but is still affordable.

My strongest recommendation of a neighborhood goes to South Philly. That's where I lived for the past 17 months. It's a geographically large area, heavily Irish-Italian-union, but with many ethnic sub-neighborhoods - Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese, etc. Residential buildings are almost entirely row homes, but there are a few apartment buildings scattered about. Major retail is confined to two shopping centers, pretty easily accessible by car and bus.

I hope this helps you in your decision, and I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you might have.


6. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

That's amazing - thanks John! :) I'm going down there next week to check it out, so I might go and see some of those areas you mentioned. Sounds like you liked living there - all positive so far ....:)

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