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16 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia

Moving to Philly? With affordable housing, job opportunities in the healthcare and education industries, incredible arts and culture, and highly-rated universities, The City of Brotherly Love has become a top destination for people who want to live on the East Coast. Here are 16 things to know about living in Philadelphia!

Live in an Affordable Northeast City

Wondering what it’s like to live in Philadelphia? Because of its big-city amenities, The Birthplace of America is a great place to live for college students, young professionals, families with kids, and retirees alike. Even though the city has a cost of living that’s 3% higher than the national average, Philly is more affordable than other major East Coast cities like Boston and New York City. Additionally, Philadelphia offers residents affordable housing costs that are 20% below the national average, along with a higher median household income than the national average. Philly also ranks as one of the most trendy and affordable cities in the country due to its culture, history, and quaint neighborhoods!

Work in The City of Brotherly Love

Exterior view of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Photo via Instagram user @ dr_ravizzle

Photo via @dr_ravizzle

Living in Philadelphia gives you access to convenient employment opportunities in a variety of industries, including education, healthcare, business, retail, and hospitality. Besides that, residents find jobs with major employers, including 13 Fortune 500 companies—like the television, cable, and media company Comcast Corporation or the manufacturing company Crown Holdings. Find healthcare jobs in Philly at Jefferson University Hospitals, Penn Medicine, or Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Seek employment at area colleges and universities like the University of Pennsylvania. Pursue a career in hospitality with employers like Rittenhouse Hotel or GF Hotels & Resorts.

Settle Down in Great Philadelphia Neighborhoods

If you’re searching for the best places to live in Philadelphia, there are a variety of safe, affordable neighborhoods that could fit your unique lifestyle! Neighborhoods like University City, Powelton Village, and Spruce Hill/Cedar Park are popular among college students and those working in higher education, since the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University are conveniently located nearby. Some of the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia for singles and young professionals are Fishtown, Point Breeze, and Washington Square West, which are known for their urban housing, trendy dining and nightlife spots, and easy commutes into Center City. And Rittenhouse Square, Bella Vista, and Fox Chase are some of the best neighborhoods for families because of their friendly communities, close proximity to good schools, and abundant green space.

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Get Around with Local & Regional Public Transit

Public train transportation at sunrise. Photo by Instagram user @thefrancoleman

Photo via @thefrancoleman

While living in Philadelphia, you can find plenty of options for public transportation. Many residents—especially those out in suburbs like Chesterbrook, Swarthmore, and Berwyn—have personal vehicles for getting around. However, plenty of Philly residents can go without a car since they can take advantage of daily rides on one of the best public transportation systems in the U.S. In fact, 24% of Philadelphia residents use public transit to get to work! That’s because Philly is incredibly walkable and bike-friendly, and it has excellent public transit via the SEPTA and PATCO systems. By taking SEPTA buses, commuter rails, trains, and trolleys, you can travel all across the Philly metro, including to the Philadelphia International Airport and over the Delaware River into New Jersey.

Take Advantage of Philly’s Prime Location

Philadelphia skyline from the Schuykill River. Photo via Instagram user @dahkman20

Photo via @dahkman20

Philly is a traveler’s dream and is perfectly situated in the Northeast. Because The City of Brotherly Love is located near the Eastern seaboard, you can quickly travel by train to New Jersey, New York City, or Washington, DC. Philadelphia is also conveniently located near other major U.S. cities, like Baltimore, Newark, Annapolis, Princeton, and Wilmington, which makes traveling easy for locals who are embarking on a day trip or a short weekend vacation. If you’re looking to reach destinations farther outside of the city, Toms River, Hartford, Providence, and Richmond are all within driving distance of Philly.

Attend College in Philadelphia

Girl walking on a college campus with an umbrella. Photo by Instagram user @pavlosmixalis

Photo via @pavlosmixalis

If you want to pursue higher education, you can choose from tons of colleges and universities in Philly! Enroll in one of the nation’s top medical schools or top programs in engineering, marketing, management, and physical sciences at nationally-recognized Ivy League school, University of Pennsylvania (also called Penn or UPenn). Check out Penn’s University City neighbor, Drexel University, for a private college in Philadelphia that offers around 80 undergraduate programs and more than 120 graduate and professional programs. Thinking about a career in the medical or health sciences field? Temple University in North Philadelphia is well-regarded for its nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and medicine programs. If smaller liberal arts colleges are more your speed, consider excellent degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences at schools in the Philly suburbs like Swarthmore College and Haverford College.

Get Quick Access to the Great Outdoors

Trees with distant Philadelphia skyline at Wissahickon Valley Park. Photo via Instagram user @fowissahickon

Photo via @fowissahickon

Explore the city’s natural beauty at its many outdoor recreation spots while living in Philly! Take a guided tour to see unique sculpture gardens and mosaic art at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Escape city life at Fairmount Park, a 2,000-acre park that offers scenic trails for jogging or biking. Walk, run, skate, or bike along Schuylkill River Trail, a 30-mile path that extends from Center City to the Philadelphia suburbs and runs through Valley Forge National Historical Park. View the various species of wildlife or spend an afternoon fishing at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. Stroll along the boardwalk overlooking the Delaware River or enjoy waterfront activities like kayaking or boating at Spruce Street Harbor Park. Or stop by and explore dense forests and wildlife while hiking or horseback riding through Wissahickon Valley Park.

Study Up on Local American History

Founded in 1682 as one of the original Thirteen Colonies, Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., and the scene of many historic events in America—making The Cradle of Liberty a history buff’s dream. Explore the history of the Revolutionary War and learn how America fought for its independence at the Museum of the American Revolution. Discover the life and legacy of Philadelphia’s most famous founding father at the Benjamin Franklin Museum, then visit Ben Franklin’s grave at Christ Church. Visit Independence National Historical Park, where you can explore Philadelphia historic sites like President’s House, Second Bank of the United States, Declaration House, and Carpenters’ Hall. Stand in the birthplace of freedom where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed at Independence Hall. Don’t forget to see the famous Liberty Bell! Walk through the oldest residential street in the U.S., Elfreth’s Alley. Tour the Betsy Ross House. Or check out a number of other historical attractions in Philadelphia.

Visit Incredible Philly Museums

Philadelphia’s museum scene offers more than American history—in fact, spending time at the city’s amazing museums is one of the best things to do in Philly! See South Asian sculptures, French Impressionist paintings, and American art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. View exhibits featuring major events in American history, like the signing of the U.S. Constitution, at the National Constitution Center. Learn more about African American heritage, culture, and arts at the African American Museum. Check out Ancient Egyptian pottery, Roman statues, and other archaeological finds at the Penn Museum. Peruse through a variety of sculptures from one of the greatest collections of art from Auguste Rodin at the Rodin Museum. Find a number of wax models, pathological specimens, and antique medical equipment at the Mütter Museum. Or walk among dinosaur bones and dioramas featuring animals from all over the world at The Academy of Natural Sciences.

Check Out the Local Performing Arts

Maestro leading an orchestra performance. Photo by Instagram user @philorch

Photo via @philorch

Love the fine arts? Philadelphia has you covered there, too! Bring the kids to family-friendly musicals like Cinderella at Walnut Street Theatre, which is America’s oldest, still-operating theatre. Enjoy original shows at The Mask and Wig Club featuring a collegiate musical comedy troupe by the same name. Watch Opera Philadelphia‘s productions of well-known operas like The Raven or Otello at The Academy of Music. Catch Philadelphia Orchestra concerts celebrating composers like Beethoven or reimagining classic film scores at Kimmel Center‘s Verizon Hall. See the Philadelphia Ballet perform everything from modern dance pieces to old favorites like The Nutcracker at The Miller Theater. Find shows featuring famous country bands, folk groups, and pop stars like Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo at The Met Philadelphia. Or get tickets for touring productions of Broadway hits like Hamilton and Mean Girls at Forrest Theater.

Discover Your New Favorite Festival

Group of women doing an traditional African dance. Photo by Instagram user @visitphilly

Photo via @visitphilly

From events focused on good food and live music, to city-wide cultural celebrations, Philly is sure to have a festival you’ll enjoy! See enormous light displays, martial arts demonstrations, and Chinese folk painting at the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in June and August. Pick up handcrafted goods in the marketplace, try African and Caribbean-inspired dishes, and listen to live music at the Odunde Festival—which is the “largest African American street festival” in the U.S.! Join the Philly LGTBQ community during the enormous parade and city-wide parties during Pride month at Philly Pride. Support the Philadelphia Film Society in October by attending the Philadelphia Film Festival, which showcases up-and-coming films and includes exclusive events with directors, actors, and producers. Enjoy an elevated wine tasting experience and live musical performances at Philly Wine Fest in May. View illuminated fountain performances accompanied by live music at the Light: Installations by Bruce Munro exhibition during the Festival of Fountains. Or listen to live musical performances from a variety of genres like hip-hop, rock, and pop over Labor Day weekend at the Made in America Festival.

Attend Community Events in Quaker City

When you live in Philadelphia, you’ll find a variety of community events to attend. Make your way to the annual Mummers Parade, a Philadelphia tradition held on New Year’s Day that features elaborate costumes and live performances. Celebrate Irish heritage and culture at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which has been a tradition in Philadelphia since 1771. Check out the longest-running flower show in the nation, featuring beautiful floral displays and plants in FDR Park at Philadelphia Flower Show. Try locally-made brews or embark on a beer tour at the annual Philly Beer Week in June. Run a marathon, half-marathon, or 8K, or cheer on the athletes every November during the annual Philadelphia Marathon. Or see massive floats, marching bands, and dance groups kick off the holiday season during the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Hang Out at Family-Friendly Attractions

Looking for fun things to do in Philadelphia with kids? See exotic animals like cheetahs, giraffes, and crocodiles at the Philadelphia Zoo. Take your little ones to explore tiny playgrounds and make all kinds of arts and crafts at the interactive Please Touch Museum. Catch a free movie screening or musical performance during the warmer months in Dilworth Park. Explore space-themed exhibits, try out virtual reality, and learn more about science and technology at The Franklin Institute. Venture over the Delaware River into Camden to find penguins, sharks, turtles, and more at Adventure Aquarium. Bring the whole family for mini golf, carousel rides, and community concerts at Franklin Square. Or try a self-guided public art tour to discover some of Philadelphia’s most unique public art displays, like the iconic LOVE sculpture!

Support Philly’s Sports Teams

Philadelphia Flyers hockey player skating down the ice. Photo by Instagram user @ipro13

Photo via @ipro13

If there’s one thing you need to know about Philadelphia, it’s that this city loves its sports. Philly has a pro team for every major sport—baseball, football, soccer, basketball, and hockey—so you can catch games basically year-round! Grab some peanuts and popcorn at Citizens Bank Park while you watch the Philadelphia Phillies (MLB) take on rivals like the New York Mets. Sing along to “Fly, Eagles Fly” when Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) score a touchdown at Lincoln Financial Field. Get tickets to see the Philadelphia Union (MLS) go up against their soccer rivals DC United or the New York Red Bulls at Subaru Park. Or head to Wells Fargo Center, where you can find both the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) and Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) on the main floor.

Explore the Unique Dining Scene in Philadelphia

Philly cheesesteak covered in mushrooms and nacho cheese. Photo by Instagram user @manswhoate

Photo via @manswhoate

Whether you love immersing yourself in local foodie scenes, or you just need a good place to grab dinner on the weekend, Philadelphia restaurants won’t disappoint. Get “the best Philly cheesesteak” at Dalessandro’s Steaks & Hoagies, where you can’t go wrong with their easy-to-order hoagies loaded with meat, cheese, and onions. Check out old-school Italian joint L’angolo Restaurant in South Philly for everything from Spaghetti Bolognese to Penne Melanzane. Order delicious Vietnamese cuisine like the Pad Thai, Chicken Sautéed with Ginger & Onion, or Duck Congee at Nam Phuong. Try Chicken Shishlik, a Bulgarian Beef Kebab, or Lamb & Beef Koobideh at Israeli restaurant Laser Wolf. Try a Tomato Pie with a Forthave Spritz at Pizzeria Beddia in Fishtown, which isn’t just one of the best places to eat in Philadelphia—it’s also been named one of the best places to eat in the world! Or dig into desserts like a Snow White Juice & Red Bean, a Mango Sundae, or a Coco Crepe Roll at Mango Mango Dessert.

Find Your New Nightlife Haunts

Searching for things to do in Philly on the weekends? Check out Philadelphia’s fun nightlife! Whether you’re into dive bar-hopping, clubbing, or simply grabbing a drink and settling in for live music, Philly has something for everyone. Hit up Brasil’s Nightclub in Old City—one of Philly’s hottest salsa clubs—to join Latin dance parties. See shows featuring up-and-coming rock bands like Sevendust, popular artists like The Regrettes and Aly & AJ, and indie-alternative groups at Theatre of Living Arts. Catch drag karaoke, throwback dance parties, and some of the best Philly Pride events in the city at LGBTQ hot spot Woody’s Philadelphia. Order the “Special” (a PBR with a shot of Jim Beam) and listen to live jazz at cash-only dive bar Bob & Barbara’s Lounge. Gather some friends and play board games or laugh the night away at a comedy show at the Raven Lounge. Or kick back and relax with draft beer, bar food, and live music at Johnny Brenda’s.


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Pinterest graphic: Philadelphia, PA: 16 Things to Know

Pinterest Graphic: Living in Philadelphia: Things to Know