Skyline of buildings in Downtown Philadelphia at sunset

12 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia

Thinking about moving to Philly? The City of Brotherly Love is the largest city in Pennsylvania with about 1.5 million residents and about 7 million total when combined with the Delaware Valley metro (which includes Camden, NJ and Wilmington, DE). With affordable housing, job opportunities in the healthcare and education industries, incredible arts and culture, highly-rated universities, and much more, Philly has become a top destination for people who want to live on the East Coast but don’t want to pay New York City or Washington, DC prices. Here are 12 things to know about living in Philadelphia!

Live in an Affordable City with Good Job Growth

Skyline of buildings in Downtown Philadelphia. Photo by Instagram user @718mango
Photo via @718mango

What’s it like to live in Philadelphia? With a growing job market and a cost of living that’s 4% below the national average, Philly is a great place to live for college students, young professionals, families with kids, and retirees alike! Not only does this Pennsylvania city offer job opportunities with major employers like Comcast Corporation, Wells Fargo, Trinity Health Corporation, and the University of Pennsylvania, but Philadelphia also has cheap housing with median purchase prices around $147,300 and median monthly rent around $943. Compare that to NYC’s $508,900 median purchase price or DC’s $506,100 median purchase price, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t move to Philly sooner!

Settle Down in Philly’s Best Neighborhoods

Street view of red brick rowhouses. Photo by Instagram user @phillyperspective
Photo via @phillyperspective

If you’re searching for the best places to live in Philadelphia, there are all kinds of safe, affordable areas that will fit your unique lifestyle! Neighborhoods like University CityPowelton 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. Singles and young professionals love Philly neighborhoods like Fishtown, Point Breeze, and Washington Square West for their urban housing, trendy dining and nightlife spots, and easy commutes into Center City. And neighborhoods like Rittenhouse Square, Bella Vista, and Fox Chase are favorite spots among families and retirees because of their friendly communities, close proximity to good schools, and quiet streets.

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Get Around with SEPTA

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

How do those living in Philadelphia commute around their city? While some residents—especially those out in suburbs like Chesterbrook, Swarthmore, and Berwyn—often have personal vehicles for getting around, plenty of residents in Philadelphia can go without a car during their daily commutes. That’s because Philly is incredibly walkable and bike-friendly, and it has excellent public transit via the SEPTA system. By taking SEPTA buses, commuter rails, trains, and trolleys, you can travel all across the Philly metro, including to Philadelphia International Airport and over the Delaware River into New Jersey!

Attend College in Philadelphia

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

Did you know there are about 115 colleges and universities located in and around the Greater Philadelphia area? If you’re moving to Philadelphia for school, then you’ll have tons of options available! University of Pennsylvania (also called Penn) is a nationally-recognized Ivy League school with top programs in economics, international business, biomedical sciences, and marketing. Penn’s University City neighbor Drexel University is also a private school, offering around 70 undergraduate programs and more than 100 graduate and professional programs. Thinking about going into a 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, there are also schools like Swarthmore College and Haverford College in the Philly suburbs that offer excellent degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Study Up on Local American History

The liberty bell on a sunny day. Photo by Instagram user @independencenps
Photo via @independencenps

Founded in 1682, Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. The City of Brotherly Love was part of the original Thirteen Colonies, served as the nation’s capital after the American Revolution (until Washington, DC took its place), and was home to historical figures like Benjamin Franklin. If you’re a history buff and want to learn more about Philly’s role in U.S. history, there are tons of historical sites and monuments for you to check out around town! Visit Independence National Historic Park, where you can explore sites like Independence HallPresident’s HouseSecond Bank of the United StatesDeclaration House, and Carpenters’ Hall—and, of course, see the famous Liberty Bell. You can also walk through Elfreth’s Alley (the oldest residential street in the U.S.), tour the Betsy Ross House, and visit Benjamin Franklin’s grave at Christ Church.

Visit the Incredible Philly Museums

Woman standing next to a sculpture in an art gallery. Photo by Instagram user @philamuseum
Photo via @philamuseum

Philadelphia is one of the best U.S. cities to visit for culture, so it’s no surprise that spending time at the city’s amazing museums is one of locals’ favorite things to do in Philly! Explore the history of the Revolutionary War and how America fought for its independence at the Museum of the American Revolution. See South Asian sculptures, French Impressionist paintings, and American folk 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. Discover  the life and legacy of Philadelphia’s most famous founding father at the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Check out Ancient Egyptian pottery, Roman statues, and other archaeological finds at the Penn 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 The Little Mermaid and Shrek: The Musical at Walnut Street Theatre. Enjoy original shows featuring the oldest all-male comedy troupe in the U.S. at Mask & Wig Club. Watch Opera Philadelphia‘s productions of well-known operas like Carmen and La Boheme at the Academy of Music. Catch concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra that celebrate composers like Beethoven or allow you to relive classic films with live scores at Kimmel Center‘s Verizon Hall. See the Pennsylvania Ballet take the stage to perform everything from modern dance pieces to old favorites like The Nutcracker at The Merriam Theater. Find shows featuring famous country bands, pop stars, and folk groups 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

One of the best things about living in Philadelphia is the festivals! From events focused on good food and live music to city-wide cultural celebrations, Philly is sure to have a festival that you’ll enjoy! See enormous light displays, martial arts demonstrations, and Chinese folk paintings at the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival from May through July. Pick up handcrafted goods in the marketplace, try African and Caribbean-inspired dishes, and listen to live music at Odunde Festival in June—it’s the largest African-American street festival in the country! Join the Philly LGTBQ community during the enormous parade and city-wide parties at Philly Pride in June. Support the Philadelphia Film Society in October during the Philadelphia Film Festival, which showcases up-and-coming films and includes exclusive events with directors, actors, and producers. Sample all kinds of wines from Philly’s best wine bars and restaurants at Philly Wine Week in March. Or get ready for German biers, brats, and block parties during the annual South Street Oktoberfest events in September and October!

Hang Out at Family-Friendly Attractions

Two cheetahs nuzzling each other. Photo by Instagram user @philadelphiazoo
Photo via @philadelphiazoo

Looking for fun things to in Philadelphia with kids? Visit the Philadelphia Zoo, where you can see exotic animals like cheetahs, giraffes, and crocodiles. Take your little ones to the interactive Please Touch Museum, where they can play in tiny playgrounds and make all kinds of arts and crafts. Walk through Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens to see amazing sculpture gardens and mosaics created with handmade and recycled items. Spend a day at The Franklin Institute to explore space-themed exhibits, try out virtual reality, and learn more about science and technology. Venture over the Delaware River into Camden to check out Adventure Aquarium, where you’ll find penguins, sharks, and turtles. Bring the whole family to Franklin Square for mini golf, carousel rides, and community concerts. Or try a self-guided public art tour to discover some of Philadelphia’s most unique public art displays!

Support Your Philly Sports

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 Cracker Jack 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 the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) score a touchdown at Lincoln Financial Field. Get tickets to see the Philadelphia Union (MLS) at Talen Energy Stadium go up against their soccer rivals DC United and New York Red Bulls. Or head to Wells Fargo Center, where you can find both the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) and Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) on the main floor.

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Explore the Unique Dining Scene

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. Looking for the best cheesesteak in Philly? Check out Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies in Roxborough-Manayunk—you can’t go wrong with their easy-to-order hoagies slathered in meat, cheese, and onions! In the mood for some pasta? Old-school Italian joint L’angolo Restaurant in South Philly has everything from clams in white-wine spaghetti to creamy homemade gnocchi. Craving delicious Vietnamese cuisine? Order the Deluxe Pho, Chicken Sauteed with Ginger & Onion, or Duck Congee at Nam Phuong in Passyunk Square. Want to experience a Philly foodie favorite? Pizzeria Beddia in Fishtown isn’t just one of the best pizza places in the city—it’s also one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, frequently topping national lists for its incredible food!

Find Your New Nightlife Haunts

Band playing on a stage. Photo by Instagram user @brittandthebreakerboys
Photo via @brittandthebreakerboys

Need stuff to do in Philly on the weekends? Check out Philadelphia nightlife! Whether you’re into dive bar hopping, clubbing, or simply grabbing a drink and settling in for live music, Philly has something for you. Hit up Philly’s hottest salsa club Brasil’s Nightclub in Old City to join Latin dance parties. See shows featuring up-and-coming rock bands, hip-hop artists, and indie-alternative groups at Theatre of Living Arts in Queen Village. Catch drag karaoke, throwback dance parties, and some of the best Philly Pride events in the city at LGBTQ hot spot Woody’s in Center City. Order the “Philly Special” (i.e., a PBR and Jim Beam shot) and listen to live jazz at cash-only dive bar Bob & Barbara’s Lounge in Rittenhouse Square. Gather some friends and BYOB to the endlessly entertaining Keystone Mini-Golf & Arcade in Norris Square. Or kick back and relax with draft beer, bar food, and live music at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown.

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