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17 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia

Moving to Philly? With affordable housing, ample job opportunities, 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 17 things to know about living in Philadelphia!


Live in an Affordable Northeast City

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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 Philadelphia’s cost of living is 2% 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 around 7% below the national average, along with a higher average annual salary than the national average. The Philadelphia real estate market also ranks seventh in the nation for cities that get the most bang for their buck due to the affordability of the city and the quality of its neighborhoods!

Work in The City of Brotherly Love

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There are plenty of employment opportunities in Philadelphia, with access to major industries including education, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and public administration. Residents can also find jobs with top employers in Philadelphia, including 13 Fortune 500 companies—like the television, cable, and media company Comcast Corporation and the hospitality company Aramark. Pursue other career opportunities in hospitality with employers like The Rittenhouse Hotel or GF Hotels & Resorts. Find healthcare jobs in Philly at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Penn Medicine, or Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Or seek employment at area colleges and universities like the University of Pennsylvania (also called Penn or UPenn).

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Settle Down in Great Philadelphia Neighborhoods

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If you’re searching for the best neighborhoods to live in Philadelphia, there are a variety of safe, affordable neighborhoods that could fit your unique lifestyle! Neighborhoods like Bustleton and Mt. Airy 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, Cedar Park, and Washington Square West, which are known for their urban housing, trendy dining and nightlife spots, and easy commutes into Center City. And Chestnut Hill, Bella Vista, and Manayunk are some of the best neighborhoods for families because of their friendly communities, close proximity to good schools, and abundant green space.

Get Around with Local & Regional Public Transportation

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When living in Philadelphia, you can find plenty of options for public transit. Many residents—especially those living out in Philly suburbs—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 transit systems in the U.S. In fact, Philadelphia is one of the best cities to live without a car, with more than 24% of residents using public transportation for their daily commutes! Not only is the city incredibly walkable and bike-friendly, thanks to its grid-like street plan and the Philadelphia bike share program, Indigo, but Philly also has excellent public transit via the SEPTA and PATCO systems. By taking SEPTA buses, commuter rails, trains, trolleys, and rentable bikes, 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

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Moving to Philadelphia is a traveler’s dream as it’s 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, Jersey City, and Trenton, 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, as well.

Enroll in Highly-Rated Colleges in Philadelphia

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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, the University of Pennsylvania. Check out Penn’s University City neighbor, Drexel University, for a private college in Philadelphia that offers around 80 undergraduate majors and more than 120 graduate 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. Or—if you’re looking for smaller liberal arts colleges in Philadelphia—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

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Immerse yourself in natural beauty while taking part in a variety of outdoor activities at Philadelphia parks and green spaces! 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 with 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 seasonal waterfront activities like kayaking or boating from May to September 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

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Founded in 1682 as one of the original Thirteen Colonies, Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., and its many historical attractions make The Cradle of Liberty a history buff’s dream! Learn about the history of the Revolutionary War with exhibits like The Road to Independence and A New Nation at the Museum of the American Revolution. Discover the life and legacy of Philadelphia’s most famous founding father at the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Stand in the birthplace of freedom where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed at Independence Hall. See the famous Liberty Bell while you explore Philadelphia historical sites like The President’s House, Second Bank of the United States, Declaration House, and Carpenters’ Hall—all located within Independence National Historical Park. Walk through the oldest residential street in the U.S., Elfreth’s Alley. Or interact with actors portraying 18th-century American life, including our first flag-maker herself, at the Betsy Ross House.

Visit Incredible Philly Museums

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Philadelphia’s museum scene offers more than American history—spending time at the city’s amazing museums is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia! See South Asian sculptures, French Impressionist paintings, American art, and more 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 with exhibits like Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776-1876 at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Check out Ancient Egyptian pottery, Roman statues, and other archaeological finds at the Penn Museum. Peruse a variety of sculptures from one of the greatest collections of Auguste Rodin’s art at the Rodin Museum. Find a number of wax models, pathological specimens, and antique medical equipment at the Mutter Museum. Or walk among dinosaur bones in Dinosaur Hall and wander exhibits like Life Onto Land: The Devonian and Under the Canopy at The Academy of Natural Sciences.

Check Out the Local Performing Arts

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If you’re a lover of the fine arts, there’s a variety of theaters in Philadelphia to discover! Bring the kids to family-friendly performances like Madagascar – A Musical Adventure Jr. at Walnut Street Theatre, which is America’s oldest, still-operating theatre. Enjoy original shows at The Mask & 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 for the Performing ArtsMarian Anderson Hall (previously 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, Mamma Mia!, and The Book of Mormon at Forrest Theatre.

Discover Your Favorite Philadelphia Festival

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From events focused on good food and live music to city-wide cultural celebrations, there are plenty of Philadelphia festivals to enjoy! See enormous light displays, martial arts demonstrations, and Chinese folk painting at the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square from June to 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.! 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. Make your way to The Mann Center in June to see famous hip hop artists like Lil Wayne, Andre 3000, Jill Scott, and more perform live at The Roots Picnic. Or don your own cosplay and admire the works of others, shop among vendors and artists, meet comics creators, and much more during FAN EXPO Philadelphia (formerly Wizard World) at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Explore Philadelphia’s LGBTQ Community

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Philadelphia’s vibrant LGBTQ community offers rich culture, fantastic entertainment, and a tapestry of American history. At the heart of the community is the iconic Gayborhood, a distinctive neighborhood with rainbow crosswalks and street signs. Independence Hall is even the birthplace of Reminder Days, a series of protests advocating for gay rights on each July 4th from 1965 to 1969. Network, learn about the latest community events, and take advantage of resources like counseling programs at the William Way LGBT Community Center, which has provided support to Philadelphia since 1975. Visit the historic Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room Bookstore, the oldest LGBTQ and feminist bookstore in the nation. Join the thousands of community members who turn up for the enormous parade and city-wide parties during Pride month at Philly Pride, sponsored by GALAEI, a social justice organization that provides many programs and services to the LGBTQ community in Philly. Catch karaoke, dance parties, and some of the best Pride events in the city at Philly gay bar Woody’s Philadelphia. Or take a journey through Philadelphia’s history of progress and resilience with an LGBTQ or Trans History Tour through Beyond the Bell Tours.

Attend Community Events in Quaker City

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When you move to Philadelphia, you can attend a variety of community events to discover fun things to do and ways to bond with your neighbors. Make your way to the annual Mummers Parade, a Philadelphia tradition for more than 120 years 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 at the 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.

Discover Family-Friendly Things to Do

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Looking for fun things to do in Philadelphia with kids? See exotic animals like cheetahs, giraffes, and penguins 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. Admire the Lego-constructed works found in The Art of the Brick exhibit before making your own, explore the cosmos in Wondrous Space, and visit many more interactive exhibits at The Franklin Institute. Venture over the Delaware River into Camden to find fish, sharks, turtles, and more at Adventure Aquarium. Bring the whole family out to enjoy mini golf, carousel rides, and the daily Fountain Show with choreographed light and water displays 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

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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 the 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.

Dine at Unique Restaurants in Philadelphia

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Whether you love immersing yourself in local foodie scene or just need a good place to grab dinner on the weekend, Philadelphia restaurants won’t disappoint. Get “the best Philly cheesesteak” in Philadelphia at Dalessandro’s Steaks & Hoagies, where you can’t go wrong with their easy-to-order hoagies loaded with meat and cheese. Check out dishes like Malabi Custard, Chicken Shishlik, and Pomegranate Lamb Shoulder at the Philly Israeli restaurant, Zahav. Order delicious Vietnamese cuisine like Pad Thai, Chicken Sautéed with Ginger & Onion, or Duck Congee at Nam Phuong. Try Whole Branzino w/Tomato & Ginger, Romanian Beef Kebab, or Koobideh at Laser Wolf. Chow down on 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 was also once named one of the best places to eat in the world! Or try Lemon, Pineapple, Cherry, or even Chocolate Water Ice (pronounced like “wooder” in Philadelphia), a Quaker City favorite served at John’s Water Ice.

Find Your New Philly Nightlife Haunts

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If you’re searching for fun things to do in Philly at night or on the weekends, there are plenty of Philadelphia nightlife spots to check out! Whether you’re into dive bar-hopping, clubbing, or simply grabbing a drink and settling in for live music, Philly has something for everyone. Party your heart out or take salsa dance lessons at one of the best salsa clubs in Philadelphia, Brasil’s Nightclub in Old City. Get lost in the beat of DJ-mixed dance music with laser effects at Pulse Nightclub & Bar. 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. Order “The Special” (a PBR with a shot of Jim Beam), listen to live jazz, or attend Philly’s longest running drag show on Thursdays 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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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.