Philadelphia, also known as “Philly”, is the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, the second largest city on the East Coast, and the fifth-most-populous city in the United States. The city was founded by William Penn in 1682, and quickly grew into an important colonial city with the development of the Delaware River Port. Philadelphia has an extremely rich history, and you will find the city and its surrounding suburbs to be very diverse with large international communities. Philly is the epicenter of economic activity in Pennsylvania and is home to the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and several Fortune 500 companies. There are several universities in the area, including the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Villanova University.
For an apartment that is centrally located in the city, you can expect to pay about $3,000+ per month for a two-bedroom unit, with additional parking fees around $300 per month and a one-time amenities fee. Expect to pay $2,500 to $4,000 (or more) for a home in the suburbs.
There is stiff competition for properties and the market moves very quickly. Because of this tight rental market and high demand, be aware that lease negotiations would be very limited if possible at all. Be prepared when renting a house to provide the first month’s rent as soon as the rental application has been approved, roughly 24 hours after submitting the application. For apartment rentals, a deposit will be required to stop all future showings and secure the unit.
Where to Live
Philadelphia is often described as a city of neighborhoods, with each offering a different style and feel. Below are several options that are popular with expats and transferees. Doing some research in advance, and working with your DSP partner, can help you discover which area best suits your needs.
Downtown, City Center is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Philadelphia, generally offering row homes or apartments. Many of the row homes have a traditional brick exterior to fit the city’s historic architecture, with modern interior upgrades. The area is also known as Midtown and Rittenhouse Square.
The “Old City” section of Philadelphia retains several cobblestone streets from colonial days and 18th-century charm, representing the city’s rich history. The neighborhood is known for its fashionable boutiques, restaurants, galleries and theaters, and impressive nightlife.
The Philadelphia suburbs also offer residents the best of both worlds with convenient access to the city coupled with more living space, parking and highly rated schools. The Main Line western suburban area is a collection of small towns built along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s central route, including Haverford, Wayne, Radnor, Malvern, Paoli, and Exton. With train rides as short as 15-minutes to downtown Philadelphia, the area is extremely popular and offers highly-rated public and private schools. Because of its popularity, average rental prices for houses in this suburb are the highest in the area, running $4,000 per month at a minimum for a 3+ bedroom property.
Northwestern suburbs such as Lansdale and North Wales are also very high in demand, offering outstanding schools, great restaurants and more. Both are family-oriented and are considered popular gathering spots. Rental prices on average are around $3,500 per month for a single, detached property.
Often voted one of the best suburbs in Pennsylvania, Chesterbrook is a close-knit, welcoming, international community. The area has lush green surroundings with several trails and parks, easy access to highways, and top-rated schools.
Tips for RMCs, HR & Assignees
Many companies and assignees may not realize how competitive the Philadelphia area is, so it is important to plan accordingly! Assignees should be prepared to make a decision quickly to minimize the risk of losing a property. However, you do not need to start the property-finding process too early – starting approximately one month out is early enough for you to find the right property for you and your family.
Assignees in the process of applying for housing are responsible for providing a letter verifying employment, position, and salary shown in US dollars. They also need to bring money to provide a deposit in order to take a house off the market and stop all future showings. Without this deposit, showings will continue.
When renting a house, all deposits plus first and last month’s rent are required to be paid via bank or cashier’s check. This process is much easier if you open an account with a local bank where you will be living rather than an online bank. For apartment rental, deposits can often be paid by credit card for ease.
Philadelphia is full of colleges and universities, so depending on your interests, you will want to look into which neighborhoods have lots of students and which don’t. Do some research before you decide which neighborhood to call home.
Local Insights for Assignees
History is abundant here! Philadelphia laid the foundation for US History, when the Founding Fathers met and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. So whether you are eager to learn about US History, or already are a history buff, there is plenty for you to see and do. Philadelphia’s historic landmarks range from museums, zoos, forests, and even a prison! One of the most history-rich areas of Philadelphia is The Independence Historical Park. The park houses not only Independence Hall, where the declaration and constitution were signed, but also the Liberty Bell and many other significant buildings. To see a darker side of US history, head over to the Eastern State Penitentiary – some say it’s the most haunted place in America! There you can see the cells that once held some of America’s most notorious criminals, and if you’re adventurous make sure to check out their “Terror Behind the Walls” Halloween event.
You’ll never be hungry in Philly! People are crazy about their food – specifically the Philly Cheesesteak. Finding a great Philly cheesesteak isn’t difficult, rather the hard part is figuring out which place is best! Taking a Philadelphia Cheesesteak segway tour is one of the best ways to sample all the locals’ favorite spots. Even if you don’t end up loving the food, the tour is a great way to see Philadelphia. Fun Fact: the original recipe for the Philly cheesesteak didn’t contain cheese! It was added later by the manager of the restaurant.
Summertime in Philadelphia is filled with great weather and tons of things to do. One popular spot is The Oval, which is an 8-acre park that transforms into a fun-filled oasis for all ages. The Oval has a variety of events, including mini-golfing, yoga classes, and a beer garden! It is a fun place to grab a drink and meet new people. Another hot spot in the city is the Spruce Street Harbor Park, which provides activities year-round and is perhaps best known for its Blue Cross River Rink that transforms from an ice rink in the winter to a roller rink in the summer.