Accommodation in Philadelphia
The cost of housing in Philadelphia is relatively affordable and there are various housing options available, which is part of the reason many people from nearby cities seek accommodation in Philadelphia. Expats who intend to stay for the long-term tend to buy property, although most people start off by renting.
Types of accommodation in Philadelphia
The city has been a major settlement for many centuries. As a result, there is an interesting mix of architecture in Philadelphia. The first rowhouses in the US were built here and, while the original buildings are not around anymore, similar townhouses can be found all over.
In the more affluent suburbs to the northwest, there are historic stone houses dating back to the early 20th century, 18th-century mansions, and farmhouses that have been around since the 1700s. This area is known as the Main Line and has some of the best real estate in Philadelphia for raising a family.
Expats wanting a more urban experience can choose from luxury condos in the heart of the city and trendy loft apartments in some of its safer outskirts.
Finding accommodation in Philadelphia
Those looking to buy property in Philadelphia should either have a pre-approved mortgage or proof of funds before searching for accommodation. After that, the process for buying and renting is more or less the same.
The internet is a good place to start finding accommodation in Philadelphia as there are various real estate agents, classifieds websites and local publications with property sections on their sites. Expats looking to rent in Philadelphia could also look up apartment management companies or building owners and contact them directly.
In Philadelphia, agents' fees are often paid by the seller or, in the case of rentals, they are paid a commission by the landlord. It is best to check with the agent upfront.
Renting property in Philadelphia
The rental market in Philadelphia is presently skewed towards landlords. Aside from the seasonal influx of students that starts around July, the rest of the year sees many people moving from neighbouring cities where property is more expensive. Many don’t have the means to buy, which increases the demand for rentals and negatively impacts prices. It is still easier and more affordable to rent in Philadelphia, however, than it is in cities such as New York and Boston.
Leases in Philadelphia typically last for a year, but month-to-month contracts are also common. Deposits are typically the equivalent of a month's rent. When signing the lease, be sure to read the entire contract thoroughly and ensure that any verbal assurances by landlords are put into writing.
Utilities in Philadelphia
Homeowners will have to take responsibility for all of their utility needs, while the utilities that tenants are responsible for often depend on the conditions of the lease and whether it is a house or an apartment.
In general, when renting an apartment, the landlord may assume responsibility for utilities such as heating (gas or electricity) and, almost always, water. In a house, tenants are likely to be responsible for all utilities. Tenants will most often be responsible for paying for their own telephone and internet services too. Before signing a lease, expats should ensure that the terms are clear when it comes to whether or not the cost of utilities is included in the monthly rent amount.