The best places to live in Philadelphia
The suburban nature of much of Philadelphia makes it seem smaller than it is. Very much a city of neighbourhoods, the variety of options available can seem overwhelming at first. However, finding a good home in Philadelphia is far from impossible.
Philadelphia offers many areas to choose from which serve a wide variety of needs. Below are just some of the most popular neighbourhoods in Philadelphia.
Suburban living in Philadelphia
Chestnut Hill used to be a popular summer getaway for Philadelphia’s upper classes and is still associated with affluence. Public transport is easily accessed, infrastructure is good and shopping in Chestnut Hill is an experience not to be missed. For those who can afford it, Chestnut Hill is an ideal location for families, offering accommodation from modest rowhouses to expansive mansions. For its excellent schools, historic architecture, its small-town-yet-vibrant atmosphere and its proximity to the city, Chestnut Hill is a fantastic area to put down roots.
Abington's schools have a reputation for excellence and it has been recognised as one of the best places to live in the USA. The Abington Memorial Hospital offers a high standard of care and is the area’s major employer. Abington contains a wide range of housing, most built shortly after WWII, from garden-style apartments to colonial-style family homes. In brief, it's the perfect area for expats who want somewhere to raise their families in homes with character.
Swarthmore offers a peaceful, college-town atmosphere that prides itself on diversity and tolerance. Anchored by Swarthmore College, it boasts the Crum Woods, a 300-acre arboretum, and a downtown area with unique and independent shops. Swarthmore’s older but well-maintained houses and its public and private schools come highly recommended. The only downside is the area’s steep property tax. If this can be managed, though, staying in Swarthmore is worth it.
Urban living in Philadelphia
Extremely popular with young professionals and singles, Graduate Hospital has been gaining a reputation as an artistic community since the early 2000s and is home to trendy restaurants and some of the best bars in Philadelphia. Prices are moderately high, although it is worth it for Graduate Hospital’s proximity to the city’s attractions and its mix of old and new single-family homes, tree-lined streets and brownstone rowhouses. While crime is still a concern in this largely gentrified neighbourhood, it is still generally considered a safe place to live.
Fishtown is a burst of colour in the middle of an industrial landscape, offering the famous Philadelphia rowhouses along narrow streets which surge with creative energy. Popular with trendy hipsters, young families and up-and-coming professionals, it makes up for its lack of retail and the occasional car break-in with a bustling cultural scene.
Northern Liberties has traditionally been popular with artsy types, but increasingly, more business professionals in Philadelphia are investing in the area's apartment complexes. Even with prices rising due to demand, residents love the neighbourly atmosphere which, in the heart of the city, feels as if it belongs in a different time.
Leafy, spacious and close to cultural landmarks such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Fairmount is popular with first-time buyers and offers a variety of options from classic Philadelphia townhouses to older single-family homes. Expats who need to be close to the city but are also balancing family priorities would do well to consider Fairmount, as there are several good schools in the area and St Joseph’s Hospital is close by. Although its prices are fairly high, expats nonetheless pay for a piece of suburbia with the community spirit to match, a mere 10 minutes away from Center City.
► For info about transport in the city, see Getting Around in Philadelphia
Photo credits: Philadelphia by Edan Cohen; Philadelphia by Juan Burgos. All sourced from Unsplash.
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Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Philadelphia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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