Philadelphia, fondly known as 'Philly', is Pennsylvania's largest city, just a few hours' drive from New York City and Washington, DC. While it might not have the same reputation as its illustrious neighbours, those moving to Philadelphia will find themselves in a cosmopolitan city full of opportunities.
Living in Philadelphia as an expat
The economic hub of Pennsylvania and the headquarters of hundreds of corporations, Philadelphia can potentially provide thousands of employment opportunities for new arrivals wanting to work here. It's also an intrinsically creative and cultural city with a thriving music industry and delicious cuisine.
Besides the excellent rail system connecting the city to its neighbours, there's a well-developed local network of public transport in Philadelphia, consisting of buses, trolleys and trains. That said, it also has a reputation for being one of the most walkable cities in the USA and is incredibly bike-friendly. Those living in the city centre will rarely need to use public transport, let alone a car.
Neighbourhoods close to Center City and in the northwestern suburbs are so well located that new residents won't need to venture further than a few miles in any direction to find everything they need in terms of restaurants, shops and entertainment. They will also have plenty of choices when it comes to accommodation in Philadelphia, from townhouses and apartments to old-style family homes in the suburbs.
Cost of living in Philadelphia
Although the cost of living in Philadelphia is higher than the national average, it is cheaper than neighbouring East Coast cities, such as New York and Boston. Many people choose to live in Philly for this exact reason. That said, Philadelphia is not necessarily an inexpensive place to live. The 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked the city 50th out of 227 global cities, making it more expensive than Dallas but more affordable than Seattle.
While prices have increased with demand, and salaries are relatively high, accommodation is generally affordable. Still, new arrivals will need the extra income to cover their other living expenses and lifestyle in Philadelphia.
Families and children in Philadelphia
Philadelphia boasts a state-of-the-art children's hospital and many excellent schools. Although new inhabitants can attend public schools for free, there are also plenty of private schools that offer a high standard of education in the city. Many of these schools offer the International Baccalaureate, which could be a preferable curriculum for expat children.
Outside of school, children will have plenty to keep them busy in Philadelphia. The abundant sunshine allows families to take full advantage of Philadelphia's many sprawling parks and playgrounds. Alternatively, the city is home to many cultural attractions and annual events for children to enjoy.
Climate in Philadelphia
The weather in Philadelphia varies greatly between hot, muggy summers and cold, snow-covered winters. That said, the climate is mild for the most part, making it great for those living in Philadelphia with children.
New arrivals moving to Philadelphia will discover a bustling urban environment where residents are extremely proud of their city. It offers a wonderful balance of urban and suburban life and is an excellent destination for those looking for a busy, diverse and ever-expanding city to call home.
►For more about the ups and downs of life in the city, see Pros and Cons of Moving to Philadelphia
Are you an expat living in Philadelphia?
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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