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20 Things to Know Before Moving to Philadelphia

Updated for 2017!

20. We like to keep a “low pro.”


Photo credit: Ryan Hallock / Foter / CC BY

Philadelphia is sandwiched right between NYC and DC and there are about 100 million people within a day’s drive. The last thing we need is everyone finding out what a great place this is to live, move here, clog up our traffic, jack up our real estate prices and start Manhattan style crowds everywhere. In fact, when the New York Times called us the 6th borough of New York a couple years ago, we collectively lost our minds. Since we recently became the fastest growing downtown in the United States, we can no longer claim we are the best kept secret on the east coast. However, we still avoid talking about what a wonderful place Philly is to outsiders, so if anyone asks there’s nothing here but the Liberty Bell. Thanks!


19. Cheesesteaks come “wit” or “wit out.


Photo credit: goodiesfirst / Foter / CC BY

”Philadelphia is a foodie’s heaven with some of the best steakhouses to vegetarian bistros in the nation. We are also home to 2 Iron Chefs, Morimoto and Jose Garces. The best way to get a taste of many of the great restaurants on a budget is to go during the fall or spring “Restaurant Week” where 3 course lunches and dinners are served for only $20 and $35 respectively. In addition to haute cuisine Philly does have some hometown favorites which you will partake in sooner or later: The Soft Pretzel available for $.35 everywhere (try it with deli mustard), Tastycakes, (the name says it all), and Water ice, (“wooder-ice”, a summertime treat). Finally, for the record, our oversized sandwiches are referred to exclusively as Hoagies (not subs or grinders), whatever you do, do not eat scrapple (trust me) and its soda not Pop!


18. Philadelphia is the 6th largest city in the USA, but is really a college town at heart.


Philadelphia has the nation’s largest per capita concentration of higher education institutions, with over 85 colleges, universities and technical schools, and 7 schools of medicine. The University of Pennsylvania is  always ranked a top 10 of national university by the U.S. News & World Report. Whether you are looking for the Ivy League, Big 10, Liberal Arts, Jesuit University, Seven Sisters, or a State School you will have your choice of well over 85 institutions of higher education.


17. We know how to get around.


Photo credit: cliff1066™ / Foter / CC BY

It is easy to get to Philly by plane, train or automobile. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is served by 22 airlines flying to 84 domestic and 40 international destinations. PHL was ranked the #1 airport in North America for passenger satisfaction (J.D. Powers, ’08). Plus, it is only about a 15 minute drive from Center City; by taxi it is a $28 flat fee or $7 by train. The 30th Street Amtrak station is conveniently located and the train can get you from Boston to DC in no time on Acela Express, its high speed line.  Traveling here by car is easy, 2 major highways, 1-95 and 76 or a bridge, will drop you right downtown. Once you arrive in Center City it is easy to find your way because aside from the Parkway, Vine Street, Broad Street, & lower Market Street–every street is one way and laid out in a grid.


16. Don’t look for a beer or wine aisle at the grocery store.


Pennsylvania has some weird blue laws that only allow alcohol and wine to be sold at state run shops and beer distributors. A movement to change this has been met with major resistance from people in rural parts of the state. It is annoying, but not horrible. However, if you want a better selection and prices, just travel over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Jersey and you will be in alcohol megastores in a matter of minutes. While you are there fill up on some of the cheapest full service gas in the country! Moreover, due to the weird rules, we have over 100 awesome BYOB restaurants throughout the city (see #6).


15. If you live in Center City (downtown) everything you could ever want or need is within walking distance.


It is rated one of the top 5 most walkable cities in the United States and if you live in Rittenhouse Square, Society Hill, Washington Square, Bella Vista, Queen Village, Old City, Logan Square, Fitler Square, G-Ho or Art Museum you can pretty much live your whole life in a 2 square mile radius.

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14. It Is Always Sunny in Philadelphia


Photo credit: Kevin Burkett / Foter / CC BY-SA

At least it seems that way. We have all four seasons and none are very extreme. Thanks to an average temperature of 41 in January and 85 in August and an early spring and late fall; we are usually having a great day!


13. The health system is SICK (urban for awesome)!


Photo credit: Scott McLeod / Foter / CC BY

Sure Philadelphia is considered the Birthplace of American health care since Ben Franklin opened 1st public hospital here in 1751. The same hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital is still running and ranked one of the best hospitals in the United States. But did you know the 1st Medical School, Maternity Ward, School of Pharmacy, Children’s Hospital and Bio-Medical Research Institute all started here as well. Fast forward to today, and you will find some of the best hospitals in the nation, with over 120 hospitals, including 24 teaching, and nearly 500 doctors per 100,000 people in the metro area. There are 7 medical schools (2 osteopathic), 5 national cancer institutes and over 80% of the world’s major pharmaceutical firms including 8 of the largest. So whether you are a health care provider or you need one, Philly is the place to be!


12. To see or not to see in Philly…


Photo credit: Tom Ipri / Foter / CC BY-SA

It is true that you can hop on the train and be on Broadway in only an hour and a half, but why do that when you can see any one of up to a dozen plays in Philly on any given night. The theatrical scene rivals that of any major city outside of New York. There is always a great play to catch at The Walnut Street Theater (the oldest in America) or a musical at the Kimmel or at any one of dozens and dozens theatrical venues. We also are host to the world famous Fringe Festival and the Philadelphia Film Festival.


11. It is a great place to grow up.

If you walk on the street in Center City it is nearly impossible not to see a stroller or a young child. We have amazing parks and playgrounds in every neighborhood, a brand new children’s museum, and the best children’s hospital in the nation. In addition, we have loads of great pre-schools, three of the best private elementary schools in the country, dozens and dozens of top-notch universities and oh so much more. Plus, it is the birth place of our country, living here really makes history come alive. Whether it is strolling through the cobblestone streets of Society Hill or visiting Independence Hall, and Betsy Ross’s House or viewing the actual Declaration of Independence and Liberty Bell,the history is real fun. It’s almost like always being on a field trip. In the near future, look for www.CenterCityMom.com to come online as information central for Philly families.


10. It is one of the foremost creative cities in the world.

The City of Philadelphia has always been known for its music scene, whether it was Billie Holiday singing the Blues, Dick Clark doing the Doo Wop, or David Bowie bringing Ziggy Stardust life, it all happened within city limits. Today, the list of concert halls are staggering from the world famous, critically acclaimed Kimmel Center to the outdoor venue Mann Music Center to the World Café. Philadelphia has the Opera, The Ballet, Peter Nero & the Philly Pops, The Symphony (One of the “Big Five” American orchestras, founded in 1900) and loads of great halls like The TLA, The Trocadero and Khyber Pass to name a few, so there is always a concert somewhere every night to go to see.

9. We Play Ball!

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / CC BY-SA

Philadelphia is home to the World Champion Phillies, and the almost World Champion Eagles, 76ers, and Flyers. We also have two of the newest and nicest stadiums around. We also have an indoor soccer team, The Kixx an outdoor soccer team, The Union, and a professional men’s lacrosse team, The Wings. In general, Philadelphians are pretty passionate about their sports teams. It is not advisable to wear non-Eagle NFL team jerseys on Sundays in the fall just because it is considered rude.



8. BYOB’s Rock

Liquor licenses are incredibly expensive in this town, so there are over a 100 Bring Your Own Bottle restaurants, with the majority not charging a corkage fee. They range from fine cuisine to 10 table cafes and are everywhere. Best of all, paying the bill will make you almost as happy as when you were eating the food.

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7. The Art Scene is Insane.

Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA

Everyone has heard of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the one in Rocky, but have you ever heard of The Barnes Foundation, The Rodin Museum, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, just to name a few? On top of that there are about 100 great galleries throughout the city and they are especially concentrated in Old City, where on the 1st Friday of each month, the whole neighborhood turns into an Art Show.


6. There are income taxes, but there are NO TAXES on the essentials

Photo credit: 401(K) 2013 / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: 401(K) 2013 / Foter / CC BY-SA

Admittedly, income taxes are high, but they are in line with all major cities on the east coast. However, they are declining every year, thanks to our super smart and savvy mayor, Michael Nutter. But we do not pay sales tax for food, clothes or shoes (see # 3).  If you don’t want to pay taxes, then you can always move to Fargo.


5. The Philadelphia Parking Authority is the most effective branch of enforcement in the city and quite possibly the universe.


image via ppa.com

They even have their own reality show on A&E. Plan on getting tickets, but now with the new Smart Card and new meters that take them, as well as dollar bills and credit cards, you will never need quarters. Moreover, Philly is so pedestrian friendly you do not even need a car, but if the urge strikes you can rent one super cheap by the hour with ZipCar.


4. The Shopping is divine and you pay absolutely, positively NO TAXES on Clothes AND Shoes.

Photo credit: InSapphoWeTrust / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: InSapphoWeTrust / Foter / CC BY-SA

So that means that clothes are almost 10% cheaper than if you bought it in Chicago or L.A. Moreover, just about every single store or outlet you can imagine is either in Center City, King of Prussia (one of the biggest shopping malls in the world) or in the Franklin Mills or Premium outlet malls. You name it, we got it.


3. We are the Center of the Universe.


Photo credit: InSapphoWeTrust / Foter / CC BY-SA

The Shore (Atlantic Ocean), The Pocono Mountains, New York City and Washington DC are all less than 2 hours away and can easily be reached by train or bus. In addition, to dozens of places that surround our great city North, South, East and West, like Amish Country, Atlantic City, Annapolis and Allentown just to start with the A’s! Moreover, you can be in the Caribbean in less than 3 hours and in London in just over 5 hours. Philadelphia is the most centrally located city in America as far day trips go. There is always somewhere to go or something to do.


2. We have what one might consider the slightest bit of attitude.


That’s right I said it-to an outsider we can be a bit snarky. However, we are undeniably the City of Brotherly Love and once you get to know us you will truly understand that Yo! is a perfectly welcoming greeting, it is quite acceptable to both love and hate The Iggles and we are, by all accounts, quite friendly. In fact, it is hard to have a day go by without someone calling you honey or exchanging a smile with a perfect stranger. To strike up an enthralling conversation with anyone just ask about the World Champion Phillies and take it from there. We have our own unique culture and although we are a great, big city, each neighborhood is really just a tight community where people take the time to get to know each other.


1. After all, I’d rather be in Philadelphia


Philadelphia has one of the healthiest real estate markets in the nation, due in part to our abundance of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, universities and law firms. The #1 site to learn about Philadelphia Real Estate, Philadelphia Relocation, Philadelphia Neighborhoods and search for every house, condo, and loft listing is on Philadelphia’s Home Page www.CenterCityRealEstate.com.


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