Living in Philadelphia | 15 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Home Here
Are thinking of moving to Philadelphia and buying a home here? If so, there’s a lot to learn about living here like choosing where to live, things to do, where to eat, and how to find the perfect home. To help you get started with your move here are 15 things you need to know about living in Philadelphia and the nearby suburbs. The list includes info on the real estate market, neighborhoods and towns, things to do, and more.
City or Suburbs?
Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the 6th largest city in the US. It’s also the 7th largest metropolitan area in the country. Whether you’re looking for urban convenience or nearby suburbs with a little more space there are plenty of areas to choose from.
In Center City you’ll find vibrant and walkable neighborhoods with high-rise condos, rowhouses dating back to the 1700’s, and new construction homes. There are amazing restaurants and beautiful city parks.
The neighborhoods in northwest Philadelphia offer easy access to Center City, the suburbs, and the scenic Wissahickon Valley Park.
How is the Real Estate Market in Philadelphia?
Like many areas in the country, it’s a seller’s market right now. Many homes, especially in the neighborhoods and towns with the most amenities, sell within days and with multiple offers.
It’s best to be well-prepared and know what to expect when buying a home in Philadelphia or the suburbs. For detailed real estate information and stats get an up-to-date market report by zip code or town here.
Since Philadelphia is such a large metropolitan area you can find tons of types of homes for sale. In Center City, you’ll find attached rowhouses with many of them dating back to the 1800’s and earlier. You’ll also find new construction rowhouses, often with parking and roof decks. There are condos for sale throughout the Philadelphia area and in Center City you’ll find high-rise and mid-rise condos.
In northwest Philadelphia you’ll find rowhouses, twin homes with one shared wall, and single-family detached suburban style homes.
Montgomery County has mostly single-family detached homes but you’ll find some twins, rowhouses, and high-rise condos in some areas as well. In Lower Merion you’ll find that the majority of homes are Colonials or another traditional style but there are areas where development really started in the 1950’s so you’ll find a number of split-level homes.
In the Plymouth-Whitemarsh area in Montgomery County the average age of homes in newer than in Lower Merion. You’ll find mostly detached homes built between the 1940’s and today in these areas.
Median Home Prices
Median home prices can vary quite a bit from one neighborhood to the next but the chart below provides an overview of regional median home prices for homes in popular areas in and near Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Metro Median Home Prices
Existing Single-Family Homes New Construction Homes Condos Center City $425,000 $465,000 $355,000 Northwest Philadelphia $328,000 $621,000 $185,000 Lower Merion School District $740,000 $1,470,000 $200,000 Colonial School District $405,000 $670,000 $191,000
Parks & Recreation
Philadelphia has amazing parks both in the city and the nearby suburbs. Fairmount Park in Philadelphia includes 63 parks and covers over 9200 acres. The Wissahickon Valley Park is part of the Fairmount Park System. Located in northwest Philadelphia the park has over 1800 acres of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
The Schuylkill River Trail is a paved path for walking and biking that follows the river from Center City to Valley Forge National Park. It’s perfect for scenic walks and rides.
Morris Arboretum is located just outside of Chestnut Hill. The 92 acre park includes walking trails through the gardens.
There are several parks in Lower Merion with trails and playgrounds including Mill Creek Valley Park, Wynnewood Valley Park, and Flat Rock Park.
Things To Do With Kids when Living in Philadelphia
Philadelphia and the suburbs have seemingly endless options for things to do with kids. Some favorite things to do with kids in Philadelphia are . . .
- The Franklin Institute – Science Programming
- Smith Playground – A giant wooden slide and several playgrounds
- The Philadelphia – The annual pass is a great deal and it comes with parking!
- Hiking in Wissahickon Valley Park
- Walking along the Schuylkill River Trail
- Outdoor education at The Schuylkill Center
- Playgrounds in just about every neighborhood
- Bike riding at Valley Forge National Park
Weekend Getaways & Day Trips When Living in Philadelphia
If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway you’ll love living in Philadelphia. Within just a couple of hours you can get to the beach, check out the Baltimore waterfront, go hiking in the mountains, or take a trip to New York City. The Jersey shore has the bright lights of Atlantic City and more relaxed towns like Cape May.
Nearby Bucks County has beautiful rolling hills and the popular downtown area in New Hope. You can get out for hiking and biking in Jim Thorpe or take the longer drive for a weekend at PA’s Grand Canyon. In the winter you can go skiing within 2 hours of the city.
If you have young kids, they’ll love going Sesame Place. The amusement park is located about a half hour from Center City in Langhorne PA. The park has rides, shows, and events.
Getting Around When Living in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia region is served by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA. The system includes local trains and bus lines from the city to the suburbs. Commuting by train or bus is very common and easy to do.The Philadelphia International Airport is just about 20 minutes from Center City Philadelphia. Getting to the airport from the city by train is a popular option.
The major highways in the area are I-95 and I-76. 95 is on the east side of the city and connects Philadelphia to the airport, Delaware, and New Jersey. 76 is known as the Schuylkill Expressway. The Schuylkill Expressway follows the river on the west side of Center City. It connects the stadiums, Center City, northwest Philadelphia, and then goes through the King of Prussia area. If you’re commuting on the Schuylkill then be prepared for traffic congestion.
Traffic is an Issue When Living in Philadelphia
If you live in Center City you may be able to get by without a car if you work in the city, too. If you have to commute by car you can expect a lot of traffic congestion. If you’re taking any of the highways to work expect backups. In Center City traffic tends to flow fairly smoothly except for during rush hours and when there is the inevitable construction. Plan for traffic if you’ll be commuting by car.
The Weather in Philadelphia
When living in Philadelphia be prepared for the weather. We definitely get all 4 seasons here. Spring and Fall have moderate temperatures and near-perfect weather in our opinion. Summers get hot and humid. Winters get cold so you’ll need some warm outerwear. In winter we may get only a few dustings of snow or several snow storms with totals from a few inches to over a foot.
If you love getting out to the games then you’ll love Philadelphia. The Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers all play in a stadium complex in South Philly. You can take the train from Center City and be there in about 15 minutes. The Philadelphia Union plays in a soccer specific stadium in nearby Chester. It’s not as convenient to get there from Philly but it’s a great place to watch a match.
Philadelphia has amazing museums. The most well-known museum in Philadelphia is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The museum is home to over 240,000 pieces including paintings, sculpture, and photos. Within walking distance you’ll find The Rodin Museum and The Barnes Foundation. Both of these smaller museums are well-worth the visit.
The Mutter Museum is one of the more unique museums around. The Mutter is a museum of medical history and oddities. It’s not for the faint of heart.
The Franklin Institute is a science museum that’s focused on education for kids, but it’s incredibly interesting for those of any age.
There are unlimited places to shop in the Philadelphia area. In Center City you’ll find luxury shopping in the Rittenhouse Square and Old City neighborhoods. King of Prussia Mall is 20 miles outside of Center City. King of Prussia is a major regional shopping destination. Suburban Square in Ardmore is another popular shopping destination for luxury shopping.
Acme and ShopRite grocery stores are common in the region. There are Whole Foods stores located in Philadelphia’s Fairmount and Washington Square West neighborhoods. There are Trader Joe’s in Center City.
In the suburbs you’ll find Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting and Wynnewood in Lower Merion. There’s a Trader Joe’s located in Suburban Square in Ardmore.
Restaurants & Dining
The Philadelphia area is a food lovers destination. The variety of restaurants is definitely one of the best things about living in Philadelphia. You can find just about every type of food in the Philadelphia area from cheesesteaks to gastropubs to foods from anywhere in the world to upscale fine dining restaurants you can find anything you might be in the mood for. Some favorite restaurants include . . .
- Royal Izakaya
- The White Yak
- Jim’s Steaks
- Abbysinia Ethiopian Restaurant
- Sabrina’s Cafe
- Sang Kee in Chinatown
- Ekta Indian Restaurant
- From the Boot Italian Restaurant
- Taqueria Amor
Philadelphia is known for Eds and Meds. Hospitals in Philadelphia include The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Both of these hospitals are located in University City just across the Schuylkill River from Center City. Center City and Lower Merion are popular places to live for people who commute to these hospitals.
Temple University Hospital is located north of Center City along the Broad Street subway line. Center City is a popular place to live for those commuting to Temple University and it’s Hospital since it’s an easy coummute.
Lankenau Hospital is located in Lower Merion to the northwest of Philadelphia.
More Info About Living in Philadelphia
If you need more info about living in Philadelphia visit the links below. Have questions about moving here and buying a home in the area? Send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to help.