Timeframe for looking for an apartment in Philadelphia?
October 12, 2008 7:36 AM   Subscribe

How much of a lead time is required to lease an apartment in Philadelphia?

We're moving to Philadelphia next year, and need to start thinking about arranging vacation time to do apartment hunting there. How much of a lead time do we want for a lease starting on June 1, 2009? Can we spend the first week of May looking?

Ideally, we'll be near the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, with the medical academic year starting from July 1.
posted by chengjih to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
3-4 weeks in advance is absolutely workable, though it'll help a lot if you're willing to sign a lease beginning immediately and 'waste' a couple of weeks' rent. I did my recent apartment search with about that much lead time, and that was after trying to do it 2 months beforehand and being stymied by a shortage of options. (Though you may want to ignore me and wait for someone with West Philly/University City-specific experience, if you're looking on that side of the Schuylkill, because I don't know how much of a difference all the Penn and Drexel students make in the rental cycles.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:01 AM on October 12, 2008

Be careful of some of the property managers in West Philly, places like Greene Street specifically have horrendous reputations of being borderline slumlords. But yeah, a couple weeks in advance should be fine, there's a ton of turnover at the end of the school year around Penn. The closer you get to CHOP the greater the percentage of undergrad tenants you'll be dealing with, and they can be totally rowdy and just all around bad neighbors. Once you get out past 42nd Street you start to get more into grad/faculty territory that's more quiet and family oriented. Anything down to 50th between Baltimore and Walnut is pretty safe, though the further out you go the closer you get to Cedar Park and Southwest Philly, both of which have some crime problems.

Also, when you come out check the bulletin boards in the science buildings (BRB, CRB, Stellar-Chance) because people post a lot of housing notices there around the end of the year.
posted by The Straightener at 8:17 AM on October 12, 2008

Most of the rent cycles in the area of West Philadelphia close to CHoP will begin in August, given that you're in the University City district and that is when the non-med, non-Wharton school year starts. In the worst case, you might look into subletting if you need something really close to work. You should be able to find something across the Schuykill much more easily within your timeframe, and you'll still be very close to work, but the tradeoff will be higher rents.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:18 AM on October 12, 2008

I lived in West Philly for a few years, out by 46th Street and Spruce. Also I was working at CHoP at the time (walking, and taking the bus to work). I spent a solid week, walking around, looking at apartments, and talking to all the people I could. It paid off and I found a place to move into for the next month. A few weeks lead time should be fine. Follow every lead. There are a lot of hidden gems that don't get well advertised.

I concur mostly with what the Straightner said. If you're looking in West Philly, you want to avoid the undergrad ghetto and be west of 42nd/43rd street. Consider carefully public transportation lines. Having a bus or trolley running within a block of your apartment is very very nice, particularly during the winter. I had the number 42 bus stop right in front of my building, which is nice because it goes directly to CHoP.
posted by Mercaptan at 2:54 PM on October 12, 2008

I'm in the CHOP-adjacent area and would suggest Urban and Bye ...they do a lot of sales, but also a fair number of rentals. I've also seen signs for around here for Walter Wood, though I have no personal experience with 'em.
I've had friends find a place and move inside of a month, though it depends on the season..In early June, you'll have fewer options, but less competition. I'm West of 44th, near Clark Park, and it's a great neighborhood. Good luck!
posted by BundleOfHers at 7:02 PM on October 12, 2008

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