Moving to Philadelphia - Trying to find a rental and/or a rental agent.
July 6, 2013 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Hey Philadelphia! I'm moving to your city! We're looking to sign a lease for September 1st. HELP!

Places we are considering are West Philly (University City), South Philly (Bella Vista/ Queen Village / Italian Village / Passyunk) and Olde City. We need all the help we can get. Mostly, I'm looking for help on a few things:

1. Got any apartment leads with 2 bedrooms that are awesome?
2. Happen to know any reputable rental agents that may be able to help us?
3. Know any places that we should absolutely avoid living in?

Thanks in advance!
posted by punkrockrat to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What's your budget, and are there any musts like being close to regional rail or buses? Are you working in the city or closer to the suburbs? Welcome!
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:38 AM on July 6, 2013

Response by poster: I would like to stay around $2000 / month and we will need to be close to public transit, as I'll be working in the heart of Center City.
posted by punkrockrat at 9:05 AM on July 6, 2013

$2000 is a fine budget for any of those areas; I'm renting a 2BR in Bella Vista for well under that myself. I don't have any leads per se, but just keep checking Craigslist, use lots of variant names for neighborhoods (It's hard to guess whether a place might be referred to as "South Philly" or "Bella Vista" or "The Italian Market" for the same intersection), and chomp at it daily. Honestly, if you're willing to pay that much, this search shouldn't be that hard.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:20 AM on July 6, 2013

O'donnell real estate in University city should be able to help you.

$2,000 will get you a really nice place in University City. I suggest right off or on Baltimore Ave, no farther west than 50th street, put preferably closer to 46th. With that amount of money you will not have a problem at all.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2013

That is a ton. Philly has cheap rents. I would also suggest checking out Graduate Hospital, which is a really nice neighborhoody area; a lot like West Philly, but closer to Center City. That much will probably still get you a 2/1.5 two-story house. The 12 takes you right into Center City. (Learn the buses near you; they are essential.)

Especially with that budget, I would check out Philadelphia Apartment Co, who broker leases (but paid for by landlords). A lot of the listings you'll see on Craigslist are through them (or at least they were last time I looked five years ago). They're not great for smaller budgets, but you won't have the same issue; just be sure to set a hard limit or they'll keep sending you listings that are 25% more than what you tell them is your limit.
posted by supercres at 9:51 AM on July 6, 2013

With that budget, working in CC, I would 100% never live in West Philly. (I've been in Philly my whole life.) You could get a REALLY NICE PLACE in Bella Vista, walking distance to some of the best restaurants, markets, and bars in the city. It's also nice because you are in easy walking distance to Passyunk and Rittenhouse and other neighboring hoods, and just a quick walk to the subway to get to northern liberties/Fishtown. West Philly is a drag because it's full of college students and no one will ever want to go there. Plus if you ride your bike: wrst philly is all annoying hills! Most young adults I know live there because they work/attend one of the universities there and they hate every second of it.
posted by ancient star at 9:52 AM on July 6, 2013

Hey, I lived in West Philly and loved it! But I agree with that budget and the fact you are working in Center City, you should move closer to CC. West Philly is a nice place to live (no, I'm not a student and there are plenty of non-students who live there), but it IS a little bit out of the way when you want to do stuff in Center City.
posted by bearette at 10:05 AM on July 6, 2013

I got really lucky and scored a killer 1 bedroom in Rittenhouse for $1050. Don't settle. And seconding graduate hospital area.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:09 AM on July 6, 2013

Ha, my situation is the opposite of what ancient star describes; most of my friends (not students) live in West Philly and love it, and it's hard to get them to go anywhere else. It's like a mini city unto itself, for better and worse. Also, super easy to avoid noisy undergrads if you look far enough west; misanthropicpainforest has good guidelines there.

That said, it sounds like center city is more convenient for your particular situation.
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:33 AM on July 6, 2013

Even though it's not in the list of places you're considering, give the Fishtown/East Kensington/Old Richmond area a look. Depending on where you're working in Center City, you're only about a 5 - 10 minute ride on the Market/Frankford el train. You can even bike it on nice days. The number of great cafes, bars and restaurants in this area is increasing monthly. I haven't dealt with a realtor in many years so I can't offer advice there but shouldn't be difficult to find a good one, no matter where you end up looking. Good luck. And welcome to Philly!
posted by pescadero at 10:58 AM on July 6, 2013

Also the Fairmount/Art Museum area, which is an easy walk to CC (1-1.5 miles, depending how far up you go).
posted by Pax at 11:01 AM on July 6, 2013

Oh, and for what it's worth, if you were looking in June and finding few options - I've found that there's almost nothing in Philly more than 60 days out from start of lease. Of the three leases I've signed in this city, two were places that I saw less than 30 days from when they were available. In your shoes, I wouldn't even begin to look at actual listings for Sept 1 until, well, now at the earliest - and I wouldn't start worrying at all if you hit August and haven' signed a lease, even though that might seem nerve-wracking.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:20 AM on July 6, 2013

Graduate Hospital is probably your best bet in terms of distance to Center City. Old City can get a little fratty. I love love love West Philly, that's where I live now, and you could get a palace for $2000/month here. It's quite easy to take the trolley into CC and there's lots of biking options. I live near 52nd and think it's great, but my tastes aren't fancy. If yours are then you may want to stay east of 48th.
posted by Anonymous at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2013

Best answer: We don't really do rental agents here. Meaning, they're not necessarily a better value or more helpful than what you can find yourself, and often are worse. Nthing that leases are mostly handled 60 days out or so.

Once you move here and get settled in and get to know the city, maybe you'll decide that West Philly or some of the other less-central neighborhoods are more your cup of tea, but you can get a perfectly good place for that price in neighborhoods in and around Center City like Graduate Hospital, Bella Vista/Italian Market, Wash Square West, Old City, etc. -- these will be a much better "home base" for exploring.
posted by desuetude at 12:25 PM on July 6, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the tips everyone! I guess I should also ask - are there any neighborhoods I should completely avoid?
posted by punkrockrat at 12:50 PM on July 6, 2013

Probably nothing in North Philly, especially central North Philly.
posted by Anonymous at 12:51 PM on July 6, 2013

From your list, I'd agree on avoiding Old City - it's a weird mix of "wonderful during the week/daytime, godawful frat-land on the weekends" that I wouldn't suggest to a newbie right off the bat. And if you look down around Passyunk, be aware that the area West of broad is a very different neighborhood (Point Breeze) than the one immediately east of it. Point Breeze has its boosters, but I would definitely not recommend it as a First Neighborhood in Philly. For a Very First Philly Apartment, given that you guys have a substantial budget, I'd suggest Center City proper or, especially, the area immediately south of it - Bella Vista, Italian Market, Queen Village, Graduate Hospital.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:57 PM on July 6, 2013

are there any neighborhoods I should completely avoid?

The big apartment buildings between the Gayborhood and Rittenhouse are overpriced and lacking in character. I used to live in one (memail if you want to know which one) that was an expensive shitshow, complete with staff that stole out of my apartment.

The key to living in Old City is to stay north of Market, which is really, really, really nice (think Philadelphia's much smaller version of Chelsea in NYC). I used to live there and loved it. The only time it gets rowdy is the first Friday of each month when a bunch of assholes show up for the free drinks served by the galleries at their extended hours. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll be able to get a two bedrooms there for under $2,000.

Will you need parking? This can be a PITA in Philly.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2013

Personally, I like being a short walk to Market or Broad, so I can make easy use of subway/regional rail to get other places. This would knock queen vllage, some of graduate hospital, and most of bella vista out of the running for me.

I advise checking the SEPTA routes for each neighborhood to your most common work/play/study destinations before you sign.
posted by grudgebgon at 1:26 PM on July 6, 2013

Seconding that Old City north of Market is a whole different thing with a much more grownupish vibe than the dudebro-ish and bridge-and-tunnel nightlife on and below Market.
posted by desuetude at 12:53 PM on July 7, 2013

Response by poster: Well, ended up finding a place in the Art Museum district that we are happy with. Thanks for all the tips everyone!
posted by punkrockrat at 8:10 PM on July 15, 2013

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