Considering a move to Philadelphia from small town on the Left Coast
January 27, 2017 2:38 PM   Subscribe

The job will be located in the 19147 zip code. I'm originally from South Jersey and previously worked in Philly, but it's been nearly 20 years since I lived in the area. Lots of questions abound.

Basically I'm trying to decide the pros and cons of working in the city and living in the city itself vs commuting from South Jersey, where I have family.

After living in a small town for so many years, the idea of driving in that traffic horrifies me. More likely than not, I'm trying to avoid a complicated, expensive commute.

1) Tax wise, is there a reason to live in either Philadelphia vs. South Jersey or do taxes and exemptions even out the city wage taxes?

2) If I end up moving to Philly and I'm looking for a decent one-BR dog friendly place with a fireplace and small yard, will that be difficult to find? I want to be able to walk to work if possible.

3) If I end up living in South Jersey, the closest to the city other than Camden with a reasonable commute to the 19147 zip code would still be Collingswood using public transport? I'm trying to avoid driving into the city because I doubt there will be any parking provided.

4) What is the 19147 zip code neighborhood called? What are the names of the neighborhoods I should look at to be able to walk here within 20 minutes?

Thanks. And of course, any reasons to make me fall in love with being back in this neck of the woods will be much appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1) theres a city wage tax for working there, and another if you live there, if you live & work you pay both. i don't know how exemptions or anything work for that.

3) I live in Collingswood, and like it a lot. Lovely walkable downtown with a lot of BYO restaurants. Its a dry town, but we have a microbrewery now, oddly enough. Westmont & Haddonfield are along the PATCO line too and nice as well. If you live within walking distance to patco it works out great, parking in the lots can fill up. If you have any questions, message me. patco runs 24/7. $5.20 round trip from collingswood. You'll probably need to transfer to septa though, unless you are on the north end of 19147 and can walk from locust and 9th/12th. patco sells transfers for $3.10 round trip from the nj ticket machines.

4) 19147 could be queen village, passyunk east, pennsport, head house square, wash sq west, or others depending on where in the zipcode you are. It borders the broad street line, so if your work is close to that you can take the broad street & market frankford el and be all over the city in 20 minutes.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:07 PM on January 27, 2017

I live in 19147. Dog-friendly 1br with a yard will be difficult but not impossible; most of the housing stock is row homes, so you'd have to find a dog-friendly first-floor unit (sometimes there's shared access to the back but it's uncommon.) be aware the "yard" in this instance is going to be a small patch of concrete, suitable for quick dog business but not exercise for anything bigger than a chihuahua. Working fireplaces are very rare and in a house that's been carved into apartments even more rare.

Collingswood is a great town, and a quick ride on PATCO will drop you off a short walk from your job. If the city's scale intimidates you or you just think you'd prefer it, I'd say go for it! That said, I don't know what the rental market in collingswood is like; everyone I know there are former city residents who bought houses there to stay close to the city while getting more space and better schools for kids.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:08 PM on January 27, 2017

I think a lot of this depends on what kind of person you are and lifestyle you are looking for: if you are an urban person who enjoys density, very easy public transit, and a lot of stuff to do late in the evenings or nights, it's a no brainer to choose to live in Philly. However, if you are someone who prefers less density, is okay with driving most places to do most basic life errands like grocery shopping, probably South Jersey is for you. Most people I know who fall into that second category are definitely happier in New Jersey.

As for your specific questions:
1) the difference between the wage tax for living in Philly and working in Philly is pretty small so I wouldn't put a lot of weight on that. There may be benefits in terms of tax write-offs or something else on the New Jersey side, I'm not familiar with any Jersey taxes so I can't say.

2) I've just been looking for a one bedroom so I can tell you that price is an important factor in this. You don't say what price range you're looking in. Also, I can almost guarantee that you will not find a working fireplace, however, you do have a good chance of finding a dog friendly place with a backyard. Or consider finding a place near a dog park.

3) Yeah, traffic into the city is a pain and also remember you'll need to pay a $5 toll coming in. If you do that everyday it can add up pretty quickly.

4) Zip codes don't cleanly align with neighborhood boundaries, so 19147 includes Bella Vista, Queen Village, a little of Passyunk Square, and sort of part of Pennsport too. Which other neighborhoods are within a twenty-minute walk of your workplace depends on where within the zip code your workplace is - it can be a pretty big zip code to walk. For example if you're closer to the east end of the zip code, I wouldn't count on taking the subway since that that's a pretty long walk.
posted by ashworth at 6:32 AM on January 28, 2017

Just re-read the first response and you should know that you do not pay the city tax twice if you live and work in the city. If you live in Philly, your rate is something like 3.957 (don't quote me, but you can look it up), and if you only work in Philly, you pay something like 3.55 - basically the difference is relatively small and most importantly, you only pay one rate, not both. No one would live here if you paid almost 8% to live and work in the city!
posted by ashworth at 6:49 AM on January 28, 2017

The NJ - Philly tax situation did change recently, I think in a way that favors living in Philly, but it's something to look up.

I did have a working fireplace in one rented house by South Street, and a yard at another, but both were kind of unusual. Many places are dog friendly. For all three, I would try to find a house or ground floor apartment in one of the older neighborhoods. It was a wonderfully convenient neighborhood to live in, but not super close to the el or PATCO.
posted by sepviva at 3:57 PM on January 28, 2017

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