Last $60 in Philadelphia
October 17, 2017 3:25 PM   Subscribe

You're staying in Queen Village in Philadelphia and you have to get to Kindred South Philly every day for a week. You have $60 total. How do you get around? Where do you get food? Is there a better place to stay?

This is my first time in Philadelphia and I have to be here for an uncertain amount of time (family member in ICU at the hospital), and I am broke. I have more money coming, but I won't have it for another week.

I'm looking for your best tips on how to get around (assume I know literally nothing. If it's the bus, where should I catch it? Is SEPTA the best option? What's the deal? If it's walking, what's a good route? It can't possibly be Lyft, can it?), where to buy groceries or eat for super cheap, or just your best having no money in Philadelphia tips.

Advice/hand-holding/Philadelphia-splaining very, very much appreciated.
posted by moons in june to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (20 answers total)
Best answer: Sorry, sounds like you're going through a tough time.

Queens village to Kindred is walkable to this New Yorker (and past south philly resident) but I don't know what kind of walking shape you're in. I'd go to the south philly Acme and buy cheap food to get you through the week.
posted by overhauser at 3:35 PM on October 17, 2017

Best answer: I imagine trying to navigate an unfamiliar city while dealing with a relative in ICU is super frustrating and a little overwhelming.

It's about a mile and half walk from Queen Village to Kindred down Passyunk Ave. Coincidentally, about halfway along that walk is an Acme grocery store, and you'll also pass both Geno's and Pat's, if you want to involve yourself in the cheesesteak wars.

There's a couple of ways to do that trip by bus, but they'll take the same amount of time, to be honest. There's also Indego bike sharing, and there are stations in Queen Village, but that might be an expense you'd prefer to hold off on.
posted by hanov3r at 3:41 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you can walk, it looks like its maybe 1.5 miles, so that could help you out, straight shot down passyunk ave from queen village. Its a safe section of town unless after midnight or something.

You will pass right by the acme on passyunk that overhauser mentions if you walk. You'll also pass by pats & genos cheesesteaks. they are tourist traps, don't spend your money on their poor renditions of a cheesteak.

Otherwise via septa:

google maps can give you options on what bus(es) to take. Punch in your starting & ending address and toggle it over to the mass transit directions (looks like the front of a subway car).

cash fares (probably exact change only) are $2.50 and $1 for a transfer, you would pay the extra dollar at the start of your ride and ask for a transfer if you need a 2nd bus.

its probably easier to get a septa key card, then fares are $2 + $1 transfer. Its a reloadable card with a minimum $10 load. transfers are handled automatically. buy them at sites here: septa key sales locations if you register it online, you may be able to have someone reload it online for you via credit card. you can't tell how much is left except for online or at a sales kiosk, the readers don't tell you.

You could also get a transpass for $25.50, good for 56 rides from monday -
monday. if you are here midweek - midweek its not a good deal. transpass

feel free to message me with questions, i don't live in philly but often get around it pretty easy.

Lyft/Uber will chew through your money very fast.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:43 PM on October 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding both the Acme and walking. It looks like taking SEPTA would be almost as long as going by foot, and would involve a transfer. Any transfer costs $1 on SEPTA so that would add up, without doing you any good. For food other than ACME you are walking through some prime cheap-eating territory, namely Mexican and Vietnamese, as well as the covered Italian market on 9th street. 60 really isn't much so you might not want to eat out more than once, but it's worth having some options in mind if you lose your willpower.
posted by Stilling Still Dreaming at 3:44 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Normally I hate it when people just google stuff for their answer, but I hope you'll tolerate an exception here. Googling "free meals Philadelphia" turned up this list and schedule. You want the Center City and South Philadelphia options. Take advantage of these services! That's what they're there for, to help people in a tight spot.

Also, make sure to alert the hospital's social services to your predicament. Just ask to speak to a social worker. They almost certainly have vouchers for the hospital cafeteria, and may have bus passes or other good ideas.
posted by 8603 at 3:57 PM on October 17, 2017 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, you guys are the best. It all seems so obvious now. Acme for groceries, Passyunk to get there and back. I could hug you all.

I am still looking for any "being broke in Philly" tips anyone else would care to share. Especially somewhere to get a Not Terrible fall coat/jacket since I came here with two outfits when it was 85 degrees and humid. Now it's... not.
posted by moons in june at 4:00 PM on October 17, 2017

Best answer: You should be pretty close to the Philly AIDS Thrift store. Definitely worth hitting them for something warm if you need it.
posted by hanov3r at 4:06 PM on October 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Philadelphia AIDS thrift will have good stuff for you. A light coat over a hoody and long pants should get you through to January, so if money is tight, you don't need to worry about anything heavier until then.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:10 PM on October 17, 2017

Best answer: For when you're cooking: this PDF cookbook, Good & Cheap, is designed for people on food stamps, and lays out easy, low-cost recipes that provide good nutrition and great flavors at very low cost, with ingredients that will be easily found at any normal supermarket.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:12 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This sounds like a very difficult time. I'm sorry you're going through it. Please check your MeMail.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:24 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Thirding Philly AIDS thrift. Also there is an awesome big Vietnamese grocery store at 11th and Federal if you're cooking and want cheap produce. (At least there was...7 years ago.) Not exactly on the way, but not too far.
posted by little cow make small moo at 4:32 PM on October 17, 2017

Best answer: That's a tough situation. I remember the first week I moved to Philly, and after deposit, rent, and moving expenses only had $16 to eat for the next few days. I survived on overpriced box mac n cheese from the dollar store. It sucked.

For getting around, if it's a miserable day try Uber pool - it's usually cheaper than Lyft and depending on the distance can be the same cost or cheaper than the bus.

If you're too busy to cook, you can get a good deal on a lot of food at some of the food trucks. The plainer the truck, the more food you'll get or the cheaper it'll be. And especially in South Philly they aren't as overpriced as Center City.

If you're new to the delivery service Caviar ( you get $10 off your first order and they do pickup, so with smart ordering you could get a really discounted order that would last a couple meals.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:43 PM on October 17, 2017

Best answer: That’s not a lot of money. I’m wondering if a social worker at the hospital can help you out. I would think they deal with this sort of thing a lot. Good luck.
posted by FencingGal at 4:43 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Philabundance and Broad Street Ministry are good resources for food, warm clothing and support.

If you go for a Septa Key card (you can probably walk if you're generally energetic and able, but it's cold out) be careful buying it, the machines are infamously confusing.

Good luck, I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by queen_mob at 4:57 PM on October 17, 2017

Best answer: Seconding a walk to Philly Aids Thrift for a coat.

First Oriental Supermarket at 6th and Washington has really, really cheap produce.
posted by entropone at 5:08 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do check out the hospital cafeteria. Sometimes (though less often these days) the food is very cheap in such places.

Best of luck to you.
posted by praemunire at 6:23 PM on October 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hey! I have a trillion fall coats and sweaters and shit, and I live in South Philly. I would more than happily lend you some! I am a size 6-8-10 depending on the brand. You can use our washer/dryer too if you need!

Also, go to Aldi, not ACME. ACME is way more expensive.

You can get a SEPTA pass that is good for unlimited rides. The week pass is 25.50. That's like half your maybe not the best option, but the info is there.

I live in West Passyunk area, HMU if you need ANYTHING at all.
posted by erattacorrige at 6:51 PM on October 17, 2017 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Uh. You guys are amazing. I'm seriously about to cry. I really didn't expect this kind of support. Thanks all.
posted by moons in june at 7:05 PM on October 17, 2017

Check your MeMail. Good luck to you!
posted by a moisturizing whip at 7:49 PM on October 17, 2017

If you are able to bike, there are Indego stations throughout the city, including a couple in Queen Village and one right near Kindred hospital. There are discount codes that can get you a 30 day pass for $7.50, i.e. 25 cents/day -- let me know if you need a code. The online form defaults to credit cards, but there is also a cash option where you take the completed, printed form to certain locations and they will give you a pass.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. It's scary to have a loved one sick; please take time to take care of yourself. Like others above, I live in Philly, please let me know if you need a shoulder to lean on.
posted by basalganglia at 3:51 AM on October 18, 2017

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