Philadelphia Apartment Recommendations in 2018? (student apt preferred)
April 23, 2018 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for a student moving to Philadelphia? Hi everyone, thank you for visiting my question! I'm about to begin a full-time, online master's and am hoping to relocate to a city with decent walkability and transportation and get a studio (or 1 BR apt if the price and availability are good). I am looking to move in within the next month. I don't have Facebook and looking at Google reviews can be inconclusive, so I thought I'd post here! This is my first time moving into my own place.

Note: (Just in case) Apt = Apartments

What I'm looking for:
Studio (or 1 bedroom if price is good)
Budget: $1500/mo or less, preferably (including all costs)
(all-inclusive rent with internet preferred, common in some student apts)
Private bath
Don't mind sharing laundry

Gym access or discount preferred

So far the lowest-price I've found is YONO Apts, but the reviews are so mixed I'm not sure if it's a great deal or a trap.

If you're a local or have lived in Philly, I'd appreciate any warnings or recommendations on neighborhoods/safety too!

I'm willing to pay more for housing than the usual student to have amenities I won't have as an online student (such as gym access), and be in an area where I can access things easily. Student apartments with all-inclusive rent are great. I do need a place with reliable internet, as I work from home. However, I don't NEED luxury, like granite counter tops or anything.

Note: If you know of great affordable apts in other areas, I'm open, since I can move anywhere pretty much. I'm considering San Fran, Boston, Portland OR, maybe D.C., etc. I'm focusing on Philly right now, because it seems the winter's a bit less intense than Boston's, less expensive than NYC and San Fran, and it's close enough to NYC and D.C. that I can get there if I need to for work opportunities. (Like modeling/event work/freelance stuff). I don't deal well with cold, but from my research it seems Miami and other southern cities don't have public transportation comparable to northern metros. And finding a non-luxury apt in Miami in a walkable area has been hard.
posted by dancer4life to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What school are you going to? This is important, because if you're going to Temple, you do not want to live near Temple, unless it's on-campus housing. (And even then, I wouldn't recommend it, but for different reasons.)

Philly is not much of a city of apartment buildings. It's a city of rowhouses and there's neighborhoods where you can rent an entire rowhouse for <>
That said: I'm very fond of West Philadelphia, the areas of Spruce Hill, Walnut Hill, Cedar Park, and Powelton Village are all very nice. You can find rowhouses converted to apartments there, and the neighborhood is very walkable, gorgeous in spring and summer, and close to transit. You have two major bus lines, and you can walk to either the Market-Frankford El, or the 43 trolley on Baltimore Ave as well. Just try to stay east of 56th Street, ideally 52nd Street, and north of Baltimore Ave if you want to live in West Philly.

There's also parts of South Philadelphia work exploring, but stay East of Broad Street if you do. Point Breeze is still pretty rough.
posted by SansPoint at 1:50 PM on April 23, 2018

Response by poster: Thank you!
For clarification: I'll be an online student, and *not* attending any schools in Philadelphia. My school is based in the Northeast but it's an entirely online program. I'm mainly looking to relocate to a city so I can get around without a car easily, but I don't mind being near other schools/campuses. I would actually like that.
posted by dancer4life at 1:55 PM on April 23, 2018

dancer4life: Then I would doubly suggest West Philadelphia , with the caveat that Penn students are notoriously obnoxious, entitled little assholes. Fortunately, back when I lived in West Philly (at 45th and Locust above the Green Line Cafe, which is one of a great local chain of coffee shops), the Penn kids rarely wandered out that far. It's been a while since lived there, though.
posted by SansPoint at 1:58 PM on April 23, 2018

If not West Philly, then South Philly near East Passyunk. Good place for young people, walkable, and you’ll find a place you can afford.
posted by OrangeVelour at 2:25 PM on April 23, 2018

Seconding West Philly. There are both studios and 1-br's well below your stated price with your amenities. It's more converted single-family houses (BIG ones though -- think a single family plus at least 1-2 servants at the time they were built). There are definitely buildings, though, many with the included utilities + internet.

I live not too far from where SansPoint did, and it's not bad for the most unbearable of Penn students; this close to Baltimore Ave it's much more on the relaxed grad student spectrum than raging entitled assholes. That said, there are occasional loud parties. If I did it all over again, I'd look farther west -- above 45th definitely, still sticking to the Baltimore Ave corridor. It's a really wonderful, funky neighborhood with a huge problem around gentrification, but most people are aware of that, and try to make an effort to support local business and keep the spirit of the neighborhood going. You'll still be reasonably close to Penn/Drexel campuses and there will be a lot of students around. Only problem I can think of is that there aren't a lot of gyms in West Philly. It's pretty easy to get to Center City/Old City on the trolley or subway, and the plethora there, though.

I found my apartment on Zillow and highly recommend going that route. You can filter by price, number of bedrooms, and tons of other metrics.
posted by kalimac at 2:26 PM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

(Whoops, I misread where SansPoint lived. The blocks around that Green Line Cafe are awesome! Definitely look around there! I think you're outside of the Obnoxious zone around there as well, but I live a bit further east and south, so can't speak to it personally.)
posted by kalimac at 2:28 PM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

West Philly for sure. Washington Square West may also fit your budget. I live in Fairmount which I love and is very non-obnoxious but might be a tad out of your price range. (My bldg has a doorman and a gym, you might be able to find cheaper if you forgo those amenities.)
posted by basalganglia at 9:21 PM on April 23, 2018

These days you're still definitely in the Penn undergrad zone at 45th and Locust; but yeah West Philly is the best. For gyms you'd have a few options - I know some newly refurb'd buildings that have gyms within, but there's a few regular gyms around, or joining the Y or one of the university gyms as a neighborhood resident will run you about $50/month.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 5:33 AM on April 24, 2018

Check out PMC PRoperty Group . They have several buildings within your budget, like this one.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:54 AM on April 24, 2018

WeekendJen: Yes, check out PMC Property Group. Then avoid any building they own. They're a famously shitty management company.
posted by SansPoint at 11:59 AM on April 24, 2018

Honestly, for $1500/mo you can rent a nice one-bedroom apartment or studio in literally any neighborhood in the city. Some utilities like heat are occasionally included in rent, internet rarely is.

We have plenty of apartment buildings in Center City. Some are larger and have more amenities , some are smaller, older apartment buildings of 8-10 units. And then a lot of converted rowhouses as well.

Easiest way to search is to use PadMapper and Hotpads, which aggregate from many sources. Filter out the AirBNBs.

Avoid housing marketed specifically to students.
posted by desuetude at 10:54 PM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Couldn't do links from my phone last night, so here you go:
posted by desuetude at 10:31 AM on April 25, 2018

Response by poster: Just wanted to say, thank you everyone! I really appreciate it. I have been running nonstop with work and things and just remembered to check AskMeFi. Thank you again!
posted by dancer4life at 4:48 PM on May 1, 2018

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