philly apartments?
May 21, 2006 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Moving to Philly! Where should I live? When should I start looking for a late-August move? Any good source of apartment listings, besides craigslist?

Here are my requirements: 1-bedroom or a studio, rent up to $950. I’ll be working right near Independence Park and I won’t have a car, so walking distance (up to 20 mins) would be ideal. However, I would trade walking distance for a really neat neighborhood or a big cost savings, as long as the public transport is reasonable.

posted by footnote to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Check out places in Bella Vista or Pennsport - they're at the far end of your range (I can walk from, say, 5th and Washington to 5th and Market in about twenty minutes), but worth it - you'd be living in a very friendly neighborhood with a ton of history and character. Avoid Washington Ave and about two blocks north and south between 4th and 8th streets; the rest of Southwark is okay. Avoid most of the Graduate Hospital area (aka The Land Of Chinese Food Places With Bulletproof Glass) and avoid Gray's Ferry like the plague. I liked some parts of Northern Liberties when I worked there, and Old City is very hip and old and beautiful (although that might get a little pricey). Public transit isn't perfect, but you should be able to find a place near a bus line that goes around where you're working. A monthly TransPass (good for buses, subway, trolley, and trains on the weekends) runs $70, if you wind up too far from your work.

Start looking NOW! Real estate gets snapped up here - the only reason I got my current apartment is because I called two hours after the ad went up, toured the next day, and got my app in that evening. Be prepared to move fast to secure the place! I'd say June is also good to start, although you'd be cutting it close in the latter half of the month.

Craigslist really is my favorite, but you can also find good listings at Philadelphia Weekly. They go up every Wednesday night.
posted by kalimac at 2:02 PM on May 21, 2006

Lots of neat places to live around Independence Park, especially if you don't have a car.

I concur with Bella Vista, which is a great neighborhood and not that far of a walk. If you're in BV just south of South St., you're really only talking 8 or 9 blocks to the park. Just don't live too close to South Street, or you'll be in for a noisy experience.

I'd also recommend checking out Washington Square West, which joins Bella Vista at South St. There are some areas of WSW which are pretty shady the closer you get to the center of center city, but it's extremely nice around Pennsylvania Hospital and there are some neat cheap places along Pine and Spruce between 7th and 11th that would be very close to the parks. I had a sub-$900 one-bedroom on Clinton St. for a while which was a bit shoddy but the location was wonderful.

Also agreed, start looking now. Apartment-hunting in Center City is quite a sport. When I left my place in Society Hill, it got shown and a new tenant was signed three months (!) before I vacated.
posted by eschatfische at 2:28 PM on May 21, 2006

I really, really liked living in Queens Village, which would be about a 10-15 minute walk to work. It's a little roudy living near South Street, but the surrounding amenities within walking distance were unbeatable. The only problem is it's on the corner of the grid away from good access to the subway. But I'd still live there again if I could. On rainy days there's also I bus I believe that would take you straight to Independence park.
posted by drpynchon at 3:17 PM on May 21, 2006

Philly Weekly is generally better than Craigslist for apts. here. Start calling first thing Wed. morning. Call all of the realty companies offering rentals and all of the listings that sound appropriate.

Wash Square West and Queens Village are your best bets. You might find something in your range in Old City or Society Hill or up near Rittenhouse. Graduate Hospital area has come a long way in the last couple of years -- as long as you stick to the end closer to Center City it's another good place to look. Gray's Ferry is rough, though. Bella Vista is a terrific neighborhood, but I wouldn't have wanted to live there when I first moved to Philly -- it's quieter and more neighborhoody, but also less convenient to nighttime goings on. (I live even further in South Philly now and LOVE it, but I've lived all over the city.)

A Transpass is going to be a waste of money, most likely. Just buy tokens.

You can always decide to get a bigger, cheaper place farther afield into South Philly or Fishtown or whatever once you get a feel for what neighborhoods you like best.
posted by desuetude at 6:55 PM on May 21, 2006

I third the Philadelphia Weekly recommendation.

Stay far away from Fishtown and Northern Liberties. In addition to housing being seriously overpriced, violent crime is getting out of control and the police are shrugging their hands. The only reason to live there is to buy hipster credibility.

Some parts of West Philly around University City and Powelton Village are well within your price range. Same with south of South Street (Queens Village, Italian neighborhood). If you bike or can take public transportation you'll be happy here.

Graduate Hospital and Gayborhood, or west of Washington Square park, will be close to your price range. Great neighborhoods, and you'll be central to all the fun stuff. You'll also be close to Independence Park. Start looking now.

You might look into Chinatown. Rent there is reasonable, but it's a noisy neighborhood unless you score a hi-rise condo.

You will not find anything in Rittenhouse or Fitler Square in your price range unless you get a roommate. Rents for studios and efficiencies start at $1100-1200 and up.

I can't stress enough that you start early and be decisive if you find a place you like. Places get snatched up within a day or two of being listed.
posted by Mr. Six at 11:01 PM on May 21, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice! I'm so glad I asked -- otherwise I was just going to cruise into July before I started looking...
posted by footnote at 5:33 AM on May 22, 2006

I agree to start scouting out where you might want to live now. But looking early can be a bit problematic, as a lot of places don't list until the month before move-in. It's all about being ready to pounce. Don't be surprised if you have a hard time finding a lot of properties to look at before July, but do keep trying.

Also, I work in your new work neighborhood. My e-mail is in my profile -- I can clue you to every great cheap lunch in the neighborhood.
posted by desuetude at 5:54 AM on May 22, 2006

Your price range may be a bit low, especially in that neighborhood.

Check out They helped me a bit when I was looking.

And, definitely, start looking NOW. When I first moved out here I flew out a few months beforehand expecting to find and rent an apartment in a weekend. Big mistake.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:05 AM on May 22, 2006

Penn's listings may be useful as well. Good luck!
posted by Mr. Six at 12:50 PM on May 22, 2006

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