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Relocating to Philadelphia? Get ready for a unique small-town vibe (despite being one of the largest cities on the East Coast and home to 1.6 million people), lots (and we mean lots) of great food, and rich history. But even though Philadelphia seems like the perfect city to live in, you should always consider all the cost factors before making the big move. Jump in the shoes of a local and get a full breakdown of Philadelphia rent prices, neighborhoods, and the overall cost of living with this complete guide.
Art, culture, sports, and an amazing food scene—it’s easy to fall in love with Philadelphia. So if you want to make the City of Brotherly Love your next home, you’ll be happy to know that the average apartment rent in Philadelphia is quite affordable compared to its neighboring metropolitan cities. But as new residential buildings quickly populate the city, residents are beginning to notice an uptick in Philadelphia rent prices.
If you begin your search now, you’ll find that the average rent in Philadelphia for a studio apartment is $1,193, a one-bedroom is $1,317, and a two-bedroom is $1,346. Don’t forget your utilities. The average monthly utility bill for a 915 sq ft one-bedroom apartment is $150.32. Of course, you’ll want to add internet, so expect to pay an additional $60.99 a month.
The cost of living in Philadelphia really depends on where you decide to live. Luckily, the housing options are endless, but honestly, it may be a bit daunting to have to choose from the city’s 25 different neighborhoods—each with its own personality, vibe, and character. We’ll help make the decision easier with this breakdown of the least and most expensive neighborhoods in the city.
The great thing about Philadelphia (and major benefit) is that the city has enough neighborhoods to fit any budget. And we’ve found that most of Philadelphia’s inexpensive neighborhoods are located at the north end of the city. They’re a longer ride from Philadelphia’s Center City (downtown Philadelphia), but have their own personalities and suburban/urban feel that make them unique.
Join 4,647 residents in calling Melrose Park Gardens home. You’ll notice several families and young professionals in the neighborhood, and if you appreciate the quiet, this may be a perfect match. It’s about 30 mins from Center City, but plan to spend only $937 per month for a one-bedroom apartment here.
In Pennypack Woods the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,085 per month. It’s a welcoming and diverse neighborhood with plenty of shops and bars to spruce up your nightlife. 6,767 people live in this community (many retirees), and shopping centers and parks are close by.
Move to Wissahickon (located in lower Northwest Philadelphia) for close proximity to some of the best Philadelphia restaurants, bars, and shops. But with convenience comes an increase in the cost of living. Expect to pay about $1,100 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in this neighborhood.
Consider moving to East Oak Lane—a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood located in North Philadelphia. You should be able to find a one-bedroom apartment in East Oak Lane for about $1,152 a month. This neighborhood is a gem, as it’s one of the few neighborhoods in Philadelphia where you can find detached single-family homes with plenty of land as well as the typical Philadelphia rowhomes. Heads up: you may need to budget for a car in this neighborhood as you’d be about 40 minutes from Center City.
Live in Cedar Park for Bohemian vibes and cultural diversity. Located in West Philadelphia (cue the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song), Cedar Park is a residential neighborhood with its fair share of restaurants, art galleries, and live music. Most residents rent their homes in this neighborhood (average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,163 a month)and appreciate the convenience of being a trolley ride away from the city.
Aside from the food, culture, and history, what Philly residents really love about the city are the neighborhoods. Some residents choose to live in the heart of the city near all the hustle and bustle. This makes for great entertainment and the ultimate convenience, but get ready to cough up a few extra dollars to enjoy this lifestyle. Here are the most expensive Philadelphia neighborhoods for renters.
Experience three neighborhoods in one in Washington Square West—one of the best places to live in Philadelphia. Most residents are young professionals and choose to rent in this neighborhood (average rent for a one-bedroom is $3,076). Washington Square West includes Midtown Village, a community packed with small businesses, restaurants, and shops, and the Gayborhood, home to the LGBTQ+ community (with too many LGBTQ-friendly restaurants and bars to count).
We guarantee you won’t run out of things to do in Logan Square (think coffee shops, parks, restaurants, bars and more). With Broad Street on the east, the Schuylkill River on the west, Market Street on the south, and Spring Garden Street on the north, Logan Square is nestled in the center of several iconic Philadelphia attractions. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in this neighborhood is about $2,870. This neighborhood is home to young professionals and retirees.
Avenue of the Arts South is Philadelphia’s arts cultural district. If you moved to this neighborhood, you’ll not only be in the center of Philadelphia, but in one of the most vibrant performing arts, residential, educational, and tourist destinations in the United States. Expect to pay about $2,544 for a one-bedroom apartment in this historic neighborhood.
If you want to be where the people are, live in University City. Named for being home to two of the largest institutions in the city, University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, University City is the heartbeat of West Philadelphia. In just one walk around the neighborhood, you’ll meet interesting people of all backgrounds, taste amazing street-food, and stumble across high-end galleries. The average rent for a one bedroom apartment in University City is $2,542.
Center City is Philadelphia’s downtown area (FYI locals will laugh if you call it downtown), and home to a number of unique, vibrant, and historic neighborhoods, including Old City, Society Hill, Rittenhouse Square, and Chinatown. The options for food and nightlife are endless, but with more restaurants, bars, and cafes than any other part of the city, Center City is a high-traffic area for tourists, so keep that in mind if you’re considering staying in these neighborhoods. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in this area is $2,463.
While rent and neighborhoods are important when factoring the cost of living, it is also beneficial to break down the costs of everything you need and enjoy to live comfortably. This exercise will assist in determining if this city is the best move for you financially. To help, we’ve catalogued the costs of everyday living, including salary, taxes, food, healthcare, transportation, and entertainment.
The average yearly salary in Philadelphia is $70,000 (but you’ll need to make just under $60,000 to live comfortably in the city).
If you happen to be in the job market, you’ll find that one of the largest employment sectors in Philadelphia is healthcare, including employers like the University of Pennsylvania and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Other top employers in the city are the federal government, U.S. Mint, Comcast Cable, Inc., and various restaurants.
The highest paying jobs in the city range from Obstetricians and Gynecologists to Lawyers and Marketing Managers. You’ll also have success scoring a position as a Project Manager, Software Engineer, and Operations Manager, as these roles are in high demand in the city.
Before your move to Philadelphia, consider the income and sales taxes. Residents face a double local income tax rate from the state and city (statewide income tax rate is 3.07% and the resident citywide income tax rate is 3.88%), which could have a major impact on your take home salary.
Don’t be surprised if you notice an 8% sales tax on your receipts. This is because the statewide sales tax in Pennsylvania is 6% and Philadelphia adds an additional city-wide sales tax of 2%. This seems like a lot, but for a little perspective, it’s aligned with New York City’s sales tax of 8.875% and even lower than Chicago’s 10.25% sales tax. The good news is that the sales tax doesn’t apply to everything. Skip the taxes on amusement parks, parking lots, garages, recreational industries, food, clothing, piercing services, and tattoos.
Healthcare in Philadelphia has a cost of living index of 98.4—1.6% less than the national average. The average doctor’s visit will cost $117. You may spend $100 at a dentist visit and about $109 at an optometrist visit. Typically, private healthcare costs are covered by employers, with a monthly contribution from employees. However, you’ll be able to access discount healthcare services by going to the local Minute Clinic at CVS Pharmacy (visits to a nurse practitioner are $35).
The average Philadelphian spends $3,690 on food annually ($10,806 for families of four).
Although the city has a wide range of arguably some of the best restaurants, bars, and breweries, eating out every day will add up. Expect to pay $15 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant or $55 for a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant. Save a bit with a budgeted grocery routine. Grocery prices in Philadelphia are reasonable. On average, a gallon of milk will cost you $3.99, a carton of eggs costs $2.49, and a loaf of bread is $2.69
The ease and affordability of getting around the city varies. The average single adult in Philadelphia spends $4,332 annually on transportation. Depending on where you are, you may be able to walk or bike to your destination (Philly is one of the top five walkable cities in the U.S.), but if you plan to drive, you’ll need to account for gas (an average of $2.68 a gallon) and parking fees at meters or garages. Public transportation helps lower these costs with rider passes. Pro tip: purchase a weekly pass over a daily pass. A daily pass costs $9, while a weekly pass will only cost you $25.50.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—you’ll never get bored in Philadelphia. The city delivers excellent entertainment options and residents will travel all over to enjoy the city’s art, culture, music, and sports events.
Unlike Washington, D.C., the art museums in Philadelphia are not free. However, paying a small fee is definitely worth experiencing Philly’s killer art scene. Prepare to spend $20 for adult admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but on the first Sunday of every month or Wednesdays after 5, you can pay whatever you like. You can also visit the Barnes Foundation for $22 for non-members (members and children 0-5 get in free) or $25 on the weekends.
Philadelphia is a great city for sports fans, so if you want to see a sports event when you get in town, have at it! The average ticket cost for an Eagles game is $162. Look to spend $108 on a 76ers ticket, $83 to see the Phillies, and $48 to cheer on the Phillies.
Philadelphia is a major metropolitan city, so it’s not much of a surprise that its cost of living index is 101.2, just slightly more expensive than the U.S. average (100). Nevertheless, rent prices in Philadelphia are still about 51% cheaper than nearby metropolitan cities like New York.
Now that you have an idea of the average rent in Philadelphia and how everyday expenses add up, you can decide if the city is a good fit for you. As the city continues to grow, rent prices will continue to increase. But out of its 25 neighborhoods, you shouldn’t have trouble finding an apartment in Philadelphia in your budget.
Check out our blog for more info on Philadelphia like the best places to eat, fun things to do, and the pros and cons of moving to the city. If the city is a great fit, let us help you start your search.