Plain and simple, living in New York City is expensive. If you’re looking for a city that’s much more affordable but still has the culture, tasty cuisine, and exciting entertainment that you love in NYC, consider nearby Philadelphia, less than two hours southwest of Manhattan. Tack on the deep historical context – Philadelphia is the nation’s first World Heritage City – and you can live a rich life far more economically in the City of Brotherly Love. As a side note to the Philadelphia nickname, for the entire year of 2020, the city is officially known as the City of Sisterly Love to honor the 19th amendment.
What to Know About Moving from New York City to Philadelphia
Here are some things you should know before uprooting your life in NYC and heading south to Philly.
Transportation and Traffic
Are you one of the 55% of NYC residents who don’t own a car? Good news! You don’t necessarily need a car in Philadelphia either. If you decide to go carless in Philly, just be sure to investigate which neighborhoods have the best access to public transit.
The Southeastern Transportation Authority makes it easy to commute and get around. STA offers trolleys, buses, and commuter rail. While not quite as sterling as NYC’s walk and transit scores of 89 and 84 respectively, Philly’s scores are much higher than average. Rated at 79, Philadelphia also scores high for walking, and the transit score is 67. Cycling, also rated at 67, is almost equivalent to NYC’s score of 68.
Housing and Cost of Living
So you’re curious to know just how economical it will be to live in Philadelphia. Housing is always the highest cost of living expense, but in Philly, it will be your most significant savings – 77.5% lower than in NYC – or another way to put it, $527,100 cheaper than in NYC! In NYC, the median home cost is $680,500, and in Philadelphia, it’s $153,400. You have to love that! If you opt to rent, you’ll save there too. A two-bedroom apartment will run an average of $1,193, whereas in NYC, a two-bedroom apartment rents for $2,049.
Philly’s overall cost of living is only a fraction higher than the US average, but NYC’s is 46% higher than average. While we’re talking savings, your utilities will be 28% less, transportation will be 21.6% less, groceries and food will be 12.1% less, and health costs will be 12.6% less.
Another category of prospective savings will be on your sales and property taxes. Your Philadelphia sales tax will be 8% compared to the 8.875% sales tax you currently pay in NYC.
Additionally, if you buy a home in Philadelphia, your property tax liability will be assessed at a slightly higher rate of 0.949%. In New York City, property taxes vary from borough to borough but consider .90% the average effective rate.
Pennsylvania charges 3.07% on taxable income. But here’s the glitch – if you reside and work in Philly, you’ll also pay a city income tax of 3.9%. Your NY income tax ranges progressively from 4% to 8.82%, so depending on your income, you may just break even on state and local income taxes.
Economy and Job Growth
Moving from NYC to Philadelphia means you’ll likely need to adjust to a lower wage for equivalent work. The Philadelphia family median income is $50,434 compared to $64,565 in NYC. However, when you consider the drastic reduction in living costs, you may still come out ahead.
A variety of Philly job sectors offer great employment options, but the unemployment rate in the City of Sisterly Love, as of July 2020, was 5.6%. In 2019, the Philadelphia job market grew 1.2%, showing more robust growth than NYC’s rate of 0.5%. Philly’s projected job growth of 28.4% during the next ten years and NYC’s growth of 30.7% are both lower than the US average growth of 33.5%.
With 115 colleges and universities in and around Philadelphia, it’s no surprise that educational services is a strong industrial sector. Additional top industries include health care and social assistance; retail trade; accommodation & food services (which reflect Philly’s robust tourism industry); and scientific, professional & technical services.
Sad but true, Philadelphia’s violent crime rate is much higher than NYC’s. Philly experiences one of the highest violent crime rates in the country.
In New York City, property crime, at 25, is quite a bit lower than the US average of 35.4. Violent crime in NYC is 28.2, which is slightly higher than the US average of 22.7. In Philadelphia, violent crime is 50.8 compared to NYC’s 28.2, and property crime is 46.6 compared to NYC’s 25.
Because of the high crime rates, do your research when you start to investigate which neighborhoods are appealing. An excellent place to start is with this map that’s updated monthly and specifies crime levels by the community. But also ask local business owners and potential neighbors for their impressions. East Falls, Queen Village, and Chestnut Hill are some of the top neighborhoods and have some of the lowest incidences of crime.
You’ll need to be selective in choosing a public school if you have children. Many schools have earned high ratings, but overall, Philadelphia public schools are average. If you find a neighborhood you love, but the schools don’t meet your standards, you may need to look into one of the abundant private school options.
Now when it comes to higher education, Philadelphia proper offers 15 universities and colleges, but you can find some 115 within the metro region. In the city, the top-ranked institutions include Penn State University, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, and Thomas Jefferson University.
Weather and Climate
The climate that you’re familiar with in NYC will be very similar to that in Philadelphia. Philadelphia gets about five fewer inches of rain and about six fewer inches of snow than in NYC, but you’ll still experience cold winters and hot, muggy summers. Essentially, you’ll need all the same cold-weather gear in Philadelphia that keeps you warm in New York.
As a four-season city, Philadelphia’s temperatures during each phase of the year are also very similar to NYC’s. However, with Philly about 100 miles southwest of Manhattan, winter runs about 5 degrees warmer here than in NYC. Both cities have beautiful springs that offer a welcome relief from winter, and gorgeous colorful foliage to enjoy during idyllic fall days.
Culture, Diversity, and Demographics
You live among 8,400,000 diverse residents in the Big Apple. By comparison, the nation’s sixth most populous city is also wonderfully diverse, with 1,569,657 inhabitants made up of 41.3% African American, 34.9% White, 14.1% Hispanic, and 7% Asian residents. If you feel like you’re never alone in NYC, it’s probably because of the intense density. Every square mile is like living in a small city – 27,000 people per square mile live in NYC. In Philly, the density is under half that at 11,693 per square mile.
Philadelphia’s immigrant heritage has also nurtured a diverse mix of culinary tastes and textures. But in addition to its fantastic ethnic cuisines, Philly is also known for other significant cultural contributions. Annual fairs, festivals, farmers’ markets, and intimate neighborhood block parties to big-city gatherings are major elements of Philadelphia’s culture.
About 120 theater organizations, many sponsored by local colleges and universities, make up a vibrant performing arts scene. The arena of Philadelphia music culture witnessed the birth of jazz luminary John Coltrane, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, and renowned Hip Hop artists. It also remains a top tour venue for rock musicians. And from innovative and unique street murals to world-class museum exhibits, Philadelphia is a center for fine arts. The Mural Arts Program has encouraged a prolific art scene. Today, Philly has more murals and public art than any other city in the country.
Best Neighborhoods in Philadelphia
You’ll be able to start searching for your dream home once you become familiar with some of Philadelphia’s great neighborhoods.
Filling a block, Filter Square Park is the hub of this neighborhood, which is surrounded mainly by brownstones and row houses. Family-friendly Filter Square is home to about 5,500 residents who enjoy the local restaurants, shops, and Saturday farmers’ market. Here’s more info if Filter Square sparks your interest.
With just over 8,500 residents, Bella Vista is known for its Italian heritage and is the reason it’s referred to as Philadelphia’s Little Italy. The famous open-air 9th Street Market offers character, convenience, and superb shopping. A variety of housing options are available between historic homes and new construction. You can learn more about Bella Vista here.
Washington Square West
Trendy Washington Square West is located in Downtown and features a mix of residential and commercial buildings. This diversity of real estate means residents can easily walk to hip eateries, boutiques, bars, and coffee houses. Homes range from two to four-story row houses to mid-rise apartment complexes and condos. Find out more here.
Historic Queen Village provides a charming, contemporary ambiance in a setting that’s rich with history. Residents love the lively vibe created by all the restaurants, bars, and shops that are easy to walk or cycle to. Housing runs from new construction to restored 18th- and 19th-century rowhouses along charming cobblestone streets. Check out more info about Queen Village.
Upscale Chestnut Hill is home to over 35,000 residents. Given the moniker Philadelphia’s Garden District, Chesnut Hill offers lush green spaces throughout both the residential and commercial areas. You’ll also find Morris Arboretum and Fairmount Park. Housing is pricey in this affluent neighborhood. Would you like to know more about Chestnut Hill?
Filled with beautiful green spaces, public gardens, and tree-lined streets, University City is home to six colleges. Families, professionals, students, and professors live here and enjoy everything from the farmers’ markets and food trucks to open-air concerts. If University City sounds like your kind of neighborhood, click here to learn more.
Located in northwest Philadelphia, East Falls has an urban vibe that attracts young professionals and young families. In addition to the chic cafes, breweries, coffee houses, and bars, residents love the adjacent 9,200-acre Fairmount Park with its trails and woodlands. Learn more about East Falls here.
The lively arts, music, and food scene in Fishtown attract young families and young professionals who find housing in townhomes, rowhouses, and apartment complexes. Strolling or cycling along the Delaware River or meeting friends for drinks at a trendy bar or pizza place are popular pastimes after work and on weekends. Here are more details about Fishtown.
Cost of Moving from NYC to Philadelphia
On average, it costs about $2000-2500 to move from New York City to Philly. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff almost 100 miles, from one busy urban center to another. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best New York City to Philadelphia movers now!