2024 Guide: Moving to and Settling in Philadelphia, PA

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Highlights of Philadelphia 

A global city with a down-home feel, Philadelphia is one of America’s congenial cosmopolitan areas. The City of Brotherly Love goes by many nicknames. Its diverse and welcoming culture gave it sobriquets like the City of Neighborhoods and the City that Loves You Back. Its integral part in the American Revolution earned it the moniker the Birthplace of America and the Cradle of Liberty. And the large population of the Religious Society of Friends, who fled persecution in England in the 17th century, gave Philly its appellation the Quaker City.  

The city where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed is a hotbed of historic sites and a destination for the arts, theater, music and sports. Whether you’re a football fan hoping for another Super Bowl appearance by the Eagles or an artist looking for studio space and great museums, Philadelphia really does have something for everyone. And, the city is still surprisingly affordable, especially compared to other northeastern cities, like New York and Boston.  

As the second-largest city on the East Coast and the sixth largest in the country, Philadelphia has a diverse economic base and a healthy job market, where you’ll find independent firms, exciting start-ups and, of course, a robust corporate base. And, because Philly is a major university town (looking at you, Penn, Temple and Drexel), there is a vibrant and youthful culture that supports some of the world’s most important research.  

Few cities have a better food scene, either. As the unofficial cheesesteak capital of the universe, Philly’s Italian standard is only a bite of the international flavors you’ll have at your doorstep in this culinary empire, where James Beard awardees and new talents delight with innovations in Thai, Japanese, Mexican, French and more.  

If you think that Philly sounds like the right place for your family, learn more about the city below, and check out our Moving Guide to Pennsylvania for in-depth information about the Keystone State.  

What do You Need to Know About Philadelphia?

It’s Known for Four-Season Climate, Cold Winter and Hot Summer

Philadelphia’s weather, like a good friend, has its charms and quirks. With four distinct seasons and an average temperature of 65°F, it offers a balanced climate. However, it endures challenging weather events like nor’easters, hurricanes, heat waves, flooding and tornadoes – a reminder that nobody’s perfect. 

Winter, spanning December to March, brings chilly and snowy conditions, with an average low of 28°F. Philly receives around 44 inches of precipitation annually, including 20 inches of snow. The 2022-23 deficit left snow shovels idle, but 2024 brought them back to action with eight inches in January. 

March’s slushy phase gives way to a delightful and mild spring, rejuvenating the city with blossoming green spaces.  

Summer starts late in Philadelphia, keeping temperatures below the low 80s until late June. Even during the hottest months, nighttime temperatures typically drop to the upper 60s. However, occasional heat waves can make the city feel like an oven, as experienced in 2023 with temperatures exceeding 90°F and a heat index over 100°F for three consecutive days. 

Fall, arguably the best season, brings vibrant foliage in tree-lined streets and surrounding forests. Snow threat usually holds off until November, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, apple-picking and indulging in apple cider doughnuts. 

You can Get Around Town with the City’s Transit System 

Navigating Philadelphia is a breeze with an easy-to-use grid and a reliable public transportation system. Philadelphia is a city that you don’t need a car to live in, and with the cost of parking and maintenance, it can be liberating to ditch the keys and leave the driving to the professionals.  

Center City, Philadelphia’s historic core, is pedestrian-friendly, with lots of public parks, historic sites and architecture to catch your eye. The Philadelphia Phlash — a downtown trolley bus — takes you to more than 20 of downtown’s most popular destinations, so you needn’t worry about a complicated bus schedule or wasting money on taxis to see the sites.  

Cyclists love the city’s bike-friendly environment, boasting 440 miles of dedicated lanes and 750 miles of trails. Ride Indego, the bike share network, makes exploring on two wheels a breeze. 

When you need a quicker route to work, Philly’s public transit network, SEPTA, serves five counties in southern Pennsylvania. It encompasses bus service, trolleys, light rail, regional rail and even a high-speed rail line to New Jersey. Basic local service is $2.00/ride (regional and high-speed fares are higher) and monthly passes are available based on the zones you need to access, with prices ranging from $96.00 to $204.00. 

Cost of Living in Philadelphia is Modest for Northeast Region

If you’re moving to Philadelphia and are concerned about the cost of living, brace yourself for…surprisingly low prices. Philadelphia is one of the most affordable big cities on the East Coast.  

The median home value in Philadelphia is only $215,500 — nearly $70,000 below the national average and $10,000 below the state average, and a fraction of the cost in Boston or New York. Rent, too, is modest, averaging $1,250 per month between 2018 and 2022.  

Philadelphians also spend less on transportation and food — two of the biggest household expenditures after housing — and they also save on the cost of pumped gas for utilities. Philly residents spend about the same on healthcare and entertainment as their counterparts elsewhere, but personal insurance/pensions, cash contributions, apparel/services and electricity will all cost you more in Philly. 

One thing to keep in mind though: the average household income in Philadelphia is only $57,537 — far lower than the U.S. average and in other northeast cities, and this is one factor contributing to the high poverty level in Philadelphia.  

It has a Dynamic Job Market

When it comes to the job market in Philadelphia, professionals will find an embarrassment of riches. Global companies like Comcast, American Airlines, GSK and other major employers form an eclectic corporate base in the city, while the University of Pennsylvania (better known as Penn or UPenn) and other area colleges ensure a ready workforce.  

The Philadelphia metro area — which extends to Camden, New Jersey, and Wilmington, Delaware — has a large nonfarm civilian workforce of nearly 3.3 million workers. The diverse industry base is led by education and health services, which employs more than 734,000 individuals — an increase of 5.6% between December of 2022 and 2023. Trade, transportation and utilities — the second-largest sector in the region — contracted insignificantly over the past year and employs more than 572,000 people. Professional and business services made modest gains, growing 1.6% to employ 511,000 Philadelphia-area workers. Government, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality all employ more than 230,000 individuals, but the last of these saw the most dramatic growth of any sector in the metro area, expanding by 7.2%.  

Some of the Best Colleges are in Town

It almost goes without saying that the higher education offerings in Philadelphia are top-notch. With the University of Pennsylvania (better known as Penn or UPenn), Temple University and Drexel University all within city limits, and schools like the University of Delaware, Villanova, Bryn Mawr and Haverford nearby, the city attracts a wealth of global talent. This not only helps feed the city’s growing workforce, but it also provides the city with an exciting and youthful citizenry and a talented pool or doctors, researchers, artists and entrepreneurs.  

You Will Find a Good Area to Live in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has more fun (and funky) neighborhoods than most American cities, so whether you’re looking for a stately townhome or a live/work loft, this city is sure to have something to suit your style.  

Center City, situated between the Schuylkill River and the Delaware, is the heart of downtown Philadelphia, boasting diverse neighborhoods. 

Old City, the historic hub, attracts visitors with landmarks like the Liberty Bell and offers both palatial and eccentric apartments, like those in the Hoopskirt Factory. 

Rittenhouse Square is one of the most coveted neighborhoods in all of Philadelphia. Built around this centuries-old park, the historic district features a high-end shopping and dining district, with real estate ranging from multi-million-dollar penthouses to more affordable high-rise condos. 

On the wilder side of the Center City spectrum, Midtown Village embraces diversity with Mediterranean spots and LGBTWQ+-friendly clubs. Housing in this trendy area runs the gamut. You’ll find 500-square-foot apartments in brick townhouses, and multi-story single families newly constructed to look old.  

Further up the Delaware, Fishtown used to be home to — you guessed it — fisherman, but now this offbeat area is home to many of the city’s creatives. Artists’ lofts and artist-run galleries frame the Fishtown scene. Attached row houses are the norm in this snug harbor — some updated, some in need of a little love and elbow grease — and many reasonably priced for the buyer on a budget.  

South Philly wouldn’t be South Philly without East Passyunk. This unassuming hood is home to some of the city’s most iconic restaurants, like Pat’s King of Steaks and the famous Italian Market. Homes in this Italian food hub are modestly priced but even more modestly proportioned — be prepared to be in close quarters with both your family members and your neighbors, all of whom will be only a few inches of brick or drywall away. 

Note: If you’re thinking of moving to Philadelphia, it’s important to thoroughly research neighborhoods or areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to live, make sure you understand the area’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information. 

There are a Lot of Things to Do and Places to Explore in Philly

Historical Gems

The Liberty Bell Center, the Betsy Ross House and Independence Hall — history buffs have no complaints living in Philadelphia, where the streets come alive with events of the past.

Independence National Historic Park will give you an inside look at the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and the famous crack in that bell, too. The Benjamin Franklin Museum is a particularly illuminating part of this park, where you’ll discover his pioneering discoveries in electricity by studying some of his most famous inventions and experiments.   

Similarly eye-opening, the Museum of the American Revolution brings to life the story of America’s rebellion against the Brits and the struggle to form the new nation. Maritime enthusiasts will want to steer their way to the Independence Seaport Museum, which has amazing vessels to explore, including the WWI cruiser the Olympia and the WWII sub, the Becuna. Boatwrights still work on site, restoring wooden crafts with care, and they even accept help from volunteers. 

Incredible Museums

Philly may be a whiz kid at American Revolutionary history, but the city’s no slouch on other subjects, either. The city is awash in visual treasures, and you can start your journey through them at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where you’ll find works from ancient times to modern. Classical sculpture fanatics will want to visit the Rodin Museum, and those looking for contemporary astonishments should head to the ICA, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, or the Fabric Workshop & Museum. 

The African American Museum in Philadelphia curates artistic and historic exhibits, showing the work of some of the best-known Black artists working today, like Sonya Clark, Hank Willis Thomas and Alison Saar. There have been phenomenal solo shows, like Derrick Adams’ “Sanctuary” as well as enlightening educational exhibitions like “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow.” 

Even hard-to-please kids will dig the Franklin Institute, which currently has an irresistible exhibition on the world’s most favorite building material — the LEGO. But if your child is into bigger mysteries of the universe, they’ll also love the new Wondrous Space exhibition, which features a real meteorite, a gravity well and a rocket-building activity that will turn imaginations on full blast.  

Great Outdoors 

You should begin your urban adventuring in Fairmount Park — the city’s largest — where you can see the Philadelphia Zoo, the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden and the wonderfully varied vistas along the Schuylkill River. Kids will beg you to take them to Treetop Quest Philly, an aerial adventure park, where they’ll be given a harness, gloves and 2.5 hours to burn off all their nervous energy on zip lines and obstacle courses through the canopy.  

Unless there’s an active blizzard or heatwave, Philadelphia is a terrific place to get outdoors. Historic squares pack a lot of green space into a pocket-sized parcel, but there are over 10,000 acres of public land in the city to explore. 

Just northwest of the city, Wissahickon Valley Park is an easy escape for urban anglers, hikers and bikers, who want to find themselves in the good company of foxes, groundhogs and salamanders, not to mention more than 200 species of birds. You can go also horseback riding here, which is especially stunning in the fall.  

If you want to get outdoors but you’re more into manmade wonders than natural ones, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens are sure to capture your attention. This wilderness of mosaics was created by longtime Philly resident Isaiah Zagar, who upcycled found objects and handmade tiles into a world all his own that the public can visit every day.  

Sports Events

If there’s anything that truly unites Philly residents (more than cheesesteaks, we mean), it’s their love of the Phillies. This MLB team may have the MLB’s most obvious name, but the fan base is really something special. You’ll catch all their home games at Citizens Bank Park, and who knows, maybe 2024 will bring the World Series to the stadium, like 2022 did.  

The Wells Fargo Center hosts the 76ers, the Flyers and the Wings — Philly’s NLL (National Lacrosse League) team — so whether you want to see championship basketball, hockey or lacrosse, this one venue has you set.  

For football, you’ll have to head to Lincoln Financial Field, which is only a short walk from Philly’s other sporting venues and the entertainment center XfinityLive. Though there have been near wins in the recent past, it’s been a minute since the Eagles clinched a Super Bowl title, but that victory over the Patriots was sweet, indeed. Temple University games are also played here (go Owls!).  

Culinary Delights 

If you’re not a fan of small talk but want to dive into Philly’s food scene, ask a local about the best cheesesteak joint. Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks are classic choices. Spots like Royal Tavern offer vegan options, and Ishkabibbles is known for chicken cheesesteaks and their signature drink, the Gremlin. 

Beyond cheesesteaks, Philly’s Italian food scene is diverse. Visit South 9th Street Italian Market, the country’s oldest outdoor venue with 200+ vendors selling kitchenware, oils, prosciutto, produce, wine and more. 

Reading Terminal Market is a one-stop shop for groceries, bites, and gifts. Try apple cinnamon French Toast at Dutch Eating Place, shop at Contessa’s French Linens, Amazulu, and Luhv’s Vegan Deli, then grab fresh produce and seafood at OK Produce. 

For standalone restaurants, explore Philly’s fine dining. Kalaya in Fishtown, run by a James Beard Award-winning chef, offers stunning Thai dishes like shaw muang dumplings and gaeng pae curry. My Loup serves modern French cuisine, featuring razor clams, fluke crudo, caviar bites, sablefish with smoked butter and lobster vol-au-vent. 

Prepare for Your Move to Philadelphia: Insider Tips

Looking for pro tips on the best way to move to Philly? Here’s how to research the best moving companies and understand the moving quotes you receive.  

Get a moving quote for Philadelphia. 

United Van Lines, America’s #1 Mover® in long-distance moving, can help you relocate to Philly from anywhere in the U.S. Our professional service can help make your cross-country move to Philly seamless, and we provide customized, full-service moving packages that can be tailored to your moving needs. Need help packing and unpacking? Don’t know how to ship your car? Want a hand removing debris from your current home or storing your belongings? United Van Lines can help. Follow our step-by-step guide to moving long distance.   

If you’re moving to Philadelphia locally or from another city in Pennsylvania, United Van Lines’ interstate Pennsylvania movers will work with you to provide independent local moving services under their own businesses and brands. 

Planning a DIY move to Philly? Utilize United Van Lines’ resources to avoid common mistakes. Our moving checklists, regional guides and packing tips keep your move on budget and on track.

Get an insider’s look at the area in our Moving Guide to Pennsylvania, where you’ll find important information about living in Pennsylvania and the Northeast. 

Get a quote today on moving to Philadelphia. 

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