Relocity insights

Get the latest global mobility trends and tips

Thanks for joining our newsletter.
Oops! Something went wrong.
By entering your email address, you agree to the terms included in our privacy policy.
min read

A transferee’s guide to Philadelphia

Immerse yourself in Philly’s award-winning food and sports scenes, while settling into a home you love

Hello, future resident of Philadelphia! I'm Ryan, a Relocation Consultant at Relocity, and I can’t wait to introduce you to the City of Brotherly Love.

I was born outside of southwest Philly, and have lived throughout the metropolitan area for most of my life. I spent about 33 years in Philadelphia’s suburbs, including four years in college close to Lansdale. After college, I dove headfirst into the vibrant heart of the city, and have lived here ever since. 

In July of 2022, I became Relocity’s inaugural Relocation Consultant for Philadelphia, which only deepened my connection to the region. My professional and personal experiences in the City of Brotherly Love make me the perfect person to guide you through this fast-paced town. From Philly’s iconic landmarks to its hidden gems, from the best cheesesteak joints to neighborhood and transportation options, I've got you covered. 

Exploring Philadelphia’s geography and rich history

Find local points of interest from the Relocity app by navigating to the “Explore” option at the bottom of your screen.

As you prepare to move to Philadelphia, you’ll want to get acquainted with the lay of the land and the city’s deep historical roots. Philadelphia has relatively flat terrain and is very accessible for walkers and bikers. The Delaware River and the Schuylkill River flow through the city, playing a significant role in Philadelphia's development — fostering trade and industry, offering picturesque waterfront areas, and more.

Philly’s rich history dates back to 1682, when the city was established as part of the original 13 colonies. Philadelphians sewed the seeds of independence during the American Revolution and served as the United States’ first capital after the Revolutionary War. Some must-visit historical landmarks include:

The Liberty Bell: Witness this enduring symbol of freedom and independence, which stands as a testament to the ideals upon which the United States was founded.
Independence Hall:
Stand in the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Franklin Court:
Visit the site of Benjamin Franklin's former residence, where you can explore a fascinating museum dedicated to his life and contributions.
The Betsy Ross House:
Discover the home of the legendary seamstress who crafted the first American flag.
Christ Church Burial Ground:
See the graves of Benjamin Franklin and other notable figures from early American history.

In recent years, Philadelphia has seen population growth. The COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity for Northeastern residents, especially New Yorkers, to buy less expensive real estate with more square footage in Philly.

Home to over 1,500,000 people, Philadelphia continues to evolve. As you progress on your journey to the City of Brotherly Love, you'll discover a welcoming community and a wealth of opportunities await you.

Navigating Philadelphia's diverse real estate market

Whether you're drawn to the city or the suburbs, you have a wide range of neighborhoods — within a fairly tight market — to choose from.

Philadelphia's cityscape is a fascinating blend of old and new, and you'll quickly notice our unique approach to preserving our architectural heritage. Instead of tearing down historic buildings, we repurpose them by breathing new life into old structures. As a result, our city is filled with charming and character-filled homes and apartments — of different styles, colors, shapes, and sizes. While older buildings may be limited on space and lack modern amenities (such as fitness centers, washers, and dryers), property managers and residents have found plenty of great, convenient workarounds that maintain the integrity of the original architecture. For example, many complexes dedicate entire floors or large rooms for gyms with treadmills, bikes, free weights, and more and install European washers and dryers to conserve space.

Housing within the city is competitive year-round. Center City (where skyscrapers tower above the streets), for instance, is popular because of its luxury condos. Safe and beautiful Rittenhouse Square sits in the heart of Center City. Across the river from Rittenhouse Square lies University City, home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, and one of the best places around for diverse cuisines. Other popular neighborhoods within the city include Fishtown, Fairmount, Old City, Manayunk, Northern Liberties, and Queens Village.

For transferees looking for quieter living and/or excellent school districts, Philly's suburbs have a lot to offer. Because many of the best schools are located in the suburbs, the local real estate market is extra competitive in the summer months before the school year begins. Take the Main Line, for example, which is located just outside of the city. The Main Line offers top-tier school districts — which are ideal for transferees with kids — and a short commute into the city. 

Cities in the Main Line like Radnor and Villanova offer top-tier school districts — like Radnor School District, which ranks No. 1 in the state and No. 10 in the nation — and a short commute into the city. To the southwest of Radnor sits Wayne, covered by Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, which is ranked No. 2 in Pennsylvania and No. 25 in the United States. Southwest of Wayne is Ardmore, which flows into Lower Merion School District — ranked No. 4 in the state and No. 44 in the country.

For the same reasons, Lansdale and Horsham are suitable neighborhoods. Both of these places are excellent options for people who work just outside of Philadelphia. From here, commutes into other suburbs range around 20-30 minutes, while the Regional Rail keeps the city accessible.

If you’re looking for a new suburban townhome or luxury apartment with a variety of nearby dining options, check out King of Prussia, which houses one of the largest malls in America. Another option is Chesterbrook, which has won “Best Places to Live in America” for four straight years due to the neighborhood’s excellent quality of life. Full of high-ranking schools, parks, and restaurants, Chesterbrook offers a strong suburban vibe. This neighborhood also has a thriving job market with plenty of options for nightlife and fitness activities.

While Philadelphia’s suburbs are an obvious choice for families, these outer neighborhoods can offer a great lifestyle for young, single professionals as well. In fact, 43% of Conshohocken’s residents are between the ages of 20-34. Conshohocken’s main street has bars, restaurants, and things to do, while the broader area is mostly quiet and safe.

Other popular suburban neighborhoods include Ardmore, Media, New Hope, and Ambler, all of which provide a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, while offering easy access to Philadelphia's vibrant cultural scene. With so many terrific neighborhoods to choose from, you’ll definitely benefit from the help of a Relocation Consultant like me. With my local expertise and Relocity Concierge at our disposal, I’ll be able to quickly narrow down the right area for you and your family. 

Traversing Philadelphia: commutes and public transportation

Whether you choose to live in the city or its surrounding suburbs, understanding your commuting options will make your transition smoother.

The length of your daily commute varies depending on where you choose to reside. Commutes into the city from the suburbs typically range from 30 minutes to an hour. Commutes from one side of the city to the other can take up to an hour.

When it comes to transportation preferences, some residents prefer to have personal vehicles, while others rely on the city's extensive public transportation system, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). While having a personal vehicle in Philadelphia isn’t impractical, it isn't necessary either. With a large network of buses, subways, trains, and even trolleys, SEPTA extends from the city into the suburbs, providing comprehensive coverage for commuters at every distance.

If you decide to bring your car into the city, be prepared to pay for parking, which can average around $200 per month. Parking within the city can be challenging because, historically, the region wasn't designed to accommodate a large number of vehicles. However, with some planning, patience, and help from a Relocity Relocation Consultant, you can find suitable parking arrangements.

If you plan to take business or leisure trips to New York City, you'll appreciate the convenience of Amtrak’s train service from Philly’s William H. Gray III 30th Street Station, which connects with NJ TRANSIT for rides to Trenton and offers direct rides into the Big Apple in under two hours.

Whether you're commuting to work, exploring the city, or journeying to nearby places, Philadelphia's transportation options cater to a variety of needs. As you settle into your new home, you'll find that the City of Brotherly Love offers a well-connected and accessible transportation network to ensure your daily commute is as smooth as possible.

Finding your go-to coffee, lunch, and happy hour spot

Get neighborhood tours within the Relocity app by navigating to the “Explore” option at the bottom of your screen

In your first months in Philadelphia, you're sure to discover a plethora of delightful places to enjoy your morning coffee, savor a quick and delicious lunch, and unwind with colleagues after work. 

If you love working remotely or simply enjoy sipping coffee while checking emails, Philadelphia has an array of cafes to cater to your desire. Many cafes provide free Wi-Fi, creating the perfect environment for a productive work session. One standout spot is Artisano Cafe, known not only for its excellent coffee but also for its beautiful green space adorned with lush plants. Additionally, keep an eye out for apartment complexes that offer free coffee and Wi-Fi in their business centers.

When it comes to satisfying your taste buds during lunchtime, few places rival the Reading Terminal Market. This bustling food haven features an eclectic mix of culinary delights from around the world. Whether you're craving a mouthwatering cheesesteak, fresh seafood, artisanal sandwiches, or international cuisine, Reading Terminal Market has it all. It's the perfect destination to explore new flavors with coworkers.

After a day of hard work, unwind and build connections with colleagues. Philadelphia offers a variety of options for post-work socializing. Uptown Beer Garden is one of my favorites. This lively spot not only serves a wide selection of beers, but also hosts themed events throughout the year. Imagine enjoying a cold one while surrounded by the enchanting atmosphere of a Grinch-themed Christmas celebration or a Stranger Things-inspired Halloween party. Uptown Beer Gardens is located in the heart of Center City, making it a convenient and entertaining choice for after-work gatherings.

Seeking a more playful and interactive experience? Consider heading to Buffalo Billiards in Old City. Play ski ball, pool, and other games for some team-building, while enjoying a wide variety of beer.

Whether you're looking to jumpstart your day, recharge during lunch, or create lasting memories with colleagues, Philly has something to offer every palate and preference.

Celebrating cultural staples like cheesesteaks and sports

Philadelphia is famous for its history, food (including cheesesteaks), and art scene. Since we already discussed some notable historical events, let’s jump to food.

Our restaurants consistently rank among the top in the country. In fact, local chefs and restaurants won multiple categories in the 2023 James Beard Awards. While Philadelphia has cuisines to satisfy every palate, the city is renowned for its sizzling cheesesteaks. These delicious sandwiches — packed with thinly sliced beefsteak or chicken, smothered in cheese, and served on a soft roll — are a local obsession. Discover the history of the cheesesteak, then explore the city's numerous cheesesteak joints, each of which proudly holds a secret recipe and die-hard following.

To see Relocity’s list of go-to cheesesteak vendors, scroll to the top of the map in our app and click the “Philly Cheesesteak” layer. 

Philly, more than the birthplace of mouthwatering sandwiches, is a city full of vibrant street art! In fact, Philadelphia recently earned the title of "Best City for Street Art," with eye-catching murals adorning buildings and alleys to bring the city to life. As you meander through local neighborhoods, keep an eye out for these striking pieces of urban art.

On the other hand, Philly is most infamous for its loyal and passionate sports fans. The atmosphere during Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers games is electric, with everyone, from young children to the elderly, rallying for a win. While some might think Philadelphia sports fans are over the top, the truth is, emotions run high simply because we love our teams.

Rooted in tradition, our fast-paced culture is known for its hustle and bustle. Locals speak and move quickly, always rushing to get to their destinations. As you immerse yourself in the Philadelphian culture, embrace the city's art, sports, and rapid pace of life.

Maximizing your time in Philadelphia — fun for everyone

Get neighborhood tours within the Relocity app by navigating to the “Explore” option at the bottom of your screen.

Whether you're a single transferee looking to explore Philadelphia’s dynamic social scene or a family with kids, you'll find plenty of things to do. If you’re relocating to Philadelphia on your own, a perfect weekend day might look like:

1. Morning: Rocky Steps and museums. Start your day with a visit to the iconic Rocky Steps, where you can join the line of eager visitors snapping pictures next to the legendary Rocky statue. Don't forget to recreate the famous run up the 72 stone steps and admire Sylvester Stallone's footprints in the concrete. Next, dive into art and culture at the renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, home to an incredible collection spanning various eras and genres.2. Afternoon: unique museums and scenic trails. Discover the offbeat and fascinating exhibits at the Mütter Museum, a hidden gem known for its weird science displays. Then, enjoy the great outdoors along the Schuylkill River Trail, a scenic route that takes you through Fairmount Park, the largest landscaped urban park in the world. It's a perfect spot for a leisurely walk or bike ride with stunning views. You might even pass by the picturesque Boathouse Row.3. Evening: sports and nightlife. Head over to Xfinity Live, a vibrant sports bar and entertainment complex where you can catch a game and soak in the lively atmosphere. Don't forget to check out Bob and Barbara’s, complete with Pabst Blue Ribbon memorabilia and a mechanical bull for a unique experience. If you’re looking for a different experience, cap off the night in Fishtown, a hipster haven known for live music.

Families relocating to Philadelphia will find endless opportunities for bonding and adventure. Here’s what to do in the morning and afternoon:

1. Morning: animal encounters. Begin your day with a visit to the Philadelphia Zoo, home to nearly 1,700 animals. Afterward, hop over state lines to Camden, New Jersey and visit the Adventure Aquarium, an exciting underwater world featuring a diverse range of marine life.2. Afternoon: riverfront and hands-on exploration. Head to Camden's riverfront, where you can take a ferry to Morgan's Pier or Spruce Street Harbor Park. During the summer months, enjoy roller hockey on the skating rink. In the winter, indulge in ice hockey. Later, dive into science and discovery at the Franklin Institute, a hands-on science museum that captivates visitors of all ages. Nearby, you'll find the Please Touch Museum, where kids are encouraged to touch and explore everything.3. Evening: Chinese Lantern Festival or holiday lights. On summer nights, if the kids haven’t fallen asleep in the car and are up for a family-friendly nighttime activity, check out the Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square, complete with striking lantern displays, live cultural performances, authentic Asian cuisine, and more. If the holidays are coming up, be sure to visit the Miracle on South 13th Street, which dazzles with lights, decorations, and festivities starting Thanksgiving weekend. 

Philadelphia offers an incredible array of experiences for both singles and families, offering endless adventures every weekend. Whether you're exploring iconic landmarks or discovering hidden gems, there's always something exciting to do.

Beginning your life in Philadelphia

Philadelphia welcomes you with open arms, offering a vibrant blend of history, culture, and modern living. As you embark on your new chapter in the City of Brotherly Love, let the local charm and warmth inspire you. 

Thank you for allowing me to lead you through Philadelphia’s unique experiences! I hope to get the chance to help you relocate here in the future.

Check out our latest articles below or request a demo if you want to see how Relocity can help your talent thrive in your key locations.

Ryan Daly

Personal Host

Ryan Daly was born and raised in Philadelphia. He attended Gwynedd Mercy University in Montgomery County, PA and received his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2010.