Philadelphia is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. After a few decades of declining population numbers, the latest figures from the Pew Charitable Trusts show the city gained more than 5,000 new residents in 2016, the ninth year in a row that it’s seen growth. And it’s not just Philly’s population that’s on the rise. Living in Philadelphia today means so much more than eating cheesesteaks, watching sports and living vicariously through Rocky. Find out why technophiles, locavores, vegans, art-lovers and history buffs all love living in Philadelphia.
1. Summer in Philly Means Festivals Galore
Think of your favorite thing to do — whether it’s eating, drinking, watching movies or checking out art. Odds are you’ll find a festival in Philadelphia celebrating that very thing. During the summer, there’s pretty much a festival happening somewhere in the city every weekend. June brings the Odunde Festival to South Street and the Latino Film Festival to Center City. Night Market Philadelphia has dates in August and October. Also in August, the Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival showcases the talents of female thespians across the city, and SummerFest runs through the first weekend in September.
2. There’s Lots of Top-Notch Vegan Food
When you think of Philly food, vegan may not come to mind. But it really should. Philadelphia is vegan-food heaven. If you’re in the mood for an upscale, completely plant-based dining experience, head to Vedge in Center City. If you’re looking for a quick bite, order from HipCityVeg, a vegan fast-food spot with several locations throughout the city. There’s also Wiz Kid, which serves vegan cheesesteaks made with a rutabaga Cheez-Whiz concoction. You’ll find loads of vegetarian-friendly and vegan options around town, from the nondairy soft-serve ice cream at B2 coffee shop and Benna’s West in South Philly to the vegan tacos at Bar Bambon near Rittenhouse Square.
3. Philly Is Going Green
Back when William Penn first designed Philadelphia, he made sure to leave plenty of room for greenery in the city’s layout. Those green spaces are now known as Rittenhouse, Washington, Franklin and Logan Squares.
Centuries after Penn’s big idea, Philadelphia remains committed to providing green space to residents. In fact, the city has a major plan known as Greenworks that seeks to provide everyone living in Philadelphia access to clean, healthy air, as well as sustainable, affordable and healthy food and low-emission, safe transportation.
4. Snow Day? Use the #OpenInPHL Hashtag
Philadelphia gets its fair share of snow days, when much of the city shuts down. Of course, one of the great things about living in a walkable, urban area is that not everything closes during a big storm. The #openinPHL hashtag lets you easily search Twitter to see which establishments have their doors open — despite there being snow on the ground.
Although the hashtag gets a lot of use during blizzards and storms, businesses also use it on holidays or for major events, like the Pope’s visit in 2015. Before you head out on a holiday or during a storm, check to make sure your favorite establishment is actually going to be #openinPHL.
5. SEPTA is… Getting There
In any major city that offers public transit, you’ll find someone who’ll complain about it. SEPTA, which runs buses, subways, trains and trolleys in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, is stepping up its game to make the transportation experience as pain-free and convenient as possible for riders.
But the transit system is getting better. It now offers a SEPTA app for both Android and iPhone users that allows you to check on bus and train schedules and even lets you see where your bus or train is in real time. In 2016, SEPTA began rolling out a contactless fare card system, which will eventually replace paper tickets, magnetic passes and tokens (SEPTA is the last public transit agency to use tokens, according to PhillyVoice).
6. Love Tech? Philly Loves You Back
While many tech companies are located in pricey Silicon Valley or Austin, Texas, Philadelphia is no slouch when it comes to producing innovative players in the tech space. The city boasts more than 300 startups, including companies like Curalate and Revzilla. Comcast has its global headquarters here and is in the process of adding its new Innovation and Technology Center to the city skyline. And each year, Philly Tech Week offers a celebration of all things tech-related.
7. The Housing Market is Booming
It’s an understatement to say that homes in Philly are in demand, especially homes in certain up-and-coming neighborhoods. Case in point: Billy Penn shared the story of a couple hoping to sell their home in Francisville, a neighborhood slightly north of Center City. Just seven years ago, in 2010, homes on their block wouldn’t sell for more than $200,000. The couple listed theirs for $525,000 and rapidly got multiple offers, including two above the listing price.
The Pew Charitable Trusts’ “Philadelphia: The State of the City” report backs this up. More homes were sold in Philly in 2016 than in any year since the recession that struck in 2007. Although home prices have jumped 38 percent since 2010, the cost of living in Philly is still lower than in New York, D.C. or Boston.
8. Forget the Cheesesteak — Go for the Roast Pork
People talk a lot about cheesesteaks when they talk about Philly. But really, the cheesesteak isn’t the city’s best sandwich. Long-time residents will tell you that Pat’s and Geno’s, the dueling cheesesteak shops on Ninth Street in South Philly, are nothing more than tourist traps. If you want a real taste of Philly, you need to order a roast pork sandwich, and you need to venture deep down into South Philly to do it. John’s Roast Pork on Snyder Avenue doesn’t look like much, but the lines there on the weekend tell another story. Plus, it’s located near the IKEA, a Lowe’s and a Target, so it’s a great spot to grab lunch before or after doing all your shopping.
9. You Don’t Have to Look Far to Find Something Beautiful
Philadelphia is full of beautiful things. For more than 30 years, the Mural Arts Program has been commissioning murals on the walls of buildings and in other public areas. And according to Visit Philly, the program has created more than 3,600 murals across the city so far. No matter what neighborhood you’re in, it’s likely there’s a mural close by.
And murals aren’t the only thing of beauty in the city. Art is everywhere, from sculptures and statues located in the city’s many parks to the works held in the many museums that call Philly home. The best thing is that many of those museums offer free admission at least some of the time. The Institute of Contemporary Art in West Philly is free at all times, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art offers a pay-what-you-can admission on the first Sunday of the month. The Barnes Foundation, which has a large collection of Impressionist art, offers free admission to the public on the first Sunday of each month, as well.
10. You’ll Get More Bang for Your Buck as a Homeowner
It’s an ongoing debate: Should you rent or buy your home? In some areas, it’s less expensive to rent. That’s not so true in Philly. Pew’s report found that more than half of Philly area renters were paying more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the average buyer spends less than 17 percent of their monthly income on their mortgage payment, with an interest rate of 3.47 percent.
11. Philly Loves Beer
Philadelphia is a beer-loving city. It’s home to two bigger craft breweries, Yards and Philadelphia Brewing Company, as well as several smaller breweries or brewpubs, including The Dandelion, Manayunk Brewing, Dock Street and Brewery ARS. One neighborhood, Brewerytown, got its name because of the vast number of breweries that operated in its area during the 19th century.
Philly loves beer so much that it holds an annual celebration of the beverage. Philly Beer Week runs for about 10 days in June and features beer tastings and tap takeovers at restaurants and bars across the city. It’s the oldest and largest Beer Week in the country.
12. You’ll Never Run Out of Places to See Live Music
Whether you like jazz, hip-hop, classical, rock or pop, there’s always somewhere to go and someone to see perform in Philly. Smaller venues like Boot and Saddle and Underground Arts host up-and-coming bands, while the bigger venues like the TLA or Electric Factory play host to more established contemporary bands. Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus, a popular venue for jazz, closed its doors in 2010 only to reopen a few years later as Ortlieb’s Lounge, which hosts jazz, pop, metal and more pretty much every night.
Like classical? Philly’s got you covered, too, with the Philadelphia Orchestra playing concerts throughout the year at the Kimmel Center and in the summer months at the Mann Center in West Philly.
13. Philly’s History is So Much More Than the Liberty Bell
Tell someone who’s not from Philly or who doesn’t really know the area that you live in Philadelphia and it’s very likely they’ll bring up the Liberty Bell. Yes, Philadelphia does have the Liberty Bell on display and yes, many, many people pay a visit to it each year. But history in Philly runs much deeper than the bell. To really get a sense of the city’s history and the history of the country over all, pay a visit to the Philadelphia History Museum, the African American Museum and the National Museum of American Jewish History.
14. You Might Bump Into Someone Famous
Whether they’re filming a movie, performing a concert or visiting the Philadelphia Flower Show, celebrities are often spotted roaming Philly’s streets. Live here for long enough, and it’s likely you’ll end up with your own “I saw (insert name of famous person) at (fill in location here)” story.
15. It’s a Locavore’s Dream Come True
Philadelphia is all about buying fresh and local. With the farmlands of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and New Jersey less than a one- or two-hour drive away, it’s easy to fill your fridge with locally grown produce. All the great farmers markets throughout the city make it even easier for you to eat local.
The farmers market you visit depends on where you end up living. The big ones are at Rittenhouse Square and Headhouse Square, but there are smaller ones throughout the city during the spring, summer and fall. A few take place year-round, including the farmers market at Clark Park in West Philly, the one at Fitler Square in West Center City and the Rittenhouse Square market.
If the thought of lots of tasty food, plenty of beer, live music and enough history to fill an academic course make you eager to move to Philadelphia, the city is waiting for you with open arms. After all, Philly isn’t known as the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection for nothing. Start thinking of the many home options available to you in the city, and get ready to pack up and make your move.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Owners.com, Altisource or any other Altisource® business or entity. The foregoing content is not intended to constitute, and in fact does not constitute, financial, investment, tax or legal advice by the author, Owners.com, Altisource or any other business or entity.
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