Relocating San Diego to Philadelophia
I am a single, middle-aged woman, no children, relocating to Philly to attend Drexel Center City campus. For now, I am seeking a studio or 1 BR apt, preferably furnished, for $1000/month or less. I can also rent an unfurnished place and rent furniture for the first 2 or 3 months if necessary. Prefer a month-to-month or short-term lease because I want to move my furniture to Philly by January. I have a car, so don't need to be walking distance to Drexel, but would like to be convenient to public transportation. Living in the burbs is fine (in fact I prefer it). Can leave my car at home the first quarter, but will need it after that because of early morning and late night hours at area hospitals.
I prefer not to house share or live with a roommate, but nearly all of the apartments I see in my price range have horrible reviews--mice, roaches, bedbugs, severe plumbing problems. I also did not realize Philly was so expensive, so am experiencing a bit of sticker shock. I have not been to Philly and don't know anyone there, so am doing all of my research on the Net.
I will be there Sept 10, and have about 2 weeks to find a place to stay. Any ideas for where I can find a cheap decent apartment within 15-20 miles of Drexel Center City campus? Thank you very much for your help.
Hey! I can help give you some of our area.
If you look on a map, East Falls/Roxborough/Manayunk are in Northwest Philadelphia. It's on the outskirts of the city. It's a perfect hybrid of the city and suburbs -- the housing stock is still largely rowhomes (with apartment complexes scattered throughout) but there are things like supermarkets with parking lots. It's also probably the safest section of the city. There are always a few things like car break-ins and the like but it's city living. I've never been afraid to take a late night walk here.
We're about a 15-20 minute drive downtown. Not sure if there's a Drexel campus in Center City -- most of their facilities are in University City, which is right next to downtown but a little different.
There are a bunch of buses and trains which run from up this way to near Drexel. There's the Manayunk/Norristown train line which gets you downtown in just a few minutes. The train also goes to 30th Street Station which is by Drexel's campus in University City. There's also the 9 Bus on Ridge Avenue which goes to 30th Street.
The best part of our neighborhood is, IMO, the proximity to Wissahickon Park. It's a gigantic wooded area with all sorts of hiking trails, picnic areas, etc. It's truly awesome.
I haven't rented in a few years. But you should be able to find a Studio/1B for under $1,000, particularly the further you get from Center City (and even in the city). My wife and I rented a 2BR in a neighborhood close to here in a neighborhood called Blue Bell Hill. It was $750 a month. I'm not sure about furnished, though.
Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I have been looking on Craigslist at apartments in East Falls/Roxborough/Manayunk, and nearly all are out of my price range, except for shared housing or roommate situations, which I am not interested in. Perhaps the listings on Craigslist are a bit inflated? Maybe when I get to Philly and am able to walk around the area I will see cheaper places . Any thoughts on this?
As for the location of the campus, the info Drexel sent me says " Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions and School of Public Health are located at our Center City Hahnemann Campus..." The 2 main buildings are at 1505 Race St, and 245 N 15th St.
The Drexel website says "All Regional Rail trains stop at Suburban Station (16th and JFK Boulevard), which is four blocks from Drexel's Center City Hahnemann Campus." Regarding subways and trolleys, it says, "The Market-Frankford Line (the Blue Line) and all trolley trains (the Green Lines) stop at 15th and Market Streets. From there, walk three blocks north to Drexel's Center City Hahnemann Campus. Alternatively, take the Broad Street Line to the Race-Vine stop."
Is this Center City, or is calling it the Center City campus a bit of a misnomer? Also, based on the above info about public transportation, I assume East Falls/Roxborough/Manayunk are convenient to the campus. Is that correct?
That is absolutely in Center City - nearly all main rail/transit lines go there (or within a few blocks)
Originally Posted by walkabout123
Thank you very much for the transit map. Very helpful.
15-20 miles is actually a very huge area. Philadelphia is a small compact city (1.5 million people compressed into 135 square miles). It's big in terms of the number of people, but quite small in terms of land area. That's why most of us live in houses that are only 15' wide stacked 2 to 4 stories high.
Your best bet for cheaper apartments and to keep your car is going to be Prospect Park, PA. If you can get yourself near the Norwood train station or the Prospect Park train station, you will be able to walk to the train from your apartment or rental house and take Regional Rail to work without much fuss.
Here's where the area is on Google Maps:
Good rentals below $1,000/mo with 1-2 bedrooms are available out in that suburb; crime is low, it's quite close to the airport, and you can easily take the train in to Center City on weekends or drive further out and enjoy PA and Delaware. The rents are low in this suburb mainly because the housing stock is older and it just can't compete with new construction and the moneyed-classes who live further north up against the Main Line. It is not too far away from Philadelphia that you can't commute by train (commutes are quite short... 20 minutes), and it's a working-class suburb.
It's a safe spot to land if you're looking for peace and quiet but need to work inside the City. Beware of the Wage Tax though... Prospect Park charges a partial wage assessment on top of the commuter Wage Tax, so whatever you are being quoted for salary, subtract 4% for the local wage taxes (they are taken out of your pay and there is no withholding or income tax returns you file... they just suck it out of your paycheck).
Originally Posted by walkabout123
Another option if you want to live within the City of Philadelphia is to live in the Northeast. I would look at rental houses north of Longshore Avenue in Mayfair or continue Northeast to the City Line. Rents for entire houses are between $700-$1,200 depending on the condition of the home. You can avoid multi-family houses in that neighborhood (you get the building to yourself and don't have to worry about hearing things through walls).
If you want to live closer towards the Drexel Campus itself you're going to find some difficulty at $1,000/mo that's in a prime area. Graduate students tend to snap up the closest rentals and near-grads stack up in rentals very close to the campus. Everything that's below that price range are in gentrifying neighborhoods and it sounds from your original post that you don't particularly care for a more "urban" experience, i.e. the typical Philly gentrifying neighborhood that was a crap-hole just a decade ago but it's gone on the upswing.
If I've misread you and you are interested in gentrifying sections of town, there are rentals in Francisville, Fishtown and in my neighborhood (East Kensington) in your price range with varying degrees of parkability for your car. You can get sub-$1,000s also in South Philadelphia among a very large variety of neighborhoods... if you see something you're interested in you'll have to come back here to ask about that particular block (i.e. avoid 5th Street in South Philly south of Catherine Street). Although in Fishtown the sub-$1,000/mos tend to disappear off the market quickly, at least for the decent ones. In residential neighborhoods in Philly the rentals are predominately dominated by private landlords, which mostly run up ads in Craigslist online.
What you can do while you're here is contact a Philadelphia realtor who also does apartment brokering. It is the law in Philadelphia that the landlord pay the fees for a rental broker, so it costs you nothing to reach out to a broker to help you find what you're looking for.
Best of luck!
Drexel has buildings that are scattered about the core business district (where all the skyscrapers are). The main campus is at 33rd and Market Street. The medical buildings are around Broad and Vine.
If you're going to be working on Broad Street, then renting in South Philadelphia is more convenient by transit, as you can take the subway there as it's a straight shot with very little walking (there's a subway underneath Broad Street that courses through most of the city). HOWEVER... parking in South Philly is notorious for its difficulty and esoteric rules that defy logic. Several areas of South Philly have firmly-established illegal double parking. Coming from California this will blow your mind. It's best if you avoid it.
If you're going to be at the main Drexel Campus in West Philadelphia, the Market-Frankford Subway/Elevated line is what you would be taking to reach the campus, assuming you picked a place close to Center City like South Philly.
If you live in the burbs, the Regional Rail system is what you would use. There's a Regional Rail stop at 30th Street close to the main campus, another one at Suburban which is a quick walk to Drexel's buildings on Broad Street, or you can also take Market East and walk through Chinatown (same walking distance as Suburban).
It sounds like $1,000/mo is your rent ceiling. Manyunk is not going to be in your price range, or East Falls and both of them might be closer by car driving, but both neighborhoods have sucky public transit as you only have two options... the bus which takes forever and a day to reach downtown, or to take Regional Rail, and there's no parking spots ever available (unless you park at 5:00am) near the train stations which are located close to the Schuylkill River. Manyunk is a nice neighborhood, but you really would be looking at $1,200/mo and up for a decent rental home or apartment up that way.
I think you'll have a more economical and easier transition to East Coast living if you check out the less expensive suburbs. I would not do New Jersey in your situation mainly because the PATCO train, which you will need to commute to work, it's not at all convenient to Hanneman or the main Drexel Campus unless you make a transfer at 8th Street to the SETPA Market-Frankford Subway/Elevated Line, and that doubles the cost of getting to work (there is no free transfer between systems). If you stick to Prospect Park and Norwood areas you won't ever be dealing with toll roads or complicated commuting schemes.
Another plus: This part of Eastern Delaware County is pretty easy to commute into Philadelphia by car if you wish. I-95 is not typically backed up in the morning if you choose to drive and you have to options to reach Center City, either transfer to I-76E or you can exit Broad Street and drive up Broad Street.
Most of the Regional Rail stations out this way have parking, so you can drive a quite-short distance from your home to the train station and take the train to work, and then it's a short walk to the job. The closest Regional Rail station to Hanneman is Suburban Station--you walk past Love Park and quite a number of coffee stores along the way around City Hall to reach it. It's not a bad commute.
Since you're just arriving here, rent a place for a year and learn more about the City and how things work... then decide at the end of your lease if you like where you are or if you want to hop over to a different area and take roots. A lot of folks moving in from out of state land directly in Center City of course (that's what I did over a decade ago), but it's been years since I've ever seen sub-$1,000/yr 1-bedrooms in prime spots in Center City. If you move up a bit in range (up to $1,200-$1,300) that's where you'll see a lot more 1bdrs available in that range that are fitted out nicely.
Originally Posted by walkabout123
Last edited by ArcticSplash; 08-22-2012 at 03:28 AM.
Thank you so much for the comprehensive info. To clarify, I will be a student at Drexel, attending an accelerated nursing program for people who have a degree in another field. (I have a BS in psychology and an MBA). I am much older than the average student so do not want to live in traditional student housing. I will be attending class at the Center City campus I described above, but will be doing clinicals at various hospitals in the Philadelphia area starting in January.
It is a two-year program compressed into 11 months, the shortest program of its kind in the country. Due to its intensity, I will not be able to work. That's why my budget is so low--I will be living off savings. I like city living--I previously lived in the heart of San Francisco and currently live in S. Diego, a city of 1.3 million people. However, I thought that living in the burbs might work for me in Philly because of housing costs and because I will need my car due to the late night and early morning hours of my clinicals. I prefer not to park on the street, and apts in the city with garage parking are running about $200 extra per month. I also don't want to deal with mice or roaches, which seem to be pretty abundant in the apts in my price range in the city, at least according to the many apt reviews I have seen.
I plan to remain in Philly once I graduate, at which time I will be able to afford something in a higher price range. For now, I just need a clean decent place to live, so I greatly appreciate all the info you provided. I was thinking of Collingswood, NJ as an option, and did not know about having to transfer between two different transit systems and the associated costs, so thank you very much for that info. I will also look into working with a realtor who does apt brokering.
It is very difficult to apartment hunt over the Net in a place you haven't been to and where you don't know a soul, so the info you and others have provided is very much appreciated, and will make it easier for me to find suitable accommodations once I arrive in Philly. This is an awesome forum--so glad I found it. Any other tips or suggestions anyone has, I'm all ears!
First off, let me start by saying "Welcome to Philadelphia!"
It's always great to hear from people who are moving from the West Coast to the East Coast; especially those who have not yet experienced all that Philadelphia has to offer. Based on all of the posts above, it may behoove you to explore options in Roxborough. Upper Roxborough has a suburban-esque feel to it with affordable housing options, and it still has a functional/walkable Main Street and is in close proximity to Manayunk, Chestnut Hill, Center City, and The 'Burbs.
There is a newly renovated apartment building on Ridge Ave that I could see being a good fit for you. They typically have spacious 1 Bed apartments for either $960 (smaller) or $1,060 (larger) and they come with some included utilities and parking. I personally live in Roxborough and am a licensed real estate agent. I work with out-of-town tenants on a daily basis, so please let me know what I can do to help.
All of my contact information is below.
I have seen some decent apartments on the Net in my price range in Haverford and Narbeth. Haverford seems to be a good location for getting to Center City by train, but I'm not sure about Narbeth. What do you think? Are these towns also convenient for driving to Philadelphia? Thank you.
Last edited by walkabout123; 08-23-2012 at 12:45 AM.
As a person who grew up in CA and ended up East, let me just caution--while driving is always the way to go in CA, it is ALWAYS better to avoid it in Philly. If you can take a train, or walk to school, or even bike, you will enjoy it more than any driving. Driving in Philly is going to be like driving in San Francisco, and from experience, that is never fun. I would choose a place that is as convenient for not driving as possible.
Originally Posted by walkabout123
Thank you for your feedback. I intend to take the train as much as possible, which is why I was asking if Haverford and Narbeth have good train connections to Center City. I asked about driving because as I stated upthread, starting in January there will be times when I am scheduled at Philadelphia hospitals early in the morning or late at night. For those times, Drexel advises driving (although I suppose I could take cabs).
I used to live in San Francisco, and although I had a car, I took public transportation to and from work, as did most people who worked downtown. If Philly driving conditions are similar, then I get what you mean about not driving to school every day. I don't intend to do that. However, I can't afford to live in Center City, so I'm trying to find a decent, fairly inexpensive place to live with good train connections and a fairly easy commute for those times that I will need to drive. Do you think Haverford or Narbeth are good options? I will also be looking at Prospect Park and Roxborough as other posters have suggested. I'm open to any other suggestions or advice. I greatly appreciate the input.
They are both nice areas with good train access into the city that will get you to school. Driving in and out of the city outside of rush hour isn't bad at all, you'll be fine. You may want to look at places within walking distance of a train station so you don't have to worry about parking at the station, which can be tight.
Originally Posted by walkabout123
One thing I'm not sure about is that these are both upscale neighborhoods so the local services and restaurants might be on the high side. If you are on a very tight budget, Prospect Park and Roxborough might be better choices because the local services will cater to a more diverse set of income levels. But I don't live in those areas so I could be wrong about that.
I've read all your responses & Manayunk/Roxborough is your best option.
I agree, especially considering your specified price range.
Originally Posted by pechin
To the OP: philadelphia apts/housing for rent classifieds "manayunk" - craigslist
If you can get close to the 27 bus line, it will take you directly to Drexel's campus.
There's a Rent-a-Center on Ridge Ave in Roxborough, though I can't speak to their services (prices, cleanliness) as I've never used them.
I would say roxborough more than manayunk... we found manayunk to be expensive when we were looking for places. Def. more expensive to rent there than east falls.
Originally Posted by pechin
Thank you for the advice. I assumed that Manayunk was out of my price range, but perhaps not, at least according to the link Freckles provided. I did not realize you could sort by neighborhood on craigslist, so thank you for that, Freckles.
I think I will start my apt search in Roxborough/Manayunk, and then look in Prospect Park if I can't find anything. I may also take a look at an apartment building I saw in Haverford, Korman Residential at Casa Del Sol. The studios are very small, but they have 3-month leases and are walking distance to the train station.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to help me sort through all of the neighborhoods and options in the Philadelphia area.
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