Locals are gathered around an iconic fountain in downtown Philadelphia on a sunny day — a welcome sight for those moving to Philadelphia.

12 Things To Know Before Moving to Philadelphia in 2024

Pennsylvania Philadelphia

by Michael Hochman Posted on April 17, 2024

If you’re moving to Philadelphia, what do you need to know to fit right into your adopted city like a real Philadelphian?

Sure, everyone knows Philly is a historic place — the birthplace of the nation and all that — but do you know what makes it a fresh, cosmopolitan city with nearly anything you could imagine to do, eat, visit, see, and cheer for? Thought so. That’s why we’ve created this guide to living in Philadelphia. Enjoy reading about fun city details and take note of the practical tips, so you can appreciate your new surroundings as quickly as possible.

Pro Tip: If you’re ready to move to Philadelphia, see how PODS can make your move flexible with built-in storage.

But Wait. Why Philly? What About Other Cities in the Northeast?

What makes Philadelphia stand out against other cities in the Northeast? Well, for starters, in just seven hours, you can get from Boston to Washington, D.C., on Amtrak’s Acela Train. There are stops in New York, as well. These big cities are often thought of in tandem with Philly, but which is the best? Here are some comparisons.

Cost of Living

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Philly keeps its crown when it comes to cost of living. With an average of 104.3 (only four percent higher than the national index), you’re not going to find a cheaper big city to call home. From there, Boston is the second cheapest, coming in at 150.8, then Washington, D.C., at 151.9, and NYC at 172.5.

Job Market

All four of these cities ranked in the top 15 on Handshake’s list for places where new college grads are applying for jobs, with New York coming in at No. 1. And Philly’s post-pandemic job recovery beat out both New York and D.C. in 2023, even though the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that salaries aren’t as high as the city’s East Coast counterparts.

Q: Is Philly a good place to live in your 20s?
Philly is proving itself to be a great place to move in your 20s. Not only do you have easy access to big name concerts, NFL games, a great nightlife scene, and all the coffee you can ask for during busy days, but you’re also just a short commute from New York City, D.C., and even Toronto, if you want to get away for a few days. Not to mention, Philly’s post-pandemic job recovery beat out both New York and D.C. in 2023.

The biggest difference in these four cities, however, lies in their cultures.

Boston vs. Philadelphia

While locals will tell you Boston’s public transit beats out Philly’s, the housing can make things difficult. Philly has Boston beat when it comes to nightlife and drinking culture altogether. You can’t even head to your favorite bar for happy hour after work in Boston, as it’s banned throughout the city

If you’re moving with kids, though, you’ll be giving them unparalleled access to a great education. Boston spends almost 14 percent more per student than Philly alone, and the student-teacher ratio in Boston is over 25 percent lower than it is in Philly. Both cities have great universities and colleges to choose from, though.

For nature lovers, Boston can give you easy access to the mountains and other northern amenities, but nothing beats how close Philly is to the Big Apple, if you’re wanting to visit often.

Q: Are New Yorkers moving to Philadelphia?
Yes, they are! In 2019 and 2020, more than 4,600 New Yorkers moved to Philadelphia from Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens.

Philadelphia vs. New York

People love to pit these two cities against each other, but locals make one thing very clear: Philly isn’t trying to be New York, and it has no interest in pretending it even wants to be. When comparing these two cities, it really comes down to the lifestyle you’re trying to live.

New York is known for its hustle culture and round-the-clock nightlife. It’s filled with glitz and glam, and finding a world-class restaurant is easier than trying to cross the street. Philly, on the other hand, is much more laid back. You can still find great restaurants, but you’re more likely to find craft breweries, a Philly cheesesteak, and historic attractions at every turn.

They’re the closest together on this list — only a two-hour drive or a 90-minute train ride — but they each come with their own unique culture and a group of locals who are proud to call their cities home.

D.C. vs. Philadelphia

Finally, how does D.C. fare against Philly? Between these two, Philadelphia is the bigger option, in terms of both people and size. D.C. has a hustle culture similar to New York, but it’s more white-collar and “professional” compared to NYC’s artsy, high-fashion moments (unless you’re living in the Financial District). The nightlife and music scenes are going to differ depending on who you ask, but the biggest difference is in the overall culture.

D.C. is a city of transplants, while Philly is a city of natives. Locals will tell you life feels more laidback in Philly and that the residents aren’t as focused on “who you know” and business in their personal time. D.C. is a city for changemakers and politicians, which doesn’t make it better or worse than Philly; it just means you should just be prepared for two distinct types of people, depending on where you move. Local love for Philly runs deep, and you’ll see that in the people you encounter daily.

Now then. On to the Philly specifics…

1. Philadelphia Is a City of Neighborhoods.

Philadelphia is a city of distinct but connected neighborhoods — over 100 in total. From the Great Northeast to South Philly, diverse and inviting neighborhoods are filled with stoop-front row houses, detached homes, and high-rise apartments and condos. If you haven’t decided where to live, check out our tour of some of Philly's most desirable neighborhoods and livable suburbs.

Q: Is Philadelphia an affordable city?
Philadelphia ranks as the most affordable city compared to its East Coast big-city neighbors. It’ll take a bit of hustle, but you can still find a house on the market near the city’s average home value of around $217,800. And renters pay around $1,900 for a one-bedroom place that averages around 800 square feet. 

Check out a few of the prices of other typical expenses while living in Philadelphia to plan your budget accordingly:
One gallon of milk: $4.82
One gallon of gas: $3.83
Domestic beer (Yuengling, of course): $6.00
Mid-range restaurant dinner for two: $75.00

Philadelphia's Independence Hall in the winter. There's snow on the ground, the pathways are wet, and the trees are bare.

Winter at Independence Hall
(Source: @visitphilly via Facebook)

2. Philly Gets About 20 Inches of Snow Each Winter.

On your moving day and throughout the year, it’s important to understand Philadelphia weather so you can plan ahead. Philly is a temperate mid-Atlantic city, just 50 miles from the shore and 70 from the Pocono Mountains.

Summers are fairly hot and muggy, with an average high just under 90 during July. Winters are moderately cold with daily temps during the holiday season straddling the freezing line. And rain can be expected a quarter to a third of the days each month, with about 20 inches of snow each winter.

Map of Philadelphia 

A map of Philadelphia showing the roads and river, from Google Maps.

Click to enlarge via Google Maps
(Source: Google Maps)

3. Getting Around Philly Is Easier Than New York or D.C.

Commuting while living in Philadelphia is easy and convenient, at least compared to other northeast cities. The average one-way commute time in Philadelphia is 32.9 minutes, with 25.3 percent of commuters using public transit, according to Sperling's Best Places. Here’s a snapshot of the city’s major transportation routes:

  • Interstate 95 lines the eastern city edge
  • I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway) divides West Philly from the rest of the city
  • Broad Street (PA 611), America’s longest straight boulevard, forms the north/south backbone
  • I-676 (Vine Street Expressway) and US Route 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard/Expressway) run east/west through the city
  • I-476 is the Pennsylvania Turnpike north of the city and the Blue Route to the west
  • Six major bridges connect Philly to South Jersey

SEPTA, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, operates the regional public transit system. Their fleet includes several modes:
  • Broad Street Line subway north/south
  • Market-Frankford elevated train primarily east/west
  • 13 Regional Rail train lines
  • 131 bus and eight light rail, trolley, and trolleybus lines

Trains and subways flow through three Center City hubs: Suburban, Jefferson, and 30th Street Stations. Amtrak supports 11 routes out of 30th Street. Additionally, Philadelphia offers the Indego bike share program, but rental scooter companies remain illegal in the city.
Q: Is it worth moving to Philadelphia?
Yes, it's definitely worth moving to Philly. Especially if living in a city rich with culture, entertainment, and history is important to you. And with a cost of living significantly lower than Boston, New York, and D.C., Philly is pretty darn affordable for a big city in the Northeast.

4. Phillyspeak Is Easy With This Primer.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, like most major cities, has its own language — something any newcomer must eventually learn.

Here’s a guide to words in Phillyspeak:

  • Jawn: Can literally mean anything; any jawn is a jawn
  • Yo: Greeting; hello
  • Yiz: Addressing a group of people
  • Iggles: Super Bowl champion football team (also “the Birds”)
  • Wooder: Water
  • Hoagie: Don’t ever say “sub”
  • Jimmies: Candy toppings on ice cream
  • Wit: Ordering onions on a cheesesteak
  • Downtheshore: The Jersey beaches
  • Mischief Night: The night before Halloween to pull pranks
  • Lager: Ask for it and get a Yuengling beer
  • Gravy: Red pasta sauce
  • Jeet: “Did you eat?”
  • El: The Market-Frankford elevated train
  • Center City: Don’t call it “downtown”
  • MAC Machine: An ATM
  • State Store: Where you buy liquor and wine
  • Delco and Montco: Delaware and Montgomery Counties

 A Philly Taco from Jim's Steaks in Philadelphia. It's a Philly cheesesteak wrapped inside a slice of pizza.

Philly Taco from Jim’s Steaks
(Source: @southstreetphilly via Instagram)

5. You Can Eat a Lot More Than Cheesesteak.

Philadelphia has a long and historic relationship with food, a distinctive cuisine, world-class restaurant scene, and a number of signature dishes. Here’s where to go and what to eat to dine like a local.

Signature Philly Foods


  • Cheesesteak, wit or witout (fried onions), with whiz (cheddar sauce), with provolone, or with white American cheese
  • Roast Pork Sandwich, with sharp provolone and sautéed broccoli rabe
  • Philly Taco, a cheesesteak from Jim's Steaks wrapped in a giant Lorenzo and Son's pizza slice
  • Hoagie (don’t call it a “sub”)

Snacks and Sides:
  • Soft Pretzel, in the Philly figure-eight style
  • Tomato Pie, cheeseless rectangle pizza on a focaccia crust served at room temperature
  • Scrapple, a pork-based breakfast side
  • Pork Roll, another pork-based breakfast side
  • Snapper Soup, exactly what you think (sorry, turtles)
  • Crab Fries, crinkle-cut with an Old Bay blend served with beer cheese

Candy and Dessert:
  • Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, Philly’s iconic candy bar
  • Tastykake, a lifestyle — not a type of snack food (headquartered in Philly)
  • Water Ice, kind of an Italian ice but not, kind a slushie but not

  • Citywide Special, a bar order of a Pabst Blue Ribbon with a shot of Jim Beam bourbon for just 4 bucks
  • Clover Club, a Philadelphia original made with gin, raspberry syrup, fresh lemon juice, and egg whites
  • Fish House Punch, a summer favorite dating back to the colonial days that includes plenty of sugar, black tea, lemon juice, rum, cognac, and a little bit of peach brandy

A top-view of three entrees from Vedge, a vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia.

Vedge, Philly’s take on vegetarian
(Source: @vedgephiladelphia via Instagram)

Signature Philly Restaurants

The Main Course:

  • Zahav, best restaurant in America (James Beard Awards)
  • Any Stephen Starr restaurant (including Buddakan, El Vez, Parc, Talula's Garden, Barclay Prime, and the Continental Midtown)
  • Vernick Food and Drink
  • Kanella
  • Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat
  • Vedge (vegetarian)
  • Han Dynasty

Philly Casual:
  • Pizzeria Beddia, named best pizza in America by Bon Appétit magazine (2015) and one of the world's greatest places by Time magazine (2019)
  • Jim’s (watch for the re-opening after a tragic fire), Dalessandro’s, or Sonny's for cheesesteaks (only tourists go to Pat’s and Geno’s)
  • John’s Roast Pork or Tommy DiNic’s for roast pork sandwiches
  • Paesano's, Di Bruno Bros., or Marinucci's for hoagies
  • Chickie’s and Pete’s for its famous crabfries
  • South Philly Barbacoa
  • Green Eggs Café
  • Lucky’s Last Chance, for burgers
  • Federal Donuts, for chicken and donuts
  • North Bowl, for tater tots (and bowling)

A variety of Water Ice flavors in paper cups lined up on a table at John's Water Ice in Philadelphia.

John’s Water Ice, a nice summer treat
(Source: @ johnswaterice via Instagram)

  • Termini Brothers Bakery, for cannoli
  • The Franklin Fountain, for ice cream and milkshakes
  • Beiler’s Doughnuts
  • John's Water Ice

  • Wawa, more a culture than a convenience store chain (Fun fact: The first one opened up just outside of Philly)

Everything You Can Imagine and More:
  • Reading Terminal Market, featuring over 30 eateries (and pronounced "Redding")

 A historical black and white image of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

Eastern State Penitentiary
(Source: @Eastern-State-Penitentiary via Facebook)

6. History Haunts Some Philadelphia Museums.

Here’s what you need to know before moving to Philadelphia: History in Philly lives down every street the Founding Fathers walked. But it’s also filled with art, culture, science, and education. Both in and away from the Parkway Museum district, there are incredible destinations for the whole family, including these must-visit attractions.

Probably Haunted

  • Eastern State Penitentiary
  • Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site


  • Independence National Historical Park: Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, City Tavern, Christ Church, Franklin Court, and more
  • Old City Museums: National Constitution Center, Museum of the American Revolution, Betsy Ross House, U.S. Mint, Elfreth’s Alley Museum, African American Museum in Philadelphia, and Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History

Science, Technology, and Military

  • Academy of Natural Sciences
  • Battleship USS New Jersey (across the river)
  • Fort Mifflin, America’s oldest active military base
  • The Franklin Institute (science museum)
  • Independence Seaport Museum
  • Penn Museum (archaeology and anthropology)
  • Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

A woman is sitting in a chair, admiring the mosaic walls at Magic Gardens in Philadelphia.

Magic Gardens
(Source: @visitphilly via Instagram)

Art and Culture

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the Rocky statue and steps)
  • Barnes Foundation
  • Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, an immersive urban mosaic of mixed-media art


  • Mummers Museum
  • Pizza Brain Museum of Pizza Culture
  • Mütter Museum (medical oddities)
  • Please Touch Museum (for kids)

A woman tells children a story at one of the “Once Upon a Nation” history storytelling benches in Philadelphia.

“Once Upon a Nation” history storytelling bench
(Source: @historicphilly via Facebook)

7. There Are Tons of Free Things To Do.

Living in Philadelphia on a budget is easy — you just have to know where to go. Several historic sites mentioned earlier don’t cost a dime, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and many museums have free or pay-what-you-can days. Here are some ideas for great things to do for free all year.

Learning and Tours

  • “Once Upon a Nation” history storytelling benches
  • Mural Mile self-guided walking tours
  • Yards Brewing Company tours


  • Free performances at Kimmel Center
  • "Free at Noon" musical performances at World Café Live

Parks and Trails

  • John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
  • Rail Park elevated rail-trail park and Cira Green rooftop park
  • Spruce Street Harbor Park urban beach
  • Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk riverside urban hiking and biking trail

A couple kisses under the LOVE sculpture in Philadelphia's JFK Plaza.

LOVE sculpture in JFK Plaza
(Source: @visitphilly via Facebook)

Famous Places To Visit

  • Running up the Rocky steps
  • LOVE sculpture in JFK Plaza
  • Bartram's Garden, America’s oldest botanical garden

Laid-Back Exercise

  • Race Street Pier yoga
  • Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course

The brass section of a marching band pauses in the street as they play out a tune for onlookers in Philadelphia during an Independence Day Parade.

Philadelphia knows how to celebrate Independence Day in style.
(Source: Wawa Welcome America via Facebook)

8. From Burger Brawl to the Philly Naked Bike Ride, You'll Never Be Bored.

Not everything great in Philly is available any day you wish. Some of the best goings-on only happen once a year. From parades to exhibits to festivals, here are some amazing things you’ll only get one chance to experience every 12 months.

Festivals and Holidays

  • Comcast Holiday Spectacular display
  • Halloween’s Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary
  • Wawa Welcome America Festival in July
  • Philadelphia Black Pride

Food and Drink

  • Philadelphia All-Star Craft Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Festival
  • Parks on Tap roving summer beer garden
  • Manayunk's StrEAT Food Festival
  • Burger Brawl
  • Philly Food Truck Festival


  • The Roots Picnic
  • WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival (New Jersey)


  • New Year's Day Mummers Parade
  • Thanksgiving Day Parade (America’s oldest)


  • Army-Navy football game
  • Broad Street Run (Runner's World named it one of the fastest 10-mile courses in the country)
  • Dad Vail Regatta (May)
  • Penn Relays, America’s oldest track and field competition
  • Philly Naked Bike Ride

Devon Townsend performing at Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia.

Devon Townsend at Theatre of Living Arts
(Source: @TLAPhilly via Facebook, Photo by Skylar Watkins)

9. Philly’s Music Scene Is Home to American Bandstand.

As the hometown of Philadelphia soul, American Bandstand, Gamble & Huff, and “Rock Around The Clock,” Philly has one of the nation’s greatest music traditions. Artists from Philly span the spectrum from Hall & Oates, Chubby Checker, Patty LaBelle, Boyz II Men, and Will Smith to The Roots, Meek Mill, Diplo, Dr. Dog, War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Dead Milkmen, and Joan Jett.

It follows that it’s also one of the best cities in America to see and hear live music, with a slew of music venues from iconic clubs to giant stadiums.

Large Clubs

  • The Fillmore
  • Union Transfer
  • Franklin Music Hall
  • The Tower Theater
  • World Café Live
  • Theatre of Living Arts

Smaller Clubs

  • Milkboy
  • Johnny Brenda’s
  • The Foundry
  • Underground Arts
  • Kung Fu Necktie
  • The Fire
  • And more!


  • Lincoln Financial Field
  • Citizens Bank Park

Arenas and Halls

  • Wells Fargo Center
  • Academy of Music
  • Kimmel Center


  • Freedom Mortgage Pavilion
  • Mann Center

Night view of Lincoln Financial Field, where the NFL Eagles play in Philadelphia.

Lincoln Financial Field, where the NFL Eagles play
(Source: @visitphilly via Instagram) 

10. Sports Are Life.

Unlike places like New York or L.A., Philly has one team only in each of the major sports, so everyone’s on the same page — except when it comes to college basketball, where the city is divided many ways.

Philadelphians bleed team colors. Everyone is involved from every walk of life, and the city’s mood is reflected based on yesterday’s win or loss. So if you want to walk into nearly any conversation in Philly, be sure to know the Birds’ playoff chances or your favorite Phillie. Here’s a rundown of your sports options each season.

  • NFL’s Eagles and NCAA’s Temple University - Lincoln Financial Field (aka the Linc)
  • MLB’s Phillies - Citizens Bank Park
  • NBA’s 76ers, NHL’s Flyers, and NLL’s Wings - Wells Fargo Center
  • MLS’ Union - Subaru Park
  • Philadelphia City 6 (previously the Big 5) NCAA basketball: Villanova, Saint Joseph’s, Temple, La Salle, Penn, and Drexel - Various Locations

11. Philadelphia Moving Companies Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All.

You probably wish you could just skip the moving part and start enjoying your new city right away. If only, right? The next best thing is to plan your move to minimize the hassle, costs, and stress. As a large and old city with narrow, hard-to-navigate neighborhood streets, moving in Philadelphia can be stressful — especially if you’re driving and parking a rental truck. If you’ve relocated before and weren’t that thrilled with the moving experience, it’s a good idea to check all your options before making the final decision. Heck, you may even find that a combination or "hybrid move" works best for you. These two articles will help with your research:

  • Self-Moving 101: Learn how to save money and reduce stress with everything you need to know about moving with a rental truck or moving containers.
  • 12 Things to Consider Before Hiring Cross-Country Movers: If you’re moving to Philly from far away, this article will help you decide whether traditional movers or moving containers work best for you based on your situation, needs, and preferences.

A couple is standing with their arms around each other, looking at their PODS moving container that they've just finished loading with moving boxes

With a month’s worth of storage built into every PODS move, you have the freedom and flexibility to take your time moving.

12. You Have Plenty of Options for Philadelphia Moving.

Okay, you’ve got a plan in place and are ready to make the move. Time to put the rubber to the road, and to help you do that, we’ve broken down your best options.

PODS Moving and Storage Containers

PODS containerized moving and storage gives you flexibility, no matter where you start your move. Have a container delivered to your driveway, load it up on your own schedule, and then have PODS deliver it to your new Philly home. With a month’s worth of storage built-in, you have the freedom and flexibility to take your time moving. Need a few days to pack up? No problem. And if you find yourself wanting one last staycation at home, you’ve got time for that, too.

Moving to Center City? Let PODS City Service take care of navigating the narrow Philly streets. Your PODS driver will also handle parking permits and will stay with your container while you move your things into your new home, protecting against tickets and thieves.

Full-Service Movers

If you want or need an end-to-end move and have some extra dollars to spend, look into a full-service moving company.

They can handle as much or as little as you need, from packing and wrapping your furniture to unpacking and re-organizing your next home. Know who you’re working with, though — there are a ton of shady companies out there — and be sure to have your moving schedule well planned. Once you book a full-service mover, you’re essentially locked in.

Rental Trucks

Renting a truck is a good option if you have the time, ability, and can-do attitude to handle your move from soup to nuts. There are plenty of companies who will rent you a truck — but beyond that, you’re on your own. Packing, loading, permitting, unloading, and transit are all in your hands. So while this may be the most economical option, there are plenty of hidden costs.

Welcome to Philadelphia

Whether you’re moving a short distance or from across the country, we hope these tips help you get settled quickly so you can start enjoying all that comes with living in Philly. When you’re done, don’t forget to celebrate with a cheesesteak and lager!

Michael Hochman is a Philadelphia-based writer currently working as a lifestyle and travel writer for Apartment Guide and rent.com.

Get a Quote

Choose the service you need


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment * Comments are required.
Name * Name is required.Name can't be more than 50 character.
Email * Valid Email address is required.

Reply to

X Cancel Reply
Comment * Comments are required.
Name * Name is required.Name can't be more than 50 character.
Email * Valid Email address is required.
An error has occurred please try again later