Moving to Philadelphia? The ultimate moving guide for expats

Sandra Oberg

Travel, Travel News, Work & Play Guide

Philadelphia is becoming a popular relocation destination thanks to its growing job market. Easy access to other major cities, convenient infrastructure and a delightful park and recreation system. Are you moving to Philadelphia and don’t know where to start? Your first step is to read this ultimate moving guide for expats. We have put together for you these simple steps to make moving to Philadelphia easy and smooth.

Philadelphia church

Get your money’s worth

Define your main expenses and costs before moving. Philadelphia is the capital city of Pennsylvania, and wherever you live in Pennsylvania, you will pay both state and federal taxes.

Know your supermarkets. Philadelphia has independent grocery stores and ethnic stores, as well as regular supermarket chains. There are also many farmers’ markets and shops selling healthy food and organic products.

Define your priorities

Keep in mind the reasons why you are moving to Philadelphia. Every district of the city and its housing options cater for different lifestyles and interests. What is your lifestyle?

You may need to move a little further out of town to get the space you need if you have a large family and if you need more space and bedrooms. Large accommodation will usually cost more to buy and to rent closer to the city centre.

Do you need to live close to your workplace? How far are you willing to commute? Explore how close your accommodation needs to be to the city transport. Philadelphia’s public transport system is called SEPTA and it is very efficient and reliable.

Philadelphia is a well-planned city, but there still is some traffic. If you drive downtown regularly, you will need to budget a significant amount a month for both street outdoor parking and indoor parking. The further you go from the city centre, the less you pay for parking.

What are your lifestyle and budget? Every district offers various leisure facilities at different prices, so check whether your chosen district has the facilities or shopping you need within easy reach.


Get to know Philadelphia

You’ll want to get to know the city before moving to Philadelphia. So it’s a good idea to visit the city beforehand to narrow down your options. Come here a few weeks before moving to Philadelphia so you can walk around the city and find the areas that best suit your needs and budget.

Another reason for moving to Philadelphia is its vibrant cultural scene. This is a large cosmopolitan city and the business centre of Pennsylvania. It is the birthplace of the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence. There is always plenty to see and do.

Go ice skating on the Rothman Orthopedics rink. Find it right in front of City Hall from November to February. It is a full-size skating rink with romantic string lighting, a holiday market and a cosy conservatory.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art was founded in 1876. Its opening was timed to the World Exhibition and the centenary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The museum occupies a monumental classical building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Come to admire more than 200 thousand works of art brought from different continents. The museum hosts research laboratories and a library.

Visit “Magic Gardens”, an unusual house that goes by this romantic name in one of the old city streets. Its walls are completely covered with pieces of tiles and glass, and the courtyard is a bizarre labyrinth with stairs, grottoes and terraces. The unusual design of this place was inspired by the avant-garde artist I. Zagar and life in Latin America.

An unusual attraction of Philadelphia is the Railway Park Company, an abandoned railway line that has been converted into an elevated park. Much of the original structure has been restored on this quarter-mile path, which features benches, swings, and plenty of city views.

Philadelphia - situ guide

Getting around in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia transport system is operated by SEPTA. It includes commuter trains, high-speed trains, light rail and city buses. It is an efficient and well-managed system, you can use the same ticket for all means of transport and save by getting a monthly or a daily pass.

Philadelphia is perfect for cycling, and the best way to save on transport is to buy a bicycle and use the 450 kilometres of Philadelphia’s cycling paths. Philadelphia has plenty of walking and cycling trails in the parks and the city centre. You could walk from one end of the city centre to the other in about 45 minutes as there are many walkable streets.

Philadelphia offers easy access to major cities such as Washington DC and New York. You can hop on the Amtrak train and be in New York in less than 90 minutes and in Washington DC in about 2 hours.

You can choose to drive right after moving to Philadelphia because you can drive on a foreign license for up to 12 months, and you will be asked to exchange your license after a year. 

Be social in Philadelphia

Relocation can be a lonely experience, however, moving to Philadelphia doesn’t have to be. This is one of the most welcoming cities in the US. Be sure to explore your local Meetup groups, in Philadelphia, they involve all sorts of activities, from sports to historical clubs. There are a lot of free-entry cultural events in the city centre that bring visitors and locals together.

Go to Franklin Square for an outdoor sports day, you will find a mini-golf course, a lovely park with impressive fountains and cosy cafes. Explore the variety of nightlife in Philadelphia, there are numerous nightclubs for all music tastes and regular live concerts at the open-air Mann Center for the Performing Arts. 

And that’s Situ’s list of reasons why you should move to Philadelphia. Of course, you’ll also need somewhere to stay while you’re here. So do check out our carefully curated range of serviced apartments in Philadelphia and make the most of your stay in this fantastic city.