We know the Program Office has inundated you with housing information already, but what they haven’t shared with you are insights into the hidden gems of the Center City housing scene. What’s the best place to throw a party? Where should you live if you have kids? When should I begin freaking out if I haven’t signed a lease?
What You May Not Have Considered:
- There actually is quite a lot of supply of 2Br/1Br/studios out there, so no need to freak out at Welcome Weekend and be forced to pay much higher rents to lock in rates with suspect real estate agents.
- On the other hand, 3BRs and 4BRs are a bit harder to find so lock it up when you see a good opportunity.
- If you are booking from afar, HAVE SOMEBODY VISIT FOR YOU. If you don’t know anyone, reach out to members of internationally-oriented clubs (eg WAAM, WHALASA, MENA); they will be more than happy to help. There are stories of people booking from across the world and end up living near a garbage truck facility.
- Penn has shuttles in the evenings (5 p.m. to midnight) on the weekdays. Sometimes this can simplify your commute if you live nearby. Look up the shuttle schedules because they don’t go too far into Center City.
- The two largest grocery stores in Center City are Trader Joes (22nd and Market) and Di Brunos (18th & Walnut), with the former being a bit more affordable and the latter a bit more gourmet and upscale. If you cook a lot, think about living within a couple of blocks of either because it gets COLD in the winter.
- For the wine and cocktail lovers out there, there are only two large wine stores in Center City located at 21st and Market and 12th and Chestnut. These are the only places you can source hard liquor and wine in Center City (no grocery stories / Trader Joe’s / etc can sell this stuff). Living close is convenient to restock your cabinet or grab a bottle on your way to one of Philly’s many BYOBs.
- The benefits of living Westwards is a shorter bike/walk commute if that’s your jam, which adds up over time, and is much easier if you need to make a quick change (and closer to Pub!). The benefits of living East is that the 21 bus will usually have room for you to board, and you’ll live near restaurants and much of the weekend nightlife. If you live west, it’s still a quick walk over to the nightlife.
- You can save a grip on larger brownstones, but they are harder to sublease over the summer. Also, with more roommates, it could be fantastic or in some cases, terrible – you just have greater variability.
- If you have time to do some research and venture outside areas swarming with MBAs: east of River, west of Broad, south of Market, north of South or even higher, you can get some great deals. Some folks have places near South Street down 22nd that are ~1/3 cheaper.
WJ Board Building Picks:
- Wine lovers – there is no better building than 2040 Market. The roof deck is an awesome place to sip a Pinot with your friends that you bought at the wine store downstairs and eat the cheese from the Trader Joe’s across the street. You can also throw a massive rooftop party since the doormen are very lax. Also, Penn shuttles (5pm-midnight on weekdays) drop off a block away
- Free coffee in the lobby of 1500 Locust, Wine Club Socials held there every month, and a ‘1500 Cab Share’ Groupme that cuts your commute in half. Also, Fado’s, the Irish bar downstairs, gives a 15% discount to anyone living in 1500.
- The Versailles at 16th and Locust has massive 3-person apartments. Ideal for throwing lots of parties.
- The apartments at Riverloft on Walnut St have GREAT acoustics. If you do a little pro-active charm offensive PR on your neighbors (one of my tricks is baking them cookies a few weeks in advance & considering buying them movie tix the night you throw your rager), you can get away with great parties.
- Runners, dog-owners and b-ballers. Locust on the Park on 25th and Locust is right next to the running track along the Schuylkill River. It is also next to a dog park and basketball court.